The Julie Mittens speak to Incendiary

Of course there's great music and less great music but we as humans seem unable to talk about it without the aid of moral lingo, which is totally unmusical...

 

This month Aart Jan, spiritual leader of the Julie Mittens, (possibly the most out there Dutch band since, well, since anyone; they are the closest thing to true grind in the dust experimentation you are gonna find), took time out to talk to Richard Foster. Things got arty and intense...

 

IN: Describe yourselves....

 

A-J:  Throw everything you do, or do not know about music into the largest blender you can find and make sure you don't turn the thing on for too long so the stuff that comes out is still a little rough. You know like when you look down after throwing up and you can't understand that that's the food you ate earlier that day, and although your throat hurts like hell you can still see that there's a sort of beauty in this transformation. Transforming the sound of music into something unbearably beautiful...that's what we do...

 

 

IN: Julie Mittens have quite an encompasing sound; its very open and spacial.Is this deliberate?

 

A-J: We like a big sound but it's really the accidents that happen in our blender that make us sound the way we do. We try to have a little bit of control over the sound though. We have a very limited instrumentation for instance (bass, drums, guitar...a rock band that is), so we always have to push ourselves to get a fresh perspective on what we do. New sounds, new timing, new dynamics etc. We learned (or un-learned) a lot by listening to the Olatunji Concert, the last known live recording by the John Coltrane quintet. Although badly recorded the sound of this group is so overwhelming and intense that...I just didn't know music could be like THAT before I heard the Olatunji record...

 

IN: What do you try to do when you make music? (your goals in other words)

 

A-J: Find boundaries and demolish them...we want our music to breath freely...

 

IN: What shakes your tree musically?

 

A-J: I think deserts are the perfect place for us...We try to avoid trees as much as possible...don't trust them! You can shake a tree but it's roots will always stay firmly in the ground...If we sense a tree coming we try to work up a big enough storm to blow it away completely, the whole fucking thing, roots and all...

 

Again: we want our music to breath freely...

 

 

IN: What are your thoughts on the Dutch music scene? Who's good and who's bad? Don't be shy...

 

A-J: I'm not sure what you mean by the Dutch music scene. If you mean this whole subsidised, self-serving, ass-kissing, "rockschool"; producing only mediocre music thing, this "anyone can be in popmusic after Nirvana" ethos that grew out of the nineties, than I guess one could come to the conclusion that the Dutch 'scene' is pretty sick, or at least that it has nothing to say musically...there's nothing there that stimulates creativity in people...

 

The only thing stimulated is to be creatively dead so let's try not to talk about that any longer.

 

There are some initiatives that try to be open to ideas in this country. 'Kraakgeluiden' in Amsterdam and Worm in Rotterdam are good initiatives for improvised and experimental music I think and of course there's the shining light of DIY mentality 'the Ex' and all their side-projects, but there's much more if you look hard enough. The problem with 'scenes' is that they are closed systems guarding themselves against any influence from outside while any open system tries to break down borders. To open up to outside influences while still remaining yourself and by being yourself is to be able to influence others, who in their turn have an influence on others...ad infinitum...

 

I think the question shouldn't be if anything is good or bad, morals don't do us any good (which is of course a moral remark...this paradox keeps us all in a state of paralysis over music or art or whatever...life?)...maybe it's more a question of the healthy/unhealthy on a creative level, and a question of taste on a personal level (I think 'the Ex' are a healthy band but I don't like most of the music I heard by them, still I will visit their 25th anniversary party and have them surprise me). Of course there's great music and less great music but we as humans seem unable to talk about it without the aid of moral  lingo which is totally unmusical...Again, what I mean is that I think (our) music should be able to breath freely...a celebration of creativity!"

 

 

IN: There always seems to be a lot more of an underground ethos in Leiden. Do you know why that is?

 

A-J: Where did you look? I don't know... I always thought there's more of a 'have fun while you play and don't take yourself too serious' ethos here... I might be wrong...

 

IN: When are you playing again?

 

A-J: Nothing with the Julie Mittens certain as yet but we're always working on that. We're active on other fields as well...

 

Bass player Michel just had a successfull exhibition with his art that's all about looking in the wrong place to find what you didn't know you were looking for! (Very good it is too, ed). We will do some things in connection with Sugar Coated Mind Bombs in January. There's a cd coming out before the end of this year by Drummer Leo and myself. The project is called Tenuzu no Chiizu. It's a collection of some very catchy piano/bouzouki tunes. We're planning concerts for that as well and there are several solo outings.

 

IN: How can people get hold of your cds?

 

A-J: People can contact us through our website (www.juliemittens.nl) for any information. We have two cds by the Julie Mittens: a black one and a bloodcolored one which is black on the inside...

There are several still available by SCMB (all kinds of colours) and then there's the TNC album coming soon (in lovely blue and white)..."