Following on from #13 with Andrew Heath, this latest instalment of The Maker features Groningen-based Anne Chris Bakker. Chris is someone I’ve been linked with for many years, but it wasn’t until he was performing alongside Andrew Heath at the first RTR live event that we had the opportunity to meet in person. Interestingly, both Chris and myself (Slow Clinic) had our first label releases on Somehow Recordings back in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Chris’ music sits somewhere in the realms of ambient, minimalism, electro-acoustic, and experimental.
In this feature, Chris provides a detailed description of how his interest in ambient and experimental music developed, trusting spontaneity and chance when creating new music, and how reel to reel tape machines play an important role in his creative process.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
My first serious interest in music started when I was introduced to indie music in the 90’s. That time I listened to bands like Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Eric’s Trip. Sonic Youth had a major influence on me. When I got introduced to albums like ‘Sister’, ‘Daydream Nation’ and ‘Confusion is Sex’ I was blown away. Somehow this music had such a freedom and had such a different approach compared to all the classic pop music.
This music also reminded me what I loved to do. Playing detuned guitar on mostly on just one or two chords. I felt so much freedom in it. And it gave me some confidence that there were people in this world who did something completely different and unique.
After that I found my way into music. I discovered the work of John Cage, Jim O’Rourke and Luc Ferrari. A band like Tortoise (like the album Millions Now Living Will Never Die) had a big influence on me. But also, the early work of the band Low ment a lot to me. I remember listening to the album ‘I could live in Hope’ over and over. The way they used silence I music was so strong and intense.
I guess from that point I listened to a lot of different stuff and gradually moved to things like Oren Ambarchi, Talylor Deupree and William Basinski. And Celer. Lots of Celer. I think my own way of making music changed together with the discovery of lots of great musicians. It went went from indie rock, to post-rock, from post-rock to experimental, ambient and minimal music.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
It can be a lot. But mostly it’s being outside in the nature. Being in the woods is a necessity for me. It’s the place where i feel calm and free. Most of my ideas come from being there.
How do you approach working on a new release?
The start of an album is mostly spontaneous. I try not to think too much about what direction the music should flow. Mostly it flows by itself. This is the part what I like the most. Mostly I leave the music for a while and listen the tracks back after a week or so. Most of the times I know directly what pieces work and what pieces don’t. Finalizing a piece is for me the hardest. Sometimes I keep changing and changing pieces. Listening to pieces over and over.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
I haven’t released much the last months. The latest one was with Romke Kleefstra as the experimental project Transtilla. In November Romke and I will release our second album at the German Midira label.
This autumn lots of things will be released. Of course, there is my ambient project with Andrew Heath. Our album is called ‘ a gift for The Ephemerist’ which was released earlier in October. We are really happy with this release at the great Rusted Tone Label. I will also release a solo album this autumn/winter which is called ‘Stof&Geest’ on the American label Unknown Tone Records. I have worked hard on this album which is mostly based on piano sketches recorded on an old real to real tape recorder. I’m also working on another solo album based on a project with film artist Sabine Burger. This will be released next year.
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
I love the analogue aspect of it. The sound of recordings on tape have a very unique and warm sound. I use tape a lot because of its own unique and beautiful sound. I recorded lots of piano on very old reel to reel tapes. I just love to listen to recordings on tape. It has this very rich and unique sound.
Andrew Heath & Anne Chris Bakker’s ‘a gift for the Ephemerist’ (RTR021) came out on Rusted Tone Recordings earlier this month in both standard and deluxe editions. There are still a number of standard edition tapes available from RTR, and a very small number of deluxe editions via Chris’ own page (link above).