INTERVIEW WITH SYNTH.NL
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
“Michel van Osenbruggen talks about the Refuge en Verre album”
S&S:How was the Refuge en Verre project born?
Synth.NL: Ron and I didn't plan upfront to make an album at all to be honest. Ever since I have joined the Groove Unlimited label in 2007 I have become good friends with Ron. We visit each other on a regular basis and our wives, kids and even the dogs like each other too. Last summer our wives decided to rent a holiday house in the Belgian Ardennes together and Ron and I decided to both bring a synthesizer and try to make some music. We never played before together and we thought we might maybe record one or two songs. It turned out we could make music together very quickly and after the weekend we had quite some material. Only after that weekend then we decided to make this album.
S&S: With Refuge en Verre, Synth.NL touches lightly a music that is closer to the atmospheric and ambient progressive borders (Orage d'Été, Rosée du Matin and Coucher de Soleil). Is this the influence of Ron Boots or simply Synth.NL progression?
Synth.NL: When we started playing the first two tracks, they were quite uptempo and as you can probably tell the first track sounds a bit more like Ron Boots and the second track a bit more like Synth.NL even though you can hear us both clearly. From the third track on we wanted to do something different that was more the both of us. From there the idea came to play a more ambient track and Orage d'Été was born. Later on we decided to do some more quiet stuff. We actually like this kind of music very much, so it was not the influence of one of us, but the influence both of us.
S&S: After an album with catchy rhythms and melodies such as OceanoGraphy, don't you fear to destabilize your fans with an album that has a more progressive musical orientation as Refuge en Verre?
Synth.NL: No I don't fear that at all actually. I have a very simple view on my own music. I make the music that I like myself first of all and then if other people like it too... great!! If they don't... no problem at all! I won't get upset if people don't like my music. Everybody has his own taste fortunately and I can't change that :). Besides, this album is collaboration and there you have to make compromises of course. My next solo album will sound more like Synth.NL again I guess even though I'll try to improve myself of course and try not to do the same thing as on the last albums.
S&S: On is another side, your very rhythmic and orchestral approach is strongly present (La Roche-en-Ardenne, Combat de Coqs and Contemple de Ciel) on Refuge en Verre. How did the communication passed between you and Ron Boots?
Synth.NL: That went very easy, not in words but in notes :) Almost all tracks were played live as improvisations. Most of the times I started playing something and Ron just played along. Ron is a very good live artist with a lot of experience playing with other artists. I most often was amazed how easy it all went actually. This is really Ron's quality and not mine. Besides that Ron knows what kind of music I like since he helped mixing and mastering my solo albums and next to that we always have a lot of discussions about music together.
S&S: Did you feel swallowed or intimidated by Ron Boots experience and skill with random rhythms and sequences?
Synth.NL: No not at all. Ron is a very nice and easy person to work with. I'm way more difficult I guess ;) I'm quite stubborn and perfectionistic, but Ron handled that very well :) I think both our styles mix very well on this album. We are both melodic and chord oriented even though our individual approaches are different. The only thing I had to get used to is the longer length of the tracks. Usually my own tracks are a bit shorter, but it is Ron's quality again to keep these tracks interesting especially with his sequencer work.
S&S: Refuge en Verre is your 4th album. Wasn't it too early in your career to twin your music, which after all hardly flowers, with the one of a musician also experienced such as Ron Boots?
Synth.NL: I haven't thought about that to be honest. I was planning to release a solo album in October, but because this project was so much fun I decided to postpone that solo album and release this one together with Ron first. Actually when I think about it now, it might be even a good idea to get my name out to Ron's fans that don't know me yet. Ron has been around for a very long time and is very well known all over the World, where I just started out. But like I said before, that was not the reason for doing this at all. It was just a lot of fun to work with Ron and I'm very happy with the end result.
S&S: How did you like working in team? Does it take a lot of comprehension to work, write and match musical ideas with someone else?
Synth.NL: I could not work with just anyone I guess. Like I said before I'm not an easy person to work with. I have a strong idea about what I would like to do up front normally. Especially when I'm working on a solo project I already have a clear image of the theme of the album, the whole story and build-up of the album and even the music is already in my head before I start playing a note. In this project with Ron I just let myself go and I just went with the flow. There was no up front idea, no theme nothing. We just played and had fun. I guess this is why it worked. There were no complicated discussions at all. I liked working like this for a change and will do so again in the future for sure, but now I go back to my own way stubborn way again.