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Yesterday's Pupil

Duel with Peach

by Roger Young / 24.01.2012

Peach Van Pletzen has produced Van Coke Kartel, Kid Of Doom, is one third of Bittereinder and, as Yesterday’s Pupil has the dubious honour of once being banned from MK for using the word cocaine in a song. He has chosen to release his new album in fragments and for free. The second part of the album, DUEL!, releases today, here, we had a brief chat to him about Queen, vinyl cutters and 5FM listeners who suffer from diarrhoea.

Mahala: You were recently in Amsterdam, why?

Peach Van Pletzen: Well a lot of things, among others. I’ve got some shocking videos and stuff. People going a bit overboard. But the main work reason was I play drums for the Queen Experience; which is a huge Dutch production with musicians from all over the world, with Wibi Soerjadi, the concert pianist. It was a full blown production with 35000 tickets sold out. It was just the one stadium show and to be a part of that was… I’m a huge Queen fan and it was amazing. We rehearsed there with the musical director from London. Just being kind of fortunate enough. It was like Gary Lloyd and people that did the Pink Floyd tour and stuff.

How did you hook that up?

I’ve been playing drums with Joseph Clarke for the last six years and he plays a lot of Queen. He’s been all over the world with various things and they saw one of his shows in Berlin in 2004. This mein perd from the Netherlands wanted the world’s biggest Queen Concert to commemorate Freddie’s death and everything. The keyboardist was from London and the orchestra was from Amsterdam. People from all over the world.

Was anyone from Queen there?

You know how those things are, there were a lot of rumours but I didn’t really expect anything. But I can honestly say that if they had heard it they would have been impressed. The production was amazing.

Yesterdays Pupil

Lets talk about your album. Why are you releasing it in bits and pieces?

Well first thing is it’s free. So if I work 2 years on an album and then just upload it, it would be a massive download and it’s all suddenly out there but no one really listens to it. I don’t think people can handle this album all at once.

You’ve gone for a much bigger sound, more vocals.

Ja, I think in general it is a more vocal album. I think the first two songs are quite misleading. There are in some ways more chilled out, experimental songs and then some pop songs. But the point is you’ve got to view them each as mini albums. And people can complain about music they paid for but if they didn’t pay, I don’t wanna hear it.

How many tracks is it?

Either four or five parts in all; it will probably be ten but when I release the hardcopy there will be remixes and unreleased tracks. I still like the idea of having a physical album. So, I mean, albums are essentially what define you as an artist, and its cool that it’s free, but I want a hardcopy to leave behind as a collection. The internet could get deleted if somebody lets off a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere. That may not be a bad thing, but maybe I should buy a vinyl cutter.

Releasing it in bits and pieces means it’s hard for traditional media to review it. How are you finding people’s reaction?

Either people are talking about the songs, or they’re talking about why I released it like this. Or they agree with it in the sense that they’re going about the angle… people shouldn’t think because this is free this hasn’t cost me anything. It’s just I’d rather have people hear it than just make a bit of money. And when I look at the amount of downloads, it has been worth it.

How many downloads are there?

On the first day there were about 900 and by the next 2 days it was close to 2000. The most downloads come from Cape Town. And that was interesting because apparently the old stuff was never really the Cape Town wet dream.

You always perform your stuff on your own on stage, when you’re writing the music do you give any thought to how you are going to perform it?

Maybe to a minimal degree, I think it’s two different processes. That’s why the songs sound completely different live. I’m not going to let playing live bother the music I record. I find a lot of producers, where guys are making like dubstep for the live element. And it’s cool because people associate it with parties and its sick or whatever, but in a couple of months that track means shit.

Last year they played “Too Tired To Disco” on 5FM where people phone in. I caught all the calls. The first guy says “ag no Fresh, I’m gonna cause an accident cause it’s so boring.” The second guy says “my vomiting has now turned into diarrhoea” and the third guy says “I’m racing home to get away to get away from my car radio”. And I was thinking maybe it’s a good thing the 5FM audience hated it so much. But then this woman called in and said it was great and two other women said the same thing. So it was interesting that all the guys shat and vomited and all the girls liked it.

Maybe it’s because there’s not a lot of… well, it’s not a bass heavy song and I’ve heard of studies that say that women’s ears are tuned to a higher frequency…

Ja when I wrote it I thought it was quite a pop tune. Interestingly I saw a thing on Mahala and they’d posted a video, then I saw they’d written that some lyrics get changed from “how about tonight I just love you” to “how about tonight we get drunk, fight and I fuck you”. I was like, wow. I guess that’s just the world we live in. I don’t get to bothered by that stuff in the sense that… that is the one song that is consumed fast and it’s just one song. But some people like really… it’s almost like being human and nice is a real aversion for people and people just like vampires and sex and gore and stuff. And at the end of the day, that’s like the male version of liking Twilight.

I think the thing is that people associate that kind of emotion with weakness, and you get a band like Coldplay with sentimental, predictable lyrics and they’re immediately like a “girl’s band”.

Ja, but the thing is Coldplay is like that 99 percent of the time whereas with me, that was just the one song.

And your other song was “I think I like you, like I like cocaine”.

It’s like the two opposite ends of the spectrum, but people would rather zoom in on the one line they heard. It’s as though people would rather listen to fat beats with one liners about slaying whores and eating their livers and stuff. It’s literally the Twilight thing again. Twilight over fat beats without descriptions.

I actually learnt with Bittereinder over the last two years, because there were a lot of haters and people giving us flak for having Jack Parow on the album, and over that time I’ve learnt that stuff maybe matters for a day while it’s there, so it doesn’t really have any major effect.

Do you feel like you need to get to the point of performing with other musicians?

Ja, I’d love to do that at some point. I’d love to bring in maybe one or two members, but if you look at South Africa, like if I get booked for Assembly with 10 DJ acts, which is kind of the thing I like about Yesterday’s Pupil, but also something that gets very hard. But people get so into seeing it from one side. Like the 5FM guys get so into house and they see my music as a failed attempt at that. And band people see my stuff as too techno and too many computers. But when it comes to live, having other musicians gives it more of a band vibe.

So you find that audiences are quite prescriptive. Obviously like at festivals the electronic tent people enjoy it. But if it’s at live venues people get confused if it’s not tightly defined?

Not so much. Hotbox was one of the places that it was okay to mix genres and then all these new hip genres came out and then people were all like “fuck this, electro has gone too far now”. I don’t go to concerts and get aggressive about what I want to hear. When we played in Amsterdam, it was awesome because people just shift a switch in their minds where they’ll listen to Trentemøller and Offspring together. And within our first two songs there were like 3000 people and they loved it. It was cool.

Yesterdays Pupil

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