Pip Blom is from Amsterdam, but if you’re expecting clogs and cuckoo clocks (or perhaps some of the more *ahem* illicit behaviour Amsterdam is known for), then you’re in the wrong place. If you’ve come looking for Britpop tinged indie bangers though, step right this way.
When we catch up with Pip Blom, she’s just returned from Helsinki, part of her and her band’s tour supporting The Breeders. “I’m just running around unpacking stuff at the moment,” she laughs. “This tour’s a weird one because it’s spread out over three months. We do a few shows, go back home, unpack and then do it all over again. It’s been really fun though, a lot of very big venues that we’ve never played before, which is cool.”
Big stuff for somebody who’s only been going for a few years, but Pip isn’t letting it go to her head just yet. “We’re doing a few shows in the Netherlands in between; then we’ll be doing some in the UK too, which are much closer to the size we’re used to. We’re basically trying to tie everything together, so it doesn’t feel too disjointed.”
If it all sounds pretty hectic, that’s because it is. But Pip Blom is too focused on making music a full-time job to get distracted. “I’m still not sure we can be a full-time band,” she admits, with unwarranted modesty. “I would love to, but it’s just so difficult. At one point you can think, ‘Yes, this is gonna work, and we’re definitely going to be able to play for at least two more years’. But at the same time, who knows what’ll happen? We could release an EP on an unfortunate day, and people could miss it, everything can go wrong so quickly! So I hope we’ll be full time, and it’ll work out, but I don’t want to say I’m sure of it.”
What have you been doing in the days off?
It’s been a bit weird, I went on holiday for a week, so that was really nice… our drummer Jeanie is working at a lot of festivals, and we’re doing a few shows in the Netherlands, then next week we go to the UK to do a few shows of our own as well. We try to tie everything together but, so yeah it’s mostly that.
What’s it like being based in Amsterdam?
The funny thing is that a few years ago when we didn’t exist yet, I think there were not that many bands at that time in the Netherlands at all, and it’s quite nice because now there are a lot more bands, which I find really fun. Especially because they’re all trying to do stuff abroad as well, so sometimes you see them outside of the Netherlands, so I like that. I don’t think it’s been a stumbling block, it’s just more of a fact, so you know it’s not the biggest scene ever, and you know especially in the indie industry there are certain things you can accomplish, and then it’s kind of… you don’t get to do anything a lot bigger. It’s nice if you have the opportunity to play outside of the Netherlands, so all of a sudden there’s a lot more to accomplish.
How did you first make that jump?
Well, we only did three shows in the Netherlands and then immediately did three shows in the UK, because I released the first four tracks that are on Spotify… I recorded everything on those tracks myself at home, using a drum computer and all that kind of stuff. And I put them online, and people liked it? But there was no band yet, so I had to find people real quick for the band. But there were already people online in the UK saying nice stuff about it, so we thought, ‘Well we wanna go to England to play there’.
So what I did was I emailed everyone from the UK who liked it or said something about it on Twitter for example or blogs, and I asked them if they knew nice spots to play, or if they could help put on a show. That’s how we ended up putting on those first three shows.
And how did you put your band together, the guitarist is your brother?
Yes, he is… he definitely is *laughs*. At first, we had a different line-up; it’s changed a bit over the two years. The first two members were school friends, well not really friends, when I asked them I knew them and we had a few lessons together, and I knew they could drum and play bass, that’s why I asked them. Then it changed, but that was the way we did it at first.
You played a few shows in the Netherlands and a few in the UK, have you noticed more of a fanbase in the UK?
We definitely notice it; there are just a lot more people liking us in the UK. It’s a lot slower in the Netherlands as well. For example, I think we’ve been played once or maybe twice on the national radio here, and BBC plays us quite often, which is nice. I think it’s probably going to be a bit better if we release an album. I think that’s something that the Netherlands is focussed on, especially a lot of industry and magazines, all that kind of stuff. They like bands to release albums.
Have you got plans to do that?
We’ve definitely got plans. I’m hoping to release it in Spring 2019, so we’re gonna record it this summer, it should be fun.
Excited for the EP release?
Yeah, I just had the masters in today, so I’ve been listening to the four tracks, and I think they’re cool. I like the sound, and I’m really happy with it. I’m curious to see what other people think too.
What’s your songwriting process?
It starts off with me at home doing the same thing I was doing when I started. So making an entire song with drums and bass and lots of guitars and that kind of stuff. Then I send it to the rest of the band, and they can adjust everything the way they want to, and then we go to the rehearsal space, figure out what works and what doesn’t work, and adjust the song in a way we love it.
Has your sound changed now you have a permanent band?
I think it’s more… I’m not sure if it’s changed the sound, but I feel like it helps live. If you play songs live that everyone has had a part in it’s easier to be a lot more enthusiastic because it’s everyone’s song instead of just one person. That’s something that I love, and I think if you play it a lot live, you can put that energy onto the recording. That’s something that I like.
Is music something you’ve always been into, or did you come to it quite late?
I grew up with two parents that both worked in the Dutch music industry. Well not really the industry, they started a music blog where they did a lot of interviews and articles and that kind of stuff, and my dad used to be in a band, and my mum used to do their sound. So yeah, it was something I grew up with.
What would have to happen for you to put those doubts away and think ‘we have made it’?
I do have two really big goals, and one is to play Glastonbury – that’s kinda the goal I’ve had since I started writing songs. The other one is that I want to tour Japan. It’s funny because I recently noticed that a lot of British bands and a few Dutch bands as well are all going to Japan to tour, so maybe… who knows?
What would you suggest to someone that’s going to the Netherlands for the first time?
Something that I like doing is to walk around a market, especially if you go to Amsterdam. I really like walking around a city and getting a real feel for the city, rather than going to the typical places where everyone goes. There are a lot of cool venues of all different sizes. I mean, of course almost everyone knows Paradiso for example which is a beautiful venue, so if you get the chance, go and see a band there. But there are also a lot of smaller ones, for example, OCCII, which is a squat venue. It’s nice, and they’re always playing a lot of cool bands, and they sell cheap meals too, so that’s one of my favourites.
Do you get a chance when you’re touring to check out the cities you’re in?
It depends. We flew to Helsinki at night on Monday, and Tuesday was a show day, but it was a 10-minute walk from the apartment, so we got to walk around the city quite a bit. That was nice, but it depends. Sometimes you have to drive for like seven hours in a day; then you don’t get to see anything. But we do try to take some time. London is one of the cities where we have seen quite a bit of it now. We managed to get a few days off in London, and Italy was also nice; we had a lot of time there as well.
Any hangover cures?
Eat something greasy.
Taken from the September issue of Dork. Pip Blom’s new EP ‘Paycheck’ is out soon.
Words: Jake Hawkes