Interview : Floortje Donia – Cardamon (2009)




Interview by Erwin Van Dijk

Did you always want to become a singer?

No. I always wanted to become a designer (which I did by the way). I started singing because I heard the singer of the highschool band and thought: I sing better than she does! Allthough I didn’t mean to actually take her place in the band, that’s what happened…

Did you follow any singing lessons and what do you do to keep your voice in top condition?

My secret recipe: coffee, late nights and lots of beer! But I quit smoking though..

Is Cardamon your first band and do you have any other bands or projects besides Cardamon?

As mentioned above there was the school band. After that I sang in a cover band for a couple of years, which was a lot of fun too. Right now I really don’t have time for other projects with my business AND Cardamon to run, but I would love to make electronical music! I’ve got some friends who are in producing and turntablism and we always make big plans for some kickass experimental electronic sounds, but we never get there thus far. I have high hopes for the future, when I’m rich and have too much time on my hands.

To what kind of music do you listen yourself and who are your favourite bands and artists?

Back in the days I was all about punkrock and hardcore, not missing a show or an album of my favourite bands, travelling across Holland and Belgium for every crappy little festival with my friends. We hated anything mainstream or commercial about music, so we stuck to our scene. Later on I discovered that mainstream wasn’t all that bad and started to listen to a lot of different stuff. I think wisdom comes with age, haha. Right now, I’m a sucker for good songwriting and beautiful voices. For example, Imogen Heap is one of my favourite artists. She does everything herself, both when she’s recording and live! Her songs make me laugh and cry at the same time. Another special musician is Teitur. His music is so beautiful and small, his lyrics are magical, his voice is different from anything I’ve heard before. I have the luck of knowing him personally and therfor I got some inside information about his music which makes it even prettier. Some other names: Ane Brun (cute girl, beautiful songs), Fink (former producer, you can hear the electronical influence in it), Elbow (fantastic songwriting). Apologies to the metal fans for my list, but I urge you to check out this wussy music anyways!

According to the bio on the Cardamon website you hate the Black Eyed Peas. Do you mean the band or the beans?

Definitely the band. Most unmusical and overrated stuff I ever heard.

How would you describe yourself with three words?

Er… Are we really doing that?

What are your favourite movies?

I’m more of a series-person. Dexter, Prison Break, Arrested development, and -believe it or not- Lost. And although usually after the 3rd season the quality hits rock bottom, I keep watching it, don’t know why, really..

And books?

I tend not to finish books anymore, last ones I finished were American writers: Palahniuk, Easton Ellis, Coupland. I like the writing of that generation. Furthermore I read in my “Vraagbaak”, the mechanical guide to my old Beamer (e30). I would like to understand the principle of an engine. And than be able to fix it. So that I don’t need to bring it to the mechanic.

Do you have any hobbies besides singing?

As we speak I am in Switzerland. For work, but also for my biggest thrill besides music: snowboarding! Beautiful, powerful mountains, maximum freedom, speed, adrenalin… Love it!

Cardamon is a very unusual name for a band. Why did Koen Romeijn and Thomas Kalksma choose this name for their new band?

Actually, it was my dad who came up with the name. I don’t see why it’s unusual, is that because it isn’t half a sentence? Or because it doesn’t involve pain, darkness or depression? We thought it was catchy and it represents our spicy side..

How would you describe Cardamon’s sound and what makes Cardamon different compared to all those other female fronted bands in the world?

If asked we call our music usually melancholic rock/metal but to be honest: we don’t really know what to call it.. In reviews we end up in the gothic department, and female fronted rock in general is usually considered gothic anyway lately. But we don’t really care what people call it, and whether we are so different from other bands. We make music with our hearts, the way we like to make it, and we believe that we are a worthy contribution to the Dutch scene this way.

Can you introduce us to the other members of Cardamon:

Interview them! They are way more interesting than I am… Everyone of these guys are driven, talented, funny, blunt, sensitive, true and full of crap. Thomas Kalksma – drums, acoustic guitars; Koen Romeijn – guitars; Kevin Storm – guitars, soundscapes.

