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Interview: Arid

You started doing music in the mid 90s, that is the fime when Nirvana opened the door for rock music. Starsailor, Reamonn and lots of groups… you lived in a kind of era which is so important for rock music. Do you find yourself lucky for making music at that era? You know 2000s is not a good time for rock music.

Jasper: No, we started in 1996 or something… 97 which was we were influenced by these bands. So by rock music, like Radiohead,  Smashing Pumpkins… It was good for rock music, we were young. I like those bands, I stil do. But I like different kinds of music as well. I listen to lots of different kinds of bands. And maybe our music has evolved from that, we were there even before bands like Coldplay, Starsailor… We already had that kind of music. So I will still do.

With Humo’s Rock Rally, you were first introduced to rock music with that contest. Do you find yourself lucky to be the finalist in such a rock contest?

Jasper: Yeah, I mean it opened some doors for us because it’s a huge magazine, a big magazine. Humo has the contest so if you are one of the finalist sor you win, you get a lot of attention.  But I thought it was ok. We were… It’s a good thing that we didn’t win. Because everyone that wins doesn’t really have a good career. All the other bands that can-win finalists don’t win. Those are the bands last. I don’t know why but somehow it’s like that. Yeah it’s good I mean it’s a good kind of contest.

It’s nice that you have explained that. Because you have this unique feature like writing these incredible songs… I mean lyrics. They are kind of intimate, sincere, coming from the heart. Do you try hard to make it. Because it is really effective.

Jasper: Yeah, I mean they are very personal for me. I am the only one in the band who writes the lyrics and it needs logic. Because I have to sing. Yeah it’s always very intimate. It’s hard to write the lyrics because you know think about something emotional or whatever meant something you care about. Because it’s so final. Once it’s finished, you can’t go back and change something. Or I want to say differently now. You can’t do that. So the lyrics are really important. For me it has to mean something. I like living inside the world of the song. For me if they make sense to me, if it’s something emotional to me, It’s good. Because I can sing it every night.

And when you are singing, you actually feel the song inside. We can get it as the audience.

Jasper: Yeah…  Everytime. Because I am a big believer in the fact that when you sing, even if you don’t understand the language, people can hear if you fake it.  So if you are for real, people always hear that. Even if they don’t understand, they feel you are feeling the song. That’s important to me.

You feel the emphaty between the audience.

Yeah.

After you, Were there many groups like you, being the ifnalist in Humo’s rock festival and were they lucky just like you?

Jasper: Many… But some of them are big bands now. Others aren’t you can’t explain why. Actually the year we were in the Humo’s Rock Rally was one of the biggest best years ever. Because there were other finalists that won the contest, that are still well known… There was something about that year. It was a good year like a good wine…

It was your turning point.

Jasper: Yeah, yeah, yeah…

You know Deus, K’s Choice, Hooverphonic, Zita Swoon, Counting Crows and the other bands they became popular coming from Belgium as well and they are praised in Turkey.  What can you say about Belgian rockstage?

Jasper: About the music scene?

Yes, the music scene.

Jasper: There are so much talents in Belgium. You can’t believe ever. It’s a small country and we can’t explain it. But there’s so much talent. And different genres as well.  K’s Choice is different from Deus, Hooverphonic is more melodic. They are also all very talented bands. These kind of kicks started everything forward. Because they were the first more alternative rock bands that have huge success. Before that, there were a couple of bands that had lots of success in Belgium but they were more popy…  You never hear rock.

In relation to this, Belgium is one of the headquarters of rock music. Especially in the lastest years and what are the problems of rock music in Belgium. Do you have any difficulties?

Jasper: The real problem is for begian bands to get out of Belgium. That’s one of the main problems. Because there’s so many talent in Belgium. But it’s difficult to get outside Belgium. Because it costs Money to go different places. You know record companies do not have a lot of Money any more. So they don’t pay you or help you like in the beginning you need Money to start a business and to exploit your business, to go to different places.  So I think that’s the most difficult thing for Belgian bands is to get out of Belgium.

You are right. But you are courageus, you know. You are a worldwide group now. And you write your songs in English as well. How do you find it?

Jasper: To write in English…

Does it change your feelings?

Jasper: No, no… Because I speak Dutch and Flemish. It’s more to sing a song in Dutch than is to sing it in English. Because all the music that I listen to, English is kind of language of rock and pop music for me. It’s not that I don’t like different languages. Because I have sung in Dutch, I have sung in French, I have sung different languages. So it’s ok. I read a lot of poetry when I was young. I was a big Doors fan. I was a fan of Jim Morrison. And all these great writers, poets… I read them all when I was young. I think the English language is kind of like a part of me. Because I learned it so young.

You read poetry that’s why your songs are like poems. Can you try something in future? Writing a poem book?

Laughs…

Jasper: Maybe I should. I thought about maybe they could take my lyrics out of context and maybe they would stil work as a poem. But I have done that in the past but never made a book out of it.

What about the Turkish feedback. I mean the Turkish audience… maybe you don’t know but we really love you in Turkey. We are impressed by your music.  Do you have any feedbacks from Turkey?

Jasper: Well, on the facebook that we have our band, we saw that we have a lot of fans from Turkey which was great. And sometimes we ask a couple of questions to people. It’s great to have… We didn’t even know that people play our music here. So that is really cool. We are so glad that we have come here to play.

Thank you. We are happy too. Between 2002 and 2008 you didn’t do much music or we didn’t receive so much information about that. You didn’t release and albums during these years.

Jasper: We did some things, yeah.

You did?

Jasper: Yeah, but we had lots of problems with our record companies and they didn’t release it any more outside of Belgium. And I did a solo album in 2004. I toured for the solo album and a year later we started playing again.

