By: Aleyda Ortiz.
When we found out it was official that Marike Groot was part of the Red Page Project for the first álbum “Beyond the Black”, the news themselves brought joy and satisfaction among Danny Heksolson and all the staff members because we have always rejoiced with her work ever since her participation in the dutch band The Gathering. “We are recruiting a very unique and awesome line up” said Danny at the time.
So, “One on one” requested an interview with Marike Groot in order to get to know better about the substance of the album, about her and the songs that she will record. Being always friendly and profesional, she agreed on talking with us about her childhood and her early approach to music, about her dreams, about her life:
“I cannot remember when my fascination for music started, it probably was at a very young age. I do know that my parents listened to The Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and jazz music round about the time when I was very young.”
“I probably sang along with those from a very early age. At the age of six I was already actively looking for music and my father started introducing The Beatles’ albums to me, which I devoured one by one. I remember thinking at that time that it would be no more than natural for me that I should do what The Beatles were doing: playing the guitar, singing, performing and recording. Ha ha!! How convinced you can be at that age!”
“I was born in IJmuiden in the Netherlands, on 28 January 1968. It was the place where I was born but I had never really lived there as a child, now I’ve come back here for the last five years. Actually it can be a boring place, I sometimes miss a nice place to have a drink and all, but apart from that it’s lovely. People are friendly but they also leave you to yourself; We live close to the beach, a lovely park and a wonderful nature reserve; historically it is also a fascinating place.”
The Marike´s route inside the musical world, it is not limited by her time with The Gathering, it is more, like she says: “a history of ups and downs” that has carried her to develop her voice, to improve her performance quality and ultimately, to experiment with writing and arranging her own tracks.
“I joined my sister’s band when I was eighteen. My sister Tetje played bass, we had a fantastic guitar player, Wieger Janse, and we were called The Grabbits. We recorded a single in the days of punk rock, when fellow musicians The Vernon Walters set up their own record company LMOOR.”
“After The Grabbits split up I joined Thank God For Us, with guitarist Jacob de Greeuw who later formed the wonderful Johan. We renamed the band Little Mary Big when bass player RJ van der Woud joined us and we really got going, I mean, we were doing quite some gigs and we felt that we were really getting somewhere until we split up in January 1992.”
“By some wonderful coincidence the last demo we recorded was brought to the attention of The Gathering, who were recording Always in the very same studio, owned by Han Swagerman. They were looking for a certain something and found it in me; I was heartbroken from Little Mary Big’s split-up and my break-up with my boyfriend at the time so I welcomed the opportunity to record with The Gathering, who I did not know before then. I listened to their demo and just jumped at it. I was not at all familiar with death metal, but I was intrigued by what they were doing and immediately felt that I could do something for them. The Gathering had only just begun as a band and we were from such different worlds, geographically and musically, that we never expected to do more than just record a CD together, but I joined them on stage for fun one day and just stayed. I think we never expected the way things turned out and we were probably overwhelmed by success, then one day you find out that although you feel it is absolutely great to be on stage together, you drift apart again because you view things differently and back then I found it hard to communicate this sort of thing. I also thought that in the end the music and the band itself would become too big and too loud for me to handle, and that at the same time I would not find fulfillment with the minor role that I played, contributing to just half of the songs and half of each gig. But I felt I could and should not change the way they were, so I decided to leave The Gathering. Because I wanted to take composing and recording in my own hands I started learning to play the guitar.”
“I took a while off to graduate in English linguistics and think about my future in music, I always seem to have periods in which I don’t do music at all followed by periods in which I am totally going for it, so I started composing and joining and forming bands, and playing and rehearsing as much as possible. I formed a band with guitarist and singer Tjarko Edzes, drummer Reinier Claessen, and one of the best bass players in the world, Arry Niemantsverdriet, who now plays in The Jig. This band was called Mae West and it did not last long: sadly Reinier, who is my favourite drummer ever, left in 2002 and the band fell apart.”
“A few years later I got together with Tom van der Nulft, my cousin, and Sander Brink, who is now my partner, and decided to form a The Beatles tribute band, The Weavils. We took on Maikel Voors and after he split Erik Seyferth on drums, this was so much fun! “
“I really learnt a lot playing guitar and bass in this band, I discovered my voice really blended well with Sander’s and so I felt like starting my own band again, together with RJ van der Woud and Maikel Voors, called Wonderlust. This is when I first started to really enjoy writing songs and working them out together, however, in the end we felt rather pressured by work and other activities and so in 2008 Wonderlust broke up.”
“The Weavils lasted until the end of 2010. By 2011 I gave birth to my son and decided to concentrate on raising him and devoting my energy to my work as a translator for a while. I have taken up singing lessons again and now and then perform as a singer for the Liedjesdag, a workshop in which translators translate songs from several languages into Dutch.”
You have already explained about your “The Gathering” contribution, could you tell us, which is your current perception of the band?
