A short(ish) biography of FREEK KINKELAAR, “COME UP AND SEE ME – MAKE ME SMILE”
born May 30, 1966 Utrecht, The Netherlands
My interest in music started in the late seventies. Except for punk (and later ska), a truly dire time for music. In my youth I had taken a few guitar and ukele lessons, which taught me how to play Simon and Garfunkel tunes like ‘Cecilia’ and ‘The Boxer’, but when we moved house I put the guitar aside for quite a few years. However, all this was to change dramatically when, in February 1981, after seeing a 30-second sample clip of Adam and the Ants’ Antmusic single on Top Pop (a very popular music TV show), I instantly became a major Antmusic fan. Through their punk-roots I got interested in the punk/new wave/new romantics scene, which was a very exciting time. The early 80s were great for music; with everyone being unemployed, there seemed to be plenty of time to create and release interesting music.
I have been active in the experimental music scene since 1984, when I first started recording my battered homemade electric guitar, plugged in my 1940s tube radio system, which had been a precious gift from my grandparents. The resulting tapes featured a lot of abstract and loud noise, which I loved but the neighbours hated. I made a couple of private tapes in 1984/1985 using that same guitar and tube radio amplifier. In the mid-1980s I formed The Honeymooners, who played (very) primitive pop music and bought an Aria Pro II guitar (a shameless but highly effective Gibson Lucille copy). The band name was a reference to The Monochrome Set. When The Honeymooners broke up I formed Dar Pomorza with Rob Woesthoff. We played experimental pop music and even released a cassette. The name came from an ancient Polish ship and means ‘Gift of Pomorza’, Pomorza being a Polish town. I played rudimentary guitar, bass guitar, piano 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 heavy metal bands, caused a near-riot. Unfortunately not in a positive way.
From 1984 to 1987 I contributed several noise-experiments to compilation cassettes. Most of these were solo recordings released under the pseudonym Honeymoon Production. Under the name Honeymoon Production I also produced Manipulation Muzak as a part of RRRs series of anti records. This release featured an LP cover, a piece of vinyl and instructions how to bake your own record. The product was compared to John Cage’s 4:33, which made me very proud at the time.
In 1986 I began the short-lived Honeymoon Production label, which released the Voices In A Dark Room compilation double cassette. I was very fortunate with the number of artists that were willing to contribute a track. The tape came out perfect and was re-released several years later on Bake records on CDR. In the early 1990s I founded the Seven On A Broom In The Sky label issuing various solo recordings. The name came from a Dutch children’s song. Happy Shark records was founded in 2000 for a sole single in an edition of 11 copies. Frans de Waard and I founded Plinkity Plonk records in 2000, which initially released Beequeen related material only, but later also music by other artists. In the naughties I started Beam Ends records, named after a book written by Errol Flynn (one of the more fascinating personalities ever to have walked this planet). The label Beam Ends focuses on the release of music in limited quantities. In the early days this was mainly 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. However, Beam Ends’ focus is slowly but surely turning to releases featuring music that is not yet available otherwise.
In the winter of 1988 long time friend Edward Kaspel of The Legendary Pink Dots asked me to fill in as support act for a live Pink Dots performance in January 1989. Since I didn’t have a clue what to do, I contacted 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. Beequeen recorded (and continues to record) a large number of compact discs, vinyl records and cassettes, which were released on various labels around the globe. Close relations with the Legendary Pink Dots were kept, resulting in various support act 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. To this date Beequeen continues to develop itself, record and release music. 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, recent albums have been more song-based and feature vocals by Olga Wallis, whom I met whilst playing guitar in the Vermeulen Dance Orchestra. She is a very accomplished singer and supplements Beequeen extremely well with her warm and clear vocals. It is as if we were made for each other. Sandancing marked Olga’s vocal debut. Recent performances have described Beequeen as a band straight out of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks TV series. Surrealist dream pop. My, my. Beequeen continues to record and thrive and had meanwhile has become a part of my normal life, just like Beuys intended all art to be a part of day-to-day life.
In the early 1990s I worked with Dutch conceptual artist Paul Panhuysen at Het Apollohuis in Eindhoven. We mastered and selected recordings for four compact discs as released by Panhuysen (including music for birds and one for matrix printers). I also wrote the liner notes for a compilation compact disc released by Panhuysen. The work was great and I learned a lot from Panhuysen. The amount of trust and responsibility he gave me was very rewarding. It was therefore a privilege when we release a compact disc by Panhuysen years later on Plinkity Plonk records.
In 1989 a brand new solo project called Brunnen was started. The idea was to combine songs and 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) 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 not very active. This is mainly because the songs I write now find a sympathetic home in Beequeen.
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, all of which were 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 on Plinkity Plonk records. Despite the fact that I really love the name, The Beautiful Glassbottom Boat is, like Brunnen, not very active with recording.
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 (November 28, 1989) and a live performance of Drilling Holes at Doornroosje in Nijmegen (October 11, 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 very 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 surrealist artist Jordi Valls (alias Vagina Dentata Organ). The fanclub is still going strong and I’m still the only member. This is noteworthy as most other fanclubs I was ever a member of, folded the day I joined (Madness, Adam and the Ants, Alice Cooper). 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. We were friends in high school convinced that art was dead and we would save it. We published the magazine for 3 years, published one volume of poetry and planned a second volume, which was never completed. We also did a poster action in Arnhem, where we pasted our manifesto on the walls of shops 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 for the past 20+ years, but after a surprise mail from Rob in 2010 we both met up over dinner and drank to those legendary days.
I also co-presented (with Frans de Waard) the avant garde music programme Art And Noise for 4 years on Radio Rataplan; the oldest independent radio station 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 studies in Nijmegen I made paintings based on the ground plans of churches. For my examinations in Arnhem I made an installation called 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 (e.g. Mambo, Tango, Bossa Nova and American Swing). Miranda 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. We then took several courses in ballroom and Latin dancing, but returned to our mutual love for Argentinian Tango a few years ago. We enjoy our regular lessons and tango salons mucho.
In November 2005 I joined the Vermeulen Dance Orchestra playing guitar and bassguitar. We played live at dance evenings at Vermeulen’s dance school, where we took our lessons. 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 on big band jazz. Unfortunately, conflicting interests caused 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 collecting records. Vinyl is just a wonderful format in so many respects. I’m not a vinyl hardcore maniac though, when music I want to hear is only available on CD, I’ll happily listen to the digital format. Over the years I have acquired an extensive collection of many artists and genres. In 2000 I started working on a complete discography by 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 and articles on experimental music for leading UK specialists magazine Record Collector Magazine. More reviews are frequently posted in Vital Online Magazine.
On 9 November 2001 I married Miranda Appel and we lived happily ever after.
Thank you for your attention!
All hail to merry march hares Frans and Terry for their initial help with these pages.