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Interview with

Jamie Watts & Peter Vanek of KiloWatts & Vanek

The Belgian-American collaboration started in a way that seems getting usual in the internet age with the protagonists not meeting each other during the production of an album as was the case with Peter Van Ewijk and Jamie Watts. Within the scopes of an appearance at a German festival they eventually met and fortunately, the chemistry was right. Some time later the duo went on to produce their second full-length ‘Focus & Flow’, released under the moniker of revived label Dependent Records in this year’s September. As we were heavily impressed by this effort we thought it might be time to have them answering us a few questions.

Reflections of Darkness (RoD): Electro-Acoustic, isn’t that easy to pigeonhole your music. How would you describe your style?
Jamie: It's not easy for us either!  The two descriptions you mentioned are an easy way to define the instruments involved, but our actual sound seems to be something else entirely. Even more so, during the creation process, it never even crossed our minds to think of the style in which we were working and we’ll probably refrain from doing that in the near future. Boundaries need to be transgressed constantly.

RoD: As far as I know, `Focus and Flow´ received rave reviews. Did you expect that or did you lose the objective point of view after you had finished the production?
Jamie: Well, we think the album is fantastic, and the rave reviews are only written by people who apparently agree with us.  It's great to see our music heard, and greater to know that it's making a positive impact.  If we can inspire reviewers to hone their wordsmithing craft and create beautiful descriptions of the music, then I think we're doing okay.

RoD: What is your source of inspiration regarding your lyrics?
Jamie: Pretty much whatever crosses our paths: the daily realization of moving through a world that is full of beauty and pain and sorrow and joy. The lyrics are an itinerary of lives lived in search of inspiration and knowledge.

RoD: You met under rather unusual circumstances for the first time after you had been working together for some years. Did your previous mutual expectations match with the impressions you got when you finally met in person?
Jamie: By the time we met in person, we had probably already understood almost everything about each other.  So, the fact that we were standing in the same room together wasn't much different than chatting online. Also, we had shared our deepest thoughts and emotions when making the music, which forges an unbreakable bond.

RoD: James is from the USA, Peter comes from Belgium. How do the electronic music markets of both countries differ from each other?
Jamie: I wish I could lump the United States electronic music market into a single description, but it's too varied.  There are so many things going on here that it's hard to pinpoint anything specific that would make it significantly different than other countries.  It seems like there are numerous 'groups' of musicians here that all have different philosophies about how the music industry should work.  Since the digital age, we've all been trying to invent a new model, but the world hasn't agreed on one yet. It’s the same for Europe, there is so much variety; the field is so big and that’s a good thing because it causes a dynamic through which new forms of musical beauty find the light of day.

RoD: Peter, I read on the internet that you taught yourself how to sing. Who encouraged you to start singing for other people? When did you find out that you want to earn your living by singing?
Peter: I actually taught myself how to play the guitar, after a friend had shown me a few basic moves and loaned me his guitar. It was love at first sight and during those first months I could only strum three chords, so the singing became necessary to add some variation to the mix. I have always wanted to do something creative with my life, though, and singing and crafting songs has occupied a very important place in my heart, in a way that I sometimes pray for it to become my core profession. Up until now, however, it doesn’t generate sufficient funds to live on, but hope springs eternal.

RoD: Your collaboration was developed via the internet. According to your experiences, what are this medium’s chances and risks for musicians?
Jamie: As far as I can tell, there is no risk at all. It lacks the face-to-face interaction, but makes up for it by allowing more focused meditation on the music. The only thing to keep in mind is that the Internet does not guarantee instant success. Sure, you can put your music up and it’s a good way to promote your songs, but because everyone has the same advantage, the net is packed with new artist, so you’ll still have to work incredibly hard to attain a quality that rises above all the others.

RoD: Stefan Herwig reactivated his label Dependent to make the release of `Focus and Flow´ possible. Would you summarize how the story continued?
Jamie: Well, Stefan not only reactivated the label, solely for our CD. That would do injustice to all the other top acts that are part of the Dependent family. But he is definitely the guiding light in the entire process of getting our music out there. So at this point he’s taking charge and constantly helps us out. And he’s also looking into the possibility of KILOWATTS & VANEK touring through Germany and possibly later on through the US and Canada.

RoD: What are your favourite songs from your recent album?
Jamie: ‘Combray’ for its drama, ‘Solar Flare’ for its slow grooving tranquillity, ‘Sinnerstate’ for its digital rock and ‘Blue Vapourtrails’ for its madness.

RoD: Do you plan to go on tour with `Focus and Flow´ up to your sleeves?
Jamie: We hope to make this happen and our options are wide open!

RoD: What concerts did you recently attend and how did you like the performance?
Jamie: I saw Robert Rich create a totally immersive and mystifying 3 hour set this summer.  Truly fantastic, engaging rapture!
Peter: I saw Louise Rhodes perform her solo-work some time ago. I still get goose bumps when I think back to her performance, so pure, so beautifully fragile.

RoD: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions.


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