This was the busiest year yet.
In many ways, 2019 was a year of investments. Both in my personal life and for this website. It was this year that I was finally able to buy some new - and better equipment. A much better camera, extra microphones, new tripods, a bag. Some big investments, some smaller, but each one made running this website a bit easier. Yay! The biggest investment though - at least in time - was building this new website and changing the name from Onder Invloed to The Influences.
Thanks again for designing the logo, Job!
The live shows at ever lovely Cafe de Stad in Utrecht were - almost all of them - very well attended and the people who came saw special performances by Judy Blank, Love Like Birds, Theo Sieben, Jelle Paulusma, VanWyck, Ole Kirkeng, Bertolf, A New International, Sam & Julia, Demi Knight, Robin Kester and Tim Easton. Thank you all, and thank you Egbert, his staff, Laury, Demi and Rachel for helping out. Oh, by the way, see those three names that aren't linked yet? You'll see sessions with all of them in 2020. And they'll be good. I'll promise you that.
I filmed more sessions than in any of the ten years previous - as far as I can remember. All of them with incredible musicians. I did a quick count - from the top of my head - yesterday and listed about 40 (!) sessions that I have already filmed but not yet posted. Thank you to all the different locations that opened their doors for us to film. Also thank you TakeRoot and Down By The River festival for making me feel welcome yet again.
I'm dying to show you all the videos that are coming up in 2020. Some of them might be the favourite things I've ever filmed. Although choosing from over a decade of filming is damn near impossible. What are your favourites? Please let me know, by email or on Instagram.
In the coming weeks, you'll get more new sessions, I'll put some brand new screenprinted merch in the shop and the first live show of 2020 is coming up on January 26th (Dekker & Sofie Winterson are playing, don't miss it, get your tickets now!). In other words, don't go anywhere and please subscribe to The Influences' newsletter using the button below to never miss out on the good stuff.
Thank you so much for visiting and supporting The Influences for over a decade, or any part of it. It remains an absolute pleasure to run this thing, to meet you at the live shows and to film with all these amazing artists. Enjoy the overview of 2019 below, and let's see where we can take this project in 2020!
The first session of 2019 was with the magnificent American singer Liza Anne. We met up in Utrecht in September 2018, just before she joined Ray LaMontagne on tour as support – on the first day of her very first European tour with her band, and filmed three songs at Kytopia, in the room of the famous former Tivoli venue.
Some singers’ voices float past like the wind, others land in your mind and take over your world or become a part of you. Tony Dekker’s voice and songs became a soundtrack to parts of my life. It was really special to film them play ‘The Talking Wind’ and covers of Magnolia Electric Co. and PJ Harvey.
Bart Hoevenaars isn’t a stranger in the Dutch music indie scene. In the early zeroes he released two record with postpunk bank MONO and toured Europe multiple times. After, he became known as Sir Ian and recorded two records about despair, longing, wasting time and an almost impossible love.
American songwriter Buck Meek has very quickly become one of my favourite musicians – both his solo and Big Thief records are on the top of the rotation over here. Last year he came straight from the airport to Utrecht and recorded his song Fool Me, plus covers of Duff Thompson and Townes van Zandt.
In December 2018 we hosted our third live show at the always lovely The Glad Cafe in Glasgow. Five local acts performed a couple of covers and originals in front of my cameras and a live audience. Closing act of the night was Emme Woods, the soulful rock ‘n roll band around charismatic lead singer Morgan Woods.
TakeRoot just announced its first names for 2019, featuring Brandi Carlile, Nikki Lane, Erin Rae, Caroline Spence and many others. In november 2018 I got to work with the lovely festival for the second year in a row and I filmed five sessions on one day. One of them was with our Canadian favourite Jerry Leger.
When Lilly Hiatt’s third record Trinity Lane surfaced in 2017, something just seemed to click. Her songs and the records sound blend so seamlessly. ‘It was a pretty natural thing’, Hiatt remembers: ‘I had a group of people creating that record with me that I really trusted, so it wasn’t very overthought. We just went for it.’
Ever since my friend plugged their song The Road, I’ve been listening to Scottish indie rock duo Man of Moon. During their European tour with Django Django, we recorded ‘Sign’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘World Turning’.
When Anaïs Mitchell recorded this session for The Influences in 2017, she toured as Josh Ritter’s support. She recorded covers of Bob Dylan and Rachel Ries (Her Crooked Heart) and a song from her award winning musical Hadestown.
