I love to hear and see percussionists from the many age-old rhythmical traditions in the world, but I don’t want to try to play like them because it’s their playing, their music, their culture. I simply cannot copy and represent someone else’s culture.
The only thing I can represent is myself; to try to create an honest picture of how I experience life and see the world. And that picture is colored by the fact that I am born in The Netherlands, firmly a part of the so-called Western world. Most of the instruments I love to play don’t originate from that world, so in a sense I lack certain roots. For years I have battled with this dillema. Luckily I had talks with great percussionists like Manolo Badrena, Arto Tuncboyaciyan, Bart Fermie and Joshua Samson and slowly I came to my conclusions.
Because I am not directly linked to one rhythmical tradition I have the freedom to combine instruments and playing techniques from many different traditions I feel attracted to: from Cuba, Brazil and West-Africa to India and the Middle East.
I’ve tried to fuse these elements together and add some of my own inventions in creating my own vocabulary. This has led to the development of the Esperanto Kit, a multi-percussion setup which is constantly in development.
On this kit I can use different hand- and fingertechniques as well as brushes and mallets. One important element is the use of the Snaron, a mechanism I developed with Stiggelbout Percussion which enables me to play snare type sounds on a handdrum. I am for example now able to play drumkit grooves but at a much lower volume level which is ideal for the acoustic music I love to make.
I also have a great fondness for unusual melodic percussion like tuned metal instruments by Pete Engelhart, thumb pianos, temple blocks, slit drums and the Hang (a finger steeldrum invented and built in Switzerland by Panart).
Later I began to listen to players like Airto Moreira and Nana Vasconcelos who are also masters in sound colors. Other percussionists that have inspired me are Manolo Badrena, Arto Tuncboyaciyan, Mino Cinelu, Steve Shehan, Marilyn Mazur, Kornel Horvath, Carlo Rizzo, Glen Velez, Robert Thomas jr., Paulinho DaCosta and Steve Reid.
All of these players have one thing in common. They all created their own vocabulary, which is instantly recognizable and not clearly linked to one tradition. They can apply it in many different musical situations. This makes their playing personal yet universal, the ultimate goal for me as a percussionist.