Tales from the Echobox 012
New year, new Tales from the Echobox! Lock in for another run of conversations with Amsterdam-based Radio Station, Echobox's community of broadcasters. The station has evolved leaps and bounds over the past few months including a collaborative T-Shirt with Patta, an all-day-all-night event at Paris Fashion Week as well as winning the Amsterdam Prize for Art 2022. 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.
Your show focuses on ‘inner constellations of the collective human condition as well as the uniqueness of spirit.’ Tell us some more about the show.
In my show I invite guests, that refer back to the uniqueness of an individual filter of life, to discuss themes that touch upon the timeless experience of being a human, which is something that we can collectively relate to on a deeper level. I think this is the paradox of being human: we are walking cliches repeating certain things life after life as well as being magnificently unique!
What is it about the medium of radio which makes you want to do a show with the topic you explore?
Personally, I love working with my voice, I use it in my praxis to guide people into their inner worlds, away from distractions to reconnect with themselves, or to pull up a memory, a feeling etc. A voice is a vibrational blueprint of a person's uniqueness as well as being a very versatile medium. You can play around with it and have fun with it! You know, before anything else, there was sound, and so it's like (broad)casting a spell, an invocation. This is in a way what I try to do in the show, to set an intention of making something meaningful and then to use words to open a space that allows the topic to naturally unfold and the convo to flow wherever it needs to go. I also love that the image is absent and it gives the opportunity to use your imagination while listening, which is such a magical place to engage with.
Where or how can one draw the line between cognitive function and spirituality? What are the challenges this might bring?
Ha! there is no line. If you really want to get 'spiritual' (haha) all is one. And at the same time our cognitive function is quite neurotic thus creating the illusion through our ego that we are separate from the rest of existence, perpetuating this neurosis (where each of us are in our own personal hell) and with it all the inner turmoil we feel as humans. This is basically the suffering that Buddhists are talking about.
What are some of the more interesting developments you’ve come across recently in terms of the study of consciousness?
There are many! You can listen to my show about dreams with Marieke McKenna for example. I found that super interesting.
What I'm obsessed about recently is: why is suffering so hard to let go off? Why do we take it for granted as part of life? Why isn't our reality a utopia? What happened in the design of humans and our consciousness that life is so hard? There are many theories about this and still I'm not satisfied with the answers.
I guess what feels closest to the truth is what the Buddhists say (as per the answer before this) that we forgot that we are one, and I think the farther we are away from nature, the more we suffer. So: why did we really get expelled from the garden of eden?
There is a body of work which says that the universe itself is conscious. What do you think of this and what does that mean for humans?
Yea, I believe that. I believe that the universe, Jah, source, the all-knowing eye, or whatever you want to name it is consciousness itself experiencing itself through all the different forms in existence. We are all mirrors of I am that I am. And if we believe what the bible says and we were made in god's example, we can interpret that as us being conscious of being conscious. What kind of meaning that that brings to someone's life is personal to them.
A previous show had (former Echobox show host) Stef on to talk about mushrooms and fungi. What kind of implications do the properties of fungi have for the way that we as humans relate to the rest of the natural world?
The show with Stef was really interesting and loads of fun! Well, in my humble opinion, there is not really anything we truly know except our personal experience and the meaning we give to that. If the mushrooms take you away from your rigid egoic mind and allow you to open up to the aesthetic sense of life (this can feel like connection, love, gratitude, beauty), or allows you to tap into your emotions because the barriers are gone and you can heal something you have been resisting, well that's really wonderful! If that makes you feel more whole and therefore a more loving happy person, hallelujah! But is it a cure-all for everyone? I don't know. Was it the missing link that made us humans instead of monkeys, as the ‘stoned ape theory’ suggests? I don't know. Some fungi have healthy properties considered superfoods, while others can take over a living creature's brain and make them into zombies. What I do know is that fungi are powerful, ancient and an important part of our ecosystem.
What are some of your tips for a healthy mind, body, and spirit?
Breathe well and deep, stay connected to your body, take care of your needs and your well-being, enjoy a simple, healthy lifestyle, allow and embrace your feelings, be kind to yourself and others, have fun, When you're down, practice gratitude to uplift your spirits, listen to your intuition and pursue that which is meaningful to you and brings you joy! Taking life as it is is also something that can help.
These are things I try to do and when I do them I notice a happier quality of life.
Simon, tell us a bit about yourself and what kind of show Cosmic Cornflakes is?
Hello, I’m an old man from the South East of England and have resided in The Netherlands for 10 years now. When I moved to NL I started a food truck and accidentally ended up in the restaurant business where I now have 2 locations.
Cosmic Cornflakes is born out of a lifelong obsession with music, mostly records and was meant as a place to play and enjoy the music I own.The name is meant to take the seriousness out of ambient / mellow music which sometimes takes itself a little too seriously.
If you had to pick, what would be the most cosmic of all the breakfasts? Also, are all of your meals cosmic or do they have other characteristics?
I like this tact. I think my favourite breakfast, not necessarily the most cosmic, is huevos rancheros and I guess if it's covered in the extremely spicy sauce, which mine would be, it can get to be quite a cosmic experience. I love the effect that chilies can have on your brain. Regarding my other meals, being a father of 2 quite fussy children I would say my other meals are most definitely safe bets rather than cosmic in any form.
What has your relationship with (online) radio been over the years?
