Life's a Muxtape

I just love mixtapes. The combining of songs to get a certain mood across, the selection of songs that tell a story, it's a lot of fun to compose a set like that. Unfortunately, the rise of the mp3-generation has taken quite a bit of that charm away: instead of sharing music as inspiration, people just seem to download more than they could possibly seriously listen to. So I'm really glad that a site like Muxtape is around. It's basically a virtual tool for mixtapes: you can combine up to 12 songs into a mixtape, to share with friends - with all the digital advantages.

In the past, I've been writing for a punk and hardcore e-zine called AsIce.net. My last act before I quit writing for that e-zine was adding a mixtape in a series called "Life's a Mixtape". The idea behind that is to write the story of your life with a mixtape. Just ten songs, that describe a part of your life, your personality, you experiences. The thing is: it was only text. The songs itself: well, you just had to search for them. But then "muxtapes" came along, and now I have the possibility to let people hear my "Life's a Mixtape". A So here's my muxtape (http://archipelagoes.muxtape.com).

And for the stories behind the songs: this is the text as I wrote it on AsIce.

1. Endpoint – Brown County
This song is the epitome of what hardcore and punk mean to me. It’s not about being harder core than thou, it’s not about fitting in and following the flock, it’s about taking your own road. Maybe I should take it one step further (and take the risk of sounding pathetic): this song is the epitome of what life means to me.
Endpoint started out somewhere in the late eighties, influenced by the hardcore by the hardcore bands that were coming up at that time. But still, they managed to make something of their own. Also, lyric wise they did whatever they wanted: focusing on social and political injustice in a progressive and empowering way.
I discovered the band years after they had quit. I first heard of the band because Rob Pennington from By the Grace of God sang in this band before, but that’s beside the point. The point is: if there would ever be a personal anthem for me, I think I’d have to go with ‘Brown Country’. I don’t care what other people think about my choices, I don’t mind that I do things differently, and I couldn’t care less about what others think about “how things should be done”.For me, this song is the ultimate statement of individuality with social conscience.

2. Rich Kids on LSD – Give it up

Highschool was, to me, about two things only: skateboarding and loud music. I’ve been listening to heavier guitar music probably since I’ve heard “Welcome to the Jungle” for the first time, but during my six years in school, I was mainly into punkrock. And punkrock and skateboarding seemed to go hand in hand. Luckily, I lived in a town close to Den Bosch, in which the Willem 2 booked at least one good punkrock-show a month. Anyway, I was hooked on punkrock for the obvious reasons: it was fast, it was aggressive and it was melodic. At one time we were sitting at a friend’s place, listening to a new CD he bought: one of those punk-o-rama samplers, I believe. And all of a sudden RKL came up on the CD. And it was punkrock too, yet different. More metal-riffs, a singer that sounded far more pissed off, and none of them “ooh-aah”-singalongs. Basically: more musicianship and more aggression. Most of my friends couldn’t quite get into it at that time, but for some reason the band got under my skin.
Now it’s about ten years later, and I’m not in highschool anymore (which isn’t that surprising, come to think of it). Plus: I don’t ride a skateboard anymore. The doctors advised me so. I have many different friends. I don’t listen to punkrock all that much any more. Pretty much everything has changed over the years. But RKL stayed with me.

3. Boy Sets Fire – Vehicle
I have said many times before that at least 90% of all people are idiots. And I still believe that to be the truth. Many people just don’t seem to think at all – it’s so much easier to follow someone, something or some idea blindly. It’s safer than anything to copy the opinions, arguments and gestures. For many, the easy way out is the best: pick a role and stick with it. This can be seen in many ways, ranging from religion, politics, sub-cultures etcetera. It’s the simple way to turn of your brain and just adapt – you can also see that in many people that “grow up”: the turn off and tune themselves in onto the norm. And do just what is expected of them by everyone else. It scares me that this attitude can be found everywhere. Call me naive, but I refuse to live that way.
‘Vehicle’ is a plain and simple statement against people who daren’t stand up for themselves and bound themselves into submission of religion. But I’d like to take the message a bit further than just a group of religious zealots: for me, it’s about people in general who adjust themselves to whatever role they want to take. Secondly, Boy Sets Fire is one of those bands that had a huge impact on me the first times I saw them live: they were active, intelligent and dared to start discussions. What happened later on with this band is a whole different subject…

4. Catharsis – Obsession
Around 2000/2001, I set up a couple of shows with a friend of mine, in a local squat in Eindhoven called ‘Trammelant’. We basically let bands play that we liked and didn’t think too much of it: we just wanted to do shows that we liked to see ourselves. This was mostly Dutch, Belgian and German bands. And then we got the chance to do a show for Catharsis and Newborn. Catharsis! I got rather nervous by the thought alone… It was the biggest show we’ve ever did, with about 250 to 300 people inside. And there was so much energy about that show, even the guys from Newborn were walking around with a big smile on their faces, proclaiming that the evening was “just magic”. Personally, I think I had a smile on my face for about a week afterwards. The passionate, intense attitude of Catharsis is still inspiring (even though I generally don’t agree with them too much, ideologically): “Give lust and life to our dances, flight to our fancies. Give me courage for my passions and my pain”