The newest member of Cardamon is Luuk van Gerven, who also happens to be the bass player of After Forever. How did you get in touch with Luuk?

We were looking for a bass player and all of a sudden Luuk sent us an email! He had heard about us through a mutual friend and was looking forward to jam with us. Of course it was fantastic to play with him, I mean, he is a GREAT bass player, so we aimed to keep him.. Since than he has really become a part of the bunch, co-writing, playing gigs, making stupid jokes..

On your first promo CD you had Ben Mathot as session violin. What happened to him and would Cardamon use a violist on stage someday?

Hans Pieters helped us out with that. We wanted a violin part, he knew Ben. I think his recording was a one-taker. He’s very active in the music scene! He has his own band Dis and he’s in Ayreon.. We are proud to have one of his arrangements on our album.

Speaking of old Cardamon members, what happened to Patrick Velis, who used to be your bass player during the recording of “The Primrose Path”?

Yes, good ol’ Patrick.. He got caught up in too much activity. He got a promotion at his job, ergo he had to work more,. Combine that with 4 bands and a girlfriend, and than you realize you gotta drop something! Job and girlfriend were no serious options, so he chose the band he entered last. And that was Cardamon. It was hard for him and for us. But we still love each other, that will never change!

Can you tell us something about the songs on “The Primrose Path”?

The album has some returning themes that appear in the songs. They are about betrayal, mostly by people you trusted. About loneliness, even though you are amongst others. About the urge to find peace, in a place which is filled with noise. Contradictions, failure, desire and truth.

And what is the idea behind the title of the album?

It’s about being tempted to pursue happiness coming easily, knowing it’s not going to happen.. You’re deceiving yourself, others deceive us, be careful not to let your guard down, nothing comes easily.

About the song writing: is this teamwork or is there one mastermind behind Cardamon’s music?

Most of the songs are eventually a product of us all, we work on it in our rehearsal room. Especially the newest songs are really written together, ‘cause we found out we really like that. It keeps the spirit high. Everyone has good ideas and lesser ideas, together you can fish out the genius ones and laugh abouth the horrendous ones. On “The Primrose Path” the arrangements were mainly written by Thomas. The melodies, fills and poo-hah were done by us all. Lyrics are Thomas or mine. “Echo” is Kevin’s. Cardamon’s music is more or less the opposite from Detonation, Koen Romeijn’s other band. Would you like to do some faster and more aggressive songs on a new Cardamon album? Definitively. The more gigs we play, the more we realize that it’s gotta ROCK! So, out with the half-way acoustic stuff, in with the rythmic drums and rocking riffs. But don’t worry, I won’t grunt!

A lot of bands have recorded their albums at the Rotterdam Excess studios. What have you learned from your experiences during the recording of “The Primrose Path”?

We owe a lot to Hans Pieters.. He reeled us in at the time we wanted to record our promo in 2004. After some years we still didn’t have a record deal, and yet he agreed on recording our full length for a friendly price. The Excess sound is awesome, to work with him is a pleasure. Because besides his super-skilled engineeringhoodism he is a very funny guy, I always laugh my ass off.. And Hans apparently believes in us! We owe it to Hans to get this album all over the world, let’s work on it.

What is your favourite song on the album?

Sorry, can’t say. All songs stand for different times and feelings. They are all true and therefor have their own value to me.

Speaking of favourites: what are your highlights with Cardamon?

Hopefully 2009 will be full of highlights! Lot’s of shows, a record deal for “The Primrose Path” and maybe we’ll go abroad for some shows too! Personally, that is my biggest wish for the band, that we can make a nice tour, the farther the better! But from a different perspective, I am already so excited that there are people who buy our album, come to our shows and support us in any other way, that will always be a highlight.. thanks guys..

And, have you already experienced some “Spinal Tap” moments with the band?

We still have the same drummer…

What are Cardamon’s plans for the future?

We would like to play as much as possible to show the world what we’re worth, and in the mean time we’re working on our second album.

And, the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?

More cowbell!



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