Get To Know... The Klittens

Neu Get To Know… The Klittens

The Amsterdam five-piece whose new EP is a joyous testament to creative collaboration.

Hello and welcome back to DIY’s introducing feature, Get To Know… which aims to get you a little bit closer to the buzziest acts that have been catching our eye as of late, and working out what makes them tick.

Made up of five friends who started life with a “mega awkward first show” (more on that below), and who are now on the brink of releasing their sophomore EP, The Klittens are Amsterdam’s latest alt-rock export. Pairing off-kilter melodies with earworm vocal hooks, their new project ‘Butter’ is a dynamic flexing of their abilities; over five tracks, it takes in everything from scuzzy guitars to brass touches, all underpinned by strong democratic and DIY sensibilities, and imbued with the irresistible sense that the band are having a ball while doing it. Ahead of the arrival of ‘Butter’ tomorrow, we catch up with vocalist Yaël Dekker, guitarist Winnie Conradi and drummer Laurie Zantinge to talk vampires, charity shopping, and how they ‘Klittify’ their music…

Describe The Klittens to us in three words.

Laurie: worst paid full-time-job - but we absolutely love it in every possible way, and I love the fact that this has slowly become our full-time occupation next to our day jobs.

What are the best and worst things about the music scene in Amsterdam?

Yaël: The best thing was, for us, how welcoming the Amsterdam music scene is. From the moment we’ve started playing we’ve encountered so many wonderful and supportive people, they really make it fun to play there. Even the band members that don’t live in Amsterdam enjoy playing in the Amsterdam scene.

Laurie: What I enjoy about the music scene in Amsterdam is that it is pretty compact. There’s a small amount of music venues and nice pubs that are like a hub for musicians in Amsterdam. It’s not like ‘If you go to this bar you’re a singer-songwriter musician so I don’t go there because I’m a jazz guitarist’ - it’s a mix of musicians operating in different genres and it blends well.

Yael: The worst thing is the decline in autonomous venues; there are a lot of cool initiatives but it seems like they often choose the beaten path when booking acts.

Your second EP, ‘Butter’, is out on Friday - which track on the project are you most proud of, and why?

Laurie: For this EP, we each made a setup for one song, so each of the five songs are at their core written by a different band member. All the songs were then thrown into the rehearsal room to ‘Klittify’ them and make them into full songs written by everyone. That’s why I think everyone leans towards a personal favourite! Buuuuut, I have to say that although we all made our own contribution to the EP that we’re proud of, I personally am also really proud of all the other songs that are on the EP. They all have their own strengths and they blend together in such a good way.

Katja wrote ‘Atlas’, and on it you can really see her talent for writing unique melodies and weaving them all together in a beautiful dreamy structure. On ‘Universal Experience’, Yaël just randomly walked into the rehearsal room, sang the chorus of the song and we were immediately hooked - I'm really into the cheesiness of the catchy pop song combined with the more serious meaning behind the lyrics. For ‘Reading Material’, Winnie just worked her magic with writing uplifting hooky guitar lines and somewhat dorky lyrics, and I really like the contrast between a quirky pop song and the surprising outro of the song. For ‘Eye Contact’, I’m really proud of Michelle just creating a vision and knowing exactly how to translate that into a song. For myself, I’m proud as a drummer that I was able to get a melody line from my head onto an instrument haha - although the guitar chords on ‘Traffic Light’ are probably completely made-up, I still think they sound pretty cool.

One of the EP’s singles, ‘Universal Experience’, came complete with a stop motion video. What inspirations outside of music have an impact on your work?

Yaël: It’s hard to give a satisfying answer to that question - we're pretty versatile people. We like movies, books, fashion; we like to pretend that we’re stylists, directors, party planners, and anything else we can think of.

Winnie: There’s quite a few TV related things that inspire us, I think. Twin Peaks is one that gets mentioned quite frequently. We all also have a knack for cute things - for example, these old 90’s kids TV shows completely shot in stop motion. The Dutch show ‘de Boze Heks’ (the Angry Witch) is a group favourite. We like witches and vampires, but we’re more the Buffy kind than the Twilight kind.

Laurie: Team Jacob though!

You’ve just played a string of IVW shows with your fellow Dutch bands Personal Trainer and Real Farmer. Tell us your best tour story!

Laurie: This is not as rock ‘n roll as you’d hope, but we had one day off in Attleborough (near Norwich) and stayed with the loveliest host Dave. Dave heard we like going to charity shops, so he drew us a map of all the charity shops in Attleborough - it felt like going on a treasure hunt. (Attleborough is a very tiny town with almost only four main roads, but there’s 6 (!) charity shops! We went crazy and got a whole new wardrobe on our day off).

Winnie: I loved touring with so many good friends and musicians. One night in Hebden Bridge, we did an exchange where Mart from Personal Trainer joined us on stage with an incredible saxophone performance for ‘Universal Experience’ and ‘Traffic Light’; it was great to perform the songs the way we recorded them in the studio. Later that night, I joined Personal Trainer on stage to play ‘The Lazer’ on guitar.

Laurie: Too bad that we only found out near the end of the tour that we could exchange band members, maybe next tour? I would also love to have Real Farmer as background singers for The Klittens - I think that’d be a funny but great combination. We need to go on tour together again very soon - we can share backline and band members - book us here: [email protected]!

If people could take away one thing from your music, what would it be?

Laurie: Just go for it and have fun. It is super mega cliché, but I never dared to play in a band because I always thought that I was not ‘musician’ enough to. And look where we are now! Releasing music! Doing amazing tours! Doing interviews in magazines that I used to read when I was younger! Whoa! But seriously, I’m really happy that I found these friends and that a hobby turned into something that I love doing so much, and that it's being appreciated by listeners and fans. I sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if we never played that mega awkward first show. But we just did it, and I would like to give that as a take-away message to other aspiring musicians: just do it!

Yaël: Free Palestine.

Laurie: And free Palestine.

Finally, DIY are coming round for dinner - what are you making?

Yaël: Yesterday we had our weekly online band meeting and I was staying over at Marrit’s. She made us some delicious tteok-bokki, so I’d say we throw Marrit in the kitchen and let her work her magic. Laurie has been a bartender for a long time, so she can surely make you some good cocktails and we’ll light some candles and have some good conversations.

Laurie: Winnie is also a mega master chef. For her birthday during Covid, she made us a delicious indo-style lunch and everything was so, so, so good. I’m a sucker for Cendol, so I’d say as dessert we’re having litres of Cendol.

'Butter' is out tomorrow (8th March).

Tags: The Klittens, Neu, Get to Know

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