People sometimes tell us we don’t know what we’re doing
Casper Van De Velde and Hendrik Lasure, the duo behind schntzl, took our tastebuds for a ride. We came back with that comfortable feeling, catapulting us back to cosy Autumn family dinners before getting prepared to go to our favourite venue. On October 5, you can have a taste yourself at AMOK (KAAP) in Bruges. With a slice of lemon and a sprig of parsley on top!
How did you meet each other?
Casper: We met at a music camp, I was 14 and Hendrik 12. It sort of all started after playing a concert at De Muze in Antwerp. Later, both of us studied Jazz at the conservatory, Hendrik in Brussels and me in Antwerp.
Hendrik: I just remembered the concert we had planned at De Muze never took place [Laughs]. We were both making music on our own but ended up starting schntzl in 2013— we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary next year.
Your last album Amsterdam! came out in March 2022. Was it made there?
C & H: You need to shout AMSTERDAM! when you say it, because of the exclamation mark.
H: But yes, we recorded it at Brakke Grond. We like going outside our comfortable environment to create. But I must say Brakke Grond is a Flemish cultural house though…
C: It even had a Flemish bar next door where you could get all kinds of typical Flemish dishes and drinks. Funny how we choose to go away from Belgium for a while and ended up there. [Laughs]
"We like going outside the environment we’re comfortable with to create"
H: The goal of Amsterdam! was to record improvisations and play around with them. We tried to create a setting with a few selected instruments and see what would come out of that. The process had something playful, intuitive, and felt very free: to start over again and try out something new for each recording we made. Having fun comes before anything else. If something feels good while doing it, we might as well stick to it and use it as a new direction to follow.
C: I’m not sure we will do it for our next album though. [Laughs] I just realised we already recorded our next album and didn’t apply that kind of process there… I was talking from my past self for a second.
Having fun comes before anything else
The titles of your songs are very visual: ‘Doggy’, ‘Dame en Konijn’, ‘The Big Silver Pepper’, ‘Koningsdag’,… Are they connected to where you get your inspiration from?
C: The titles usually come after—it rather takes inspiration from the song instead of the other way around. We try to find a word that reminds us of an image, something that could reinforce the music. For example, in 'Catwalk', every song received a name of a different character. It’s as if the music becomes a soundtrack for each one of them. But in the end, it’s still instrumental music…
H: …and we can name the songs however we want.
C: But we always do aim for something that evokes images.
Your first album came out in 2016, second in 2018, third in 2020 and fourth in 2022. How do you look at your musical evolution?
H: We should maybe keep up the pattern of releasing every two years… but 2024 is still far away though…
C: Amsterdam! is more brutal compared to our other albums. We have also gotten a bit more critical of our sound over the years… and it changes with every album. The evolution is more of a zigzag instead of a straight line.
We have also gotten a bit more critical of our sound over the years
H: I think it is a logical consequence though: the longer we create music, the more references to other musicians around us and therefore the need to become stricter.
Do you compare yourselves a lot with other musicians then?
H: Absolutely, even though it also pushes our sound in a more specific direction. In the past we used to be more like ‘this sounds good, let’s include it’, especially with our first album. We didn’t dwell on the details or other things that keep us busy now, but I also think it’s normal to be more naive when you’re so young.
It can maybe also be something beautiful, that naivety.
H: yes, that's true.
How do you select the pieces that you want to perform live?
C: We always prefer to include as many new things as possible, to keep it fun and fresh for ourselves. It’s also nice to combine it with older songs ‘in a new jacket’ and unreleased music. But then some people are a bit offended by what we are doing on stage.
H: I think it’s because we used to be more ‘obedient music boys’ and some still expect that from us.
If you had to choose a different artistic medium to express yourself, what would it be?
C: I think I would like to work with textiles. I started working on a small tapestry in the first lockdown and enjoyed that. That’s how far my textile experiments go. [Laughs]
H: I would love to make films but it requires so much work and time that I wonder how you keep a feeling of freshness and spontaneity in your project. I could see our music work in films though. I like ambient music—something that doesn’t require full focus while hearing it, that influences people's moods without really noticing it. Something that colours the atmosphere in the room.
Does cooking also count as art?
[both get very excited]
C: Of course!