We’re not polite anymore about things anymore, you know we just think right, we like that sound, and we’re gonna play it and tear down the fucking house! (Laughs)
Incendiary interview Appie Kim
Incendiary is sitting with Marcel and Natasha from Appie Kim in their studio – cum – home, situated in one of Den Haag’s less salubrious areas. Despite having one of the country’s most convivial pubs just yards up the street, the area itself is quite something to walk through. I don’t recommend it. As per usual chez Appie, there are instruments and painting things scattered about, and their cat Pietje brings a whole new angle to the word chaos. Hallo Venray’s Henk Koorn, (Natasha’s other half) fiddles with something technical on the PC… As a mental image goes, you couldn’t get closer to the heart of the Dutch underground than this. After the usual amount of chit-chat the tape is turned on and Appie look serious…
IN: I decided to do these interviews as a showcase. I wanted to do something about what’s happening in Holland and to feature bands who didn’t fit in, who upset people, swim against the tide you know? And you two came top of my list (Laughs)
N: Ah, now, doing what you want is more important to us. That’s more important than upsetting people. You don’t have to upset people! That’s not fun you know. I’ve had two years in a row with someone in a band who just upset everyone around you know! And that’s just not creative at all.
IN: Who do you think your creative nature comes from?
N: Ooh ah… I don’t think there’s anything else I’d be good at.
M: Just playing…
IN: Those are very gnomic answers!
N: Ah, well I’ve been playing music since as long as I can remember. I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s a step up from something I just did to something I now think about.
IN: And you have obviously thought about the way you are seen by us. You have a very defined style though, guitar and drums; and you have a defined idea of what you want to do… even though these aren’t the instruments you originally used.
N: I love the sounds with guitar, it’s the sounds, you know? I’m very much into different sounds and musical feels, and when that aspect is okay then I’m happy. And I love guitars so that’s the best thing in the world you know, playing guitar? Piano… it’s okay… Keyboards and digital stuff, its okay but I’m not really into playing them that much, rather the noise that comes out of them.
IN But you learnt piano as a kid didn’t you? Playing scales. Piano was your first instrument.
N: Yeah, I did that (smiles), I’ve done the classical stuff. There was a point when I got completely fed up with piano. And I stopped playing I picked up a friend’s guitar and I thought, yeah I really like that.
IN: Appie Kim is interesting because of the way you chose your instruments. Marcel, you did sound for de Nieuwe Vrolijkheid, and you’d never played drums, but then, after the Vrolijkheid split and with a first gig for Appie Kim coming up, you decided to become the drummer, which was a very brave move…
So you both did something that was either new to you or something that you couldn’t do. And I wondered whether the friction between wanting to do something and being able to do something was the real point of Appie Kim?
N: Maybe it’s not fighting; maybe it’s doing something against the odds maybe?
M: Yes, I think so.
N: But maybe it’s not about not being able to do something it’s just how you do it, if you enjoy it. I dunno… drums were something I didn’t know anything about, I had no insight into them and in the meantime (laughs)…. it’s been a good thing to work with someone else (Marcel) who is just beginning and I also had to learn the drums too just to get a feel for it and I’d say it’s been an amazing experience, one of the best things in my life.
IN: You have changed, you change every gig, and that’s because you are getting more into the instruments you use.
N: We’re not polite anymore about things anymore, you know we just think right, we like that sound, and we’re gonna play it and tear down the fucking house! (Laughs)
M: We both have a lot of fun playing, that’s the main thing, having fun.
N: And we don’t have any restrictions on having fun! (Laughs)
IN: I was also interested in what you are doing right now. It seems to me that you have slowed down after a very busy year last year, what with forming the band, an LP out almost immediately and lots of gigs. Now this year there’s been a single and a summer holiday and gigs.
N: Yeah we recorded lots of new stuff last December as well, it was a case of clearing the cupboard but we got excited by what we were doing and maybe it was a case of getting a little bit carried away. And now we have done a few small things, like the single, we’re learning our craft.
IN: So last year, it felt as if there was no plan, but rather you charged into it. No this year are you compartmentalising the processes of gigs, making music in a studio, writing…
N: Yeah. Compartmentalising, that’s a really good word for us and what we’re doing actually. You know I keep writing all the time and it can be one endless trip if I’m not careful. But I’ve been doing some different stuff as well. I’ve been working together with Henk (Koorn, of Hallo Venray, Natasha’s other half) in the studio with some other bands, and, you know, learn how to step away…
M: Last year was one really erm, intense trip and this year we just tucked away and I’ve learnt a lot and got some time to myself.
IN: I also know you also did something with Wymer (from Vox Von Braun)
N: Yeah, I mean I not only did the singing, I had some really long nights mixing and working on a sound on the computer. That’s what I enjoy most actually, working in studios; singing is just like… ooooooh!! (Emits a long drawn out wail and laughs). And Wymer’s such a good songwriter.
