I have a weekend ritual. It might be on a Saturday or it might be on a Sunday morning but I’ll always find time, when lounging in bed, to listen to the listening post on the brilliant Fresh On The Net website.. It’s a rich source of fine new music. A few weeks ago now, I was blown away when listening to ‘Tanned Legs’ by Van Wyck. I savoured the air of minimalist mystery. I liked the gentle approach.
Intrigued, I tried to find out more but there was little circulating about this stunning new voice. I satisfied my curiosity by sending some questions by e-mail.
Van Wyck will be a new act to many readers of Sonic Breakfast. How would you describe yourself to them?
I’d describe this EP as dark and intimate. I’ve tried to get real close to the listener, to draw them gently into these songs where I hope they find wonder, solace and maybe some form of fragile beauty. And I guess my lyrics are very descriptive. In the last weeks I’ve been compared to Damien Rice, Leonard Cohen and Marlene Dietrich, which makes for a weird and wonderful cocktail. (a jewish irishman with long legs)
What makes you happy? And conversely what makes you sad?
happy: the unexpected
sad: too much of the same
You’re based in Amsterdam. Does living there influence your sound in any way? What’s the best and worst things about living in Amsterdam? Is there a scene of similar folk based musicians or are you having to blaze your own trail?
Right now I’m pretty much blazing my own trail, but that’s not Amsterdam’s fault. I’ve been in many different bands, both as a musician and as a vocalist and have decided a year ago to focus on my own songwriting and performance and try to find my own space in between al these genres and scenes that have influenced me. Van Wyck is my first solo endeavor and I wanted to sing myself loose so to speak, from any particular genre. Of course folk music has had a deep influence on me, but so has Harry Belafonte, Prince and Marvin Gaye.
Amsterdam and The Netherlands have no strong own tradition in music (could you name any Dutch bands?) It’s a small country and has focused mainly on copying english and american genre’s. There is no typical Dutch brand of folk, or similar female songwriters like you find now in the Scandinavian countries. but there are a lot of wonderful musicians and songwriters working at the moment. Because of this lack of tradition and history there is also a lot of freedom to create something new. And the worst thing about Amsterdam? Definitely the Bierfiets!
Sonic Breakfast first heard about you as a result of hearing a track of yours, Tanned Legs, that was submitted to the weekly listening post on Tom Robinson’s Fresh On The Net. How encouraged were you by the response you got from that? Do you often observe scenes in municipal swimming pools?
The response were heartwarming, it was so wonderful to read how people find words to describe my music. They often find better words that I could and point out things that were hidden beneath the surface for me. And to be reviewed in french is always a treat. So yes, it’s been incredibly encouraging and has given me the feeling that i’m on the right path.
And yes! Swimming pools are always a source of inspiration, I think it’s the floating, or the warm water, or all those vulnerable bodies in ill-fitting suits, somehow makes it easier to reach this subconscious realm where I think my songs stem from.
Who would play you in the biopic about about Van Wyck?
I don’t think I’ll merit a biopic anytime soon, but I would love my music to be featured in a film. People often say they find my music cinematic in that the lyrics conjure up so many images and I love listening to music in cinema’s. Deep in those red velvet seats in the dark with big speakers all around. So I would love to write the score for a movie, probably something french and moody and otherwise a classic film noir with Lauren Bacall and Robert Mitchum
And finally, what do you wish for most over the next six months? What excites you most about future appointments in your diary? What will success look like over the next six months?
This is an excellent question because I am so looking forward to the coming months. I’ve started rehearsing with some wonderful musicians and this Monday will start recording new material. After working on my own for quite some time, this is a big change for me. I’m very much enjoying singing harmonies at the moment. So I hope to release a new EP in the coming months – that would be success number one. Number two would be playing live with my new band. And the ultimate success would of course be to create the album I have glimpses of in my mind – in my perfect world it would be produced by Ethan Johns. I am a great admirer of his work and love his ability to sound both so close and intimate yet sweepingly overwhelming at the same time.
Vulnerable bodies in ill-fitting suits, classic film noir, Marvin Gaye and Ethan Johns. It’s fair to say that Christine Van Wyck has inspired this man. Take a listen and see what glistens. I sense you’ll be as charmed as I was.