“Beequeen inhabit a perverse fairy-tale like place where menace forever threatens to engulf a stuttering ambient calm”
Olga Wallis – vocals and keyboards, Frans de Waard – keyboards, electronics and sounds, Freek Kinkelaar – vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and electronics
Beequeen’s unique combination of traditional song-writing, ambient and experimental electronics or ‘surreal dream pop’, started in late 1988, when Frans de Waard and Freek Kinkelaar sat, surrounded by cassettes filled with experimental music, in Frans’ bedroom at his parents’ home discussing the possibility of making music together. They had met a year previously when Freek contacted Frans about a booklet Frans had published featuring discographies of several experimental bands. Finding out they shared interests and musical tastes, making music together seemed the logical next step.
The name Beequeen originated from their mutual admiration for the works of German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys. Leafing through a book of Beuys’ art their eyes fell on a work entitled ‘Bienenkönigin’ – German for Beequeen. Actually the correct English translation would have been Queen Bee, but Beequeen was more similar to Beuys’ title. Plus it sounded better.
One Summer day they sat down and recorded their debut Mappa Mundi, which Frans released on cassette on his Korm Plastics label. Mappa Mundi, ‘world map’, turned out to be the start of a special journey that did, indeed, take them around the world.
In 2007 vocalist Olga Wallis joined Beequeen. Olga had been the singer in a local big band that also featured Freek on guitar. Her warm and intimate voice was the perfect icing on Beequeen’s cake, of which the music had gradually been shifting from ambient-drone to more song-structured works. And so Beequeen became a ‘Trias musica’. 2014’s ‘Around Midnight’ can perhaps be seen as the penultimate Beequeen-album; mixing ambient-drones with warm songs creating a unique ‘surreal dream pop’ journey. Peter van Vliet, known for his work with Mekanik Kommando and Use of Ashes, produced the album and featured as ‘fourth member’ during the production process. Peter also joined Beequeen on bass guitar for consequent live performances.
Despite all the effort, time and energy spent on ‘Around Midnight’ and its follow up single ‘Sturmwind’, sales for both were less than expected, leading to different opinions as to what Beequeen’s next step should be. This led to Frans’ decision to stop working with Beequeen in 2015. As Beequeen without Frans would be unfeasible, the band decided to stop releasing music under that name. After five years, Beequeen awoke from this hibernation, releasing ‘Winter’, an album featuring music created from unreleased recordings in the archive as well as new recordings made in the winter of 2020.
In 26 years, Beequeen released 13 singles, 23 albums and contributed to 33 compilation albums. Beequeen played 56 live performances, including a tour in America in 2003 and appeared several times on Dutch national radio and regional television.