Marcus Hamblett is a man of many talents. Not only does he play guitar, bass, trumpet and keys, he also produces records and sometimes releases them. The chances you’ve seen him perform his solo instrumental pieces are a bit smaller, but I’ve got you covered with this intriguing session filmed at brewpub De Kromme Haring in Utrecht.
‘What I’ve learned from Scott is that kind of pride in songwriting; being able to put yourself into it, the drive and ambition for yourself in music.’ Fiskur’s Ross Clark wanted to pay tribute to his friend Scott Hutchison and covered Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Good Arms vs Bad Arms’, for the first time live in a random tile workshop in Amsterdam.
‘The first thing you’ll notice at a Josh Ritter show is his smile. It’s a grin of elation, a grin of communion, a grin of gratitude. It’s the grin of man doing precisely what he was put on this Earth to do, and doing it damn well. “Can he really be having that much fun?” I asked myself the first time I saw Josh perform at the Newport Folk Festival, and, as I later learned, the answer was a definitive yes.’
There would be weeks where I didn’t listen to much else than The Veils. Their records formed an often welcome escape from reality. At times the songs brought comfort, distraction and a bit of surprise into my life, when days otherwise seemed to morph into one, surrounded by pain. Lead singer Finn Andrews has now released a solo record One Piece At A Time and recorded this session with us, covering another ultimate favourite: Big Thief.
Last week I told someone to simply listen to everything that came out on the Austin-based record label Keeled Scales. She would like everything she could find, I promised. I mean Buck Meek, Twain, Katy Kirby; what’s not to like? And Sun June is another one of their gems: their fresh and captivating sound has made many of my bike journeys more enjoyable this year. When we met up in Rotterdam’s Comedy Club Haug, they recorded covers of Little Dragon, Porches and Wilco.
Becca Mancari made one of my favourite records of 2017. There isn’t a mediocre song on Good Woman. In fact, someone should really start a petition to rename it Great Woman. Anyway, it was a special kind of treat to have Mancari and her band cram themselves and their instruments into my room at TakeRoot festival last year, to record two songs and a rocking cover of Neil Young’s Ohio.
After spending most of his childhood years living in Zimbabwe, Nicaragua and Ghana, Sam van Ommen moved to Amsterdam, where he attended a local jam session and met singer Julia Schellekens. They started talking that night, became instant friends and soon after found themselves in Julia’s room nervously playing each other their own songs. Now, four years later, Sam & Julia are becoming a more and more prominent band in the Dutch Americana scene, with a debut EP on Tim Knol’s label and a LP due in 2020.
The times have been good for Israel Nash. He’s focusing on the positive, rather than the negative. In this session he covered Neil Young and Radiohead. ‘I’ve always known there would be something more, but I do think this is the chapter of finding out what that is. For now.’
Musicians often ask me who they should listen to when we finish filming a session. Almost a hundred percent of the time I recommend the Scottish band A New International to them. Because they’re simply brilliant. And lead singer Biff Smith is one of the most remarkable songwriters and performers I’ve ever witnessed. Sure, he’s a very good friend, so I might be biased. But damn it, if he doesn’t move you when he’s on stage, you’re officially dead inside.
It was Anthony D’Amato who introduced me to American Aquarium. The singer from New York – who’s releasing a new EP soon – said I had to check them out and so I did. It took a couple of listens for me to get dragged into their songs, but once it happened, there was no return. So I was obviously happy when AA’s singer BJ Barham joined me at TakeRoot 2018 to record ‘When We Were Younger Men’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Highway Patrolman’.
Sometimes there’s little time between getting to know a band and filming a session. It only ever happens though if I immediately like the music a lot. The Canadian band Close Talker have just released their new LP How Do We Stay Here and are heading out on a Canada and USA tour today, after just finishing their European run. On that run, we filmed this session where they covered Radiohead’s All I Need.
The Low Anthem recorded two songs from ‘The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth Of The Sea’ for The Influences. Singer Ben Miller talks about their history. ‘I didn’t know if I was going to write anything anymore. It got to the point where just the process of writing songs felt so foreign to me. “Maybe I don’t do that anymore.” It was scary.’
New York City-based songwriter Anthony D’Amato has been on a streak in the past seven years and released three full-length records and two ep’s. And now also two sessions for The Influences. The first one was filmed in a dark week in American history, early in 2017. The second at TakeRoot festival 2018. Some videos have been public for a while, but with the two new videos, it’s high time for a proper release. Watch him play Paul Simon and Tom Petty covers, plus three originals.