What can we expect from your residency with Kaito Winse?
We would like to record an album. We have already played a few concerts, so we already have a repertoire. So the intention is to work on it during the residency and hopefully finish the album. I sing and play the violin, Kaito will play various traditional African instruments including several flutes, tama (African percussion instrument), kora (stringed instrument), gourd (percussion instrument) and arc à bouche (kind of mouth harp). We met a few years ago at Muziekpublique, where he played solo one evening. He played for an audience that seemed infinite to him because he involved his ancestors, his environment, nature… I found that extremely interesting, it differs enormously from what we mainly do in the west. Play on stage and do your thing, then on hotel and back home. In addition, the instruments Kaito plays are far from my violin, which gives a lot of room for exchanges and new ideas. And that is enormously enriching.
How did your career as a musician start?
At our house it was very obvious to be busy with music. My father played electric guitar and composed a lot. In the mid-eighties he had an Atari (computer brand), on which he could orchestrate his musical works to his heart’s content. That was my playground too. He often took us out into the fields with a ‘4-track’ (multi-track tape recording) so we could sing in the ‘vocals’ without disturbing the neighbours. I also tried to write down my music in my own way. Not with notes, but rather with drawings representing high and low, symbolizing length. Then we found me a violin that I started to play with completely in my own way. I tried to recreate the songs I heard, so I marked with chalk on my violin the places where I had heard the note. Then I ironed them in the correct order. When I was eleven I started at music school, later – when I was eighteen – I was allowed to go to the conservatory of Rotterdam to study classical music. The way in which classical music was experienced and taught has never attracted me – I have long avoided it – so that during my studies I was often involved in Latin and Brazilian ensembles, Indian or flamenco music. This way I was constantly challenged and expanded my range of expression possibilities. During my classical music studies, I also chose to study Argentine tango. There, too, I felt a certain reluctance not to focus exclusively on this genre. My curiosity ensures that I always end up in new worlds. As sweet as that is, it always asks a lot of you. You have to build up the confidence that you have gained over time with something new. Lately I have chosen to focus more on improvisation and my own creations. It’s time to express my own world, which of course has been shaped by all the beauty I’ve encountered on my way.
Why did you choose violin?
I had heard a violin at a friend’s house and from that moment on I knew I wanted to play the violin, without a clear ‘why’. A while later my mother was able to find me a violin. Now, why does a child choose a particular instrument? Gee, good question. I think that is determined by a certain chemistry, but also the energy at that particular moment. I now also play the trumpet, but if I had come into contact with a trumpet as a child, I might as well have chosen it. Each instrument has its own way of interpreting your poetry. For a while now I no longer see myself as a violinist, but rather as a musical interpreter and I like to involve different sounds and instruments.
What gives you satisfaction in putting your music into the world?
My way of making music and then putting it into the world has gone through a real process and has evolved greatly over the years. At this moment I strongly feel the need to let myself fully ‘be’. This is not only true musically, but also in general in life. And that is the big reason that I am almost exclusively involved in improvisation and composition. When I follow my heart and speak from my soul, I feel the power to get my message across. But it is a continuous practice and challenge to deliver only unconditional honesty: we so easily fall back on what we have learned. I’m learning to listen to my inner self more and more, it’s my best learning experience. And I believe that someone who offers their uniqueness without boundaries always receives a generous response.
You not only play instrumental music, but you also use your voice while playing the violin. Do you have a preference between the two?
No, I have always sung. I also use my voice primarily as an instrument, we all got it anyway, so I can use it just like that. Violin and voice have a lot in common and by using them both – whether or not simultaneously – I get extra color on my sound pallet. I also like poetry very much. So the addition of language has absolute added value for me. When I compose for my voice, I take advantage of the opportunity to impart humor and other things that I otherwise would have had difficulty conveying.
In addition, I see you picking as often as ironing. How did that happen?
At the conservatory I learned to use my bow very often, but due to my search for other ways of playing, I gradually started to imitate other instruments, including the guitar. Well, you can’t possibly become a guitarist on a violin, but it does generate a whole new world. That brought me so many new possibilities that I started making a lot of songs with it. I can accompany with my violin in a very soft and serving way, with a bow you immediately end up in a completely different sound world, and that of course remains very fascinating to explore.