Interview: Fixkes

Interview: Fixkes

Some say they are ‘the Belgian G. Love & Special Sauce’. The influence is evident, but six man band Fixkes created a fresh style on their own. Recently the Belgian band released a sophomore album called ‘Superheld’, which is definitely suitable to play now Spring’s in the air. While touring through the Netherlands, we talked to Fixkes about their music, influences, hip hop in Belgium and much more.

Some say they are ‘the Belgian G. Love & Special Sauce’. The influence is evident, but six man band Fixkes created a fresh style on their own. Recently the Belgian band released a sophomore album called ‘Superheld’, which is definitely suitable to play now Spring’s in the air. While touring through the Netherlands, we talked to Fixkes about their music, influences, hip hop in Belgium and much more.

Music: Fixkes – Superheld

Can you tell something about your new record ‘Superheld’? How is it compared to your debut?

Sam: It was our goal to make it broader, music-wise. The first CD was more focused on the lyrics, but this time we wanted to highlight the music itself a little bit more, although the lyrics are also still important.

This record also contains more hip hop influences, why’s that?

Sam: There’s no specific reason for that, I guess it depends on the moment and what we want to do at that time.

Were there any other musical influences compared to the debut album?

Sam: Not really, but I think it moved a little bit. You can compare our first record with music like Jack Johnson, but our second release is more in the style of G. Love (G. Love & Special Sauce). Both are really big influences for us. I like how they aren’t always dead serious with their music. Sometimes Jack Johnson is a little bit of a preacher, but I like how he can sing about little things as well. G. Love is someone who’s creative and playful with his music, that really appeals to me.

You’re doing a tour through Holland at the moment, how’s that compared to Belgium?

Sam: We really like Holland! We had one massive hit in Belgium withKvraagetaan, that definitely influenced the way people looked at us as a band. Here in Holland we are a beginning band, so we have to build a fanbase and ‘name’ again. That’s really nice, to work on something completely new again.

Does that also has to do something with the audience here?

Peter: I think the Dutch crowd is more energetic than the audience in Belgium. Not only for Fixkes, but just in general.

Someone made the comparison of you and Arctic Monkeys, because internet was also important for your career. Is that true in your eyes?

Peter: We kind of grew together with Myspace. We signed up to that in the early days and once Myspace got more and more popular, we also developed a fan base through it. Our first tour in Holland was together with Stijn by the way, that happened thanks to internet as well: we didn’t know each other, but we got in touch online. So yes, we did build a ‘name’ on internet, but once you get airplay on radio stations and do interviews and such, then that’s a huge factor for success as well. So it’s not that internet was the only reason we got picked up.

How did you end up with Excelsior, which is a Dutch label?

Peter: Our booker suggested to talk to Excelsior, because at that time they were in touch with other bands from Belgium as well. We sat down with someone of the label and talked; a week later we got the deal.

So you feel satisfied with your current ‘home’?

Peter: Yes, definitely. It’s a great label and we have no pressure from them; we have the freedom we want. It’s no problem that the label itself is Dutch, I think we actually got an advantage because of that when it comes to promotion and performing in Holland.

Music: Fixkes – Vrijdagavond

What about recording your songs, what’s first: lyrics or music?

Sam: Most of the time I have a rough draft of lyrics written down and some musical ideas recorded. Once we know we want to do a song with something, then we bring the two of them together. So it’s kind of lyrics and music at the same time.

In the near future I want to try something different than we did for our first record. We want to finish music and melodies first, before I write the lyrics. I don’t know if that will work out, but that’s something we want to try. It’s not that lyrics will be less important, but then we can adapt it to the music.

On the song ‘Ziede Mij Nog Gere’ you say you don’t know anything about poetry, but honestly I think most of your lyrics are pretty poetic?

Sam: I think I am too direct with my lyrics: it’s too concrete sometimes. With that statement on ‘Ziede Mij Nog Gere’, I mean that I love lyrics, but that I want to write lyrics you can interpret on a lot of different ways. It’s pretty clear what every song is about if you hear it, as long as you understand the language, haha. I mean that I don’t know anything about poetry, because sometimes my lyrics are too concrete, I want to write more abstract lyrics.

Most of you also have work besides the band. Do you hope one day you can fully life of your music?

Peter: I doubt it. The scene for our music is too small for that. I think it’s also important that right now we ‘don’t have to’; we don’t have to force ourselves to life of our music now. I think it’s nice that the band is more like a ‘hobby club’ so to speak. No pressure.

Talking of pressure, did you feel more pressure for the second album after the success of ‘Kvraagetaan’?

Peter: Less pressure, actually! The first single was a big hit indeed, but between that single and our debut there was a gap of half a year. So the pressure was all on our debut album. After that we worked on our second release without stress, I think no one of us felt any pressure.

Can you tell something about the song Rock ‘n Roll and the meaning behind that?

Sam: It started with a review of one of our shows. That journalist said we had the rock ‘n roll caliber of a pack of soap powder. I thought, come on, you’re 40 years old and you’re still paying attention to ‘how rock ‘n roll’ something is? That’s why we decided to write a song about ‘being rock ‘n roll’. Some people think we are pro- rock ‘n roll after hearing that song, but that’s not true. The song Dorpsstraat is kind of similar, but focuses more on hip hop. About suburban rich kids who start rapping about how ‘street’ they are, haha come on.

How’s hip hop in Belgium nowadays by the way?

Sam: It’s nothing compared to Holland. The biggest artists here are Dutch groups as The Opposites and De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig, they are way bigger than artists from Belgium. I think the last really successful hip hop from Belgium was ‘t Hof Van Commerce, but that was it when it comes to known stuff.

Peter: French hip hop is bigger though, that’s pretty popular in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

Sam: True. By the way, Meta (Freestyle Fabrik), who worked and performed with us several times, is a really great songwriter and rapper from Belgium. But he’s thinking of quitting, because there’s just no market for it here in Belgium. That’s really a shame, because he’s very talented, but it’s just too hard nowadays.

Is there a blooming scene in the, let’s say, ‘underground’?

Peter: I think there’s almost no such thing as ‘Flemish hip hop’ anymore. Of course there’s a scene of producers and rappers if you dig deeper, but you just never hear it on the radio, see it on festivals or see it in big concert halls. All the stuff we hear in daily life is stuff from Holland like The Opposites. We also don’t have a big label that releases Flemish hip hop, just like you guys have Topnotch.   

To round up this interview, are there any upcoming plans you’d like to share with us?

Peter: We’re thinking of a theater tour, but that’s still just a vague idea. We’re not really long-term planners, nor short-term planners, haha.      

More info: Fixkes
Buy now: Superheld

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Not just as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, but also as a freelance music journalist (bylines at Tracklib, Bandcamp, Wax Poetics, DIG Mag, among others) and—above all—out of love for all kinds of good music.