What’s next is the unknown – Interview with Onno Kestens
Onno Kestens’ relationship with music started just like it did for many of us – thanks to our parents’ listening habits and tastes. Then came the guitar lessons, then the first high school bands and finally the desire (and freedom) to write music only for yourself. Currently focused on his upcoming solo album ‘Day of Electricity’, scheduled for June 2019, we had the chance to briefly chat Kestens and find out more about him and how can the unknown be perceived as inspiration.
Hello! Tell the world about yourself. How did you grow up to become the musician you are today?
At New Year’s Eve my dad always listened to the same music. I loved the sound so much. Later on, I began to understand the sound I loved was made with an electric guitar, bass, drums, and keys and It was played by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I started with guitar lessons and stopped when I was 14. I kept playing, alone and with others and began to write songs. High school stuff. Some years later, around 2003/2004, I began writing music for a guitar quartet. In 2012 I started garage rock outfit Major Mitchell with my schoolmates Alex Schenkels and Niels Terpstra. Getting stoked by the fun of writing and making music, I decided to make records by myself. ‘Lay of the Land’, a collection of bedroom-recordings from 2013-2017, became the first 30 + minutes ‘try-out’ album. Next one, ‘Day of Electricity’, will be released in May 2019. Now I realize it’s not only the instrument and the player which makes you wanna listen to a record but also the way it is produced. And there is a lot to learn…
Introduce your current musical projects and tell us what makes each one special for you!
When it comes to lyrics, the overall theme for the new album is how to deal with the unknown. For example in a relationship, your own development/future, or with regard to the quality of life (on planet earth).
Engineer Elon Musk has been a major source of inspiration for this. How he deals with the unknown is fascinating. For him it all started with reading a whole library when he was a teenager, then he learned to ask the right questions, came to the realization that we are destroying the planet and with it mankind as a species, he gets dissatisfied with it so he brings and builds up practical solutions for humanity to make a better and more exciting future.
That story is fantastic. Very hopeful too. Whether this rational way of dealing with the unknown also works in other aspects of life, for example, relationships, love, personal development, that is, of course, the question and I try to explore that in the songs.
You have been playing music for a long while! How do you find the drive and inspiration to keep going all this time?
I don’t know actually. Why do people whistle? I think it’s because of things you absorb in life and a need to express, but then in frequencies instead of, for example, colors, like a painter does.
How is your local music scene in your perspective? Do you feel like you belong there?
There are a lot of stages here in The Netherlands. So, there is a lot to watch, support, or submit to. That’s cool. Also a big thumbs up for The Daily Indie, a Dutch independent magazine/blog about musicians/bands from The Netherlands (and internationally).
What is your all-time favorite record and how did it change you as an artist?
There are many, but I think, when I have to pick one, it must be the one who inspired me to play the guitar in the first place: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, their debut.
What are your favorite software and hardware tools for music production?
At the moment I’m working with Logic Pro X.
What is your songwriting process like?
That’s a difficult one. But I think it often starts with a combination of a chord progression/picking-pattern, electric or acoustic, a rhythm and a melody (for voice/guitar). If it all happen to fit together, which mostly happens at the same time, then I start making a song structure. I always try to write at least 3/4 different parts, which can be a verse pre-chorus, chorus, interlude or bridge. Sometimes a song has enough with 2/3 parts. Those are fun, but also challenging to keep interesting.
Out of all the live shows you played, which one was the most memorable, and why?
That will be the last one, with Major Mitchell. We started this band just for the fun and wrote a lot of songs. Then we stopped practicing on a regular basis for a few years. All of a sudden we got the opportunity to play at a little festival with an awesome stage. We asked Sjaak Christenhusz for the drums and rocked and rolled.
What is your biggest musical goal?
Be able to make records for fun. I think I already reached this goal. What’s next? I don’t know. Keep going and get better at producing.
How has being on Drooble helped you as a musician?
Drooble is an amazing website/network, especially to get your work reviewed and share advice!