While most people make New Year’s resolutions to pick up healthy habits or find a life partner, Jeroen Gankema, the deputy director of Dutch cultural center Erasmus Huis, has another goal for 2012: to organize a colorful array of programs that will attract new visitors. And he’s getting started right away with a performance by Dutch band Happy Camper set for Jan. 28.
“We wanted a good kickoff, so we’re starting big,” Gankema said. “[The performance of] this band marks the beginning of 2012.”
Happy Camper is not your usual pop band, but perhaps more accurately a music project. The group began three years ago when Dutchman Job Roggeveen, a pianist for indie band El Pino & the Volunteers by night and an animation designer by day, decided to combine both of his major passions: music and animation.
Roggeveen had a vision to make music that was compact yet diverse, and he also wanted to showcase a range of European music styles, from the warm and graceful melodies of the West to the sensual, rhythmic songs of the East.
With this concept in mind, he recruited some friends to join his ambitious project. The group got together to write a couple of songs, which were mostly penned by Roggeveen, who also played several of the instruments. Then Roggeveen created a band mascot named Manfred, a friendly looking yeti.
Manfred makes appearances in music videos, on CD covers and more often than not during the band’s live performances.
“Manfred knows that camping on your own is quite boring, and that’s why [Roggeveen] started a search for guest singers,” an Erasmus Huis press release for the performance says. “He also wanted to take each of these singers out of their familiar environments. Just like camping.”
Roggeveen managed to win over well-known Dutch singers for his Happy Camper project, including Tim Knol, Ricky Koole and Leine, to name just a few.
The band’s self-titled debut album was released in February 2010 and consists of 14 feel-good tracks.
“The music of Happy Camper is easy on the ear, accessible, full of swing and of high artistic quality,” Gankema said. “There’s a reason why the band won the reputable Edison Award for best new band in 2011.
“With his songs, Roggeveen shows that he’s a good writer and a composer with a sense for diversity.”
The band’s first single, “Born With a Bothered Mind,” features the vocals of Bouke Zoete, the lead singer of Dutch band the Kevin Costners. The song’s animated music video shows mascot Manfred’s experiences during a camping trip, from his troubles putting up the tent to a cozy night around the campfire, playing guitar and enjoying the stars above.
Both the song and its video are representative of the entire album, with a playful and joyous quality that appeals to people of many ages and backgrounds.
“Happy Camper is an excellent sample of current Dutch talent, but Roggeveen is a true master,” Gankema said. “He has a refreshing musicality and he’s able to initiate something new.”
Bouke Zoete is among several vocalists who will join Roggeveen for the Happy Camper performance in Jakarta later this month. Other musicians in the lineup include David Pino, Janne Schra, Mark van der Waarde, Tjirk Deurloo, Jeroen Kleijn and Ben Mathot.
Saturday, Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m.
Jl. Rasuna Said Kav. S-3
Kuningan, South Jakarta
Tel. 021 524 1069
For more information, visit www.erasmushuis.org or happycampermusic.com