Lewsberg are part of a blossoming guitar underground working in cities across the Netherlands.
It's not a 'scene' though, don't get us wrong - each group have their own flavour, their own distinct identity.
This is certainly true of Lewsberg, whose skewed, defiantly left-field indie rock draws on a deep and vibrant well.
New album 'In This House' is out now, a record packed with unexpected divergences and curious about-turns.
Lewsberg's Michiel Klein dives into their Influences, and emerges with Chicago blues and Frank Ocean...
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Howlin' Wolf - 'Smokestack Lightnin’ (1959)
Like most rock music, an important part of our music is based on blues music. My preferred version of the blues is the one chord droning variant.
'Smokestack Lightnin’ must have been the first example I ever heard and I was instantly hooked. It doesn’t sound old or new, it sounds out of time. It’s so hypnotic, it feels like a fragment of an ongoing song. I never play this song just one time, always two or three times at least.
This song could fill the whole side of an LP and never get stale. It’s built out of a few very simple elements, very minimalistic, a lot of repetition but also a lot of small variations.
It’s body music, too, very elemental.
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The Byrds - 'The Bells Of Rhymney' (1965)
Folk-rock is a great genre because the meeting of the old and the new was so obvious and actually the whole point of it (when it started in the '60s). I think this should be the point of all music and it actually is the case with most, despite some claims about something being authentically old or completely new, like no other music came before.
For me personally, the English folk-rock lies closest to my heart. 'Liege & Lief' and 'Cruel Sister' are two of my all-time favourite records, but for Lewsberg the American folk-rock is more relevant.
The chiming and jangling guitars of The Byrds’ melancholic ballads are a big inspiration for a song like 'At Lunch' for instance.
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Leonard Cohen - 'Suzanne' (1967)
'Songs Of Leonard Cohen' was played quite often in the parental house when I was young. Maybe too obvious as a choice but 'Suzanne' for me is the quintessential Cohen song. This must be where the seeds were planted for my fascination with so called downer ballads or loner ballads. One man, one woman embracing and confronting the inherent loneliness of life.
I don't care for lyrics at all, so for me even Cohen is about the musical elements and the atmosphere it evokes. I could do without the strings and choir arrangement though, especially the strings feel like unnecessary ornaments.
Still a very beautiful and very important song.
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Frank Ocean - 'Nights' (2016)
Fast forward to 2016 while skipping some hugely influential post-punk favourites like 'No New York', Talking Heads’s 'Remain In Light' and PIL’s 'Metal Box'. Lewsberg started early 2016 and that summer Frank Ocean released 'Blonde'.
Arie, Shalita and myself already were big fans of 'Channel Orange' and also really got into 'Blonde'. To me it was great to hear a contemporary and popular artist stretch the limits of what a pop song and album could be. Not being groundbreaking per se, but experimenting in an expressionistic, diaristic way with form and production techniques, both hi-fi and lo-fi.
'Nights' is a beautiful and fragmented song that kind of summarise this attitude. Frank Ocean is not an inspiration for individual Lewsberg songs, but more in the way we might construct an album or a live set.
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Earl Sweatshirt - 'Solace' (2015)
'Solace' was presented by Earl Sweatshirt as one song. I guess it's more an EP, or a suite of songs, but whatever it is, this is ground zero for one my favourite and inspiring current scenes in popular music. The one loosely built around rappers/beatmakers like Earl, Mike, Navy Blue, Medhane and Adé Hakim.
I’ve loved hip-hop since my teens, but the macho and money obsessed bullshit has always clashed with my own character and beliefs. Of course there have always been alternatives, conscious hip hop, but this particular contemporary sound hits all the right spots for me. Maybe because it’s so melancholic and introverted, a kind of hip hop version of the downer loner ballad?
Also because there is very creative and beautiful production going on, lo-fi to mid-fi, often done by the rappers themselves. It tackles deep feelings but with a very homemade feel.
This is really important to me, to carry out a message or feeling of: you can do this yourself.
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'In This House' is out now.
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