Koen of Klangstof elaborates on his plans for the rest of the year, what it was like to be the first Dutch band to ever play at Coachella, and how his hobby became a full-fledged album!
Although relatively new, indie-rock band Klangstof is definitely a band to know. Koen van de Wardt is a self-taught musician and producer from Norway who essentially decided to make some songs for fun and ended up with a record deal and a killer album. After moving to Amsterdam, he was joined by bandmates Wannes Salome, Jun Christian Villaneuva, and Jobo Engh, where they released their debut album as Klangstof, Close Eyes to Exit. Not only have they received praise on their album, but they also became the first-ever Dutch band to play Coachella this year, making the show on the first weekend extra special.
The 2016 album has already been remixed by a number of artists, including techno legend, Sasha, which we’ve gotten the opportunity to chat with Koen about below. Recently they just dropped a remix package Dusk which features the aforementioned Sasha Remix, quite a few others that will get you vibing with their sound. Read on to check out our interview with Koen!
Check out Klangstof Remixes: Dusk on SoundCloud:
So you guys have a pretty unique journey of how you came together to form a band, can you share that with our readers?
Of course, it kind of started as a solo project for me, back when I was living in Norway. I was kind of living in a pretty isolated town and started making music. Because there weren’t that many people around I kind of had to do everything myself, like record guitars, the drums, sing and at a certain point, I had an album done after I moved to Amsterdam. I got a record label and kind of had the chance to just get my favorite band ever together.
That’s when I hooked up with my two old friends from Norway. We played in like a first ever band back in the day when I was 14 and they just asked if they could move back to the Netherlands to join me again. And to be honest, the Synth Wizard I kind of met by accident on Facebook. That happens these days.
Having only played together since 2015, what do you feel has been the biggest struggle that you’ve faced so far?
The hardest thing was just to get going straight away because the album was done and life, we just hadn’t done anything, like we were all new people; we hadn’t played with each other before. It was just a bit weird, the first three festivals we did were pretty big festivals and we had never played a live show before. So, that was a bit of a struggle. But I think we did a pretty good job in preparing ourselves like we knew what was ahead. But that was definitely the most difficult thing to just get going straight away.
You produced the album, Close Eyes to Exit, which was released last year. What was your production process like?
It was a very slow process, I was never really working on an album. I was basically just doing some demos from like my 15th to my 23rd, and just very slowly but suddenly it kind of became a record. So, all the time I never had it in my mind that I was actually working on a record until I got signed to a label. And they work like, “This is almost a record, you just need to do a bit of editing and then you’ve got something.”
It was really funny to not have this kind of pretentious way of writing a record. Like, “Oh now I’m gonna write a record.” But to just be very open-minded and just do whatever you like. That was really cool.
So you were just doing it for fun and then it turned into a record?
I definitely did it just for fun. Like, I had no intentions of releasing it or uploading it. That just came after I signed a deal. So the whole process was just very natural.
What led you to pick the specific singles [you released] off of the album?
Well for me, that was really hard, so I kind of let other people decide for me. I sent the link to some songs and just said, “What do you think would work? What’s the best song?” A lot of people from the label wanted to go with “We Are Your Receiver” and I thought “Hostage” was a way better song because for me that’s kind of what I want to be as a musician.
“We Are Your Receiver” was my way of kind of writing a hit song or something, which sometimes feels a bit awkward, so yeah, I mainly just let the label decide what they wanted to do. Because they have to promote it in the end and I can’t do that much when picking singles. So they did a pretty good job I think.
Sasha took the track “Hostage” and put his own spin on it. Is there a story behind how that remix came to be?
Well, I think the guys from Mind of Genius were a really big fan of Sasha and they said like, he rarely does remixes and you know, him saying that he loves “Hostage” and that he wants to do a remix is a really big thing. So that was really cool to have someone who has done so much for the techno scene, to just be able to like your track and give it his own spin. Like, I never had contact with him or anything.
I think he knows what he’s doing so he doesn’t need that much help from us or from the label, he just wants to do his thing. I think he did a great job. And I really like the fact that it’s not so commercial. You know? It’s kind of, not boring, but it has this cool minimalistic groove, which I really love so that’s really nice.
How does it feel to be the first Dutch band to ever play at Coachella?
I’m really really impressed to just be here and playing here or so many people. To be honest, I didn’t even expect that many people to show up. And also, they were just really into it singing along to the songs. I was a little bit emotional. [Laughs] We just started hugging each other and I was almost crying. I think, maybe one tear.
Do you plan on checking out any other artists this weekend?
Yeah. For me, Radiohead is of course on top. Like, I caught their first show in four or five years in Amsterdam last year. And I wasn’t that impressed. Just because they felt a bit rusty and they weren’t really up to speed yet. So I really look forward to seeing them tonight, because now they’ve done a lot of touring and a lot of playing, so they’re probably really into it again now. So I can’t wait to see that.
If you could spend the day with any artist, who would it be?
Most definitely Radiohead. Like one hundred percent. I do think though that they’d be really awkward to hang with. So, I would rather go for someone who I know is a bit less antisocial. I would love to hang a day with Mac Demarco.
Last one, what’s in store for the rest of the year after Coachella?
In the U.S. we’re going on tour with the Flaming Lips and Miike Snow until July. And we’ve got Bonnaroo, Sasquatch!, and Summer Fest. A lot of cool stuff coming up. Firefly Festival, so just a lot of touring. And after that, I think we’ll probably be playing until December or something. And then it’s straight into the studio to finally get some work done again.