5. Minus the Bear - I'm Totally Not Down With Rob's Alien
Somewhere in the summer of 2005 I was walking home at night, somewhere in Berlin. At that moment I remember feeling rather good about the fact that I moved to another country – where I didn’t know anybody or anything – and managed to survive in a nice way. I actually enjoyed the fact that I was more or less alone without any responsabilities, and didn’t have too much to worry about. And at the moment I was contemplating the fact that I liked my life the way it was and saw the sun rising over the park, this song came up on my disc-man. And the lyrics seemed to apply to my situation just perfectly, savouring the situation: “And I'll swim out as far as I can and float on my back, just waiting for nothing…”

6. As Friends Rust – When people resort to name calling
Words, my friends and enemies. As might be clear: I really love to read and write – and I think I will keep on doing that for the rest of my life, in whatever form. As far as writing goes: I like the process of thinking on twists and turns, surprises and arguments.
Because I don’t care about writings without something special to it, my style is always very aggressive and cynical – no matter what I write for. I’d rather have 9 out of 10 people hating what I do, than most people being indifferent to it. Oddly enough: this gives people the idea that I’m an arrogant bastard.
At the same time, I am not a very sociable person. For instance: I cannot do smalltalk, even if I wanted to. And my methods of expression can sometimes come across as being too crude – or too uncertain. So at parties, I am mostly the guy standing in the corner, quietly sipping my soda and observing.
Apparently “I don’t open up enough” around people I don’t know too well. For some reason, unless people get to know me, many of them get the impression that I’m arrogant, because I am staying an outsider in most social situations. Ah well: I probably am arrogant. And even though I cannot talk about it if my life depended on it, I can probably write a snappy and sarcastic article about it…

7. Iggy Pop – The Passenger
When I was 20, I dropped out of college – like so many people do. It’s not that I wasn’t good enough in what I did, it’s just that I didn’t think I wanted to be involved with the subject of sociology my entire life. So I decided that college just wasn’t the thing for me, and I got myself a job. After I saved up enough money, I packed a backpack, took my snowboard and went to Canada. I didn’t really have a specific goal – just travelling around and doing whatever I felt like. I remember the amazing feeling of sitting all alone on a snow-covered mountaintop, with beautiful forests all around me.
Unfortunately, the trip ended a bit too soon when I crashed into a tree with my snowboard – fracturing my pelvis. It is quite an amusing story of how that came about, but since it’s rather long, I’ll save that one for later. To make a long story short: I was in a hospital in a small town somewhere in western Canada for about two weeks. And considering that I crashed myself into that particular tree on the first day in that town, I didn’t know too many people there. Actually, I only knew one guy (since I had met him before in a different hostel) and he had to travel back to Australia the day after my crash. So I was all alone in that hospital on the other end of the world, on a hospital ward populated by elderly women who had had hip replacement surgery. Luckily enough, most of the nurses were really sympathetic, and tried to make my stay there durable. For instance, one of them picked up some random books and magazines for me (unfortunately, they magazines were about ‘home and garden’, ‘women’s health’ and ‘horses’ – but it’s the thought that counts, right?). Another nurse got me an old radio, headphones, and some tapes she had at home. One of the songs on those tapes was this one. And whenever I hear this song, my mind travels back to Canada…

8. Refused – The Deadly Rhythm
I love my job. There are probably a lot of people claiming the same thing wrongfully, but I really mean it. My work is probably my biggest hobby as well. Let me explain that: I am an architect. My job is about understanding social conditions and cultural phenomena, getting the best out of clients, solving technical problems, thinking strategically, generating images, influencing human behaviour, dealing with tight budgets and big ambitions and considering environmental care. And basically it is about making really pretty stuff. And every project is different: there’s no routine in it. It’s a creative outlet for me.
Therefore I don’t mind that I have to put in a lot of time. Especially when working on big competitions, there’s no such thing as ‘nine to five’ in architecture – it’s more like pulling several all-nighters in the office. It can be exhausting, but it is a lot of fun too. The fun and excitement is in combining tried and tested ingredients into something new, fresh and surprising. Basically, that’s what I loved/love Refused for, as well. They throw a whole bunch of ingredients and influences together, and created their very own amalgamation out of that.

9. Bram Vermeulen – Verlangen
Bram Vermeulen has made a great deal of great songs. What makes me like them so much is the combination of the well-thought lyrics with his gritty, melancholic voice. I think ‘Verlangen’ is one of my favourite Dutch songs of all times – he has formulated things better than I ever could…
I am always unrelaxed. My mind is always wandering. Many nights, I cannot sleep because my mind is overflowing with thoughts and ideas. Every once in a while I need to break away from my normal life, and escape. Preferably alone – I really enjoy travelling alone. Even though those two things seem rather different, they are part of the same emotion for me.I am not too sure, but I guess that I am never 100% at ease with the way something is, I am always longing for something new or something familiar. I always want something else…

10. The Sleeping – King of Hearts
I really enjoy sitting in my car, driving to see my girlfriend (who lives in Germany), and having the CD of ‘The Sleeping’ making spin after spin in my CD-player the entire trip. I am inside my private little world on the road, shouting along on the top of my voice. This record is great for that. It might be a bit flaky to sing songs of bad breakups (like this one) whilst travelling to one’s girlfriend, but I’m like that. Sue me.
In the past two years, I wrote about 150 to 200 reviews for AsIce (roughly estimated), and did a dozen or so interviews. It’s rather difficult to say which of the bands involved really made an impact on me. To be honest, most of the bands I don’t even recall – which probably speaks for itself. However, there are a couple of bands that I’ve discovered through AsIce, such as The Sleeping.
Thank you AsIce…

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