Freek by Val

A short(ish) biography

Born May 30, 1966 Utrecht, The Netherlands

My interest in music started in the late seventies, an in my opinion somewhat dire time for music and fashion. In my youth I had been escorted to a few guitar lessons by my parents, teaching me how to play Simon and Garfunkel tunes like ‘Cecilia’ and ‘The Boxer’ without too many mistakes. However, at the age of 14 my interest in music was truly awakened upon hearing ska bands like Madness, The Specials and The Selecter. Things got worse when, in February 1981, I was recklessly exposed to a 30-second sample TV-clip of Antmusic by Adam And The Ants. Through their punk-roots I discovered Punk, Post-Punk and New Wave and became much interested in the New Romantics scene of the 1980s. In fact, the early 1980s were a great period for music; with everyone being unemployed, there seemed to be plenty of time to be creative and release interesting music either on small independent labels or by creating your own label.

It wasn’t until 1986 that I began recording my own music. By plugging my battered homemade guitar into my 1940s tube radio, a precious gift from my grandparents, I recorded several cassettes featuring a lot of abstract sounds and noise. In 1987 I released some of these recordings on cassettes on my own label Honeymoon Productions. One year previously, I had formed The Honeymooners, envisioned as the Dutch Monochrome Set. Despite the cool Aria Pro II guitar bought at that time with money I had earned during my vacation, it didn’t work out as planned. I then formed Dar Pomorza with a school friend playing experimental pop music. The name was taken from an ancient Polish ship and means ‘Gift of Pomorza’, Pomorza being a Polish town. I played rudimentary guitar, bass guitar, synthesizer and drums. Not at the same time though. Dar Pomorza made its live debut at Willemeen in Arnhem on 23 January 1987 and, being sandwiched between two local heavy metal bands, caused a near-riot. Unfortunately not in a positive way.

From the mid to the late 1980s I contributed several solo abstract noise-experiments to compilation cassettes. Under the pseudonym Honeymoon Production I produced Manipulation Muzak as a part of RRRs series of anti records in 1988. This release featured an LP cover, a piece of vinyl and instructions how to create your own record. At the time, the release was compared to John Cage’s 4:33, which made me quite proud. In 2018 a homage to Manipulation Muzak, including a multiple made by me, was released in Germany.

In 1988 I began the short-lived Honeymoon Production label, which released the Voices In A Dark Room compilation double cassette one year later. I was extremely fortunate with the artists were willing to participate. The label Seven On A Broom In The Sky was born in 1999 and issued various solo recordings, mostly under the name Brunnen. In 2000 Frans de Waard and I founded Plinkity Plonk records, which from around 2007 onwards was run solely by Frans. In 2007 I started Beam Ends records, named after the autobiography of Errol Flynn; one of the more fascinating personalities ever to have walked this planet. In the early days Beam Ends mainly released music which was readily available for free download on the internet, but not yet available on vinyl. Very low quantities were pressed up for my own delight and to fill these annoying gaps in my private collection. Remaining copies were used to finance the pressing or traded off. Even though Beam Ends officially still is in business, it is on a temporary hiatus.

In the winter of 1988 long time friend Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots asked me to fill in as support act for a Pink Dots performance in January 1989. Since I didn’t have a clue what to do, I asked Frans de Waard (whom I had met a few years previously) and together we formed Beequeen. This collaboration was initially based upon our mutual admiration of the ideas of German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys. Over the years Beequeen released quite a few compact discs, vinyl records and cassettes, on various labels around the globe. Close relations with the Legendary Pink Dots were kept, resulting in various support performances and, in 1990, a split 12 inch single with the Dots called Der Aussiedler featuring music composed for a fashion show. In 1995 Beequeen released Sugarbush, which was a unique compact disc featuring cover versions of songs by the likes of Elvis Presley and Neil Diamond. However, only the titles are covered. The music is in fact entirely different to the original versions. Clever eh? In 1997 Beequeen played live for Dutch national radio VPRO’s programme De Avonden. The recordings were subsequently released on compact disc as Stetson, named after the iconic brand of hats Beuys wore. With the release of the albums Ownliness and The Body Shop a shift of musical direction took place within Beequeen. A departure from longer ambient tracks, the later albums were more song-based featuring vocals by Olga Wallis, whom I met whilst playing guitar in a dance orchestra. As a very accomplished singer she supplemented Beequeen’s now more surreal dream pop-based music extremely well with her warm and clear vocals. However, in 2015 Beequeen came to an end when Frans felt his contribution was diminishing and he subsequently left the band. Our final Beequeen album was Around Midnight – the album of which I am actually most proud and possibly the best we have achieved. Having said that, who knows what will happen next…

In 1991 I briefly worked with Dutch conceptual artist Paul Panhuysen at Het Apollohuis in Eindhoven. We mastered and selected recordings for four compact discs as released by Het Apollohuis, including music for birds and one for matrix printers. I also wrote the liner notes for an Apollohuis-compilation compact disc. The work was great and I learned a lot from Paul. The amount of trust and responsibility he gave me was heartwarming. It was therefore a privilege to release an album by Paul Panhuysen in 2004 on Plinkity Plonk records. On 29 January 2016 Paul sadly passed away.

