“I FIND IT FASCINATING HOW TIME TAKES EVERYTHING.”
Musician Joost Dijkema (30) from Groningen has been performing since he was 12 years old. First as a drummer in one of the many bands he had in Assen and now as a gifted guitarist. He is known in the North as one of Groningen's greatest guitarists. This is partly due to its recognizable and ear-pleasing 'fingerpicking' sound. We spoke to Joost in June on the set of 'DePolish Bride' in Onderdendam, a play in which he provides the music together with the Groningen musician Bert Hadders.
Hi Joost, how are you?
'Okay, I'm busy. Currently playing in theater piece DePolish Bride and that is going great. It's my first experience in the theater and everything is sold out! From August I will start sending out the CDs of my new record. I do that all by myself. Doesn't involve a record company, haha. Perhaps in the future, because in addition to being a musician, I am also my own label boss, driver, PR employee, accountant and roadie. That is quite a lot of work. Especially now that I'm releasing a new record. Fortunately, my brother Jeroen helps me every now and then. '
That new record is called Time Thief. Can you tell us about that?
'The song 'Time Thief' was a prediction after a breakup, but the title of the record is the theme that comes back in every song of the album. The album is all about time. I find it fascinating how time changes everything. Everything from us steals. For example, I wrote a song for my uncle who had an accident and eventually died from the consequences of a spinal cord injury that he suffered at the time. He was suddenly stolen from us by the thief of time. A somewhat lighter song is 'Legacy of an old skeleton car'. That's about old cars. Nowadays I think cars look so hard, unkind and cheesy. Time has taken the style with its beautiful curves. Why?'
How do you leave your mark on your music? How do we recognize a Joost Dijkema?
'A lot of music doesn't touch me, even what I play myself when I'm researching. Then I keep pushing myself until I find the right feeling through, for example, an unconventional guitar lick, a catchy chorus or catchy chord progression. The original is in discovering something new. I love unexpected things that happen in music. If I fall into repetition then I just throw out a song and start somewhere else. It must remain interesting for a listener and the first listener is myself. '
How do you stay inspired? Do you also listen to a lot of music?
'I often find my inspiration through labels like Tompkins Square, Paradise Of Bachelors and Takoma Records. Leo Kottke's 6 & 12 String Guitar. That was the reason for me to learn the fingerpicking technique. The same technique that has become my own.'
'But sometimes I try not to get inspired by others at all. Like for The Polish Bride for example. The play is based on a well-known Groningen film, but I have never seen the film. I didn't want to get influenced beforehand. That was the thing. That way you stay more original.'
You are a recognizable appearance with your cap, your blouse and your boots. Do you pay a lot of attention to your clothes?
'I can say that I don't just put on something before I go out the door. I have five of these caps, often wear boots and recently, when it's hot, cork sandals. I used to cut all my mother's maternity suit in half so that I had created a kind of Bassie pants up to belt height with a Scottish pattern. Very punk. On my head a red cockscomb or a Formula 1 cap. For example, I went to Pukkelpop 1999 as a ten-year-old. I was already concerned with outward appearance, but also with what could be found that did not cost money. frills and color. I think my current style is related to Country Rock of the 70's, I feel connected to that. Here too I have found my own combination by searching off the beaten track. If you want cool country-style shirts, you have to go to America, they have that style there. That's how it is with everything. If you want to see butterflies, you have to look outside the city. Enter nature. If you want to make good music you have to try things out. Search within yourself. Search for originality.'
Thank you Joost!
Text: Jannes Heidinga
Image: Erikjan Koopmans