One and a half months. We took it very slow. If you travel fast with that boat you can do it in a week. We had to stay in every province for four days or something because we could only record two people maximum per day. You have to do groceries and the usual stuff as well. We took it real easy.
Did you have good weather?
At the beginning we did but at the end it was very, very rainy. That was also when the journey became a little bit harder because stuff like your towels stay wet. We really wanted to finish the project because it was getting too hard for us. I was really glad when we did all the provinces and we could go home [laughs].
Did the weather influence the mood of the music?
Not really because the people who entered the boat, they had to play and it was not up to me to decide what they were going to play. A lot of times they just came out of their warm, comfy homes and came to the boat. We were cold and wet. The musicians who entered the boat didn’t complain—I made them coffee etc. so they were not feeling as miserable as we were [laughs].
You invited such a wide range of musicians on board, how did you decide who you were going to invite?
I used the internet, at that time MySpace was very popular. On MySpace I looked up provinces and musicians and I contacted people through that. I also know a lot of musicians in the Netherlands and they know people who they introduced us to.
How many people collaborated in total? I saw photos on your MySpace with eleven different musicians.
About 40 people in total. The Netherlands has 12 provinces and in every province we invited about four musicians.
Could you tell me a little about a few of them?
They’re very different. There are some well-known musicians and also some unknown musicians.
I heard one of the tracks (featured at the end of this post) from the project that had rocker Elle Bandita (pictured above) play guitar on.
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Elle Bandita is a very young female artist. She’s got a punky edge to her music. There was a flute player who was sixty—there’s a big generation gap between those two. They didn’t know about each other, they come from very different worlds. Together in music they can fit very well together.
There was a guy in a province – there’s a photo of him on the internet with wooden shoes – he normally only plays weddings and funerals, he refused to play without his Dutch traditional costume (pictured below). I was like, go ahead! Be my guest! I’m going to film it, it will be nice for the film if you are going to dress up like a farmer for the 20s [laughs]. That’s what he did. He only plays traditional Dutch music. That kind of music is only in three quarters and he had to improvise to a quarter loop. He played a three quarter measure on a quarter loop which is kind of strange [laughs].
What are your views on what makes a song a great song?
Most of the times I just cannot figure out how the hell they make a song [laughs]. Normally when you hear a song you’re like, oh they do it like this or they do it like that but then if there is something that you cannot put your finger on – what is it that makes this song a great song? You cannot really find the answer – then that’s a great song. It’s also an unanswerable question.
Who are some of your favourite songwriters?
Very different. Contemporary I’m a big admirer of PJ Harvey. I think she is one of the best songwriters of this moment. I like old stuff, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed—although I heard the new Lou Reed and Metallica album and think it’s disgusting [laughs]. They don’t blend together very well I don’t think, in my opinion.
You use your voice to make so many wonderful sounds in your music – you’re one of my favourite female vocalists – I was surprised to read in an interview with you once that you said that when you make a song sometimes you feel like it’s a shame you have to sing it because you don’t feel like you are such a great singer.
Yeah [laughs]. I’m not a very good singer. I can listen to myself but if I hear a live recording, oh I just want to die! It’s terrible. If I record myself I can manipulate the sound a bit then my voice is workable. I really like to play live but I never want to hear it back, I feel so embarrassed [laughs]. My voice is very limited. It’s not necessarily a problem but in a live situation it can get boring to me.
Have you always sung?
Yeah, yeah I have. I love to do it!
Did you start singing before you started playing instruments?
It went hand-in-hand a bit. I started guitar lessons when I was very young. During those lessons we all sang along.
You also had other bands when you were younger?
Yeah. A new wave band; a bossa nova band; a girl band – I was a drummer in a girl band, a very bad drummer I might add [laughs]; I was also in a noise guitar band. I’ve had quite a few bands. I sometimes miss being in a band because you don’t have full responsibility which can be really comforting. It’s nice to joke around with each other and have fun. You can share the work and share the responsibilities.
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