FENG SUAVE – Gartenarbeit

Foto-© Pasqual Amade

Feng Suave, unser Lieblingsduo aus Amsterdam, hat erst vor kurzem ihre dritte EP So Much For Gardening veröffentlicht. Ein Titel, der zum Spielen und Denken anregt und mit anderen Themen um die Ecke kommt, als gedacht. Dass sich diese EP thematisch nicht ums Gärtnern dreht, ist bei den beiden Daniels keine Überraschung. Doch erst mal haben wir uns beim Gartenthema etwas verfangen…

Let’s start with an easy question – who’s your favorite gardener?
Daniel de Jong: I don’t know, we don’t have a favorite gardener. We don’t know any gardeners.
Daniel Schoemaker: That’s a good question. I think my girlfriend.
DJ: His girlfriend. We don’t know too many, I don’t know any gardeners.

Do you know Monty Don?
DJ & DS: No.

He’s the favorite Gardner of my mother and she loves him. He’s kind of her gardening god. He has so many books and even a TV show.
DJ: Oh, really? I wasn’t even aware.
DS: I want to know more about this Monty Don.

He’s a British guy, and he looks…
DS: of course…

He looks like a British man spending all his years outside in the garden.
DJ: Yeah, of course. I wasn’t personally aware that there was a world of famous gardeners out there.
DS: Yeah, it’s a big garden scene.

Your latest EP So Much For Gardening was recorded live, who made a mistake while playing and how often?
DS: We all did it all the time.
DJ: We ended up using the recordings with the least mistakes, but there were mistakes in every recording.

And you still hear the mistakes?
DJ: Some mistakes like playing the wrong notes not necessarily, but just speeding up or slowing down in the wrong place. Imperfections – I would call them.
DS: It’s organic now. To some extent, I guess. We recorded it with three friends of ours. Bandmates, Gino, Kike and Ivar. So everybody has a different best take, you know? You have to collectively decide which one to take.

Was it hard?
DS: Sometimes, it was. It required focus.
DJ: And sometimes you would have to just roll with it. Take that was imperfect. I guess this is as good as we’re going to get it. So we’re going to have to roll with this.

So would you say that this is the way you prefer to record your music?
DS: It is going to depend on this, on the soul. That’s probably going to be songs that don’t really lend themselves to be recorded like this. And other songs really benefit from this recording process.

Oh, cool. I don’t have any clue about recording, though it makes sense. And then you used for the first time a string ensemble. So how was the recording?
DJ: It was really cool. We were lucky and had help from a guy who mostly arranged all the strings. We just told him exactly what we wanted and how we wanted it to sound. And he made the arrangement for us and he wrote it down on a sheet music because we can’t read or write sheet music as well. And then four very experienced people, came in with violins and viola and cello, and they had never heard the song and they just played along with it while reading the the sheet music.

So you didn’t play with them in the room?
DJ: They were overdubbed later. The strings were flying through the air of the room like, you need a huge studio to be able to do strings live as well. It was just an open space. And if you fit that all into one space, that’s a little tricky.

I see, you need a very big studio…
DJ: Well, like Abbey Road, for instance, you can do that. But even the Beatles overdubbed their strings.

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You might have heard this question a lot of times, what is your way to wrap up the more serious themes with your sound?
DJ: I think doing the music usually comes first, and there’s always a couple of lines. But we listen to what the song sounds like. If it’s really happy or upbeat, we always think it’s fun to combine that with more sinister or cynical lyrics. Because otherwise it would just be a very…
DS: …otherwise it would be too consistent. And maybe therefore too boring. But I guess we don’t really set out like when we started writing a song like, “Oh, we’re going to make a ridiculous contrast to this song.“ Just that you have one line that you think is funny, and it fits the amount of syllables that you are able to sing over x amount of chords and then you kind of roll with that. Once you have a theme, once you have one line which kind of has a theme or sets you up nicely for a theme. It’s just a matter of finding them or compiling them.

