Dear readers wont you please give electro synth-pop a chance? Meet Dutch upstarts Anderson, fine purveyors of lively, refreshing, restlessly inventive songs. Big in Japan and across Europe, virtually unknown here, the talented duo of Vas van Nienes and Jeroen Van der Werken are hoping to crack the U.S. market with their second full-lengther, It Runs In The Family, a frothy, infectious party album with an interesting concept: each song is dedicated to a wholly imagined member of a ferociously pretend family, the Bensons. So what does it sound like? Dance? Trance? Intelligent electronica? Electroclash? Trip-hop? Dark wave? We dont know but we love the album, its perfect summer fare, and we think youll agree. Below, we chat with Jeroen Van der Werken about 80s music, creating bleeps, and cyber-stalking.
Out: How did the two of you first meet up? How did the band start?
Jeroen Van der Werken: We met about five years ago. We were both camping out in the Netherlands, on holiday, and we both had our guitars with us. We got to talking and realized we both liked the same kind of music, so we started jamming. At first we sounded a bit like Kings of Convenience, a band thats really big in Europe right now -- kind of indie-style Simon & Garfunkel. We started out that way and afterward we became more electronic.
When did you start throwing in all the bleeps and the bloops? Furthermore, when did you start throwing in the blips?
Really, that just developed while we were recording the songs. We started out as a two-person band and we wanted to keep it that way, but after the first album, we decided wed start working with synths. Our first album, I guess you could call it Folktronic. In developing our style, we came up with a bit more of an 80s pop sound.
Were you guys listening to a lot of New Wave at the time? The Berlins, the Tacos, the Tin Tins and Thomas Dolbys?
Actually, no. We were listening to a lot of different stuff. A lot of people have compared our sound to Pet Shop Boys and Prince and 80s Euro stuff -- but really, we never listened to either of them that much. Now were getting into Pet Shop Boys after hearing so many comparisons.
Now? Like, right now? How old are you guys?
Were both in our late twenties. I mean, we knew Pet Shop Boys from the radio but we didnt own any.
So, youre on tour in the States right now, yeah?
Yup, were in L.A. Were doing a release party for our record label; kind-of an industry party and tomorrow were doing a clubby show at the Roxy. Were in the U.S. for two weeks, just doing the West Coast.
So, since youre rather unknown in America, what would you like people to know about you right off the bat?
Hmmmm Hmm. Huh. Thats a good question. I guess wed just like people to listen to it without knowing too much about it, so they can figure out for themselves whether or not they like it. I would tell people that its pop music, with nice melodies and electronic influences, but since were influenced by so many different things, we just want people to listen to it, and hopefully like it: the chords, the lyrics, the combination of it all.
Whats your working process like? Who does what? Please tell me you guys fight. I need blood.
Well, its a 50/50 thing, writing the songs -- both the music and the lyrics. Sometimes, one of us comes up with a chord or a beat or a little melody. Often one of us will have a fully developed idea for a song, and thats always cool. I think we do better stuff together than when were working alone.
So why did you guys name yourselves Anderson? I have to say its made it very difficult to cyber-stalk you, and I consider myself something of a pro. So do my exes.
Thats true you know, we really should have thought about that! When we first started, we really werent thinking about, like, getting well-known. We just wanted to play a few shows and get the music out there. Were both Scandinavian, so its, like, a personal Scandinavian name. We decided on Anderson because we wanted an intimate name, because the music is small, not big. I mean, we write about small things -- so Anderson sounds a person you know and can relate to.
The songs on this album are about small things like love, aliens, and being hospitalized, and it has an interesting concept in that each song is about a member of a fictitious family, the Bensons. How did you cook this idea up?
In general, we want people to relate to each of the songs -- thats how we came up with the idea of writing each song about a different family member. Like the Richard song, he finds himself in a position he doesnt want to be in -- hes in the hospital. Small situations inspire us wondering what these people think. We just make up stories. They arent autobiographical, per se, though some aspect of our lives inevitably creeps in but honestly? We make it all up.
It Runs In The Family is now available. For more on Anderson, check out their website.