Spotlight: Bram Stadhouders

I first interviewed Dutch guitarist Bram Stadhouders   for my Electronic Musician piece on playing through a laptop. His minimalist mix of guitar and guitar synth sets him up in his own guitar space. Here he lets us know where he came from and where he is going.

What kind of music were you playing when you first became proficient on the instrument?

I started out with classical guitar. My dad’s profession is guitar-teacher, so at 6 years old he started to teach me the basics of guitar. After my classical period, at 10 years old, I started with rock, then at 14 Jazz. However I’ve always continued the classical.

What led you to create more experimental (non-mainstream) music?

I think it’s because of the way my parents raised me. My dad always inspired me to find my own style and voice and my mom (a piano teacher) has a very open mind to modern music. As a kid, I went twice a week to the local jazz club in Tilburg, where many exciting things were happening at the time. There were open-minded people who liked free music and even as a kid I got the chance to play with them often. Now I don’t see any other way besides trying to push the boundaries and create something new.

Whose music inspires you?

My musical father figure is Pat Metheny. His music is so good that it will sound modern 200 years from now. Like Bach, he pushed the boundaries of using technology in his music. For me technology is important too. I usually like music that involves electronics. I listened a lot to ambient music

Right now I’m getting into modern composed music, since I just started a Master Composition study in The Hague. A favorite piece of mine is Michel van der Aa’s “Up-Close,” along with many others.

How did you get better at your current style?

By playing with musicians that are better than me. Three years ago, I was privileged to play a few concerts with Norwegian singer Sidsel Endresen and American drummer Jim Black; we released a CD as well. This experience was a big lift for me; in one night I went a few steps ahead in my development. The Master Composition study will help me in my improvisations as well. It means more focusing on “what” to play instead of only “how” to play. It needs to be more in balance.

What are you trying convey with your music?

This is always a tough question—the reason I play music is because I cannot put that into words. Otherwise I would have maybe become a writer or poet. But to make an attempt, I’ll say that I hope my music touches people in one way or the other. I do try to convey emotions, emotions that are born from soothing tendencies. I think the main thing I would like to do with my music is soothe people.

Which guitars, amps, effects, plug-ins and software do you use to create your music, and why?

I always connect my guitar to my MacBook running Ableton Live. I use some synths and FX. My reverb sound is the normal Ableton reverb. I always use it. I have two SoftStep MIDI foot controllers from Keith McMillen, and a Roland GR-33 guitar synth. Sometimes I use my iPad as a midi-controller too. I have an Eastman jazz guitar, a Bernabe classical guitar, and a Taylor steel-string guitar.

Which do you enjoy more: recording or playing live and why?

I enjoy both equally; however there are some big differences between the two. In the studio, the music is more concentrated, because there is no distraction. It’s only you and the music. Playing live gives the opportunity to get direct feedback from the audience, and creates a special vibe.

How have you built up an audience for your music?

I haven’t really actively built up an audience, however I do try to send people regular newsletters or Facebook updates. It’s a slow process and takes a lot of patience to get an audience. On my website you can subscribe to get monthly MP3’s delivered to your email. That’s one of the ways I hope to keep people interested in what I do.

With whom would you like to collaborate and why?

I could probably write a full page with names I’d like to collaborate with. Now that I’m collaborating with classical musicians and ensembles, the list is endless. Orchestra’s, choirs, brass ensembles, violin soloists, you name it. Working with classical musicians is my main interest right now, because it’s so new and challenging to work with them as an improviser, it forces you to compose.

As for improvisers, I’d still like to collaborate one day with Ståle Stoklokken, he’s an amazing Norwegian synthesizer player from the band Supersilent.

What is your latest project? When will it be available and where can people in different parts of the world get it?

I’m in the process of releasing 2 new projects at the same time. The first is a guitar duo, where we play improvisations on classical guitar. Our CD was recorded in an abandoned monastery, and will be released on Challenge Records in February. Soon after that it will be released worldwide, but it will also be available on the website. You can listen to some tracks here.

The second project is “Cantata”, new compositions for a classical tenor voice, electronics, and myself. On this page you can watch a video from the premiere concert. Also this CD will be released on Challenge Records, but probably in September 2015.

 

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