Tales from the Echobox 009
Launching in 2021, Echobox has been forging a path for community radio by showcasing the diverse characters and concepts that surround them. In this feature, we will be looking into a few of the broadcasts that you can tune into so get locked in and don’t touch that dial.
Humie - Intermezzo d' Arte
Humie, tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Intermezzo d’arte, and the format of the show.
During the pandemic I was invited to co-curate an exhibition in The Hague “Een museum voor jezelf +1”. Here we invited Amsterdam/The Hague-based artists and linked them in pairs of two. The main goal was to explore their different and common art practices and start a dialogue. To strengthen that concept I wanted to create an extra layer of perception. We developed an audiotour where the artists were interviewed in pairs, and asked to reflect on both their own and the others work ethics, practice, and vision.
The Interviews converted more to longer extending conversations, which I couldn’t use all for the exhibition. The editing felt wrong, because who am I to decide which part is most important? I wanted to create uncut versions and real conversations, which inspired me to continue the research and create Intermezzo d’ Arte. In the show artists and curators in pairs get invited to converse about their practice, thoughts, and ideas.
During those conversations I use different kind of sound material to create an intermezzo in the show that is relevant to the different topics that are getting addressed. Those usually consist of archive material, interviews, video/sound excerpts, music, poems, etc.
As nothing is consistent in life, this radio show isn’t either. In the last couple of months I also invited sound artists, who incorporate sound together with a visual aspect within their practice. But also, other experimental radio makers who are exploring various ways of broadcasting.
Did you grow up around artistic people and what was their impact on you?
At an early age I visited various dusty museums with my father, where we used to talk about the different art forms that we encountered. I first never really appreciated those trips, but finally his optimism and persuasion pushed me in developing my interest further.
He was an artist himself and as being part of the Iranian diaspora it was difficult for him to exhibit his art in The Netherlands. After his passing, I got determined to create a posthumous exhibition with his work. Here I also want to invite second generation Iranian artists that use their eastern heritage to question western thinking and that contribute to the dialogue on how Iranian culture is portrayed in western society today.
You have also experimented recently with a slightly different sound-collage format for the show. What kind of artistic practice can be facilitated by radio, and vice versa? What is it about the format and experience of radio that is special to you?
For each show I dive into the archive to find sound material that relates to the work of that artists. In the sound-collage I created an hour-long piece of fragments I’ve discovered along the way, including interviews and other material in relation to sound-art, ambient music, live field recordings & excerpts of video art.
By presenting artforms on the radio, I more and more realise how this can be interesting for artists. Although you might not think of it in the first place, because it is commonly a thing to see, there is actually a lot of art that you can listen to as well. It almost always makes a sound, or a noise…
The experience of radio is interesting to me because of the accessibility to experiment and to create different ways of interrelating different sources and outcomes. Radio is a form of expression, where ideas are permitted to be changeable because of the fluidity it offers, both radio and art can be challenged to push boundaries.
You invite collectives and artists practising around the Netherlands. Who or what are some of the artists doing the most interesting work for you at the moment?
For me art isn’t all only about the relevance to modern society, but more about the layers that one creates within their work. Those layers portray the madness of the mind, with manners to solidify that outcome. There shouldn’t be a necessity to understand, but to perceive it as a given where one is willing to share, to teach and to advance.
After visiting Documenta XV, I got inspired by the collective thinking where community building is the source of their practice: it shows how art is inseparable to life.
Don’t forget; Making art will break your heart but making kitsch will make you rich.
Greg, you recently joined the show permanently as a co-host. What’s the story of you two meeting and deciding to make radio together?
Greg (Submorphics): Lenzman and I have had a friendship and working relationship that goes all the way back to 2006 when we were both releasing tunes on Spearhead Records (a great launch pad for a lot of soulfully-inclined artists.) As his label The North Quarter has taken off in recent years, I began using the imprint as a vehicle for my own musical vision; and we have a mutual respect for each other’s musical tastes and production output. Having moved to Holland a couple years ago, I began joining him on the new Echobox Radio show and the chemistry has continued in this format - both as selectors and in the lighthearted banter included in each show.
What does community radio mean to you?
Teije (Lenzman): I think that culture thrives in local communities; all important music genres started on a local level and grew to eventually go global. But before any of the limelight, the magic really happens on a micro level.
Additionally, I just think that giving a platform to the voices of the city is a beautiful thing. Mainstream radio is often too concerned with money so people are given opportunities not because of their talent as a DJ, selector or unique voice, but because they are perceived to generate income and shows are programmed that way. I’ve always operated in the counterculture, the upside down. I think we need to amplify unheard voices and community radio is the perfect platform.
