Artist in residence Stepping Stone TELDERMAN

Het Concreet ft Aafke Romeijn


The platform for music and musicians Dock Zuid in Tilburg organized their first batch of residencies in October 2021. They have been initiated by pianist Rogier Telderman, one of the people behind Dock Zuid. In this period singer-songwriter Aafke Romeijn worked in analog tape studio Het Concreet. They took time to reflect on their experiences during these residencies.

text: René van Peer
photo: Seye Cadmus, Omar

Het Concreet x Aafke Romeijn

The week in which the residencies were held concluded with a symposium about the studio as a compositional tool, building on a practice that Edgard Varèse already worked with. There was to be a panel discussion on the topic, but Het Concreet also wanted to have someone work with their studio to provide concrete examples how the concept can be realized. For this they invited singer-songwriter Aafke Romeijn, who had worked in Tilburg before. Het Concreet’s managing director Anneroos Goosen had suggested to invite Romeijn, whom she knew through a collection of poetry that the latter wrote for the Tilburg literary festival Tilt. Romeijn wanted to create music with long lines and duration, something she can’t normally do in the pop genre in which she works. In the analog tape studio she experimented with long tape loops and effects on prerecorded sounds. “Being a keyboard player, I used that instrument for creating the sounds that I recorded and timed. What I want to do is compose music live, on the spot, to process loops live and have them move over each other. I had no idea of the resulting sound. In order to make it work I have to listen to what is happening, and correct that then and there. It is not unlike working with Ableton Live, but in this set-up it has to be right at once. Because it’s recorded on tape in realtime you can’t process it afterwards. It is basically improvisation. I have never worked in an entirely analog environment. There’s no easy way out, no computer to dump the music in. In the end it all has to be put on one single tape. On Friday there will be a presentation, which will be recorded. I don’t know yet how I will use that. It would be great to make remixes of it. I have done residencies as an author, and worked on projects as a composer, but this is the first time that I have been working in an analog environment. The material I use is new to me.

What Romeijn considers of value in this residency is the freedom it allows her. “Here I can create something without having to sell it. Usually there is a team around me that supplies me with everything I need, and there is an audience that expects something from me. Here I can create what I want, make it as long as I want it to be. That is not easy when you have established a career. I can’t take a week to work on this. I wouldn’t have been viable financially. I am not in a position that I can invest in something that I create just for myself. I am happy that this place exists to allow the creative brain to think in long lines, as it would do when writing a novel. I haven’t built and trained that muscle in music. There are only a few places where you can work on long pieces, but there is no such thing in pop, because of the pressure from the market. On top of that, if I want to create an hour-long piece here, no-one has to rehearse it for performance.

Mathijn den Duijf, one of the founding members of the Utrecht based creative space Kytopia, points out differences between the two institutions. “Because we didn’t have any financial support there, we couldn’t realize all the plans we had. Here, support is not a problem. And as we share the location with Dock Zuid, we are stronger as a breeding ground for artistic endeavor, we enjoy a broader support from musicians, organizations and authorities, and through that we can accomplish more. We want to make this our definitive accommodation. If we achieve that, we can throw our doors wide open and invite people to work here.

The author – René van Peer

René van Peer has been a music journalist since 1987. He writes for Gonzo (circus) and various other media in the field of music. He is by definition concerned with eccentric music. Electronic, improvised, sound art and world music. Powered by TINC asked René to reflect on two residency-programmes at Dock Zuid.