Interview: Klangstof

Within the scope of the Appletree Garden Festival we had the opportunity to meet the ambitious Dutch-Norwegian Band Klangstof. After their concert we talked among other things about the current Zeitgeist, the Coachella Festival, influencer, the yolo-vibe and the context between music and society.

Can you shortly present the band and where you’re from?

KOEN: We’re Klangstof from Amsterdam. I’m Koen and I made the first record. Afterwards I met these guys (Jobo, Jun and Wayne) and we started to play live shows exactly one year ago. That is where this little adventure started.

Critics often hear Radiohead or the sound of early Coldplay in your songs. I really like your sound and the use of characteristics of different genres. E.g. Ambient-like soundscapes, here and there noisy sounds, digital generated beats, nearly house-beats. Your songs seem to be well-considered, down-to-earth and anyhow atmospheric. They seem to breath without any hurry. What do you think of a comparison to Post-Rock artists like Sigur Ros, Mogwai or Archive?

KOEN: Good question. Actually it’s obviously true. Everything you said is true. I think it’s cool to be compared to those kind of artists. I grew up with Radiohead and also the first Coldplay record which I still think is really good. Basically we try to mash up almost every genre that exists in music which you can really hear. Like you said, we have a lot of electronic beats going on. But at the same time I’m also a big fan of acoustic beats and the dynamic range of acoustics. In general it’s always about trying to find the perfect combination of every sound you like. You can pick the best of jazz, the best of post rock etc.

JOBO: We tried rap but it didn’t work.

KOEN: Yes, there’s almost a rap song on the new EP though but the rapper was sick. We always thought about it a few times. Just keeping one verse empty to see if someone can fill it. Some kind of our beats are suitable for hip hop as well. It’s a cool thing to explore when you’re making all kind of music. It’s a good feeling that we can do whatever we want to.

Where do you see the difference between the music scene in the Netherlands and Norway?

JOBO: I think we have a band culture in Norway. But we’ve never been good at exporting music and lately that has changed with e.g. Kygo or Aurora’s candy pop.

WAYNE: The thing in the Netherlands is that it’s very small. There have always been cool bands but they never get big and they never get out of the Netherlands. Now the music culture has changed. The music industry is more on the internet and that’s also how Koen came out of the Netherlands by posting something on SoundCloud, getting picked up by a Label in Los Angeles and featured on an international blog. It’s a really good thing for the bands of the Netherlands.

KOEN: Obviously Norway has a lot of money for culture and stuff. When I played in another band before I felt that the Netherlands are to scared to invest to getting outside of Holland because it costs a lot of money of course. In Norway you can get some money to go overseas and start playing which is a great way to export music. I think dutch people don’t want to gamble that much with their money at talents. Musicians play in a band and besides they start working as web designer to keep a steady income. But we got lucky that we got a deal in America. We’re able to get outside of Holland and start playing everywhere and get a little bit of money from the label to do that. That was really really good.

What do you think of the ATG Festival so far?

JOBO: We just came to the show. We haven’t walked around yet. But the crowd is really amazing. Everytime we play in Germany there are good vibes. Here it’s a really young crowd, they really are into the music and I really like that. Hipsters, in a good way.

You were the first Dutch band who played Coachella. What do you think about commercialization of music festivals? E.g. the Coachella collection of h&m or social-media-influencer who go there to make money. Jimmy Fallon once asked spectators about bands who didn’t exist. The visitors told him that they loved the performance of these fake bands.

KOEN: That is exactly what’s going on and it’s pretty fucked up in any way. But I think when you are a starting artist and getting asked to play there, for us it’s the best promo we can get. Eventhough I agree with the things you said, I couldn’t care less and I think it’s stupid. At the same time it’s such a big festival and right now you can’t say no to that. You also have cool festivals like this one. They just thinking about having a cool line-up, having good food etc. There are also festivals which are the really opposite. They are about sponsored deals and big artists. Festivals like ATG are definitely more fun because you can really feel that everyone is in the same place. In Coachella you feel that there are also people who are their for the money or for showing their faces to the world. At the same time that’s what everyone does, kind of get the recognition.

JUN: We had a great experience to play Coachella. It was insane and the crowd was really nice.

KOEN: Yes, we had a really good crowd. That was really ecxiting about it. Actually they were singing along and having a good time. I would play Coachella three more times before I start doubting it.

JOBO: Three times? At least five times!

Is there any difference playing a festival or a club show?

WAYNE: Yes, at festivals people are there to have fun. That’s what I call the yolo-vibe. Festival people want to have fun, drinking beer and having good weather. For us it’s really hard sometimes cause we have some depressing songs, so it’s hard to join that vibe. But at the end of our setlist we have more uptempo songs. It’s also because you have way shorter time to soundcheck and settle up your stuff. So you basically go on stage, most of the time we have a couple of minutes to do the soundcheck and then get of, wait for five minutes and than you have to play. Thats pretty fun but on the other hand in clubs people are really coming for you, you can make more a vibe of your own and that’s also really cool. When we play club shows people really coming for our music, so they also love the depressing songs.

Do you think that the actual Zeitgeist has an impact on your music? E.g. some people don’t go to certain cities or concerts because they are scared of repeating terror attacks.

KOEN: I think that’s really fucked up, people should keep on traveling.

JUN: I think it shows on our music as well because like I’m telling Koens story now: Koen was in Norway, couldn’t really find himself and that’s also part like the Zeitgeist. Also the EP we are working on now, there are some themes that kind of reflects todays society. Politics generally, Donald Trump and coping with life. It’s a time where is so much pressure from succeeding and you also have a lot of people not wanting to leave their homes in Japan because they are afraid to be on their own in society. I think that’s really relevant for all of us.

So you think musics task is to reflect society.

KOEN: Yes, definitely. The first album was really pretty much about myself, kind of on my own in Norway but know we’ve been touring around a lot. When you’re in the US for two months and your touring mid west and you starting to think: Wow, these people are living a very different live then what you are used to in Europe. You get very inspired, a bit irritated how the world works and of course it gets into your music. The older you get, the smarter you get as well.
Music gets to a more intellectual point as well. That will getting definitely in your music even if you don’t want to. You have this knowledge in your head and you don’t want to tell it to your mum or your friends but you want to put this in a song just for yourself to understand it. You don’t want everyone else to understand it. It’s definitely in the music and it should be in the music. In the end art is all about being real and honest and it’s for people kind of connect to each other. When we playing in the US there were Trump and Hillary supporters in the crowd. In the end they all come to the show. They all in the same vibe. People actually connect with music. That’s a really important role art places in that picture.

You play a lot of concerts and festivals this year. How is life on tour? Will Klangstof still exist after your tour?

KOEN TO WAYNE: What? You want to quit?

WAYNE: Yeah, right. That’s what I wanted to say.


WAYNE: After this tour, being two months in America, I think we have bond way more. We just started playing the four of us one year ago and I think this was actually what we needed to really connect, to get to know each other as musicians. Now we’re back home and we are writing new music which is gonna be released soon…And yeah we will definitely still exist.

Fotos: Elena Pifeas.
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Tour (Deutschland):

28.10 – Nürnberg – Nürnberg Pop
30.11 – Berlin – Kantine am Berghain
02.12 – München – Milla
03.12 – Leipzig – Neues Schauspiel
06.12 – Hamburg – Prinzenbar

Niklas Johnen

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Niklas Johnen