Greg (Submorphics): Radio that caters to deeper tastes and slightly more obscure styles has always been very important to me. Growing up in the Detroit area, we had 101.9 WDET which focused on jazz, house, techno, jungle and a wide range of lesser-championed styles of soulful music. This aesthetic has always stuck with me. It is deeply important for community radio to exist to counter the more typical mainstream radio.
What does the name the North Quarter refer to?
Teije (Lenzman): The North Quarter is named after a neighbourhood in Leiden where I was born - a real working class area. To me that area is symbolic of a place and time where I was first introduced to the genres of music that led me on this journey: Hip Hop and Jungle/Drum & Bass. A time when the music and the artists making it were still almost mythical. Maybe it’s an era that I overly romanticise, but it felt very special to me. There was no internet, no Tik Tok. You’d be lucky to catch a music video or find a magazine - you’d have to stay up and tape 'Yo! MTV Raps' or something. Mostly it was just the records, tapes and CDs, the music, the artwork and the album credits. That period will always continue to inspire me.
Teije, you’ve been signed to Metalheadz - any good stories about Goldie?
Teije (Lenzman): Everyone always wants to hear a Goldie story. Of course there are plenty, but I think the real story here is that this is a very special artist - the most hard working one I know. Someone who has continued to reinvent himself since blowing the world away as a graffiti artist - just a kid, orphaned and from the UK who became part of the legendary TATS crew. Went on to make grills in Miami, innovated Jungle music and released an iconic album. Started an iconic label, went on to create incredible art, opened his own art gallery in Bangkok, has acted in a number of big movies and there’s a lot more still. It’s pretty mind blowing.
Who are the most interesting people working in or at the boundaries of drum & bass right now?
Greg (Submorphics): Our guy Satl is one of the leading figures of new school D&B: from experimental mind-bending tunes to the deepest and most heartwarming soul music. Redeyes continues to be one of the greatest soulful producers working in the game - even 15+ years into his career! Halogenix has really created a style that many have imitated over the last 5 years - so I've got to give props to him.
Teije (Lenzman): Satl, Halogenix, IZCO, Breakage are some of the artists that always have me excited to check their new releases.
Teije, What was the thinking behind starting your own label?
Teije (Lenzman): For me a label is just an extension of being a music lover and wanting to share music I love and believe in with other people. I used to do this way back in the 90’s at high school - whether people wanted to hear the music or not. It’s the same drive that got me into DJing in the first place. I think in the early days of my career I didn’t feel like the time was right - like I wouldn’t make an impact. I looked up to a lot of labels and was hopeful to one day be involved with them. Eventually I started getting music signed, started to release on all the labels that had inspired me and went on to record an album for Metalheadz. Some time after that I found out I was going to be a father and that made me think about the future more - taking matters into my own hands - but it was also a time where I was looking for a new challenge within the music business. And so my own label became a priority. 6 years later and I can say it’s one of the best things I could’ve done.
Naama, your show is - aptly, given the name - a thrilling mix of styles, approaches, and scenes. What kind of thing influenced you in this wide-drawing approach?
Well the concept for the show came to me during the first corona lockdown - I had all these emotions bottled up so I decided to let them out and go crazy with a series of livestreams on facebook. The idea was mixing all of my talents and the things that interested me into one performance. While usually a variety show consists of performances by different acts. I was the sole performer doing all the acts. Later on I had some radio sets scheduled and I was bored of playing yet another DJ set, so I decided to bring the variety show concept into a radio art format. In my radio show I take inspiration from whatever I was going through and experiencing the previous month both emotionally and culturally, any associations or things that hit close to me at that particular time, and I try to put them together into fragments or little stories or sometimes even a whole show concept. In that sense the show is very personal to me, I'm really putting my heart and myself out there.
Often your shows involve you singing a cappella on the mic or over music. Have you always been into singing?
If you woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me: if you had to do one thing for the rest of your life what would it be - then it would be singing. I've been singing ever since I was a kid and I truly consider it my gift. I feel like singing is the best way that I can express myself, and I know that when I sing it touches people. It's really a wonderful feeling.
One of your shows recently involved you focusing on mental health and wellness, and you opened the lines for people to call in. Why did you feel this was important to do?
I think that mental health and well being are the most important things for us as human beings in order to communicate well with ourselves and with our surroundings. Personally, I have been struggling and healing and dealing all my life. I truly believe that just like every person has a general physician, every person should have a therapist, because mental and physical health are intertwined. Everyone deals with it, it's just a question of how much awareness and focus you give it within your life. And I believe doing that is the only way to be kinder to ourselves and to others.