In conversation with Canshaker Pi @ Great Escape 2018

Since releasing their sophomore album Naughty Naughty Violence, Dutch four-piece Canshaker Pi have been riding a wave of critical praise on a tour through the UK. At their very last date in the country, just before they head off to play in Europe, they sat down with us to talk about the collage that is their newest release.

How was your experience recording the album?

Willem: We recorded it in four studios. The last album we made, we recorded it in one place in ten days. This time around, it was spread out. We did it in a year and a half in total. 

What kind of influences did you put in it, whether that be musically or other thing like art, experiences, etc.?

Nick: We went to a festival called Into the Great Wide Open. We played there, and then we stayed on the island after all the people left. We were pretty much the only ones there, except for the locals, and there aren’t that many – there’s a thousand residents, I think. Some German tourists. And we basically isolated ourselves for two weeks to practice, at first, and then we set up microphones and stuff and started recording. We didn’t really plan for that to become anything, really, not at the time. It could have been demos, but it turned out to be half of our new album.

Willem: Sonically, we listened to a lot of Girl Band back then, and we listened to a lot of Parquet Courts. We like those bands, and lyrically it’s mostly just conversations you have with people. Boris and I like to write stuff down we think sounds funny.

Boris: Stick some words together. Have a laugh.

How do you feel that living there and being part of that scene has influenced you as a band, whether that be sonically or your outlook on the industry in general?

Boris: The bands I feel we feel a connection to or that we really like aren’t necessarily Amsterdam bands, but just a group of Dutch bands that kind of play the same circuit and the same festivals. It’s such a small country, so there’s not really Amsterdam bands that we like and that we see regularly. I’d say it’s more like a Dutch thing. I’m not really sure how that’s changed us and the way we perceive the industry. It’s just a way to get inspired.

Ruben: It’s way smaller, too, so it’s easier to get in touch with certain people you need to get in touch with or to play at certain places. It gets a lot easier. Another thing is that I think there’s not as much competition compared to the UK, for instance. Here, there are just loads and loads and loads of bands, really good ones too, and in Holland, there are a few but not as many.

Boris: There are neighbourhoods in London that have more good bands than the Netherlands in general.

The industry treats you a little bit better though, as well.

Boris: The government puts a bit more money in venues and stuff, which is really nice, so to get an okay payment for a show is a lot more common. 

Ruben: It leads to you bizarre situations where you come into a town where not a lot of people are living and they have this insane sound system which costs a fortune. It’s just strange.

Nick: The venues will generally cook you meals and stuff, and it’s not the case in the UK because they get so many bands every single day. 

Willem: There’s more pampering in the Netherlands. There’s a lot less going on, so there’s more money to put into less spaces.

How do you feel that, as a band, you’ve evolved since you started playing? How do you feel you’ve moved forward?

Nick: I learned to play the drums. Couldn’t play at all when we started, so that’s a thing.

Boris: The main thing is probably to keep it interesting for yourself, because if you play new songs, you start to recognize new patterns and things you do more often, so you’re confronted with what you tend to do easily, and sometimes wanting to do something different with that, and listening to different music and building up your taste. I wouldn’t say we’ve consciously tried to evolve. I think we just kept on making music.

Nick: It just happens naturally, and evolved on a personal level, maybe, meeting a lot of cool people, going places. That’s something I’ve really enjoyed about it as well. We went to twelve different countries in Europe at one point on one tour. That’s fucking cool.

Interview and images by Francesca Tirpak

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