Interview Jacob Broers en Gerben Klazinga

"For now, it's a project but maybe in the future it will be a band"

(April 2021, text by Aad Bannink, edited by Peter Willemsen)

In 2014 Jacob Broers met keyboard player Gerben Klazinga (Knight Area) when Jacob got a one-hour music lesson at the Knight Area Productions Studio of Gerben. A year later they decided to form a band or actually a duo, although Klazinga had no intention to start a side project beside Knight Area. Nevertheless, six years later the duo released an album called Burdens Of The Mind (see review) on their own record label Red Icon. On this CD Klazinga appears to be a multi-instrumentalist since he not only plays keyboards, but also bass guitar and drums. The music has been recorded in the vein of The Sun Also Rises, the debut album by Knight Area released in 2004. The new album and the interesting past of Gerben Klazinga with Knight Area justify an interview with both musicians for Background Magazine.

Congratulations with your great debut album. In the progressive rock scene, we all know Gerben Klazinga, but Jacob Broers is probably the great unknown. Jacob, would you please tell the readers of our magazine something about yourself?
Jacob: “Of course I will. I've always been a great fan of the symphonic rock music since the moment I first heard Pictures At An Exhibition by Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1975. Since then, I have always had a strong desire to compose music. However, until this year I was more focused on my career as a tax lawyer than as a musician.”

Jacob Broers (left) and Gerben Klazinga
Did you have any experience as a musician in the past?
Jacob: “No, I have no experience at all, but as most lovers of symphonic rock know: Gerben has been the founding member of Knight Area and he also played in a band called Sangamo from 1986 until 2014.”

How did you meet Gerben Klazinga and when did it become clear that you wanted to make an album together?
Jacob: “At the end of 2014, I received a present from a good friend for a one-hour piano lesson at the studio of Knight Area Productions of Gerben in Boskoop. I already played classical piano for ten years, but I told Gerben that I wanted to make symphonic rock music instead. Gerben agreed and this resulted in the track Iconoclast, which cannot be found on Burdens Of The Mind by the way. Despite the fact that Gerben didn't have the intention to start a new project at the time, he was so enthusiastic about the result of our cooperation, that we decided to make an album together.”

Did you already have some ideas when you started to write this album?
Gerben: “Yes, we had. We wanted to make an excellent album in the vein of The Sun Also Rises by Knight Area that we recorded in 2003.”
Jacob: “Yes, I wanted to make a symphonic rock album that would meet the highest possible standards.”

Both of you play keyboards. Can you tell us how you divided the different keyboard parts on the album?
Gerben: “Jacob wrote a number of keyboard parts but we made the final parts together. I also had some keyboard parts that I wrote years ago and in that case we made the final parts together as well.”
Jacob: “It was sometimes very challenging as we have a different way of composing. Where Gerben starts with chords and subsequently writes the melody, I do it just the other way round, starting with the melody.”

Can you tell us something about the guest musicians on this album?
Gerben: “Well, the guest musicians are friends of Jacob or myself. Of course, we know they are good musicians.”
Jacob: “For me it was important that they are skilled musicians with a style that suits our music in terms of a good voice, the way of playing and the sound of the instruments. That was for me the reason to choose singer Mark Smit and guitarist Mark Bogert on a number of tracks.”

I must confess that I was rather surprised to hear Mark Smit doing the vocals since he left Knight Area In 2018. Who came up with the idea to ask Mark as vocalist?
Gerben: “Mark is a good singer and Jacob has always been a great fan of Mark's voice.”
Jacob: “I wanted Mark to sing as I like his voice since I first heard him on The Sun Also Rises. In 2016, he already did the vocals of Year Without A Summer, our second song after Iconoclast. That was two years before he left Knight Area.”

Was it easy to convince Mark to do the job?
Gerben: “Yes, it was.”
Jacob: “Actually, there was no need to convince Mark, because at the time he was still a member of Knight Area. Moreover, Mark is a professional vocalist, he likes this kind of music and what's most important: his voice suits our music perfectly.”

Can you imagine that many fans of Knight Area are pleasantly surprised that Mark reunited with Gerben? The album has a clear touch of the first albums of Knight Area. Does it bother you that people will judge this album that way?
Gerben: “No, not at all.”
Jacob: “Gerben is the founding member of Knight Area and he composed most of the songs. Our album has a similar style as the first three albums of that band. Therefore, it's only natural that people compare our album with Knight Area. I'm proud that people compare the album with Knight Area, and I'm even prouder that Gerben thinks that our album is better than his best album The Sun Also Rises.”
Video 'Now That You're Gone' The making of 'Now That You're Gone'

The album is called Burdens Of The Mind. The biography says that the deeper meaning of this title is: you can't run away from your problems but you have to deal with them. That sounds a bit obscure to me. Jacob, you wrote the lyrics. Would you please explain what it exactly means?
Jacob: “Sometimes you feel as if a heavy weight is on your shoulder, as if a giant burden is pushing you down. Sometimes people lie awake at night, still repeating inner conflicts and thoughts about the urgent problems in their lives. Every now and then everybody has those feelings. At secondary school I already was intrigued by the Roman philosopher Seneca. He wrote in the first century that if you're travelling in order to escape from your problems, you'll soon find out that they've come along with you. Therefore, you have to deal with these problems, with these burdens instead. That's the message in this song. At the same time, I try to convey positive thinking in other tracks on the album, such as in Now That You're Gone and Hold On, but you have to read between the lines.”

Are there other songs on the album that are special to you personally, and if so why?
“Not any song in particular, but writing lyrics implies including personal elements, which makes a song more realistic and stronger.”

What is your favourite track on the album and what makes it so special to you?
Gerben: “For me there are more favourites, but if I have to make a choice then I go for the title track of the album.”
Jacob: “Karakas surely is my favourite track as it has always been my dream to combine elements of J.S. Bach and Keith Emerson in one track since both musicians have been a great inspiration to me.”

Is Broers + Klazinga a project or can we speak of a band?
Gerben: “For now, it's a project, but maybe in the future it will be a band.”

In the band's logo your names are connected by a Celtic cross. I think this isn't a coincidence, right? Why did you choose this cross?
Jacob: “Well, believe it or not, but this really is a coincidence. Our logo is a kind of musical ampersand, which stands for musical cooperation. An ampersand is a logogram representing the conjunction 'and'. The logo is a combination of the plus sign and the coda symbol in music annotation; the latter indicates an extra section at the end of a piece.”

Is this album a one-time event, or is there any chance that there will be a second album?
Gerben: “Well, in fact we're actually working on a second album.”
Jacob: “That second album will be called Second Thoughts. Moreover, we are working on another challenging project, which is a lounge and dance album similar to the Buddha Bar albums, but with a touch of symphonic rock.”

Recently the album saw the light of day. Did the responses on the album meet your expectations?
Gerben: “Yes, they did. We are very happy to read all the nice reviews.”
Jacob: “We are very grateful that all the responses are so positive.”

Hopefully the Covid-19 will die down soon. Are there any plans for live gigs?
Jacob: “Well, the first goal is that Knight Area will be playing live again.”

Well gentlemen, thank you for time to answer my questions.
Both: “You're welcome.”

More info about Broers+Klazinga on the Internet:

       review album 'Burdens Of The Mind'

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