Most people know Chris van der Linden as the founder of Dutch electro/ambient/alternative outfit Fourteen Twentysix, one of the most promising young acts emerged from Europe in recent years. Led by an eternal desire to explore within the various music subgenres, Chris is about to reveal another project called Bow. To find more about it, read below.
Nick: Hey there, Chris! Thank you very much for having time to answer some questions for Prog Sphere. How is the summer going for you over there?
Chris: It is going great. Summers in the Netherlands are usually not very warm so I have lots of reasons to stay inside, in my studio Which I need to do also with all the projects I’ve got going on, there’s a lot of work every day.
Nick: I am sure that most people know you through Fourteen Twentysix, but you’ve started yet another adventurous project called Bow. Would you mind telling us something more about it?
Chris: BOW is a new solo project I started earlier this year. I wanted to something in my own time, to work on in between work for Fourteen Twentysix. For a long time I wanted to do something with more ambient experimental music so that’s how it started. BOW is very experimental so its definitely for a small group of fans I think.
Nick: The concept of the Bow debut album which is titled „Man in the Machine” is very interesting. By your own words it tells the story of a man who goes slowly mad inside his own head. Where did you find inspiration for it?
Chris: I always like to work from a concept because it gives me something to “hold on” to during the year I work on an album. I had recorded some bits of music to try and find the style for BOW but some things really sounded a lot like Fourteen Twentysix. I decided to throw away all the vocal recordings and kept just the instrumental music.
At that moment I had this vague science-fiction story in my head of a man that is trapped in his own mind, trying to find answers in life. I had played a game years ago on the Phillips CD-i player called Burn:Cycle about this computer hacker guy that gets a virus in his head. Then he has 24 hours to go inside his own head to try and shutdown the virus. Its a great futuristic story with some Buddhist/spiritual elements giving it a unique atmosphere. This has definitely been an influence for me. I began to see BOW’s music as a movie and I thought wouldn’t it be cool to have these movie-like voices on the music instead of vocals? I was unsure about the idea so I told my idea to Jelle Goossens (guitarist Fourteen Twentysix) and he was very excited about it so I did it!
Nick: Do you think that in a present time, considering all the adversities a man is facing with, every human being fits the story presented on „Man in the Machine“?
Chris: I think you can draw a lot of parallels to today’s world we live in yes. Technology advances quickly and man becomes ever more dependent on it. I mean, I could not do what I do without a computer. You could argue that we all are becoming more like machines, working 9 to 5 in offices. Its a routine, every day is the same and what is the purpose? To make money so you can buy an iPad? More then ever I think people wonder what its all good for and I can imagine folks were genuinely more happy in older times, when you just sat around a fire reading a book.
Nick: Speaking of genre labels, it’s really hard to throw the album under any specific orientation. You lend the elements from pretty wide specter of genres.
Chris: Yeah “Man In The Machine” is a mix of many genre’s. One can hear ambient, noise, harp, rock, industrial and ethnic stuff going on. There’s no real reason behind that other than I just used styles I think fit the story. Man In The Machine is very dark, slow and dreamlike so the slow rock, ambient, harp and field recording noises really help set that “movie” feeling.
Nick: When you started the project, have you had any clear vision of where your music is heading to? Also, how much what you do with Fourteen Twentysix helped in the Bow concept?
Chris: The vision has matured and I have decided a few “key” things early on. Most bands work with a clear music genre they stick to but for BOW the only thing that I want to stick to is that every album tells a story and has spoken word parts. This means the next album might be a totally different music style, with voices in Aboriginal tongue, featuring only drums made from animal bones and skins.
I will choose and use genre’s that match the story really, not the other way around. So the music style of “Man In The Machine” is in no way a benchmark for BOW itself and what is to follow next. This might be a tough swallow for some fans but I’m quite sure people that like my style will like it
Fourteen Twentysix influenced BOW mostly in the sense that I have tried to make it something totally different. Of course people will hear similarities, I guess that happens when the same artist works on something. Also, Martijn Jorissen played some of the bass on the album and Jelle Goossens will help me mix the album when its done.
