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De Kift

I had never heard of De Kift until the day we were scheduled to film a session with them. I didn’t have time to listen to any of their tracks on Myspace. So Chryde and I went to the Café de la Danse completely ignorant of De Kift’s music, to meet Vincent Moon who was very, very enthusiastic. Inside, there were dozens of guitars and brass instruments.

The guys from De Kift are Dutch, and there’s a ton of them. Smiling, welcoming, happy, friendly. They could not be a better fit for the Take Away Shows. We sometimes have to deal with blasé artists, musicians who are bored and annoyed—in cases like this, we have no desire to spend time with them, and it’s hard to enjoy working. This brass band offered 3 songs, but they sang every one of them twice, in different locations, so that we’d have the choice in the publication. But the thing is, we had a hard time making a choice.

We took them to wander in the streets around the Café de la Danse, where we passed by indifferent teenagers and fascinated little kids and their parents by showing off and naming the instruments. We stopped in the middle of a paved little yard. People appeared at their windows, and Vincent Moon was in his own world, totally immersed in the whirl, happy to be filming. We all had this dumb smile, the one that says, “This is magical. This is going to be a fantastic session.”

Rue des Taillandiers. We could hear the first notes of “Wee My”. The De Kifts are not twenty-something guys. There’s something in their face, some story told–just like when singer Ferry Heijne confronted the camera with a story he chanted. It was a moving, unique moment where nothing existed but the sounds of all these instruments; we were definitely elsewhere. I was about to cry, but tried not to. A brass band is not a usual occurrence in Paris, but it’s rare to see so many people applaud at the end of a Take Away Show. We were happy for the “crazy Dutch guys,” as Chryde called them.

Vincent Moon wanted to have De Kift play in a park at Ledru-Rollin. “Reiziger” is the only song in French they played for us. Unfortunately, because of winter hours, the gate was closed earlier than usual. However, having them all in a row, playing in front of the park, was wonderful. It felt like we where at the theatre, the privileged audience for this company. “Vanished along with his shadow, has he ever existed?” . The lyrics are dark but full of hope–just like the musicians’ solemn faces, which suddenly illuminated with joy from time to time.

“A drinking and singing song, full of the sadness of love” . This is “Beguine”, the most moving song of the afternoon. This is also the very first song of the session, but the two versions were so beautiful we could not choose only one. All of us entered a tiny store where hundreds of fragile little things were on display–we were like a bull in a china shop. This was surreal, and the saleswomen were a little bit panicked at first, but they soon relaxed and got into the music. We could have spent the whole day with that theatrical brass band; wandered with them in the city; listened to them sing their stories in French, in Dutch. The beauty of a language we do not understand. Be moved by its poetry, its sadness, its happiness. “We play our most fragile song,” said Ferry Heijne after he bowed.

Translated by Nora