There's no need to rush

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Across the border and the Subbacultcha family, Karel is known for his dazzling sense of glee, bittersweet lofi tracks and – as evidenced again and again – his ability to climb whatever obstruction is near him at his gigs. We spoke with Amsterdam-based performer Karel Hendriks, the brain and dancing legs behind the phenomenon. Looking ahead, he shared his musings on the desire to let loose and we got a glimpse of how his chill sense of curiosity drives his plans. The dreams are there, but let’s make one thing clear: there’s no need to rush. Karel is having fun.

Hi Karel! What are you up to today?

I’m making music! Right now, I’m working on some music for a commercial. I’ve got a studio in the northern part of Amsterdam, by the water, in a kind of industrial space. It looks exactly like what you would picture when thinking of Amsterdam. And then tonight, I’m going to a Subbacultcha show.

It actually started out as a joke 

When did you first decide to climb the stage as Karel?

I’ve been performing with different bands for a while now, but I was always the drummer. This means that I was always in the background and that I didn’t have a huge influence on what was happening on stage. I always found that not enough was happening during live shows, even though I always tried to find ways to make that happen. One day, I decided to make music on my own and find more freedom through a solo project. That’s when Karel happened. It actually started out as a joke at house parties and birthday parties, until a friend asked me if I was interested in playing a stage. That was back in 2018, around the time I moved to Amsterdam. I’d always wanted to make new things on my own. I have to say that I’m also thinking that perhaps things have moved a bit fast.


What would you have wanted to move more slowly? 

Well, I don’t think I would have put some of my songs online so early on. It’s very tempting to do so, but I don’t think there should be any need to publish songs just for the sake of having songs online. What’s the rush?



I get that. You mentioned how this started out as a living room project. When it comes to your live shows now, the stage may be bigger but you’re still known as the life of the party. How do you think about your live shows when you’re putting together the songs?

To be honest, I’m following my feelings. I act the way I do on stage in order to let loose. I don’t necessarily think about it a lot beforehand. The same thing goes when I’m making music. When I listen to some of my first songs now, I can feel like they aren’t substantive enough, or like I put them out there too fast. That’s why I’m looking forward to putting out new songs soon and to performing them with a live band. 

What direction are you heading towards with the new songs? 

On the old songs, I basically have a backing track which plays four-second loops. That can also be very powerful, but I want to step away from that now. I’m looking at making songs in the more traditional sense, I guess they will have more of a storyline now. You could say that I’ve been staying closer to musical theory now. The live shows won’t change that much; there will just be a band to back me up on stage.



Together with the karaoke feel of your songs and the decision to switch from a solo performance to playing with a band, I can’t help but think about John Maus. I’m sure you’ve heard this comparison before. How do you feel about that?

I totally get it, though I do think that our music is very different. I do think it’s a huge compliment!

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