Nick: You decided to kick off a Pledge Music campaign in order to cover the financial part of the album’s release. Are you satisfied with the response so far?
Chris: Its been amazing. It exceeded my expectations. Not so much in terms of money (while that is going great too) it’s just a very special relationship you build with your fans. Its heartwarming to see how dedicated people are to you as an artist. Don’t forget its a lot of work, people don’t just give you money you have to make it worthwhile. So I spend a lot of time on promotion, making video updates of the process, sending out thank you emails to people that donate. So if you are considering it for your own band, only do it if you are prepared to invest a lot of time in it and really work with your fans. Its not one way traffic.
Nick: Fan-funding projects are something new, do you think that it could become the main income resources for the up-and-coming bands in the future?
Chris: Yes, some bands are already successfully operating with fan funding. Some make the jump to a label after building up a fan following. With record labels in decline it makes sense that artist take control into their own hands, and in that sense possibilities are endless. Its amazing what you can do with devotion and a lot of time! Most bands earn more money through live shows and merchandise sales anyway than from music sales.
Nick: Let’s talk more about the album. How long it took you to create the song structures? Tell us about the creating process of the record.
Chris: I usually have the concept for the entire album written down before I start. So in the case of “Man In The Machine” I knew I had a certain story I wanted to tell. This kind of worked out on paper to be 15 songs and I knew what kind of feeling each part needed to tell.
I record in my own home studio so I can work pretty fast, and when I have an idea I can plug in and record. I work pretty freely, recording a general vibe/sound for a song, then slowly sculpting it to a more finished state. Most of the time I have a new song sketch recorded in a few hours. Finishing it might take anywhere from a couple of days to a few months, depending on how hard the song turns out to “get right” or if I have to schedule a date with a guest musician.
Nick: One of the options in the album’s Pledge Music campaing includes house party gig. Does it mean that you definitely plan to promote this music live? For that purposes do you have in plan to recruit the full-band line up?
Chris: My initial plan for BOW was to absolutely never play live. So it shows again never to say never haha! That said I do not really plan to recruit a full live band for it. The live shows we want to do are going to be very limited and personal, with Sarah on harp, myself on keys, samples and a bit of guitar. Some of the guys from Fourteen Twentysix have let me know that they’d love to jump in occasionally and jam along, so I am kind of taking it organically, see what comes on my path.
Nick: Bow, along with the Fourteen Twentysix is followed with very very nice graphic background. Who does all those artworks and graphics?
Chris: I do most of the graphics and design, I studied graphics design, photoshop and photography. In fact I’ve worked as a studio photographer for six years. It’s not something I make a living out of but I love doing it. The artwork for Man In The Machine is by Sven Geier from the USA who makes fantastic fractal images. He was kind enough to let me use some of his work.
Nick: I would say that what’s common for Bow and Fourteen Twentysix is its minimalistic ambient approach, so I come to a conclusion that you are a big fan of this sound. What are some of your influences from where you draw the inspiration for everything you do with your projects?
Chris: You’re right I grew up listening to a lot of slower tempo bands that influenced my sound. I grew up listening to anything “metal” but especially loved the slow doom stuff like Anathema, My Dying Bride and Skepticism. After that I started listening to a wide range of bands, too much to name but I think Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd and that sort of thing you might hear in my music.
Nick: When can we expect the Bow album is released?
Chris: Man In The Machine will be available as an MP3 download and a Digipack CD. It will go on sale through my own website/webshop. I am still working out the details of that so stay tuned for news. You can subscribe to the BOW newsletter on www.bow-music.com to get the latest news as it happens.
Nick: What are your future plans?
Chris: I’m currently planning for a second BOW album. People think I’m crazy but don’t forget making and releasing album takes a year of work, so I always start planning ahead. It will feature Sarah Nichols on harp again, its going to be very different from Man In The Machine but in a good way. Currently I am trying to warm up some companies for a creative/strategic partnership, one of them is a importer/exporter of ethnic percussion.
Nick: Thank you very much for your time, Chris! All the best with all your future endeavours.
Chris: Thank you for the interview!