Get To Know | Dirk Baart (Luistervogels)
This Friday we’ll have a very special instore session with Amber Arcades, which’ll be her official album release party! Crazy right? Thanks to Luistervogels, providing its ultra cozy live and Q&A concept yet again, for the third time, in Swordfish & Friend. Time to catch up with the brain behind all of this: Dirk Baart.
Dirk! Nice to see you again, we’re very curious for next edition - but let’s delve into the past first. What triggered you to do Luistervogels?
‘’Luistervogels is quite young actually, I think a year, maybe a bit older. The thing that got the idea sparking for me was a friend, she was organising these book club meetups. That got me thinking, why is there no such thing I know for the albums I love? Why is it not the case that people listen to an album together and then discuss it? In friendly setting people talk about music and albums of course, but I couldn’t figure occasions where an album has such a central role as books would have in a book club. I, for one, believe the context around an album adds up so much to the music and experience itself. Therefore I want the album format, which lots of people say is under pressure in current times, to be presented in an accessible and fun manner so people start enjoying it again. People so often reach for individual tracks and playlists. Another incentive for me to start Luistervogels was my ambition to organise musical events, instead of merely writing about music.’’
Fully agree, so much albums just seem to disappear into the abyss lately. Writing you mentioned, what is your background when it comes to that - and also what has drawn you to work with music in general?
‘’Writing is something that always felt like my second nature. Throughout time writing has always been something I fell back to, like writing short stories when I was young, to covering football later on. In my teens football became my passion, but since I didn’t reach the level to do it professionally I wanted to write about it. The same is happening with music now. I don’t play an instrument, I am no musician. Writing therefore is a way to still be involved. The personal surge of music interest started when I went to Best Kept Secret festival for the first time in 2013. I started to listen deeper to the musical pieces, do background research on the artists.. then it was a logical followup for me to start writing about it, get people interested to listen to the bands I was crazy about. These were reviews, live reports and later interviews. I ran an own platform called Off Tune for a while, later I started writing for The Daily Indie, OOR and currently I intern at 3VOOR12. Also I am just wrapping up my bachelor studies in Musicology at Utrecht University.’’
Cool! Busy bee you are - I notice you around EKKO too, what is your role there?
‘’Together with Evelien Stoffels I’m volunteering as assistant promoter to Ilana van den Berg. We try to advise her, scout bands and are responsible for the support acts and concert deejays on concert nights. The summer was a quiet period of course, but now things are rolling again - for example shows by Ray Fuego and Anna Burch were recent highlights for me. As assistants we lead the production of CHECK 1-2-3, a showcase for 3 upcoming Dutch bands for merely 5 euro, as well as EKKO’s participation in Utrecht’s Popronde, The Netherlands’ biggest travelling showcase festival. I enjoy that a lot and it forces me to fixate on finding relevant and refreshing acts.’’
Is reiteration and refreshment important for you and your work?
‘’Definitely, with Luistervogels, which has been very indie-focused, I wish to expand towards more electronica and hiphop related music. The relevance of these strains of music is peaking at the moment. It would be a missed opportunity and experience to miss out on that! Furthermore, I wish to keep the Luistervogels format fluid as well, keep adjusting the format when new chances arise or refreshing ideas pop up. For example, recording the events for a podcast series, or hosting Q&A’s before concerts, could well add up to the concept.’’
I see, because Luistervogels has travelled from Rotterdam to Utrecht, changed in its format - could you elaborate?
‘’ Yes, when I was looking for a place to organise Luistervogels, it so happened that the first time was in the office of The Daily Indie in Rotterdam - an organisation I was already acquainted with via my writing activities. Their spot seemed logical especially since their network and crowd could easily connect to the event. The first time, was quite different from the current approach. Here we listened to the album by Mac DeMarco before the event and then did a meetup to talk about it. That got me thinking - I thought it would be lots of fun to expand the concept with the artist behind the album actually being there, so you could hear the background behind the album and ask the artist about the album. That’s how the last three editions at Swordfish & Friend came into existence. It had always been an ambition of mine to host such events in Utrecht, which became my hometown a couple of years ago. The first of course was with Tessa Douwstra of Luwten, that was such a big success. I didn’t know what to expect beforehand but the great album and the interested and enthusiastic crowd made it feel like everything fell into right place. That’s timing, I suppose. ‘’
It also tells a lot about the relevance and added value of your concept - that an artist which is in the busy stadium around an album release - shows interest to collaborate and join Luistervogels. There seems a certain recognition, and mutual interest, for what you do.
‘’That’s great to see. For example, Amber Arcades is now giving us a change in format again, since we are actually hosting the album release instead of doing a post-release showcase. I’m very appreciative of such awesome possibilities being offered to me. It’s very supportive as well to see their team is willing to help out in promoting the event via social media and such. I personally think and hope these artists see Luistervogels as an opportunity to provide context around their releases - because the story of an album creates so much more incentive to press play again. I hope Friday will spark a lot of conversation, since European Heartbreak scopes in on current political and refugee-related issues. By creating such experiences you engage, learn and hopefully increase an album’s lifespan - which is what more albums deserve.’’