Introducing Tijn Wybenga
Text: Jasper van Vugt
Who? Tijn Wybenga
From: the Netherlands
How many? Octet
The track: 'Aplauso'
How would you like to see your music described?
'Brainteaser, the new album by AM.OK, sounds like a combination of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and the works of Frank Zappa and J Dilla. I hope people will not try to understand the music, but are willing to open up and experience the music without prejudices. I notice people are listening to my music with more imagination if people listen to my music in that particular way. In the end you want to trigger something in people with your music. What you trigger and what the result is, is different for every listener.'
The record I currently listen to a lot is…
'I’m currently in a nostalgic period of time in my life where I listen a lot to Bitches Brew and old school hiphop like A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde and Slum Village. I recently also went back to Stavinsky’s "Le Sacre Du Printemps." I’m rediscovering what interested me in the music I listened to when I was young. Nowadays I have a different way of listening to music, so I discover new aspects in the music I used to listen. I try to stop myself from the analytical approach to music I learned during my education at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.'
What genre or which country would you like to explore (and why)?
'That’s gonna be a long list. However, there’s one priority: I would like to learn to play the clarinet, ideally by a teacher with a background in the Arabic music world, in the Syrian or Iraqi musical tradition. I know very little of Arabic music. I would’ve to learn the Arabic scale system Maqam with its quartons, something we in Europe are not very familiar with. I would have to make music from a totally different musical idea. As a pianist I have a school taught theoretical background and way of expressing myself in music.'
What excites you?
'I think music is always a response to what is happening in the world. There is a lot of protest right now and there is music that is a response to that. Both Jazz and Hip Hop were born out of opposition and protest. As a composer of instrumental music I want the feelings and sounds in the music are a reflection of this time and space. That way, when you listen to this music in thirty years time you’ll think ‘ah yes, that was during the lockdown’. I’m also excited by people who dress in an expressive way. The feeling that people are valuable in the way they are and are able to tell their own story is very inspiring to me.'
What is the biggest challenge in your life as a musician?
'The fact that you have to be able to do everything and anything is both the most fun and the most challenging. You are a composer, musicians, musical director, booker of concerts, networker, manager, PR-agent, negotiator, fund raiser and be able to draw up a contract. By doing all this you learn a lot about the music industry, but it also makes it harder to focus on what is the most important and whu you started doing this in the first place: to make music.'
Which annoying habit of yourself do you need to accept?
'I’m very good at hiding stress. This mostly occurs when I’m directing a group of musicians and I don’t know where we’re heading. I have to learn to accept that particular situation and open up about not knowing where we’re going, because it makes everything easier. Besides, by doing so I give them a chance to help me. I have very strong convictions as a composer. At the same time I depent on musicians. For the recording of Brainteaser I made all the musicians in the band play an improvisation game I developed. I chopped-up and sampled the results and used these as building blocks to compose the tracks.'
With which artists, alive or dead, would you like to collaborate and why?
'Aphex Twin. I use a lot of electronics in my music. There is still so much potential in electronic music and so much to explore. Aphex Twin is a pioneer of electronic music. He has a mathematical approach to music and uses algorithms and numbers to make sounds. Still, his music sounds very organic and natural. When I make music, I use my intuition. Those two worlds combined could make a world of sounds we haven’t heard yet.'