Interview #16: Sleepingdog

Chantal Acda is a Dutch woman living in Belgium and writing and performing under the name Sleepingdog.  I first came across her music thanks to Rich from Gizeh/GLISSANDO as her last record ‘Polar Life’ was released on Rich’s label.  It’s a fabulous record filled with beautiful piano moments.  It floats.  It swirls and it rests itself firmly in your soul.  Many times I’ve turned to it to help release the stress of a day, week or month.  Let the demons float away into the beautiful darkness.  Since she played Trampoline way back when we have become friends and may even soon get to work on some songs together, which for me would be an absolute delight.  If you have never heard her wonderful sounds please do so now by checking out her work here.  And keep an eye out for a new record in the near future which, from what I hear, is absolutely stunning.  Enjoy.

TSP:  For those people who may not be aware of your music can you tell us a little bit about Sleepingdog.  How it started?  How it has developed?  And where it is going to next?

CA:  It started as a homeproject. I always played in bands and I really needed a project to be on my own. I am not an easy person to work with because when I write songs they end up as if they were my babies. It’s hard to let go and trust people with that. For the second album”Polar Life” I started working with Adam Wiltzie. He helped with the production and arrangments. For the new album (2010), almost finished, we seem to work as a duo. It’s amazing I can trust someone in music like I trust him. It’s also funny because we both come from completely different world. I normally take the folk/emotional side and Adam is used to playing with the beauty of sounds and orchestrations. We found eachother halfway I guess. So the music did change and develop. From very intimistic songs with a guitar and funny instruments to very quiet piano/orchestration popsongs.

TSP:  Tell us a little bit about the Belgian music scene.  Would you say it is vibrant at the moment?  I’m assuming most of my readers will only know of dEUS from Belgium.  Are there other artists you’d recommend people check out?

CA:  Yes and I think it always was. I am originally dutch and I really moved to Belgium for the amazing music scene.  This country is a big chaos. You have no idea of the mess around me all day ha. There seems to be no clarity in running this country, rules, the way the cities look. Just chaos and I think it’s this chaos that keeps the music coming. Although I have to say that the exciting dEUS from their early years seems to be gone. That very intense, original sound. Also in Belgium most bands seem to be copycats and all sound like American/ English bands. That’s a bit a shame. Bands like Wixel, Yuko, Toman and V.O are bands you should definitely check out!

TSP:  Talking of dEUS, we recently discussed a shared love of this band.  Just how big a deal are they in Belgium?  Would you say they have played a big roll in encouraging people to play alternative music in Belgium and indeed in your life?

CA:  They are still big. But their music is less original now if you ask me. The chaotic sound is gone. They lost character and that’s a shame. So most of the fans from the early days lost interest. They were an influence on my early days. I still sometimes play dEUS songs!

TSP:  Your last show in Scotland at the Wee Red Bar was pretty memorable and had a lovely atmosphere.  Will you be back playing on our shores anytime soon?

CA:  That was a very special moment for me. I loved that place.  I have this project with the previous guitarist of dEUS:  True Bypass and we are trying to play the UK in september together with V.O. Sleepingdog will be back when the album is out.

TSP:  How do you find the UK both as a place to play and a culture in general?  Is there a big difference between doing shows in Europe, the USA and the UK?  If so, what?  And where would you say is your favourite place to play in the world to date?

CA:  There is a huge difference! In Europe you get spoiled most of the time: well payed gigs, good venues, food and drinks for free. That’s all normal so most European bands I know don’t really feel like playing in the UK where they get less luxury. For me it’s the opposite but that’s maybe also because of Gizeh Records who always found me such nice places to play! I love playing in the UK. Especially the cities in the north and scotland. The USA is nice but i have a problem with the way of communication and the hippies in the part I was. Horrible. I really prefer Leeds United hooligans. The culture is a funny one in the UK. I like the extremes. During the day people are so polite and during the evening they can get sooo drunk. I like the girls with too short skirts and so do my band members.

TSP:  Where would you say you have had most success as an artist?

CA:  In my studio. Succes is for me writing a good song. To have that feeling that you dissapear. Having no clue what time it is. Not even knowing that you are actually making music. That’s my goal.

TSP:  What are the plans for the rest of 2010?  Is there a new record on the horizon?  If so, what can we expect from this record?

CA:  Sleepingdog will be out in 2010 and before that the True  Bypass album. Also I am making a cd with the music I write with dutch poetry.

TSP:  Name one album that you could not live without?

CA:  That changes the whole time. I think I could live without every album I  have in my house. I like silence, i like the footsteps of a horse. These are the things that make me feel good.

TSP:  What/Who inspires you as a musician?  (both musically and non-musically)

CA:  Silence, horses, being outside and musically Adam has been a huge inspiration for showing me this other approach of making music. An approach that makes me feel the same as walking alone in the fields.

TSP:  Turning to Scottish artists, do you have any particular favourite acts from our shores?

CA:  I always loved Mogwai. I love it that everytime you think they cant go any louder, they still do and you hear these wonderful melodies underneath.

TSP:  Finally, piano or guitar?  Which one would you take to a desert island if you had to?

CA:  Definitly a piano!

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