Hello guys! Thanks for taking the time to give an interview. Firstly, for all the people who don’t know you, tell us who you are and where you’re from.
We’re Jeffrey van der Schilden, Nick van der Schilden and Peter Spaargaren. We all live near the capital of The Netherlands, Amsterdam. Together we form the project Easily Embarrassed, which stands for electronic music with atmospheric waves, psychedelic influences and raw retro synthesizer soundscapes on top.
What are your musical backgrounds? Where do you come from musically and what led you to psychedelic downtempo?
Jeffrey: It’s been a long journey; growing up with a Commodore 64 sparked my interest in the sound of synthesizers. My tastes switched from general 70’s and 80’s pop music, to house, to hardcore, to club trance, to goa / psy trance and eventually I ended up in 2003,2004 exploring stuffs ranging from Brain Eno and Jean Michel Jarre to Shpongle, Carbon Based Lifeforms and Solar Fields.
Nick: I grew up with the same interests as my brother Jeffrey. It all started with the great synthesizer sounds of the Commodore 64. I Started playing the acoustic guitar at the age of 10. I listened to a lot of music from my brother, so I grew up with the same taste for music. But I think I discovered the psychedelic music around 2000. Started with psychedelic goa trance like Infected Mushroom, but Shpongle came across as well. I made some psychedelic goa as solo artist and later started to work with Peter on a goa trance project, but with no real success. The real downtempo psychedelic journey began with the start of Easily Embarrassed back in 2006 and always been listening to that style ever since.
Peter: I started making Hardcore around 2000. After that I really got into experimental music and Techno. I then got intrigued by Psychedelic music when a friend introduced me to Infected Mushroom and Shpongle. Nowadays I still make Techno (and other strange things I can’t fit in EE) as a solo side-project.
It seems you all have a shared love of the C64 sound. How would you say that has influenced your music?
Nick: I grew up with this device. Most people from these days would say I’m crazy. All those bleeps and bobs are only annoying sounds right? But actually there were some great composers who made masterpieces from an only 3 channel synthesizer. Names like Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway and Jeroen Tel are 3 of those. I learned that music can make or break a game. Music can bring you in a specific mood and if the music is good enough to give you this special feeling it can make a game for over 50% a winner. That’s really what has keeping me on in my past. A lot of C64 music composers were inspired by names like Jean Michel Jarre, or Tangerine Dream. Synthesizer music with a classic retro sounds. Mostly played in minor scale. And I think that’s exactly what we do. Of course we’re looking forward and extending our melody lines to combine more styles with each other, but the C64 is where it all started for me.
Jeffrey: A lot! The sound is what got me hooked to filters and the effects of phasing and flanging which they could achieve by offsetting the few oscillators they had in the C64. Also the music in the C64 games and demo material would all take huge influences from the epic late 70s Jean Michel Jarre stuff and there was lots of classical music inspired stuff, or actual classical pieces played trough the C64 SID sound and there were also lots of rock tunes played trough the C64, which makes it synth rock like of course. All that definitely made it back into our music.
Peter: All of the above! It also was a huge influence to me. I also think that the fact the sound of the SID chip can’t be emulate by any softsynth is really intrueging. Just like some old analog synthesizers there’s just nothing that matches it.
You mention running a solo-project on the side, Peter. What’s it called? And does Jeffrey and Nick also have project besides Easily Embarrassed?
All of us used to have our little hobby projects, like Nick’s “Saiko”, Jeffrey’s “Nekativ” and Nick and Peter’s “Plantbane”. You might be able to find some of these around the web if you dig hard enough, but the quality of these projects is not really up to our post EE standards :) Only Peter’s “Void Pointer” project is remains active today (although his focus mostly lies on Easily Embarrassed).
What is the origin of the name Easily Embarrassed?
From watching embarrassed little girls in Japanese animation while working on our very first track “Organic Gardening”. Samples from anime have frequented our productions in the past because of that, but the name does not have much meaning beyond that :)
Do you ever have creative differences or different views of how you want a track to progress? (And how do you solve it?)
Yes, we certainly have! Fortunately we work in a democratic environment, which means that whatever gets the most votes (being a trio is certainly a plus in this case) will get through.
What inspires you to make the music you do?
