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Two pieces of Brill-iant advice

November 5th, 2010

Filed under: LIFESTYLE


Erik van Schenk Brill, of Brill Webdesign and Komatsu

It’s not every day that you meet an old soul like Erik van Schenk Brill, only 29 years of age. I came into the interview with Erik all a fluster. The weather was rotten, and I had torn myself away from the cosiness of my house and ran-walked through misty rain to our agreed meeting point. I was not sure which way to drive the interview: for Erik wears two hats that I knew of – webdesigner and a musician. Which way to go?

Erik speaks with an easy, faintly American drawl. He speaks slowly and chooses his words with care. From his stories, he shows how much of the last few years have been spent thinking. “All in the last year or so, a lot of things have happened. My band (The Goods) broke up, I got married, I finished school. I started a new band (Komatsu), I became a father and I started up my own company based here at Little Mountain. I’m really in the flow right now.” Man. I thought things happened in threes. For Erik, he seems to have received more than his share. Twice, actually. Yep, no two ways about it.

When asked “Who is Erik van Schenk Brill”?, he finds no immediate answer. “Am a designer or a musician? Or a father? Well, they are three pieces of a whole. They’re separate from each other, but they’re all me. When I look back to when I was younger, everything seemed to be hard. It took me a long time to decide what to study. I did different things, you know, worked in a bar. And whenever I tried to have a relationship, it was hard. Now life has become easier.” According to Erik van Schenk Brill, there are just two things: focus and inspiration. Focus comes from within, and inspiration comes to you.

“You can’t force inspiration. In life, things happen to you. Like, your band breaking up. Going to Australia. Getting married.” And that’s how it really happened for Erik. Saddened by the break up of his band, it drove him off to a 5 week adventure in Australia where he proposed to his (Dutch) girlfriend, Floor. He now looks back over the last two years and is happy about that first piece of misfortune. “First, you don’t see all the opportunities that come with change.” Meeting his girlfriend, now wife, was part of that road to steadiness. She helped him decide to resume his studies and he graduated only a couple of months ago from Fonty’s Hogeschool (College) with a degree in ICT and Media Design. They are the proud parents of 6 month old Midas.

There’s a slight paradox about Erik. He works in webdesign and the world of online communication, yet he doesn’t have a Twitter account nor does he have a personal Facebook page. Erik seems to me to be part of a fascinating breed of person I meet a lot these days; one who is creative and attracted to the alternative scene, but wants to breathe life into real connections and human social networks. He’s a young person who actually knows the value of time. I asked him why he has so many skulls tattooed on his arms, and he didn’t have a real answer for me. Historically, memento mori and the particularly Benelux vanitas are styles in art that remind the viewer about mortality and the passing of time. Erik demonstrates how precious time is. To experience time, you must be mindful. And to make sure you are mindful, you must focus.

Erik shows us some ink

Erik's mexican death mask was inspired by a childhood fascination with skulls and pirates

Erik is fully focused; whether he’s recording in the PopEi studio on Komatsu’s first album, or whether he’s tapping away at code on his computer for the constant stream of customers at Brill webdesign. He is reluctant to “waste time” on social media; he would rather “take a phone call, have a coffee and show some snaps” on his computer – you know, using old school techniques. Authentic encounters – ones that he gives his full attention – lead to inspiration. Ah, those two again; focus and inspiration.

I was inspired by the encounter, and was chuffed by a young man’s clear idea of how to lead a life. I was impressed by his eloquence about his deliberate approach to living. He says he hasn’t been strategic about how he has arrived where he is, but he has been smart about identifying the opportunities that have fallen across his path, focusing on them and finding new directions from each new point. And when we talked about making music, and how that process goes, I asked him which language the band writes in. “English. I never really liked Dutch bands that sing in Dutch, but now I’m not so sure. I recently heard a band singing in Dutch and I noticed how many more layers there were to the text. Anyway, I usually don’t listen to lyrics – I’m more into melodies. The lyrics I write, well, there’s no poetry really. The themes are really about energy and having fun. I think it’s up to people to hear some words and make their own stories. That’s how I listen to music; I find my own way, so listeners can find their own way, too. But, yeah I like this idea, to write in Dutch one day maybe. I’m not sure whether the scene is ready for it, though, and I don’t know whether I am either, but it’s something inspiring to think about.” Oooh, frisson. What will this idea become, that has leapt into Erik’s head? One wonders.

When I ask Erik van Schenk Brill to tell me what advice he’d give to an upcoming artist – be it a musician, designer, or creative type, he says “Be who you are and try to focus.”

And if you really focus on being true to yourself, like Erik, then inspiration is always just around the corner.

Komatsu is playing three gigs in the coming weeks and the recording of their new album (name?) will be complete in a few weeks.

To listen to the stoner-rock sounds of Komatsu, stay tuned to this site where a sample track will be posted.

In the meantime, check out their Facebook page or:

  • Muziekcafe
    Helmond
    Friday, November 19 at 8:30pm
  • W2
    Den Bosch
    Friday, November 26 at 8:30pm
  • ‘t Slot
    Wortel (Be)
    Saturday, January 22 at 8:30pm

Komatsu are –
Erik van Schenk Brill: Guitar + Vocals
Mo Truijens: Guitar
Martijn Mansvelders: Bass
Miriam Bekkers: Drums

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