Music _ Vondelpark
Text by Shanna Keetelaar
They already tested the waters in the last 3 years with their first 2 EPs “Sauna” and “NYC Stuff and NYC Bags” on record label R&S. After that the expectations for this new young band grew very high. And it kept on growing a bit longer then most expected or hoped for… We had tot be very patient before Vondelpark finally released their debut LP “Seabed”. They took their time and had some bad luck underway with their record being stolen. Luckily Lewis Rainsbury, Alex Bailey and Matt Law from London pulled themselves back together, emerged as a band and sound nowadays regardless to their still young age like a band who’ve been playing together for years. Their new record is so smooth with seamless transitions between recorded samples and live instrumentation that you almost would think this is a complete other band then the one we heard in 2010. They seem to have found their own sound and even though the album needs some getting used too, once you drift into it, it just covers you like a warm blanket on a grey rainy afternoon. The vocals have become clearer from what we’ve heard from them before and the whole album feels quite effortless. Singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Lewis Rainsbury took some time to tell us a bit about expectations and feeling isolated sometimes as a band.
NOU: You just released your debut LP Seabed. Did you have any idea how you wanted the album to be/sound like when you first set out to do it?
L: We wanted to make something that represented how we were feeling after losing a record to theft, we flirted with the title “Robbed In Dam” for a bit but agreed it was too self indulgent… We decided “Seabed” would be a nice foundation to build on, and would pinpoint our hazy years.. People obviously know we are capable of something much grander and less subdued but we wanted to do something that felt natural to us at the time whilst maintaining our rich tones and groove.
NOU: The reviews on Seabed were very mixed. How do you guys feel about that? Was it a surprise or expected?
L: The reviews were expected I guess but I feel like we’ve received support in the places we wanted and hopefully our live show will start making people realize that Seabed is only the start for Vondelpark, not our final thesis.
NOU: Do you think it might have to do with that your sound changed a lot from your first EPs and people were just expecting something different?
L: I guess.. We’re revisiting our “Sauna” days currently in the studio but this time with 3/4 years of production/session work experience to bring to the mix, it’s sounding really exciting experimenting with so much gear. Each of our records will differ but I think it’s important to have a variety of themes when listening to your body of work, especially so early in our career.
NOU: Some have said that Seabed might be more of an album to listen to through headphones. How will you present this album live?
L: In a much more focused rhythmic and dynamic performance combining live visuals and drum machine pulses to cut through and engage with audiences.. We’ve all switched our instrumentation around and funk bass is now a clear feature.
NOU: What do you want to bring over to your audience while performing?
L: Cultural reference points and a disco feel. Something to tap your foot to, or shake your booty.
NOU: Do you feel part of a musical movement of some kind, or pretty isolated as a band?
L: Isolated sometimes, though people are gradually starting to understand us.
NOU: You guys started out pretty young, is it hard to stay focused and not get too much carried away in the world of performing, partying and people trying to be your friend just because you are musicians?
L: There’s definitely that element involved, but I think partying and late nights can be a big influence in electronic music and can enrich certain concepts in lyrical content and tempo.. There’s a feel of come down feel with “Seabed” and it’s for those nights where you can’t sleep and it’s getting light.. Or there’s the other side of that where by, you’ve decided not to go out and you end up making a lonely pop record that’s left in an underwater dark world.
NOU: Can you tell us about your first memory of music…
L: I’ve grown up listening to jazz.fm with my family, and my parents have always encouraged and supported the idea of being a musician as a sustainable career, something that’s important to staying focused.. My first show I went to was Slipknot some point in the late nineties and ever since that I wanted to be in a band.
NOU: Since I’m Dutch I really would like to know why you choose to name your band after the Dutch park: Vondelpark?
L: Ha, I apologize.. I enjoyed using a name that people could rarely understand or pronounce in London when I told them; and the fact we’re from Surrey added to the anonymity. It’s a great place to be and it felt like Amsterdam means a lot to us as a band.
NOU: Do you have any sort of ritual before you come on stage?
L: Lewis soaks it up, Matt lingers around bathrooms, Alex drinks vodka, and Will does weights.