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Nonadaptive Friends

img  Tobias Fischer

Goor is a town in the Dutch province of Overijssel. Tourists only seldom come to visit, among its few attractions are a beautiful wind mill as well as the Klompenmuseum, documenting the famous local art of carving fully functional shoes from wood. And yet, underneath this outwardly uneventful surface, something excitingly unadjusted is stirring. For the past four years, Hans van der Velden has organised performances of drone music, dark ambient and post rock in his own house, turning a conventional living room into one of the intimate stages for raw, uncompromising experimental music in Europe. The original impetus of the concert series was simple: If none of the local pubs and clubs would invite his favourite musicians to play in Goor, he had to do it himself. Over the next years, however, his Harmonics and Nonadaptive Sound performances increasingly served the purpose of offering Goor something different and adding an inspiring touch to the cultural life of the city – even if the presentation, as in the case of provocatively titled act Kristus Kut (“Cunt of Christ”), may sometimes have come as a shock. As an added bonus, many of the musical connections would turn into friendships, while the living room experiences gained recognition on an international level. With all the praise bestowed on the events, it would probably be easy of turning them into a more commercial endeavour or taking them to bigger location. For van der Velden, meanwhile, such considerations would be beside the point. After the thunder of the music has died down, Goor always returns to its recognisably uneventful mode – and there's nothing wrong whatsoever with that.

I think it would be fair to call the The Living Rooms concerts a sort of peak of your interest in experimental- and drone music. Tell me a bit about your own path as a listener, please.
Born in 1966 in a town called Steenwijk. Being the youngest in a family with 3 older brothers and an older sister my first musical encounters were Slade and Mud. After that I started exploring my brothers albums (much to his dislike because he thought I was too young to handle them properly, and he was right). Later on I got into Queen, Kiss, T-Rex, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and other heavy rock artists.

Thereafter, there was no stopping me. From hard rock to heavy metal to punk to New Wave to EBM to industrial and beyond. I had (still have) an insatiable appetite for music. However, I have to say I stay true to all my music, past and present! That’s more than a lot of people can say.


Most people still have to look Goor up on a map. What is it like?
Goor is a small town in the East of the Netherlands with approx 12k inhabitants.  Besides a few pubs, shops and a theater there is not a lot to do when you are interested in ‘different’ music. That means that you always have to travel to see your favorite artists. And no artists I like are visiting Goor regularly to do shows in the local venues unless you invite them to your house!

How did these Living Room Concerts turn from an idea into a reality?
I started fairly late with listening to ambient and drone music. I was already into the dark ambient stuff like Lustmord and Henrik Nordvargr Björkk when I stumbled on VidnaObmana’s Dante Trilogy on Relapse Records. Since I have this crazy habit of trying to buy all of the releases of the artists I like I started to look into Dirk’s back catalogue. My mistake .... By this time (2004) Dirk had released  so many records that it became a mission impossible to buy all of them. At that time I always wrote directly to artist(s) to obtain certain releases. Dirk responded with the same enthusiasm as I and from that moment in time the mailman would deliver parcels from Belgium (and other places) on a regular basis. Today I still believe in supporting the artist directly. Which, by the way is the best way for keeping them releasing new music!

Dirk Serries

After visiting a couple of his shows we started discussing music and performances in general and much to my surprise he told me he’d been doing some living room shows in the past. Well you could probably imagine what went on in my head from that moment. It was just finding the right time and a date in his tour schedule that would allow him to drive to Goor to perform in our living room. I must admit seeing our little ‘venue in Goor” between all this big cities was quite a thrill. April 17 in 2010 was the day that set everything in motion! An evening of Harmonics And Nonadaptive Sounds was born.

I got the idea for the name to our living room concerts from a very good friend of mine. He made a dark ambient CD (limited edition of one especially for me) with the title From the Fields of Harmonics And Nonadaptive Sounds (my surname and the letters of my first name).


Just off the top of my hat, thee are many practical questions: How much space is there in your living room? Who will typically attend the gigs? Where do the artists play? How do you promote the events? How do the neighbours feel about the project? 
Our house was built in 1932 and had actually two separate living rooms on the ground floor divided by sliding doors. Of course in the late sixties this was all being renovated to one big room. We bought the place in 2006. Our living room is L shaped and has a normal size. But as we found out after the first show by Dirk Serries it had quit an impressive sound due to the wooden floor and the crawling space underneath it. It turned out to act a little bit like a resonance box or sub woofer providing his guitar sound enough low frequencies to accompany his Microphonics project! The sound levels overall were acceptable so the warning we issued to our neighbors earlier that day was a tad exaggerated. But ‘till now they are being very understanding, supporting and friendly about our strange hobby, even though we had 2 very loud shows by Hellmut Neidhardt (N) and [bolt] a few years later.

Hellmut Neidhardt

You've seen quite a few of the artists you're featuring in a more traditional live situation. What are some of the key differences between these conventional performances and a gig in Goor? What has the feedback from the artists been like in this regard? What is the sensation like of having some of your favourite artists performing right next to your books?
In one word AWESOME!
Seeing someone perform in your own living room (an intimate setting) creates such a tremendous feeling of sharing (without bragging to much about it). This is how music is supposed to be presented to an audience; I do not mind the occasional bigger festival from time to time. But these bigger crowds are not always listeners in the sense of the word. During performances people talk too much and too loud, make too many dumbass photos and video recordings with their cell phones hence making it impossible to enjoy the music and the show!
Since our first show was a free show (people could donate whatever they thought it was worth it) we could not oversee the financial side of our venture.
Besides our own money, it cost me a lot of talking and convincing my wife Mieke that this is what I like and this is what I want to keep on doing.

I was so thrilled of having an artist I admire in our living room that I knew I wanted more. The question was not who but rather when. Thankfully, my wife (and kids) supported me all the way. And whenever there’s a ‘living room show’ up ahead the whole family gets into this ‘living room-concert” mode and helps out wherever they can.

AUN & thisquietarmy

We not only provide a ‘stage’, we share an experience.  For example, artists usually arrive in the afternoon. We then get the chance to get to know each other better, share stories and discuss the details of the musical evening up ahead. When everything’s set up and the sound check is ready we have dinner together. This has become sort of a pre performance ritual. The quiet before the storm. When the first guests arrive, we welcome them and shortly thereafter they start to mingle with the artist until it’s time to start the musical evening.

When artists spend the night at our place the next day we usually have breakfast together.  During breakfast, we talk about all sorts of things, mutual interests and look back at the night before. These moments are the extras that make our living room concert experience so worthwhile that we would not want it any other way! Thus far, all artists we have welcomed at our place are very enthusiastic and grateful for the support we give them. The day they leave is almost as the departing of good friends; correction, it is as if good friends leave.

Premonition Factory

I could well imagine that not all of your guests listen to this kind of music on a regular basis. Will there be discussions about the performance afterwards? What were reactions to the Kristus Kut concert like, for example?
In 2010 the first guests were friends of us and 2 strangers who found us through an item Dirk Serries posted on his site. Opening your house to friends is easy but I must admit having two complete strangers in your house was a little strange at first. However, life is all about loosening up, making choices and getting to know new people!

When I asked George Mensink (Kristus Kut) to perform in our living room I immediately started to panic about how I would promote this show. How would our regular audience react to the name and his performance? I decided that people willing to come over to our place would be open-minded enough to look beyond the name (what´s in name anyway) and trust our good judgment regarding music.  His performance was awesome and we would not mind having KK back in the future.

Kristus Kut

At some nights there are more people hanging round after the show that on other nights. You know, a living room makes it difficult for an artist to ‘hide’ after his performance. The feedback of the audience is often direct and very personal, if you like it or not. This is something we encourage and the artists seem to appreciate it. Many times, while performing in a bigger venue, the performers do not get to see their audience let alone speak to them after the show.

What have been some of the most rewarding moments of the series for you so far?
First, the overall positive reactions of our audience, without them there would not be any living room concerts in the first place.

Some people in our audience are with us from day one. At the last house shows we saw some new guests who found us on the Internet. They were brave enough to come over to Goor.

Aidan Baker

Secondly, the reactions and compliments by the artists after the show. After all, they do travel to us in Goor to perform in a small living room (and it’s not for the money you know).  Sometimes as a part of a touring Europe and sometimes as a one off show. It’s nice to hear that they rather have a small, but respectful audience than a larger one, and that all the preparations we made are being appreciated. It is not only the 45 minutes of music they make it is the whole living room experience. 

Is there any awareness about these gigs in Goor outside of your circle of friends? If so: How do people react to the project?
I have a weblog and a facebook page solely for the purpose of promoting our living room shows. I send out a newsletter by e-mail to anyone interested in attending our house shows and I hand out small quantities of flyers. People I meet are curious about the concept and wonder how it came to these living room shows. Some of them we see at the next show and some of them want to be informed about upcoming shows. I make all invitations, posters and flyers myself using pictures Mieke or myself made over the years. However, for the first shows I stole the pictures from the Internet (mea culpa).

What does the future hold in store for the series? What kind of music would you like to program? And: What's your personal dream artists to perform at the venue?
In the future, I’m thinking about organizing a festival by the time we reach
 “An evening of Harmonics And Nonadaptive Sounds part XXV”.

A lot closer is releasing the recordings we made of the shows by Ashtoreth, Monnik and Innerwoud on September 6. We did this with the professional help of two sound engineers from the local theater in Goor. The recordings turned out so good that it would be a shame not to use them for a release on my own, yet to be founded, record company. This is something I wanted to do for a very long time and now opportunity granted us this chance.

After the Show

Artists who did Goor;

2010; Dirk Serries “Microphonics”,
2011; Hellmut Neidhardt (N),
2012; AUN & thisquietarmy,
2012; Premonition Factory ,
2013, Stringstrang & [bolt]
2013; Kristus Kut & Hellmut Neidhardt,
2014; Aidan Baker
2014; Ashtoreth, Monnik & Innerwoud.
2014; Dotlights & Tim Holehouse (coming up!)

Up next November 21; Dotlights & Tim Holehouse (TCH).

coming up!

Artists on my [in your dreams] wish-list would be;
Jim Thirlwell (Foetus) ,one of Sonic Youth’s  members, Stephen O’Malley and Chelsea Wolfe.

Artists on my [wake up, you’re not dreaming] wish-list are;
Yellow6, Witxes, The Observatory, Machinefabriek, Erik K Skodvin, Oneirogen, Duchamp, Andre Foise (Locrian) and Cartagine. While writing the above I realize that the list could go on and on but that would be giving away too much.

In the future, I would like to program a little broader than the guitar dominated drone spectrum. I’m open to all kinds of music and maybe time has come to take it one step further. Maybe music combined with art, poetry or photography.  However, we take it one step at the time.

Thanks for reading and maybe we’ll be seeing you at our biggest little venue in Goor one day!

Hans van der Velden

Post scriptum; I would like to thank my wife Mieke (for letting me…) and my two kids Robin and Jamie (for putting up with me…). Love and respect goes out to all the artists who have played at our home. Cheers!

Interview by Tobias Fischer
Pictures of Aidan Baker and Kristus Kut by Mikula Lüllwitz

Homepage: Goor Living Room Concerts blog

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