My relationship with online radio is very strong. In a previous life I was fortunate enough to live in Berlin for a while where I started a cafe with my partner. Every week we hosted an online broadcast from the Sweatlodge (agency) radio crew in our basement which was quite a trip. During this time I also hosted a show called Hold Tight Radio with my very dear friend David Tinning. This kick started an interest in online radio, through which I have been lucky enough to host guest shows on Red-light Radio, Cashmere Berlin and Radio Al Hara, the latter of which came through an invite from kindred spririt (previous Tales from the Echobox feature and host of Alone Ensemble) Lucas, who also hosts a show on Echobox.
As befits the name, your show involves a lot of soothing, often ambient(-adjacent) music for the start of the day. Who or what is doing it for you musically in this kind of scene at the moment? How do you balance these and more classic cuts?
I listen to lots of music constantly on my daily movements. This is essentially what informs me on new, and I guess old tracks. Being of an older age I also have quite a large collection to draw from. This essentially joins the dots between old and new. I also think that people that like (obsess) over music like us go through phases of really digging and channelling into specific artists/labels/sounds and this digs us deeper to uncover new things.
That's my way anyway, I’m sure we all have different angles. Being blown away by something that’s new to us is what we are chasing I guess. Recently I’ve been digging the wonky electronic sounds of TRJJ who has released on Stroom and has lots of self release bits on their Bandcamp.
What is the best cereal?
I gotta say that for me, powered by the munchies late at night, Quaker Cruseli can hit the spot with cold milk and a dash of cream.
A quick glance at your instagram shows that you ‘fart in lifts’. Is this true? Is it an act of flagrant pride or do you have inventive ways to evade responsibility for such olfactory acts?
I gotta say I don’t go in lifts that much but there is something rather enjoyable about farting in an enclosed space with a few people around, everyone looking at each other thinking ‘who was that?!’
You have, as you mentioned, also been involved in restaurants around Amsterdam for some time. What are some of your hot culinary tips and more importantly which is the most cosmic?
Hot tips! I’m always looking for those. Pizza Kebec in Amsterdam Noord is a great underground gem specialising in Roman style double baked tray pizza. Super crunchy and great value. On the more upmarket vibe but keeping it accessible, Bacalar Mexican restaurant also in Noord is such a flavour trip everyone should try it once. If you go for lunch and drink enough mezcal it takes on quite a cosmic angle !
Your show is focused on classical music, and the things bordering it. Could you tell us a bit more about the show and what you want to explore with it?
I often see classical music pigeon-holed as something very seperate and ‘special’, and isolated from the rest of the musical landscape. This view is perpetuated by both classical and non-classical music listeners. It is a bit frustrating to see, because it often works as a self-fulfilling prophecy and makes it seem like something exclusive rather than inclusive.
The show I make is a direct result of the way I feel about this and the broader concept of ‘genres’. I try to make one cohesive whole from music and sounds that might not be heard together very often, but that I find logical to mix. The starting point is classical music (which by itself spans hundreds of years), but I combine it with whatever pieces or songs I find fitting. This can be a traditional Mexican song or an electronic piece, or hip hop; anything really. By placing classical music in a different context, I hope it encourages the listener to see it in a different light.
You also have classical musician training yourself, playing the violin. Do you also play other instruments, and what kind of pieces or styles are you drawn to? Who has influenced you?
I can play a few notes on the piano, but so incredibly bad that I don’t think it counts. I’ve been very lucky to have grown up with a mother who exposed me to countless styles of music from all over the world, and almost forced me to appreciate them, and to really listen. This is why today I am drawn to a certain feeling, rather than certain types of music. I get the same feeling whether I listen to Mercedes Sosa, or Bowie, or fado, or the final minutes of Mahler 8, or Roxy Music, or the Chaconne by Bach.
Classical music is sometimes - lazily - bracketed with people from older generations, and is played on stations with a solely classical focus. What do you think classical music has to offer the contemporary musical and cultural landscape, and how does it fit within the kind of programming offered by something like Echobox or other independent radio stations?
As opposed to its image, classical music is just incredibly human. It is an expression of the deepest and most relatable emotions, which means this music belongs to everyone. It certainly can be overwhelming in terms of the sheer size of available records and repertoire, and if you’re not used yet to the sound itself it might be difficult to get into on the first listen.
But once you find some pieces that you like, and start digging, you’ll discover a lifetime’s worth of beauty. With its history of creativity and rule breaking, I think it’s waiting to inspire new ideas in current music and culture.
Related to the previous question, where might one find the most interesting developments in classical music today?
The output of young composers like Joey Roukens, Karmit Fadael, Leonard Evers and many more is really incredible. Often orchestras commission a current composer to write a new piece; those are always worth checking out. There are also many cool events to visit, like the Opera Forward Festival, Wonderfeel and Klassifest, where there is always room for experiment.
When you perform, presumably you are sometimes or often part of an ensemble or an orchestra, whereas when you host radio you do it (mostly) alone. How does the experience of offering a classical music listening experience differ in such a different medium?
I approach radio really as a listener and try to imagine what I would like to hear myself. I love the process of finding music and putting it together as well as possible. When I’m performing there are more elements in play, like violin technique, practising and rehearsing, blending together with your colleagues. But ultimately also here you focus on the end result: the final sound that you and your colleagues send out into the concert hall. Both jobs require you to truly listen, which is the most important lesson in music anyway.