Volterock: What were you doing before this interview?
Kettel: I’m in Austin, Texas now and I just got a haircut. When I came in Window Licker was on and they gave me a free beer.
K: 15 years ago I jokingly wrote a mini biography about camping and sorcery and it still floats around the internet. It’s how it works. I haven’t camped since or turned any schoolboys into glyptodonts, since.
V: You've said that you are actually a cow, and that we are all cows, and that is how Kettel (cattle) came to be. This seems to be true as even Aphex Twin has shared emotions about milk coupled with wishes to suckle. Moo?
K: I really said that?
V: Do you still have the fake fish given to you by Secede (Lennard Van Der Last)? May we see a picture?
K: I think it’s the Big Mouth Billy Bass
It’s a famous one. He gave it to me while we were both into the Sopranos, where it played a role. Was that the birthday I walked around in wifebeaters doing a Bobby Baccala impression? I think so.
V: Secede had said that your voice can be heard among some bird sounds in various recordings. How many bird sounds can you do? Or, what were the sounds that you were making?
K: I’m a nifty whistler, but I don’t think I’ve actually sat down and tried to be a bird on any record. There’s a lot of whistling on the When Can album though. Birdsounds don’t fail to impress me, they’re so weird if you really listen to them. I can do a pretty good mockingbird with some mouth movements. It looks like I’m having a stroke.
K: I think our best work was the running gag of pretending there were hundreds of paralysed eagles in the car on tour. It’s 6 years ago but when I think about it I still laugh about Benn wiping his dashboard clean of eagles before we drove off.
V: You have mentioned that you're a soccer fan. Do you watch or play any other sports?
K: Cycling and soccer are the main things I’m very much into as for watching. I played soccer for a long time as a youngster.
I now ride my roadbike. It’s fantastic, especially with Strava keeping track of every statistic which caters to the Raymond Babbitt in me. Holland is a great country to ride in: you’re unthreatened by traffic so you can really be one with just your breathing and the minimalistic nature. It took me a lot of travel around the world to realise how beautiful it actually is in the Netherlands.
V: You started learning to play the piano when you were 5 years old. Who taught you and do you play any other musical instruments?
K: I got piano-lessons.
I don’t play any other instruments. I have a guitar and I can play it a little bit but I would never say I actually play guitar.
V: You have said that the music a person hears between the ages of 15 and 21 are very influential and that you listened to electronic music primarily from the nineties during those ages. Which songs were your favorite?
K: It was at Chichli Suite when I really felt Autechre starting to swing and they haven’t stopped since and everything from them is my favourite. I think Pencha was my favourite song ever for a good few weeks but Chichli, Nuane, Rae, Cipater, it was all overwhelming.
And that beautiful song from Analogue Bubblebath 3 by Afx and anything off RdJ album. I really loved Mouse on Mars too then. Iahora Tahiti. It’s so long ago.
V: Purple Jacket Trot begins with a loss of direction and lonely beat coupled with foreign speech that later matures into a steady but broken dissonance and tearful melody with underlying angst speaking of death and the struggles of life. This is perhaps one of your most emotional songs. Is there a story behind the creation of this song that has a personal meaning to you? What are the vocal samples from?
K: So dramatic those samples! I was around 20, probably a post-puberty thing flared up and I felt sad about some shit. I would never use such gloomy samples anymore, I can’t believe I actually did that, but I’m ok with it because it felt right at the time. I remember recording them from an Oprah Winfrey show randomly. I now can’t really understand why I wanted to communicate such a gloomy, sad message. When I look upon it now, I think the melodies are sad enough and don’t need a vocal sample of a suicidal person, hahaha.
V: Are many of your songs influenced by personal experiences in your life?
K: I think so, but it’s not like if you feel sad, you compose a sad song. Or you feel happy, you make a happy song. Writing music is quite tedious. There’s a lot of discipline to it. For me making electronic music has been too indirect to be a direct reflection of how I feel. It simply takes too long to establish my idea. From a certain point on I’m just working on making something sound good and logical. A lot of personal experience is given -after- the completion of an album. Then you can put it into a certain timeframe of your life.
V: You've said that you made sand-sculptures of Bach when you were in kinder garden. May we see a picture?
K: Dude that’s the 80s, we didn’t run around with phones with camera’s then!
V: How did you learn to make electronic music and where have you learned your production techniques? Do you frequent any music production communities?
K: I probably should frequent them more. I’ve never been much of a technique-guy. I’m only very, very mildly interested in it. I’ve always focussed on composing and writing, more than production. I accept that there are a million guys that sound fatter than me and I really, really respect that craft. Still, I think if you have a good song to sing, you have a good track. I trust my ears.
V: When did you make your first song and how have you seen yourself grow as a musician?
K: I wrote piano sheet music when i was 6. I went through the entire museum with my girlfriend when she visited. It’s quite embarrassing and funny at the same time. Lots of violence in the libretto’s, too.
I haven’t seen myself grown as a musician, that’s up to others. Do you remember going from 160cm to 180cm? The only thing you can do is your best.
V: There seems to be a lot of field recordings used in your music, especially in your collaborations with secede. Do you record most of these sounds? What are your methods of recording them? Do you have any stories from this recording journey?
K: Yes, it’s mostly a matter of recording sounds in your life and at some point they will create a location for your album.
V: Do your dreams ever influence your compositions?
K: I don’t think so and I don’t really see how.
V: What was the last dream you had?
K: I really don’t remember. Probably something about traffic and parking lots because I’m in America.
V: Do you compose differently for live performances?
K: Most album tracks were live-songs at some time. I compose very sketchily for live and when I still like the song after playing it live I will try to work it out to a song.
V: Some electronic music producers do a lot of experimentation in the production process, whereas for you, it seems that you compose everything in your mind from the beginning. Is this still your most common approach? Are you always in a state of making music within your thoughts?
K: I think that I do differ from most producers in that I’m not particularly interested in / good at experimentation or sound, but moreso in composing a great song. I’m completely in awe of all the electronic music I hear around me. It sounds so damn good. I have no idea how they do it.
Autechre is definitely my favourite band ever and they’re all about experimentation, pushing technology and shifting the way music is perceived. Still, I don’t want to pursue this myself. It’s all about knowing what you can and can’t do, I think.
V: You mentioned that work area, changing up setups, and studio formation is most inspirational for song creations. Could you please elaborate on this process?
K: Rearrange your table and there’s inspiration to use it. I’m pretty sure that sounds familiar to everyone. It’s no different.
V: How do you name your songs?
K: Usually things that are going on in my life at the time of making the track.
V: What will you and Secede be creating in the future?
K: I’m working with Len on a daily basis in the ad-instrustry. It’s a true pleasure working with someone that good. We’ve known eachother for a long time. We’re a team, and you really have to be in the ad-world to make it work.
I’m sure there will be another album sometime.
V: You've toured in Japan, America, and where else? What is your most memorable journey? Where will you be going next?
K: I’ve done crowded, sold-out shows in Spain, Tokyo and Kyoto that were impressive, big and memorable, but the most memorable shows to me are still the ones where I travelled to with friends and caused ruckus. Small-time gigs where everything came together and everyone had a good drunk and all of my friends were there and some even stirred in the backstage soup. It’s more precious than a big gig to me and I really miss it.
V: What is the best way to stay up-to-date with your live shows and new music productions?
don’t know a better way.
V: How may we reach you to book a live performance?
- Buy Kettel's music on Sending Orbs or his Bandcamp page.
- Follow him on twitter: https://twitter.com/reimer_kettel
- "Like" him on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kettelmusic
- Follow him on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kettelmusic