In 1989 my solo project Brunnen was started. The idea was to combine songs and abstract soundscapes. Brunnen released several LPs, singles and a cassette. On 13 May 1995 Brunnen opened the first Festival Musique Ultimes in Nevers, France with Ryan Moore of The Legendary Pink Dots guesting on bass guitar. Even though Brunnen is not very active, a surprise second Brunnen show was staged on 12 May 2003 in Nijmegen and a third one in 2007 in Munster, Germany. A comprehensive Brunnen compilation CD/LP The Beekeeper’s Dream featuring both old and new recordings was released on BLRR in April 2006. Two hundred copies of the vinyl version came with a bonus picture disc with two long harmonium pieces, which I dearly love. These days Brunnen is inactive, but like the Beequeen he might be awoken upon the right call…

In 2000 I released the single 10 October 2000 as a tribute to my father who died that day. 11 copies of the single were handmade and sealed in wax. For this project it was obvious that I would not use the name Brunnen. A new project was born out of this tragic event: The Beautiful Glassbottom Boat. In 2001 I released a second single under that name on Plinkity Plonk records.

I have been fortunate enough to have worked with conceptual artist Gerald Jupiter-Larssen (The Haters) on two occasions: a radio play called Final, for Radio Rataplan (28 November 1989) and a live performance of Drilling Holes at Doornroosje in Nijmegen (11 October 1991). I also mixed a Radio Rataplan performance by The Haters (October 1991) and one by Kapotte Muziek/Merzbow (also 1991). The last performance was released on vinyl. I have been extremely lucky to have met, spoken or corresponded with a lot of people who I admire for who they are and what they do.

In 1994 I founded the Satanic Vagina Fanclub dedicated to the works of Catalan surrealist artist Jordi Valls, also known as Vagina Dentata Organ. The fanclub is still going strong and I’m still the only member. This is noteworthy as all other fanclubs I was ever joined, i.e. Adam and the Ants, Madness and Alice Cooper, folded the day I joined. Most odd.

Apart from all these musical adventures, I was co-founder (with Rob Woesthoff) and editor of the Dadaist magazine Nivo Stilo in the early 1980s. Rob and I were school friends convinced that art was dead and we would save it by publishing a magazine. The Nivo Stilo magazine lived for three years, also publishing one magazine dedicated to poetry and planned a second volume, which was never completed. We also did a poster action in Arnhem, where we pasted the Nivo Stilo manifesto on the city center’s walls during a freezing winter night. The next day we distributed hundreds of brochures to shoppers in the city center. It was all very Dada and naive. A great time. I lost contact with Rob, but after a surprise mail from Rob in 2010 we both met up over dinner and drank to those legendary days. Come to think of it, I did a second poster action in the 1990s when, in the context of municipal elections, I glued campaign posters urging people to vote for Adam Ant on the official boards.

Frans and I presented the avant garde music programme Art And Noise for four years on Radio Rataplan; the oldest independent radio station ran by squatters in The Netherlands. I composed the theme music for Art And Noise and got the chance to play some of the music I liked on the radio. Both Merzbow and The Haters played live shows on Art And Noise.  The station was raided by the police a couple of times. Luckily never during one of our shows.

I went to school in Arnhem for most of the 1980s, studied for my bachelor degree in the arts in Nijmegen and later at the Academy of Arts in Arnhem. While studying in Nijmegen, I played in two theatre plays; Mea Culpa on 24 and 25 February 1987 and Merg (written by Judith Herzberg) in 1988. For my examination in Nijmegen I created several paintings based on the ground plans of churches. For my examinations in Arnhem I created the installation Arizona In My Backyard, based on childhood memories. The installation featured a 4 minute endless tape recording. All of the designs for Brunnen records and some of the Beequeen designs were done by me.

I enjoy dancing a lot. In January 1996 I joined Ain’t We Sweet, a dance group focusing on dances from 1850 to 1950 (i.e. Mambo, Tango, Bossa Nova and American Swing). Miranda, my wife, and I frequently performed with this group. From 1998 to 2002 I was a member of the Board of Ain’t We Sweet. Unfortunately the group folded in 2002 due to a lack of members. Miranda and I then took several courses in ballroom and Latin dancing, but returned to our mutual love for Argentinian Tango. We continue to enjoy our regular lessons and salons.

In November 2005 I joined the Vermeulen Dance Orchestra playing guitar and occasional bass guitar. We played live at dance evenings at Vermeulen’s dance school in Nijmegen. Great fun was had by all, until most unfortunately, the orchestra disbanded in 2009 due to the cancellation of the rent of our rehearsal room. From 2010 to 2012 I played in the UNA Orchestra (Uitspanning Na Arbeid) in the tiny town of Kekerdom near Nijmegen. Originally a fanfare, dating back over 100 years, the orchestra tried to find a new focus in big band jazz. Unfortunately, conflicting interests caused internal friction and it didn’t work out in the end. A shame really, as we were well on the way to create something quite good.

I love listening to and collecting records and cassettes. Both formats have their own charm and sound that I really appreciate. Over the years I have acquired an extensive collection of many artists and genres. In 2000 I started working on a complete discography by American organist Korla Pandit. For more information on this fascinating artist, please visit the official website at http://www.korlapandit.com.

Since June 2004 I have been writing reviews, columns and articles on experimental music for leading UK vinyl specialists magazine Record Collector Magazine. I also contribute reviews for Vital Online Magazine.

In 2017 I was asked if I was interested in forming a Lou Reed tribute band. With Maurice Snijders on guitar, Stefan van Rijswijk on bass and Jeroen van den Berg on drums, The Blue Mask was formed in November 2017. The band concentrates on the 1982 ‘come back’ album The Blue Mask by Lou Reed as well as playing several of his solo hits and Velvet Underground classics. Working with a full band has been very rewarding and we have played several venues, theaters and open air festivals since.

On 9 November 2001 I married Miranda Appel and we lived happily ever after. We also have a cat named Sherlock who is extremely friendly. Our previous cat, Vladimir, was rightfully feared by all our friends and merrily lived to be a grumpy 18 years. She is buried in our back garden. The grave covered by a heavy slab of stone.

Thank you for your attention!

Freek Kinkelaar, January 2018

PS. the lovely portrait of me was painted by Val Denham. She rules.