THIS may be the first time…
I have featured an Amsterdam band on the site. I have been to Germany and France but never snuck into the Netherlands. This is exciting and especially so given the ethos, dynamic and look of MY BABY. They consist frontwomen Cato von Dyck and brother Joost – New Zealand-born Daniel ‘DaFreez’ Johnston completed the line-up. Their new single, Sunflower Sutra, is a stunning one; it has a terrific video I find out more about. The video consists three parts: Birth, Ceremony and Rebirth. The totems of each individual band member are evoked. We have Rooster (courageous and hardworking – this is Daniel’s); Hare (concerned with happiness and fertility – Cato’s sign) and Pig (soft and modest sums up Joost).
It is a quirky and unique take on music so I was eager to find out more and whether we can see the guys in the U.K.; how the trio got together – and if there is any more material down the road.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
We're doing great.
It’s been rather busy. Only just finished the festival summer, and now, straight into the European tour for two months - so, we were busy preparing for that.
However; we did manage to find some time to work in our studio.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
We are a trio based in Amsterdam - that play Roots-driven hypnotic Dance.
What is the new single, Sunflower Sutra, all about? Can you reveal the story behind it?
Whilst writing songs for our album, Prehistoric Rhythm, we delved into ancient rituals that involved songs of worship. Some cultures sang songs of worship for the sun as it also represented a deity - for instance, the Inca civilization or the peoples of ancient Egypt. We really fantasized about how their songs would have sounded.
The inspiration for the lyric came from discovering an old ancient Persian poem about sunflowers turning their heads to follow the sun - creating a sense of unity and symbolizing a strengthening bond.
We took the title from a poem by Allen Ginsberg. We fused all those influences to create the journey-like song that is built up out of different stages - and rhythms that represent the different stages of a ritual.
Tell me more about the video – as it has been nominated for a Los Angeles Music Video Festival award. Whose idea was the concept?
Ayla Spaans is a young talented filmmaker who approached us with the idea of making a video for Sunflower Sutra. She had an inspired vision and fresh interpretation of the song in mind that really tapped into the relationship between music and spirituality.
Your third album, Prehistoric Rhythm, employs different sounds, beats and styles. Do you think you have encompassed more influences as your career has progressed?
We have always strived to fuse different styles and sounds. A lot of African beats formed the basis for quite a few songs on Prehistoric Rhythm.
Taking Influences from Indian and oriental melodies also made difference.
How did you all get together? Were you all friends from years back?
Cato and Joost are sister and brother and have been playing together since childhood. We met Daniel over twelve years ago at a festival when he was Blues-busking around Europe (after leaving New Zealand).
PHOTO CREDIT: Bart Heemskerk
Amsterdam is where you are based. What is the music scene like there and are there lots of great acts emerging?
Amsterdam doesn't have a particularly rich history in Rock and Pop...
But, in recent years, the number of interesting acts has increased. There is a conservatory of music where a lot of Jazz musicians, in particular, emerge. Amsterdam is home to famous venues like Paradise, Melkweg and Bimhuis.
You have been getting a lot of love from stations like BBC Radio 6 Music and Beats 1. How important is this to you and how does it make you feel?
It’s great to get that support and recognition; especially because our music is not straightforward radio-music.
What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we come see you play?
We have an autumn European tour coming up including U.K., Germany; Belgium, the Netherlands; Switzerland and Central/Eastern Europe.
Are you coming to the U.K. this/next year to play?
We had a great summer of festivals in the U.K. including Glastonbury, Isle of Wight; Shambala (and many others). Hopefully, that has generated interest in seeing our own headline show.
We’ll be playing our Prehistoric Rhythm show in Leeds, Bristol; London, Manchester; Birmingham and Brighton.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mitchell Giebels
If you each had to select the album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
Daniel: Robert Johnson's - King of the Delta Blues Singers
Robert Johnson is the most pivotal Blues influence because he was able to, so profoundly, depict the struggle of human existence and describe, in poetic imagery, what that entailed for him, personally. It's where Blues, as a Folk and a form of entertainment, meet artistry.
That discovery, for us, is part of the foundation of how we see our music and art in general.
Joost: Sly and the Family Stone - There’s a Riot Goin’ On
Sly and the Family Stone has been a prime source of inspiration in terms of Rock ethic and genius musicianship. There is a persuasive power of Gospel-meets-hippie idealism in Sly's music that is striking. There is always an expression of a dark and corrupted side (of himself) that threatens and leaves you feeling the fragility of life and all things beautiful. That is a rare combination to have shine through in your music.
It's something we aspire to...
Cato: The Gospel According to The Staple Singers - The Staple Singers
1950s’ recordings from The Staple Singers is a collection of powerfully evocative and enchanting Gospel traditionals. The guitar-playing of Father Pops Staples is spooky - and harks back to early-Country-Blues. Then, there is the majestic voice of Mavis - who powerhouses through all the songs; backed up by the brilliant harmonies of her siblings.
Truly humbling music.
Do you get the chance to relax/have downtime away from music? What do you all get up to when you have time to detach?
Cato likes to travel and look for vintage clothing; Joost likes to party (especially in Glasgow); Daniel likes to hike in the mountains.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Be determined - and play as many shows as you can when you start out.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
For happy Pop-Soul goodness; check out Vulfpeck – Back Pocket
Follow MY BABY