Nick: Really a lot of things. For example movies and games can inspire me a lot. The weather outside can give you certain mood which can inspire me to set in me in a specific mood. The people around me, a good musical party can inspire me a lot as well. Listening to other music from all kind of genre’s and so on.
Peter: I think almost everything can be an inspiration.
Jeffrey: Like Peter said, it can come from anything. But to give an example, before and during the production of Planet Discovery, Nick and I had a few years of that we’d watch a lot of space travel, sci-fi and alien related documentaries, series and movies. I was also hooked to playing a couple of space games, like Mass Effect, X3, Star Ocean, to name a few. This all added to the mood we were in, while producing our music.
Take us through your process of writing music.
Sometimes we’re just screwing around when something potentially good pops up. Other times someone already has an idea and others get inspired by it. There is no magic formula. Stuff just happens!
Your album Tales of the Coinspinner had a strong narrative and a little story included. Where did the idea of the story come from?
Jeffrey: It started with Nick spinning a coin on a table and imagining this scene in his head about an old guy spinning coins on a table in the middle of a crowd. We recorded the sound of the coin and used it for the track “The Coin Spinner”. That set the mood for additional scenes we’d make up on the go, like this old wooden house that old guy would live in. And the house was located in the middle of a dark forest and illuminated by the light of the big full moon. Then the girl and the little jester were introduced and all these elements made it into the album one way or another.
Nick: There was a specific mood I think while we wrote the tracks. Just after a track was finished it wasn’t really hard to came up with the title names. While listening to the tracks we just saw the story going and going.
When you’re not in the studio, what do you like doing? How do you spend your time?
Nick: I work as electrician. I also love to hang out with friends. Spending time with my lovely girlfriend (which not live next door at the moment). Playing some games on Xbox and PC. Playing the guitar from time to time and following lessons for it. Watching some movies or series. I’m a very busy preson, but I enjoy life as much as posible.
Peter: I like to go out and enjoy life. That includes drinking wine and dancing . I can also enjoy a good movie or series intensely. I love stuff that can move you emotionally. Bittersweet endings come to mind.. Lately I’m rrrrrreally into Telltale’s games The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among us.
What was your first concert or dance party?
Nick: My first big party was Mysteryland in 2004. A big outdoor festival with lots of different styles and stages. The weather was great and the people were awesome! A party I never forget.
Peter: I think one of the first events I went to was Trance Energy 2004 in Utrecht. It surely was an eye-opener to me how music during an event is a completely different experience from listening at home.
Jeffrey: Come to think of it, my first was a Mysteryland way back when it was still more of a hardcore/gabber party, that was gaining in popularity as the rave party to go to back then in the Netherlands. Not sure exactly when, but probably somewhere around 1997-1998, cause I remember I wasn’t 18 yet. Had no trouble getting in back then though, while it was required. Today that might be a little different.
What’s your favourite synthesizer?
Nick: I use the Virus Ti pretty much and I really adore the sounds on that thing, but deep in my heart the SID chip which was build in the Commodore 64 is my favorite synthesizer. Nothing can beat the sound of that lovely synth.
Peter: I think it must be the Korg MS-2000. We made a patch years ago called “Vette Zaag” (roughly translately to: Phat Saw) which still gives me goosebumps. The filthy filter is just awesome! I also adore the C64’s SID sound.
Jeffrey: Always loved our Nord Lead 2x from the moment we got it up till now. No idea why.
Where will you be performing during this festival season?
We currently have two gigs planned, one show in Malta where we will be headlining, and the festival “Psy-Fi” in the Netherlands.
It’s been almost one and a half year since your last release, Different Dimensions. Do you have anything new cooking?
There is certainly something cooking! We are currently working on something big. We’ll start revealing later this year or early 2015 :)
If you wish to experience Easily Embarrassed performing live their show in Malta is scheduled for 12th of July alongside Alpha Centauri, Moodshifter and In Spirit at Razzett l-ahmar, Mosta, Malta.
Natura in Malta: https://www.facebook.com/events/649676851748698/?fref=ts
Psy-Fi “Inside the Vortex” is held August 28th through September 1st and features multiple stages of psychedelic trance, chillout and dub as well as various lectures, ceremonies and workshops.
Psy-Fi in Holland: https://www.facebook.com/events/120104884848274/?fref=ts
Links to the music of Easily Embarrassed: