in the Category: music

I always write from this sort of melodic flow

Dutch songwriter and musician Meetsysteem is known for his light, genuine, eclectic take on pop music. Meetsysteem’s taste often favours music sung in languages he can’t understand, and he hopes his songs have a similar appeal to a non-Dutch speaking audience. After many years of developing every aspect of his music on his own, he decided to focus his time and energy on songwriting, collaborating with Brussels-based producer Victor De Roo on the album Was het maar niet zo’n feest. Meetsysteem and Victor De Roo will be joining us at our own Different Class festival in August.

Interview by Dlisah Lapidus
Photos shot by Anna Carina Schoeters

Where does the name Meetsysteem come from?

I wish it was more of a special story, but actually, a friend of mine in high school just said, ‘That's a cool name, you should use that.’ But when I later started picking up more personal stuff, while using that name, I thought, ‘I don't know if I can use this.’ It means a measuring system, but it's more commonly known because it is a famous palindrome. It's quite an interesting name. I have a bit of a mathematical side, I studied math. So in that sense, the name makes sense, but on the other hand, I am complete chaos, and there is no measuring whatsoever. The thing about names is that you just have to pick one. And then at some point, if you make good enough music, it will make sense. Or it will just be too late for you to second guess it. Then you have to live with your weird name.

The thing about names is that you just have to pick one

As a songwriter, how does lyricism play into your music?

I am always thinking about how I could make Dutch music that appeals to anyone, wherever. Because why do we listen to Sigur Rós, the Icelandic band, or French artists, (although I know French has an even bigger cultural significance.) But for me, I can listen to Serge Gainsbourg, not know what he's talking about, and I don't care. So I am very curious about what it is. What is the element that makes it listenable no matter the language? Of course, it has to do with the music. If the music is so insanely good, then you don't care what someone is saying.

I can listen to Serge Gainsbourg, not know what he's talking about and I don't care

The perfect circumstances, I guess, would be to like my music without being able to understand it. I do really like that type of music. I am the type of person who doesn't necessarily hear lyrics. When I listen to music, I just hear the vibe. But I do like that when you do listen to something just for the vibe time after time, suddenly these sentences begin to pop out, which gives this extra dimension to the song that you were loving already. It just becomes a whole different song. I always write from this sort of melodic flow and then piece together a puzzle of what it is about. Sometimes I do tell a little bit of a story, but I keep it quite codified so that it remains up to interpretation. I might have quite a clear story of what I am saying, but I leave it open so that people can do whatever they want with it.

Is singing and writing in Dutch important to you?

For a while, I was always singing in English. But something felt a bit detached when I sang in English. Because my music is so personally built up, I do all of the instruments, it made sense that the last element, my voice, would be just as personal. I sort of stumbled into a song which I sang in Dutch, and most of my friends responded the best to that. I realized that it made sense to continue down that road. It was way easier to just be me on a song, and it would work. I still had some English songs on the first record, because it was too difficult to translate those. But for my second record and the one I just did with Victor De Roo, there is no English. Now I'm excited to try and figure out a way to get back to some English or other languages. I want to find that free, floating area of language.

Has your approach to making music changed recently?

Right now I'm looking for a new way to do things. I'm not sure how that is going to be yet. I used to just bring my laptop, some studio gear and instruments somewhere isolated, where I would spend two weeks just working on music. I would do this throughout the year, building up songs until I had enough demos that I could start arranging an album. I would do it all myself. With this last album, I collaborated way more. It was difficult to get out of that intimate setting, but also very educating. Going forward I'm focusing more on the songwriting and less on the producing part. For my second album, I already had to let go of a bit of it. And it was hard. But because I also had some more complicated theme ideas for the second album, it made sense for it to not be comfortable. And now I'm at a place where I am more comfortable with anything and open to trying new things, which is nice. It was new that with this album I had no production involvement whatsoever. I helped with arrangements a bit, but other than that, it was completely up to Victor. I would just have to write the vocals, which was a freeing process.

Going forward I'm focusing more on the songwriting and less on the producing part

What are you working on now?

I'm super excited about the new music that I'm going to make soon. I am currently finishing up a demo for another project I'm working on right now with two other people with who I sing only in English. I think that will be nice.

I'm super excited about the new music that I'm going to make soon

Different Class with Meetsysteem & Victor De Roo
6 Aug - KASK, Ghent
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@riksakameetsysteem
@dlisahlapidus
@annacarinaschoeters