But we didn’t get that info (Laughs…)

Jasper:  We released a record in 2008 and 2010.

So you are continuously working.  OK. Your latest album in 2010 Under the Cold Street Lights, what is the reaction for this album so far?

It’s great. I have been critically claimed that everyone loves it. Soundwise it was a little different more rock.

Rather than pop?

Jasper: Yeah.  Now it’s the fouth single that we released.

Great! My next question was about that. You released 2 singles and the third one. Is the forth on the way?

Jasper: Yeah, the forth one is something from the last album.

Me and My Melody, You are are your classical songs which are so popular and we all started to get to know you with these songs.

Jasper: Me and My Melody you know as well?

Yes. Actually, if you know we have forums and continuously that song is being talked about.

Jasper: Ahhh!

Howcome you release such songs? They are really impressive. Did you expect these songs to be so popular?

Jasper: No, no, no. Because when you write a song at first, just don’t know what to expect. It’s just basically you write it for yourself. Because you listen to music a lot. You need to express, you need to write a song. When the song comes out, afterwards it’s always like you don’t know if people are going to like it or it’s kind of like you made it. You have to see what happens. You never know.

Something from the inside.

Jasper: Yeah.

As I mentioned Suede, K’s Choice, Counting Crows… You toured with them. What kind of an experience was it? Being with Suede? I am interested in Suede as well.

Jasper: Suede, that was a long time ago. I really like the band. We didn’t have a lot of contact with the band. Not the same as the Counting Crows. But it was great. We toured in Spain and Italy with them and the southern countries and France. Their shows were great. I listened to them everythinght. I like their songs. They have great songs.  But they are really loud on stage. Guitars and that… Ahh… It was always funny that the singer always hit and didn’t sing a lot. He always let the audience sing… (Laughs…)

Interactively.

Jasper: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

This question is about Haunded Castle that you acted in. Did you like being an actor?

Jasper: I wasn’t really an actor. The strangest thing about that movie was they didn’t ever told me from the start that I was going to have to do the acting. It was like all in different pieces. I was in a tour in Holland and they said “Do you want to do a voiceover test?” It was like. “I can, why not!” So I went to the studio. They gave me a piece of paper and said. “OK, read this.” I thought it was a test like an audition and I didn’t hear back from them ever. And they said. “Yeah! It’s all in the movie.” I thought it was just a test.

So it was all improvisation.

Jasper: Yeah and they put it in the movie. And then one day they called me. “Yeah, you have to do this small things. You are in the big room.” I didn’t even know what was happening. And pretended that there are some people walking towards you. And I’d never done that. That was so weird form e. And afterwards I saw the movie, and it made sense. It was kind of strange.

You like it?

Jasper: I do like it because… It’s not a very interesting story. It’s more about the 3D effects. But it was nice to be a part of it. Because it’s… And our music is in it. And I had the chance to voiceover.

You made the soundtrack for the film. Are you planning to do some more soundtracks?

Jasper: I did recently but I did on my own. There’s a movie coming out. There’s a cartoon. That’s called the Magic Cristal that is released all over Europe and all the theatres and I wrote a song for that. But just me. And there’s another movie coming from Belgium an I wrote two songs for that.

If it comes to Turkey, we would like to watch it.

Jasper: Yes, yes. I’d like to do another soundtrack if they ask us to do.

And are you working for the fifth album? Do you have any coming projects?

Jasper: I am always writing and I do different kinds of music as well. I work a lot with machines as well. It’s not dance music but it’s more beat orientated.

Downbeat or something?

Jasper: Yeah, something like that. I write music and that too. I have lots of songs so if the guys would say “Yeah, let’s start a new album.”  I will do it but I stil want a solo album as well. Because it’s been so long. I did one in 2004. And it was different from Arid. It was more intimate, with more piano, acoustic guitar, the voice in the story… Lots of sad songs. And…

You are good at sad songs.

Jasper: Yeah… And I love that as well. It’s not a rockstage. Into a venue, people are all quiet… Start playing really soft.

Touchy?

Jasper: Yeah, I like that too. So I want to do another album like that as well. But I don’t know when. It depends on what we are going to do.

You like sharing your feelings with the others. In March you have concerts in Holland. What is the tour of the upcoming days?

Jasper: we go home after this. Then we start in 2nd March. So we are home for a couple of days. Two or three days. Then we leave to play in Holland again. It’s a two week or three week tour. There is always more stuff to do. We have a manager. She manages the band called Placebo as well. She’s going to help us to play in the UK.

You are busy then.

Jasper: Yeah.

What do you think about your popularity outside Europe? I mean the United States, Far East like Turkey.

Jasper: I like it. I just love to go different places. That’s what I love about playing in a band. When you can go over to another country. Like here in İstanbul, we meet people instantly, talk to you because they know you or in a band you get to discover things that if I would come as a tourist, I would love to meet certain people and we know about certain places. If you are in a band, you get to play and meet someone to take you to the local places and that’s so much fun.

Being a band means, being on the road.

Jasper: Yeah. You can travel and meet new people. It’s really interesting. I think it’s really important because it broadens your horizon and Outlook on the world.

I agree with you in that sense. Final question. Tonight’s performance. Are you going to play your latest album or will there be your old songs as well?

Jasper: No, we have quite a long set list I think and we play a mixture of the first songs from the first album like Me and My Melody and songs from the last album. We have four albums so we play songs from every album.

Thank you for the oportunity to have the interview with you.

Jasper: I just want to say thank you for the interview. That was really nice.

***

Interview with: Jasper Steverlinck

Arid: Website, Myspace, Wikipedia


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