It’s in the sauce of juicy gravad lax and the crispy topping on a Danish hotdog: the keen taste buds of the Scandinavians. Here are five playing fields where the north is just as successful as they are in the kitchen.
Take Wende Snijders, chanteuse, singer-songwriter and true creative. Wende graduated from the Academie voor Kleinkunst (Amsterdam Theatre School) in 2002, after which she threw herself into French chansons. And not without success as she won one award after another (including an Edison in the category Easy listening / Cabaret). In 2009, Wende moved away from her image as a chanteuse to focus on writing and performing dance, pop, rock and blues songs. This led to a Gouden Harp, one platinum and a two golden records. What is her secret? Does Wende – like us – let herself be guided by intuition and gut instincts as well as by external stimuli? We had a chat with her…
Spring: everything smells, tastes, feels, sounds and looks at its best – at least, that’s what we think. How do you experience it?
“Spring, I know that it’s an illusion but it gives me the sensation of beginning anew. The air smells so lovely as the season changes. It gives me so much energy and inspiration! On the other hand, spring can be confronting: I feel like I’m behind on things. You think about spring cleaning. In winter, I build my own nest with lots of blankets over me. When spring comes, I realise just how many blankets. Some spring cleans are harder than others. One year, I’ll think: I’ve done it well, I can just move effortlessly into spring. Another year, I’ll think: Jesus, I have been deep in my cave. This can be challenging and cost some effort to emerge bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Intense, that’s really how spring can feel to me.”
Which of your senses are most excited by a lovely spring day?
“Smell, always smell. Sounds and smells are always overwhelming to me. They inspire me.”
What type of music fits with it?
“For me, no specific genre of music. It’s more that the project I’m busy with right now is enhanced by smells and sounds. Whether it’s pop or classical… it’s not attached to any particular season. I’m listening a lot to electronic music right now as an inspiration for my album Last Resistance. I’m looking for the right balance between dance, electronics and my style of narrative. This means that I can listen to hours of both easy listening and pure electro dance.”
For us as a fashion label, emotion and intuition may be the most important sources of inspiration for our designs. That factor called gut-feeling. And you? What’s your main inspiration?
“It’s simple really: I let my intuition lead the way. At the moment, this means serious inspiration from painters and photographers. I was given the book by Tom Waits and Anton Corbijn recently and also one by Jimmy Nelson, ‘Before they pass away’, which I love. I find painters like Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon fantastic and oh! my favourite photographer is Daido Moriyama. But I also get huge inspiration from choreographers like Pina Bausch and theatre director Robert Wilson. In this sense, one could say that for me, all the senses come together.”
What musician really affects you and why?
“Oh my God, that would be a lot of musicians. Let’s see… I find the classical music of Arvo Pärt terribly beautiful. I like Lykke Li, PJ Harvey is fantastic. Tom Waits, Nick Cave…. I found the last Vampire Weekend CD brilliant. And Four Tet, you know them? Yeah, I’m a real mongrel. Ha ha! If I only had one side to me, I think I’d drop dead with boredom. For me, things aren’t style-related but soul-related. From heavy metal to flamenco music, if music is made with the soul then I am really affected by it – regardless of genre.”
You changed gears in 2009, but in fact, you always seem to be looking for new influences and musical forms. Where do you go to find this continual renewal you need?
I wanted to make a pop album and for inspiration I went travelling. To South Africa, Cambodia and Thailand but also closer to home, to Spain and Greece. I wrote while I was travelling but also back in the Netherlands. It isn’t that I was conceptually inspired by going abroad but rather that I travel in order to write and then my senses are 100 % sharply focused. For Last Resistance, I was also very influenced by having released a lot of my certainties. By not having performed for a while, I was faced with uncertainty. And I looked deeper into evil and my darker self and this is how the album came about. So one could answer the question by saying: on a psychological journey.”
Are you inspired and influenced by the seasons and if so, what does spring mean to you as a musician?
“The seasons contribute really strongly to creativity. So it’s no coincidence that almost all my records were released in October. For me, the 9-month concept simply works well. Nine months of making music, writing and recording in the studio. Then I sit on it for a whole spring and summer and then the album is ready in the autumn. Spring and autumn are the most active seasons for me. Summer and winter are slower and more cloistered.
I want to add something that probably sounds nuts but it’s true for me: in the Netherlands, spring arrives really late, one month too late in fact. I see the Dutch spring as a player who is playing hard to get. When it’s finally there, you really have to jump on it.”
Your latest album – Last Resistance – sounds “heavier” than we’re used to from you and we think there are winter influences at work. Which songs do actually reflect spring? Anything… even by someone else?
“From Last Resistance, I personally find Nude spring-like. Yeah, spring, good question. What sounds like spring? I follow Rivers, maybe a total cliche, but in one way or another, I think so. The mix of The Magician, I associate spring with that. Paul Simon! Graceland!…”
Your new tour is coming up. Every day the same album but on a different stage and for a different audience. Are you inspired each time by the smells, sounds and atmospheres of the surroundings? In other words, do these stimuli ensure that each performance is different or do you go into autopilot at a certain point?
“Never autopilot, otherwise I’d give up and do something else. At Paradiso, for example, there’s the club version of Last Resistance and later, in March/April – when the theatre sessions start – I allow myself to be inspired by the rules of theatre. These are completely different to club rules. In clubs, people are standing around, drinking beer and really going out. People are also going out when they go to the theatre, but it’s different. The club is more from the gut and the theatre is more from the head to the heart. You tell more of a story. So I think: how am I going to construct a narrative for the theatre with the numbers from Last Resistance? It becomes completely different while at the same time, of course it’s recognisable.”
What does fashion mean to you?
“Actually, the image is as important to me as the music. For this album, I worked with creative director José Klap on the artwork, the video clip, the clothes. I explained that there are a few brands that appeal to me and that I feel fit with the narrative of Last Resistance. I mean Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens, Yohji Yamamoto, Jan Boelo and Augustin Teboul. To my mind, they go well with the gentle combativeness that I see in Last Resistance. Fashion is extremely important to me and adds something essential to the story that I want to tell. It reinforces the narrative and that makes fashion a vital part of the project.”
Finally, an odd question maybe but within the context of the topic… what does music mean to you?
“Music is my way of expressing what I see in the world, how I live, what I feel and what inspires me. I see it as a kind of funnel: a lot of world and a lot of life and a lot of time enters me that way. Then the funnel becomes a trumpet for everything to come back out and I find the dynamic thrilling and meaningful. For me, theatre, fashion, music, poetry, videos, all these things, are a direct link to the world. Otherwise, I couldn’t describe it…”
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