An Instagram post by Lucas reveals that he has always had a performer in him; we see the young Lucas enthusiastically singing and dancing the Dutch-language K3 classic Oya Lélé. He has been taking piano and singing lessons for years. Music was his final exam subject in secondary school, and he has performed in a Mozart musical as well. Sometimes a broad Breda brogue flops out – like ‘kei’ (a colloquial form of ‘hugely’ inherent to the province of Brabant, often used in terms such as keihard – i.e. rock-hard or exceptionally/really). He immediately corrects this with the word ‘heel’ (as in ‘really’) and quips that he sounds so typically Brabants. However, Lucas, who grew up in an academic family in Breda, actually did want to do a university degree in the first place.
Then the opportunity to follow ‘keyboards, pop music’ at the Rotterdam Conservatory unexpectedly presented itself. Lucas: “At first, I only applied for the University College with the intention: I am going to go to university because I want to develop myself as broadly as possible. I really wanted to carry on with music, but there’s so much more out there and I didn’t dare immediately and exclusively choose it as a study. Once I had joined the EUC, I received an email just before the start about the combination programme with Codarts. Which was perfect.”
As Lucas writes in an accompanying press release, the songs on the EP are ‘musical love fantasies’. Lucas sings under the name LUCAS about ‘a quest for affection’. He recorded backing vocals in the attic room of his parents’ home in Breda. With mattresses up against the wall.
What do you prefer, the music study or the EUC study?
Without a doubt: “Music. When I started the combination programme, I immediately noticed during my first year: Music has priority and everything at university revolves around that. It is such an interesting medium to communicate with. I benefit a lot from my university studies during the creative process. After all, music can only be powerful if you look at the context and the society in which it is produced. It can touch on themes that are very topical, open up issues to discussion, and express feelings as part of that process.”
Which social themes do you want to address with your EP ‘Esthetiek’?
“I don’t really want to fill that out for the listener. But I would like to make it clear that you can embrace your androgynous sides, for one thing. If you look at the Dutch music industry, the market is still rather patriarchal and heteronormative. At the same time, there is a lot of power in femininity – for men too. Things don’t always need to be all about muscles and being tough. I want to rebel against that with my music.”
In one of your songs you sing about how you long for a life with someone with a home, garden and a pet (the Dutch cliché ‘huisje-boompje-beestjeleven’). Isn’t that incredibly, as you call it, heteronormative?
“That depends on how you interpret it. I don’t sing whether that is with a woman or a man. Or if the children’s room is coloured pink for a girl either. It’s more about a sense of home that you can share with someone. I have tried to stay as neutral as possible in my choice of words and in the images that I create. By the way, it’s not that I want that kind of life to happen by tomorrow, not at all. But I can sometimes long for it or dream about it.”
Has this heteronormative world been a problem for you?
Lucas shifts in his seat: “That’s not the main theme of the EP, y’know! It doesn’t have to be the headline of the story. It’s more a case of me trying to ignore the standard of thinking in terms of blue and pink and doing my own thing in how I present myself. I think it could bring about a lot of wonderful things if that was all rubbed out. I hope I can contribute to that. But there is more to me than that: It’s about the music; besides that, I find it interesting to look at social problems.”
And why do you do that in Dutch?
“Everything about me is actually pretty much Dutch. I found that out during my exchange trip to England. And I think I can be a bit more vulnerable and intimate in Dutch. When I first wrote an assignment for Codarts in Dutch, it was very well received. I manage to convey intimacy more effectively. Ironically, a few months later I moved to England for a songwriting exchange trip, where I wrote a lot of my songs. But there they were still able to help me with the musical aspect of my songs.”
“I really enjoyed being able to dive into my own world there in Dutch. After a few months in England, I missed Dutch and noticed that I wanted to be surrounded by Dutch words and engage in new conversations in Dutch. So, I also came back to the Netherlands from England a couple of times to sort of recharge my linguistic batteries and get on with it.”
What did you miss exactly?
“Even though I don’t think some sounds, like the G, are not very nice, I missed the directness of the Dutch language and the ease with which I could communicate freely in it. Not to upset the English, but they are renowned for beating around the bush at times. By the way, ‘miss’ is a bit of an overstatement, but I just needed inspiration because I was so absorbed in the Dutch language. So, I then went back to do gigs, see family and friends, go to parties now and then. It felt like a holiday in my own country.”
Any mention of corona on the EP?
“Because corona had started, I recorded these songs mainly at home, so I guess so in that sense. I recorded the backing vocals in my old room with mattresses up against the wall. I was forced to live with my parents again after ending my exchange trip because of corona. Yet the EP is not specifically about my feelings in the corona age, even though the theme sometimes touches on it. Being alone is somehow part of it, you could relate that to corona.”
How important is it that people listen to your music?
“The most important thing is that those who love it or can benefit from it, are able to find it. I want to do everything I can to reach those people. But as far as I’m concerned, it really doesn’t have to go viral.”
He laughs: “Although that would be nice, of course, financially speaking. But thanks to the double degree, I can go in other directions too. Maybe I will become a journalist, or a psychologist, or a pop music arranger.”
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