Jacco Gardner is a Dutch songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who makes what some have referred to as “Baroque Pop”. He has just released a debut LP on Trouble in Mind Records called “Cabinet of Curiosities”. Our friend Ryan Muldoon at Revolt of the Apes has compiled a list of 10 questions for Jacco in anticipation of his APF 2014 performance.
In the months leading up to the recording of “Cabinet of Curiosities,” was there anything in particular that you knew you wanted to do, as a reaction to any previous musical experiences you may have had in the past? How have your thoughts on your debut evolved since the album’s release, if at all?
Well I’ve always wanted to release an album and some of the songs had been waiting for the right time to redo them so they could be collected on an album. I was in a more freakbeat oriented project before called The Skywalkers. This was just organ and drums which was a little too limited for those songs, so I had to do it on my own without really thinking about the live situation and just form a band later.
We are enormously fond of the album, which has a magnificent and meticulous atmosphere – as if every single note of every single song had been carefully arranged, like some sort of a sonic jigsaw puzzle, forming a large and previously unseen vision when completed. Did the actual recording of your debut take more time than you expected, or less? What did you learn about your recording process that you think you may change in future visits to the studio?
The recording process didn’t go that fast since I first recorded everything myself, then had the drums re-recorded with a drummer and then mixed the whole thing. I was being very perfectionistic about it all as well because I knew it was my first album and wanted it to be good. I probably won’t take up that much time working on a second album but I think I’ll still do it the same way, mostly on my own, since that seems to work well for me.
What can you tell us about the origin of both the song and the album title, “Cabinet of Curiosities”? We think of the term as being a pre-cursor to museums – have you ever had a musical inspiration spawn directly from a museum visit? If you could pick one song made by someone else to be on permanent display in a museum, what song would you choose and why?
Well I really like the idea of explorers exhibiting their discoveries in a cabinet of curiosities, especially the ones that do not exist. like bones put together in the wrong way, resulting in a strange and non-existing animal. What I like about that is that the imaginary world kind of blends in with reality. I didn’t get the idea directly from a museum visit but it definitely has something to do with museums I visited in my life. I’d choose “The Truth Is Not Real” by Sagittarius because it blends with reality in a way for me. Of course every song changes the way you perceive reality but this one in another way.
What do you like most about performing live as opposed to spending time in the studio? What are the components necessary for a great live performance, in your mind? What is the most surprising and inspiring live performance that you’ve seen over the past year, and what made it so memorable to you?
What I like the most is creating the feeling of magic completely in the moment with the audience. This is something I also try on the album but live it’s completely different because I’m aware of everything around me and we have to create something out of nothing. I need the right tools for this though, the right instruments and the right people on stage. Also the right people in the audience who are open to it. I can’t really think of a live performance I’ve seen that had that as I’ve been mostly performing shows myself. There’s a band from Denmark that I liked called Halasan Basar that kind of achieved that when we played with them in Copenhagen.
Not only are we enamored with the sounds of your debut album, but we’re also fond of the sounds you produced on the Earth Mk. II album, “Music for Mammals”? How did your partnership come about? What did you learn from this experience of collaboration that you think you will ultimately apply to your own music?
Earth Mk II is actually the project Hugo van de Poel, my best friend and also the other half of The Skywalkers, the freakbeat duo I was in. I had been hoping he’d come up with new songs and a new project so we could collaborate again because I kinda missed that after we stopped playing with The Skywalkers. Producing his album was very enjoyable because I could just do whatever I felt like would work, since Hugo and me are pretty much on the same page on a lot of subjects. Aside from becoming more experienced as a producer I didn’t learn that much from producing the record. Recording the album did happen a lot faster than for my album so I guess I’ll try that as well for my one.
Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that your next two albums will be titled “Closet of Calamities” and “Storage Shed of Surprises”?
33% true. It is correct that there will be two more albums in the future, only the titles might slightly differ.
What music have you been listening to lately? Do you have any recommendations for us from the Netherlands or beyond? If push comes to shove, what’s your favorite Donovan song of all time and why?
Mostly acid folk and electronic music or electronic acid folk. Not really anything from the Netherlands though. Have listened a lot to Mort Garson this year, basically anything he did. Some of the more recent discoveries i made would be Heron, Dr Strangely Strange, and Trees. I like so many Donovan songs it’s kinda hard picking just one but I love the song “Three King Fishers”, there’s a great live version of that on youtube as well on Peete Seeger’s Rainbow Quest.
How did you first hear about Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands in particular that you are excited to have the chance to see perform?
I think I saw some sort of promo video on youtube a couple of years ago. That’s was my first impression of the festival. There’s some bands I haven’t seen before so I’m excited to hear them, like Unkown Mortal Orchestra, but also bands of friends of mine that I’d to see, like Quilt and The Horrors. I’m also curious what The Zombies will do.
Vladimir Nabokov – a big Donovan fan as well, we’re certain – is quoted as having said the following: “Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.” Your thoughts?
Hmm I’m not sure if I agree. Putting it that way sounds a little negative to me. As if reality consist of laws or rules that you have to break to change the way you perceive things. I think breaking those laws can happen just as natural as creating them and I’m not sure if that’s still called insubordination.
What’s next for Jacco Gardner?
I’ll be taking some time off in spring next year to rest from the busy year of non-stop touring and work on new material. I’ve been home for a couple of days now after a lot of touring and already discovering so much great music so I really have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to that.
Catch Jacco at APF 2014 May 2 – 4. Tickets and camping passes are available for purchase HERE.