“We reunited in 2012 to do a series of concerts performing the CD Always in full. We had not really parted on very friendly terms in 1993, but I think we all loved to see each other again and perform this magical CD once more.”
“It was so great that all of us were enthusiastic about the reunion, even though four of us were no longer part of the present Gathering! I was really impressed with Bart Smits and how he led The Gathering onstage, superb! I felt so much at home again with them all, perhaps even more so now that we were all a little older.”
“They are great guys and I would very much enjoy to see them all again sometime, onstage or off. And though I have a different taste in music to what The Gathering are doing now, I love the passion with which they craft their music and I hope they will reach even more people than they are doing now.”
Talking about musical tastes and preferences, what are your musical influences, favourite bands, singers and composers?
“I already mentioned The Beatles, who will always remain very important to me. It’s funny when you think about how out of style they were in the seventies and how they are now kind of like ‘classical pop music’ as if they have always been so.”
“I never used to listen to female singers much for inspiration, funnily enough, because I never intended to ‘sound like’ anyone, I just admired certain musicians and bands, like U2 and The Smiths (and many more) when I was in my teens, and Soundgarden, The Posies and Alice in Chains (and many more) when I was in my twenties. When I was in my thirties I discovered Joni Mitchell and she really blew my mind, I delved into her work as I did with The Beatles before, and I still get a lot of inspiration from her. But there are lots of other influences as well, for I will be influenced by any music that gets to me.”
Do you have any favorite mexican or latin-american rock band?
“No, I don’t, I’m ashamed to say, that’s because I don’t know any. In The Netherlands we are so much oriented to English spoken popular music that it is almost self-evident that you look to British or American bands or artists or at least English spoken music, perhaps you can name me a few I can explore?”
Tell us about your collab with Red Page, about the “Beyond the Black” songs that you´ll be recording and about your long distance work with Danny Heksolson.
“I think it’s been a year ago, or maybe it’s been two years already? Danny asked if I’d be interested to work with him, I listened to what he was doing and I said yes. I will be performing Will to Deny, a beautiful song which I fell in love with right away! I went to my favourite rehearsal studios, the Rock Supplies in Amsterdam to get really inspired and recorded vocals on four tracks, I sent them to Danny and he was inspired in turn to add to the song again.”
“I have also been working on a song called Strøm, but that proved a lot harder. I like the song, but it didn’t get me as much as Will to Deny, so I was not really satisfied with the first take, so we keep on working with them; to my surprise I have been engulfed by work these last one and a half years so that sadly (well of course it’s a good thing, really) I have little time for anything else but my son and my work. Luckily Danny is the most patient musician in the world!”
“I find that the distance up until now is not a problem at all, Danny is very easygoing and we have a lot of fun communicating. I must admit that we haven’t got very far up until now, but it amazes me that nowadays you can communicate so easily and send bits of music right around the world for someone else to work upon. It’s wonderful!”
For Danny, the guest singers selection was a long process which resulted from an organic way: a song conceived with a voice in particular and the circumstances were in charge of finding the ideal performer, such way was no different with Marike, her voice captivates the listener:
“It’s safe to say that I am a soprano, which you probably already know from my work on The Gathering’s Always, but as far as I know I can also manage the lower ranges. I think I have a wide range, but I couldn’t tell you how wide exactly.”
What does a normal day looks like in the life of Marike Groot?
“A normal day… that’s easy, because my life nowadays is highly regulated most of the time. Because I have a little boy my life partly revolves around him: me and my partner share the responsibilities equally! I wake up when my son wakes up and then I or my partner takes him to the daycare centre three days a week, after which I sit down behind the computer and work all day translating books, together with my partner. Or we take care of him at home. We have dinner, the three of us, which is always very enjoyable, and then spend some time with him before taking him to bed and reading him a bedtime story. Then we work for another one or two hours before sitting down on the couch to watch tv and then go to bed, is that exciting or what? When my son doesn’t go to the daycare centre we spend the day caring for him and playing with all kinds of toy cars at home, or making trips to the beach or the playground, or go cycling or swimming, or visiting friends or family. These days we usually work seven days a week. It’s a simple life, really, but we enjoy it very much.”
What are your future goals Marike? What are your dreams to achieve both professionally and personally?
“I’m not sure, I hope to be a good mother and continue doing the job that I love, which is translating books. I guess you could say that my dream is to combine the peace and quiet of the life I have now with the excitement and satisfaction of making music that I really love and feel good about, and getting better and better at it in the process. But all that may just be a dream…”
Certainly, real dreams are those that Marike produces with the gentleness of her voice and her stage presence. I let you all with this piece that I´m sure will make you fly! We read each other on the next “One on One” interview.
Photographies: boekblad.nl / Bart Smits / schaikr.home.xs4all.nl / Lijst van de Boekvertalers (as well as the vid).