Interview: getting to know Klangstof

The band Klangstof are quickly becoming the new buzz band, as their beautifully dark sound manages to broach the margins between indie rock, noise pop, and even, at times, electronica. Thus appealing to a diverse range of fans, Klangstof have crafted an atmospheric, enveloping sound that translates beautifully through both your home stereo system, as well as onto stages both big and small. The band recently finished off a round of opening dates with The Flaming Lips, and now are in the midst of the crazy summer festival season. Between their shows at Bonnaroo and Firefly, AXS spoke with the band, where we got to learn about their influences, their goals, and just how hilarious they are offstage.

AXS: How’s your Bonnaroo been so far?
Koen van de Wardt (K.W.:): Good

AXS: Coming from Europe, is it different than the European festivals?
K.W.: Yeah, in some ways different, but I think Bonnaroo is the most similar to European festivals. The weather is way better, that’s the main thing.
Jobo Engh (J.E.): No rain, no mud, just sunshine.

AXS: What drew all of you to want to play music?
Wannes Salome (W.S.): Fame. Money.
K.W.: Money
J.E.: Yeah, Money.
Jun Villanueva (J.V.): I kind of just had to. My family was playing music, so it wasn’t a matter of drive or anything, it was just like my dad said “you play the drums” and sat me behind there.
J.E.: I know just growing up with YouTube and rock and roll on your computer, made me want to. Nirvana was what got me into it, and I grew from there.

AXS: Have your Dutch and Norwegian backgrounds made their way into your music?
K.W.: Definitely. I think that’s the case with every band, where you grow up is where you draw your inspiration from. And I felt that very strongly in Norway. Back in Holland I never wrote music, and as soon as I moved, I was triggered by the nature and the loneliness, in a way. So it’s definitely more Norway than the Netherlands.
J.E.: Amsterdam is definitely going to have a huge influence on the next record, now that we all live there.

AXS: What do you hope the audience draws from your music, both listening to it back home, and your stage shows?
K.W.: Happy feeling.
W.S.: Happy but sad.
J.V.: Sad but happy.
K.W.: And just a lot of energy.  I think, we just try to give as much energy as possible, because we want the crowd to leave the venue like, wow that was nice. You just want that feeling to kind of… I don’t want people to cry. There’s a lot of sadness in the music.
W.S.: They will cry, then we make them happy. 
J.E.: Break them down, build them back up.
J.V.: Take them on an emotional roller coaster. They’re going to be total wrecks after our show. Like, oh, I don’t know what I’m feeling.

AXS: Would you mind sharing what you think are the best and worst shows you’ve ever played?
J.V.: This is definitely one of the top five.
K.W.: Yeah, this is definitely one of the best.
J.E.: Worst— Brighton.
W.S.: We played really good. But the ceiling was leaking. What more was wrong. Everything. My synth didn’t work. The crew was horrible. It’s what always happens in the UK.
K.W.: It’s very, you have to do everything yourself. At the same time, it’s very rock n roll, versus Bonnaroo, Coachella, where people run around and do all the stuff you have to do.

AXS: What have been some of your favorite places to visit while touring?
W.S.: New York.
K.W.: For all of us, I think New York is one of them. It’s one of those cities you don’t want to leave.
J.E.: But I love Chicago too. Seattle. We had a week off there. And Portland.
J.V.: All of Canada.
K.W.: We’ve only been to two towns in Canada!
W.S.: More than enough.

AXS: Have you been to any very memorable venues along the way, other than the one with the ceiling leaking?
J.E.: With Flaming Lips, we had a run with them, and they play huge theaters. And really special ones, old ones. So it was really cool to see all of the theaters.
K.W.: And to see more than just a black box when you’re standing on stage. Everything was beautiful. I liked the one in Oakland the best, the Fox Theater. Ace hotel was really nice. And Paramount Theatre.

AXS: You’ve put out some pretty cinematic videos, what goes into making those?
K.W.: I met with a director who was listening to all of the demos when I was still making the record, so he understood the music really well. What I usually do is try to find people, and then let them do their thing. I didn’t have any say, he just came up with an amazing concept, about how it would feel with the music, and had a strong story behind it. I just saw it when it was finished. I think that’s always the best thing. If we would start to make a video, it would turn out horrible. You should let people who actually know how to make a video make them.

AXS: Is there anything that you want your fans to know about you?
W.S.: That we’re meat eaters. No, sorry.
J.V.: He’s single. [indicates Jobo Engh]
J.E.: Yeah, let’s put that out there.
W.S.: Jobo is single.
J.V.: Jobo is single, the bass player.
K.W.: Guitarist. For the record.
W.S.: We want free synthesizers.
J.E.: We’ve been on the road for a month now, and we love meeting people, and talking to our fans, getting to know them. So after a gig, come up to us, talk to us. Have a beer, have a laugh.
K.W.: And recommendations about where to eat, stuff like that.
J.E.: Hit us up on Twitter!

AXS: If you can only pick one word to describe your music, what word do you use.
K.W.: Happysad. In one word.
J.V.: Schizophrenic.
J.E.: Now we have three and a half words. I have to pick one? Melancholy.
W.S.: I really like happysad.
K.W.: Wait, I do happy, you do sad. There we go.
AXS: Four words, it’s a bonus!