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Roel Van Camp & Simon Lenski of DAAU

With their intelligent mix of classical instruments and pop, DAAU immediately attracted the press' attention and soon became the Belgian equivalent of the mute-label based Balenescu Quartet. Together with acts like Collection D'Arnell, Andréa and even Diablo they soon became one of the most appreciated classical based crossover acts gathered in one niche. After their self-titled debut album "Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung" followed "We Need New Animals" on which the Antwerp-based group went on a different trip introducing pure electronics. The release of the remix-cd "Gin & Tonic remixes" seemed to be an ideal opportunity to meet Simon Lenski and Roel van Camp in Le Dépot Du Congo in Antwerp-city.

FM: About three years ago you told that you wanted to make gipsiemusic with techno bleebs. Is this remix-cd the result of that?
Roel: It all happened like that without any intention, but it sure is the result of the new record! (Laughs)

FM: DAAU is quite famous for its live improvisations, is this the way how new DAAU music is born?
Roel: I wouldn't say "born", I'd rather prefer to say that the music "evolves" and varies itself all the time in a certain structure. We like to bring a great show and improvisation is a great help, we think.

FM: How is business going in the rest of Europe?
Roel: Well, not easy to be honest. The Netherlands are doing well and so is America and France, but Germany is a big pain in the ass. Moreover, "We need new animals" hardly got any airplay.
Simon: When we perform live the public is always very enthusiastic… even in Germany where we once played in front of 10 to 20 people and they were super! (Laughs)
Roel: It's the promotion that isn't running properly. Sony Germany never had seen us before so… you know, in the UK you have to find our record in the jazz section, imagine!

FM: Wouldn't you think then that you guys are on the wrong label? Sony classic isn't exactly the most hyped label.
Roel: That's right, but I like it like that. It was a great idea to bring crossover on Sony classic but afterwards it appeared not to have worked properly. It's up to Sony to see what they can do, perhaps we will change to Columbia.
Simon: Hm, we haven't exactly reached an agreement on that, so perhaps this isn't the right moment to mention all this in an interview… but yeah, it sure is a possibility.

FM: Could you describe your music?
Roel: It's music to listen to, it demands a lot of attention otherwise you'll consider it to be rather annoying.

FM: Is this mix between pop and classic still your main goal?
Roel: Well, it wasn't exactly intended, we all had a classical training, so we were basically busy with someone else's music while pop is about doing your own thing.
Simon: The only basic idea was to create music with the instruments we loved to play on, meaning cello, clarinet, accordion and violin.

FM: You once pretended to be a bunch of deviated classics, truth or lie?
Roel: It sure looks like that's the truth, we never finished our classical training and developed a very own style of playing.

FM: Do pure sang musicians still consider you lot to be less musicians and more entertainers?
Simon: (Astonished but with a certain amount of recognition) Did I ever say that? I can't remember really, perhaps it was my brother? (Laughs) No, I'm sorry to contradict this… you always have musicians who are positive towards experiments and others that aren't.

FM: For your latest album "We need new animals" you went to Spain and got An Pierlé and Angélique Willkie (ex-Zap Mama) to sing with you. Was this your own choice?
Simon: Yep, the only thing Sony arranged was the fact Michael Brook did the mixing.

FM: What are you working on right now?
Roel: At this moment we are busy testing our new electronic equipment like samplers and so on.

FM: It's kinda weird hearing you talk about electronics while your music is built on classical instruments.
Simon: New equipment can be inspiring you know!
Roel: It's a complete challenge for us! You know, we want to keep everything in the group, we don't want to use pre-done tapes to use on stage like certain groups do. And we sure don't want other people to interfere in our music. That could go wrong but at least we aren't cheating on the public.

FM: From where did this new "element" arrive?
Roel: Reality-life… isn't it Simon? You have electronics everywhere… It actually started when we had been playing on festivals like Pukkelpop and Lowlands. We were sweating to give some real booze. Meanwhile other groups only had to turn on the volume, use some distortion and off they were. That wasn't fair (Laughs)! We also wanted to use effects, so I started distorting my accordion, which gave an amazing effect! And soon we'll introduce some real techo as well, I mean we'll do it in the end…
Simon: That would be a great combination, look at the stuff the Balenescu Quartet did, they also made a technoish track and it sure rocked

FM: Did you ever play in other projects?
Roel: A long time ago, I played in an industrial noise project, don't ask me the name of it, I couldn't possible recall. Anyhow, those lads made there own instruments and there I was with my accordion. But they all liked the combination… (dreams) but I was only 15 back then.

FM: Let's drink to that, cheers!


This interview was done and appears with kind permission of
entertainment shop


date interview:
November, 1999.


Buy music of DAAU :

Die Anarchistisch Abendunterhaltung
Jack & Johnny Recordings, 1998



We need new Animals
Sony Classical, 1998




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