IN: Can I go back to the past? Are you happy about talking about the past?
N: Waargh…. Erm… yeah, about what?
IN: I got out the Nieuwe Vrolijkheid LP recently. And it sounded great! It’s a shockingly good LP.
N: Yeah and a lot of work went into it and I was, and am very proud of it. It’s something I was really happy with. Something I really enjoyed making. And it was completely destroyed…
IN: Do you play Vrolijkheid songs?
M: Yeah we do now.
IN: The songs are so good…
N: (Big silence) I have actually have no problem in playing those songs, they’re my songs, stuff I wrote a couple of years ago. It’s just that the album is finished product and when something is finished it’s something you want to show to people and you want to say, here’s something I’ve done. And when it’s decided for you, no it is not gonna happen; this band is no more, well…
I put everything in it (Laughs) Is it naïve?
IN: No, you create something and you feel you’ve finished it, but even as the creator you’re not the arbiter of that particular work’s fate. Because you will always get people who will access it at a particular point of time, and it’s new for them.
N: With this whole thing, it was that Vincent (the former singer) said the band is over and we had to call the record company saying it’s over and they’d already pressed the LP, and then we were in a situation where can’t release it. And our last money was gone, and we had nothing and we had to pay for it and do nothing with it. Because a band that doesn’t exist can’t promote an album. But we released it anyway because it would have been such a fucking waste…
…. But it’s been so much fun making it and working on it and maybe in retrospect it’s been good for me because that’s when I really, really, really learned that I really, really, really loved working in a studio. So! (Laughs) The first time we went into a studio was so much fun! With that album and all the long hours I realised that this is the something is what I want to do.
IN: Okay so we’ve done the past, and a bit of the present. Now we’ll do the single. I was going to ask you about that. Why have you in a year of silence have you brought out a single?
N: I dunno, to me it’s not a year of silence, that’s so weird to think that! (Laughs) I dunno we’ve been doing shows and I’ve been in the studios… Maybe to the outside world we seem quiet, not here! Maybe quiet in the sense we haven’t released and album? I’ve not really been sitting still but to everyone else it might seem very boring. I am very boring. I sit at home and do my drawing, painting, writing songs. And playing them with Marcel.
IN: You are a hermetically sealed concept as a band. You hang out together. Lots of bands don’t stand the sight of each other but you two get on.
N: Do you think we seem like that?
IN: For sure.
M: I mean it’s not like we see each other at practice, we see each other a lot. And yes we’re friends.
IN: That’s what I mean. Lots of other bands can’t stand each other.
N: Really? Okay? (Laughs) Maybe because we are a bit like family, but we hang out together with other people.
IN: And you seem to have a unified scene
N: That’s all my fault. I can’t sit still. I’m constantly busy with stuff, thinking of stuff to do.
IN: I like the single
N: Do you want to know a little story about the single? Well the song Five Strings is very old. One of the first I wrote. We tried to record it with the Nieuwe Vrolijkheid. It wasn’t happening and I tried to do it and it was just shit and I got to the pint where I thought I just want to fucking finish it if it’s the last thing I do. Maybe it’s not the best song ever but I’m so happy it’s finished. It’s a very important song!
…I always wanted to be a police officer you know, be a detective.
IN; I can imagine that. I can imagine Marcel being a failed criminal! (Laughs)
N: Why? Why’s that?
IN: Because Marcel would blow up the vital moment!
N: He could be a police officer too! We always know when people round here are dealing drugs and stuff, its sixth sense. We were in the kitchen and Marcel got home and Marcel knew that something was going on out on the street, he was right too.
M: I don’t wanna be a police officer.
N: Ah it’s one of my old wishes. When I was a child I either wanted to work at Interpol or a musician (laughs)
IN: And you will end up as a producer in a studio which I suppose is a marriage of both wishes!
What drives Appie Kim to make the music you do? You don’t make very Dutch music.
N: I blame Urban music (Laughs). There’s too much Urban culture, there’s too much rubbish in Urban, and too many people accept the rubbish and we’re drowned out by it, I mean we’re Urban culture too but we don’t pretend we want to be rappers.
IN: IN that it’s homonogenic and too easy to pre-guess it?
N: It’s just boring. I dunno if there are that many people who like the stuff we do, and who can put up with all the silly stuff we do. I don’t agree with the internet, no internet please. Let’s go back twenty years, no TV.
M: I think that’s also one of the reasons why we don’t have a big web presence; we don’t try as hard as other bands to push the web angle.
IN: And here’s me working in it! But you’re right; headspaces have shrunk to the point people feel constricted.
N: Anyone stupid enough to accept it deserves it.
Words: Richard Foster
Pics: Courtesy of Appie Kim