In late November, Fulco Ottervanger and drummer Lander Gyselinck will play as the duo BeraadGeslagen at Ha Concerts for a special concert. One where 'mature' music is unleashed on a young audience that is allowed to get very close for the occasion. Who will certainly be there that evening is Tito Casella (11), who today fires all his questions at Fulco Ottervanger - or at least that is the intention. Because even before Tito can ask his first question, the eternally curious Fulco is ahead of him: "Do you also play music?" We left.
An interview by Evelyn Coussens and Tito Casella
Tito "I've been playing piano for five years. I can read scores, but I'm not very good at it. Mostly I just feel like sitting at the piano and improvising."
Fulco "Me too! Improvisation is the greatest thing there is. You can't make mistakes in improvisation."
Tito "Yes, and you also feel yourself more when you improvise. When I'm sad, I sit down at the piano and think of nothing but playing. All my heavy thoughts disappear then. All I'm doing is playing the piano and that totally refreshes me."
Fulco "There are definitely periods when I mostly write songs or I do nothing at all for a while - I do need that variety. And after one of those periods when I haven't played much, I need to befriend the piano again."
Tito "Your fingers become heavy then, you feel exactly like a newbie again."
Fulco "Exactly! That's how it is."
Tito "I wonder where you get your inspiration. For example, you have a song called Tennis Lesson. What's that about?"
Fulco "About tennis lessons." (silent)
Tito (looking somewhat incredulous)
Fulco "Yes, as a matter of fact, I take tennis lessons. I do find such a tennis court a funny environment and I like to whack a ball. Hence."
Tito (pointing to the plant next to him): "So if you see a plant, you can write a song about a plant?"
Fulco "Yes. I really get my inspiration everywhere, I don't know exactly where. I look around, I walk around town, read books ... Usually I already hear a lot in my head, melodies and bass lines. But there's no set process or rule, you know. Inspiration is elusive."
Tito "So you don't get your inspiration from your music idols?"
Fulco "No, there are too many to mention, too. What music do you listen to?"
Tito “Naar dezelfde muziek als mijn ouders. Sommige liedjes van The Beatles vind ik bijvoorbeeld ook wel leuk.”
Fulco “The Beatles zijn super!”
Tito "Do you think there is a difference between music for children and for adults?
Fulco "No. I don't make music 'for children' in any case. Children, I think, can handle the same as adults. They might even like the fact that there are crazy or difficult words in a song.
(thinking) Maybe I make sure the melodies are a little more clear, a little more sing-along ... but no, not really. You know, I don't think there even used to be talk about the difference between music for children and adults. It's a commercial distinction."
Tito (nods) "People who make children's music might think it has to be different, easier or something. But I think even a baby can like adult music."
Fulco "I think so, too, because a baby has no judgment. It's just going to feel."
Tito "Of course, it is different to play a concert for a room full of adults or for children, as you will be doing in November."
Fulco "I do like it for children because they are receptive, and not so often say they don't understand something or have already heard something - such comments are typically something for adults. Adults think more, and that's not always a good thing. I myself am more looking for music that doesn't want to be too smart, that just invites to be. Music that speaks to the heart."
Tito "What exactly are you and Lander going to do during the performance?"
Fulco "We don't know exactly yet, because there will be a lot of improvisation involved. Lander and I will face each other, he on drums, and I on keyboards. We start from nothing, while the audience sits around us - a bit like in a boxing ring. I sing occasionally, because there are songs, too, and lots of danceable tunes. You don't have to dance, but you can."
Tito "Now suppose someone doesn't like that concert. How do you deal with negative comments?"
Fulco "In that case, I try to think carefully about whether there is a grain of truth in that criticism. Wondering if maybe the person saying that is right."
Tito "But if someone says something is ugly, you're not going to make it more beautiful especially for that person, are you?"
Fulco "No, because then you are blowing with the wind. You have to develop your own style, trust your own strength. But a negative comment can be useful: it can make you think, or put your feet on the ground."
Tito "So you don't get a fat neck."
Fulco "Right. Would you like to become a musician yourself, Tito? "
Tito "I don't know. I would love to keep making and playing music, but I don't need to be famous, I guess."
Fulco "You don't have to be famous to be a musician, Tito. You're already one."
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