The songs, of course, have your personality. So it’s kind of natural that the music sounds like it does. And then the lyrics…
DS: …and the lyrics are different, different animal. It is a whole other dimension of the creative process.

Yeah, because it’s just like when you only read the lyrics, you have a feeling for the lyrics. But then when you listen to the music, it’s like – ok that’s not something I’d imagine. Because it can sound very funny.
DJ: That’s why I always try to have a sense of humor about it.
DS: About the lyrics. And I think matching pretty serious lyrics with like quite a beat song also shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously, like we’re not trying to teach anyone anything. It just fits us pretty well. I feel to have it both ways.

So talking about these serious topics, how would you recommend people out there to deal with those kind of difficulties and situations? Listen to your music? What are your tips on how to save the world?
DJ: Like global challenges?
DS: I don’t pretend to know anything more about these things. I don’t think our music is going to save the world.
DJ: It’s no one’s music.

But maybe when people are listening to your music, they have ideas…
DJ: Yeah, I guess. Maybe it’s cathartic for people to listen to music that deals with topics that are normally not presented in a humorous light and in a musical way. And it showed that maybe people will be able to relate to that. I think if you are setting out to solve global challenges on your own, then you’re going to be disappointed. Ultimately, so the best way is just to do what you can by changing your own habits and reading up on things and educating yourself and then find something that gives you energy and that allows you to start. Go to work every day with the sense of satisfaction.

Come Gather ’Round – let’s take the title literally. Where and how would you like to come together?
DS: Well, I mean, for me it is pretty okay like this. I’ve just been drinking coffee with people one on one a lot, which is my favorite thing anyways. But we’ve been missing out on playing live shows a lot. So that’s the way we would come together. We’d like to ask people to come and get around.
DJ: Have some good festival experiences and some headline shows. That’ll be sick. I would just love to be in front of audiences again and just spend time with people on the road. And it’s a great feeling to be in the van with our band and as a friend group. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve imagined. So we recently had a sneak peek of that.

Talking about being on stage – there are two names in your press text like Iggy Pop and Bill Withers. And there are ABBA, who just released two new songs. With whom would you rather be on stage – with Bill Withers, ABBA or Iggy Pop?
DS: I would go with Bill Withers. Bill Withers is like really one of my biggest musical heroes, and Iggy Pop is a man who I respect a lot and culturally was very significant, but is not necessarily my taste in music. He’s just mentioned in our bio because he liked our music. That’s one song of ours, which was really cool. He’s a very cool guy and I really enjoy watching interviews with him as well. So I think he’s a great, great guy. I’ve gained respect for ABBA for about more recently because it has like a lot of songwriting tropes in it. And it’s really well-written and very clever music. But it’s never been my cup of tea. I don’t know how you feel about that. Probably the same.
DJ: Yeah. But I wouldn’t even have to be on stage with Bill. I want to be in his living room. I want him to ask me for what kind of tea I want.

Coming to the last question – what’s you favorite song or artist at the moment?
DJ: So I was watching a specific performance of a song that I really liked, that I forgot how much I liked it, which is Only Son of the Ladiesman by Father John Misty. Father John Misty live at David Letterman. My favourite artist is Vice Blood.
DS: I think my favorite artist at the moment is probably King Crimson. I listened to them a lot, and it’s especially because their stuff is pretty new to me and the whole genre is. There’s just this one song that’s always perfect. Still, I feel the perfect folk song that’s Fanny (Be Tender With My Love) by the Bee Gees. There’s never been a more perfect song been recorded. It’s got all the right tracks, so I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. So it’s always when people ask for one song, I’d always said that one. It’s probably not even my favorite song ever, but it’s just perfect, it’s just so well done and beautiful. And the lyrics are easy to understand and simple, but they’re very honest and still pretty. And actually, we were talking about a song a lot this weekend. If we may just add one – Human by The Killers. And we’ve been talking non-stop about how good this songwriting is and how good the lyrics and the melody and how beautiful they are and how much we dislike the production.

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wurde musikalisch im letzten Jahrhundert geboren und hat immer einen Ohrwurm parat.

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