By Amanda Nordqvit
With a history in producing indie and electronic music, Rotterdam-based Sjaak Douma behind Analogue Dear recently decided to scale it all the way back – his latest release, Stories We Tell Ourselves, reveals the minimalist in the musician, and the EP is fiercely strong in all of its fragility. The subtle piano and airy phrases carry an unfathomable amount of emotion and together they ultimately offer the perfect example of how delicacy does not equal weakness.
How were you introduced to music? When did you start creating your own?
In one form or another, music has always been there in my life. Even long before I ever played a single note myself, music was already one of the few close companions I had as a kid that mainly practiced solitary activities. I remember music being such a pure and visceral experience, unburdened by any musical intellect. When I did finally take up piano lessons at 15, composing instinctively came right with it.
Have you studied music?
I formally studied pop music, although I’m more of an autodidact by nature. In my day-to-day as a musician, I do place a great deal of emphasis on the craft of music and find it key to keep exploring anything that aids me in becoming a more well-rounded musician than I was yesterday.
Could you elaborate on how the somewhat opposite types of music you’ve produced have influenced your work?
For me, classification by genre is a mere practicality to make music journalism easier. The only importance to me is finding a way to develop and nurture a composition in what I believe is its purest form. The output can then be either neo-classical, indie pop or electronica, or – more often than not – a combination of them.
Would you describe your creating process for me?
The curve of creation for me is typically like this; trying to find one inspired idea out of dozens of sound clips of me “noodling” on the piano. Stick to one, flesh it out structurally, but become jaded with it and abandon it. Pick it up again after I start another idea that I lost enthusiasm for. Try an ungodly amount of ways of arranging. Try an ungodly amount of mixing. Crawl to the finish line and consider it done at one point.
What is your biggest inspiration when composing?
I’m drawn to and inspired by any work in any form of art that breathes melancholy and I think that is the common thread throughout my work. I don’t devour new music as much as I used to, although I’m slowly but surely turning into a cinephile, where I draw most of my inspiration from these days. At the end of the day it’s also just a matter of elbow grease and doing the actual labour, with or without inspiration.
What can you tell me about Stories We Tell Ourselves?
For me, Stories We Tell Ourselves is about showing vulnerability as a musician and as a person, and feeling comfortable by doing so. As far as producing goes, it took a great deal of wayward wandering before I had a clear outline of what I wanted the EP to sound like.
Any idea what the future might hold?
Right now I’m finishing up music I transcribed and engraved for a big publication. After that, I’ll be back to composing and trying to push the envelope as far as my capabilities allow me to.