On the occasion of their seventh single release, on March 11, Norman van den Wildenberg, editor-in-chief of one of the largest online music sites in The Netherlands, Maxazine, interviewed the trio behind the music project Bridging the Divide from the Netherlands
Bridging the Divide has been around since 2014 and has since built up a name for itself, especially in the music scene itself. They have already worked with musicians such as Ton Scherpenzeel from Kayak, Edison Winner singer Rob Lamothe from Riverdogs, German rock guitarist Helmut Krumminga, known from BAP, and now on their upcoming new release ' Wings' even with Graham Gouldman, the frontman of rock legends 10 CC who has been inducted into the songwriters' Hall of Fame.
Curious about what this somewhat mysterious project actually is, an appointment was made in the recording studio of Joost Peters, one of the members of Bridging the Divide, just a stone's throw from Tilburg.
The three men from Bridging the Divide are already waiting in the studio. Joost Peters and Jan Vranken are the 'founding members' and recently they announced that drummer Sjoerd Rutten has now become a permanent part of the production team. ' He was almost always there anyway ' laughs Joost. ' His input was already there, it only makes sense to see Bridging the Divide from now on as a project based on the three of us' adds Jan Vranken.
While enjoying a very good cup of coffee, which tastes like made by a professional barista, the first question is obvious as an opening.
' Does BTD consider itself a band or project, and why? '
Jan shifts to the edge of his seat, clearly triggered by the question. ' When I started recording some music for myself in 2014, I had worked out one of my songs 'Something Bothering You'. That I recorded together with another old musical colleague, Bego Begovic. As a singer, I had asked the Argentinian Magali Bachor, because I knew that she was in the Netherlands at the time. She is a fantastic singer and very famous in Latin America. She was a vocal coach with the Voice of Argentina and has her own successful career as a singer. I asked Joost, whom I've known for a long time, to play the bass part. That became the first song to which Bridging the Divide was hung as a stage name. It's not at all representative of what came after that, but hey. Unexpectedly, that song got a lot of airplay and plays in Lebanon. I had sent it to an acquaintance who worked there as a disc jockey at the American University radio station in the city. He picked it up and moments later it was there at the bottom of the top 20. A bizarre sensation."
Joost adds: 'Jan and I sat down to dinner. The idea of making music together and then always looking for a new team of musicians was born that way. Our ideal is to have a project where everyone can and should stand in their own power, have a creative input, and work together to achieve the best result. A kind of musically creative playground, or a laboratory, whichever you prefer. It turned out to be a very inspiring way of working for us'
"So a project," Sjoerd ends the answer.
BTD is now going to release its seventh song. Various top musicians participate in all songs. What are you most proud of yourself?
There is silence in the cozy studio where dozens of bass guitars hang on the wall, ready to be played. Joost is the first to start: 'The only correct answer can only be that the new song 'Wings' is our greatest pride.' Jan puts his coffee away and tops it up.' Slowly but surely we are getting more and more practiced in writing and producing music. Our network continues to expand, which means that we are increasingly collaborating with others. At 'Wings' it all comes together very well."
Sjoerd nods in agreement. For example, we have built up a good relationship with the men of 10CC in recent years. On a previous song, drummer Paul Burgess already played along, and now we have Graham Gouldman himself playing bass on Wings."
Jan is beaming when he hears Sjoerd tell. 'Graham is a childhood idol for us. 10CC was way ahead of their time in many ways and were already making music back then as we are trying to do now. Plenty of room for experimentation, trying a thousand possibilities and working on the details with great care.'
"We now see Graham as a kind of mentor. We see each other every time 10CC is in the Netherlands or Belgium," says Joost. "We can ask him for advice when we're writing lyrics, or if we need an opinion on a demo. Graham has been inducted into the songwriters' hall of fame, so you couldn't have a better mentor."
'He can be quite strict otherwise.' says Jan. ; I've cursed him many times, but because of this, indeed, we as a project grow enormously because of this kind of privileged collaborations that we are allowed to do. It is also extremely motivating and inspiring ! '
BTD appears to be a studio project. There have probably been questions about whether you want to perform.
"That's right," says Sjoerd. "We've had quite a few questions in that direction, but it's just not there. I am very busy as a musician myself. Next season I will play drums in the production 'Abba, thank you for the music' in a ten-piece band with Mandy Huydts, (including Frizzle Sizzle /Frogettes) Linda Caminita (including Mrs. Einstein), Monique van der Ster (including Frogettes and Kayak ), Rachel Kramer (including K-Otic), Rob Winter and Giovanni Caminita (both including Marco Borsato), Danjil Tuhumena (The Voice ao), Nick Bult and Werner van Gool. The latter has also played on a BTD track.'
Jan takes another sip of coffee and continues. ' Precisely. Sjoerd is already too busy as a drummer, Joost is very busy with his dressage music assignments and I think it's fine that way. I don't want to perform and besides, I'm nowhere near the rest musically, so let me write and produce.'
'That's true' says Joost 'and in addition it is really organizationally and financially impossible to get our line-ups on stage together.' The men look at each other and start laughing. The mood is good. This opens the door to one last, perhaps a little off-the-wall question, but it seems like it can be asked.
If you had to compare BTD to a beautiful woman, what would she look like?
Sjoerd almost spits his coffee over the recording equipment and Joost hurries, pointing at Jan. 'Let him answer that, he writes the most texts so for a poetic answer you have to be with him. '
Sighing, Jan begins his answer. 'First I want to say that I think it's a weird question. Maybe I don't like women at all. In addition, I prefer not to participate in this kind of machismo glorifying questions or propositions. We value people for who they are, not what they look like. If BTD were a person, it would be someone with an open mind, without prejudice, peace-loving, respectful, eager to learn, creative, and very kind."
"Just like we are ourselves," laughs Sjoerd.
A good time to end the interview.
"Wings" will be released March 11 on all streaming platforms, and as a paid download, with alternative artwork, on BTD's Bandcamp site