Sunday, March 16, 2014

Yuri Landman 13 questions

Yuri Landman (1973) is an experimental instrument builder and musician. After a career as a comic book artist as well as a musician in the bands Zoppo and Avec-A, Yuri Landman began designing experimental musical instruments. Based on prepared guitar techniques, he built his first instrument in 2001 to solve the inaccuracy of instant preparations. 


In 2006 he got in contact with Liars. Developed over six years of prototyping, he fully realised the Moodswinger for them with commissions from numerous other musicians to follow.

Landman has custom built derivatives for such musical luminaries as Sonic Youth, Half Japanese, Enon, Lou Barlow, The Dodos, Blood Red Shoes, Liars, HEALTH, Liam Finn, The Luyas, Kaki King, The Veils, Melt-Banana, Micachu & The Shapes, The Go! Team, These Are Powers, Jay Malhotra (Kate Nash), Mauro Pawlowski (Ex-Evil Superstars, dEUS), Women, Action Beat, Peter James Taylor, Rhys Chatham, Dustin Wong, Philippe Petit and others.

Around 2008 he started giving lectures and presentations with his instruments, leading to a request in 2009 for a practical building workshop. This became the rise of the Home Swinger project. A Gesamtkunstwerk consisting of a DIY-workshop where people build their own electric instrument and often followed by an afternoon rehearsal on the second day and a 40 minute ensemble performance with multiple Home Swingers, drums, basses, and guitars in the tradition of the Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca compositions.

Soon after the rise of the Home Swinger project, a series of other building workshops followed with all kinds of different instruments. He quit working for the famous acts and discontinued his famous models like the Moodswinger and the Springtime. The workshops and performances became his main activity.

Events have taken place in AU, BE, CH, DK, ES, FR, GE, HR, NL, RU, SV, UK, and the US, at notable places like Villette Sonique (Paris), SKIF (St. Petersburg), Knitting Factory (NYC), Le Lieu Unique (Nantes), Le Guess Who? (Utrecht), Nantes University, Royal Academy of Music (London), Bradford University, Tanned Tin (Castello), Liverpool International Music Festival, and The Smell (LA).


In 2012 Landman formed the 2-piece band Bismuth w/ producer & multi-instrumentalist Arnold van de Velde. He built a wide range of electric percussive instruments for Bismuth when the band grew into a broader set list.
In the same year he started his infamous Strat Eraser Project to help musicians get rid off their useless gear.

Siluh Records and Thick Syrup Records released That’s Right, Go Cats, an album he made with Arnold van de Velde and René van Lien (both ex-Feverdream). The album features prominent guest appearances of Jad Fair (22 minutes on side A) and the French noise artist Philippe Petit.
Also the book Nice Noise was published in 2012. This book is written by Yuri Landman and Bart Hopkin and is an education book about how to prepare guitars.


In November that same year he gave a TEDx lecture about his work.
In 2013 he published a controversial cover article for Premier Guitar about a guitar he modified on request of the magazine. Besides his performances with the instant ensembles and Bismuth Landman also starts to perform solo with help of self built electronics and motorised instruments. Stefan Woudstra published the doc Alles Tot Dit about Landmans work, also available on YouTube.

Besides building instruments for bands he also did music collaborations with acts such as The Moi Non Plus, Jad Fair, Philippe Petit, G. W. Sok (The Ex), (members of) Action Beat, Peter James Taylor, Stignoise, Der Wexel von Westerveld (Intonarumori), and Ex-Easter Island Head. 


Landman is a guest teacher at the Academy for Pop Culture (Leeuwarden NL), Zadkine Pop Academy (Rotterdam NL), PXL Pop Academy (Hasselt BE) and he gave lectures at Ghent University, RAM in London, Bradford University, Nantes University, and Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam NL).

Articles about his work have appeared in Pitchfork, The Guardian, CNN, Libération, El País, Frankfurter Algemeine, and many others.
The Rotterdam based music venue WORM runs a sound lab for artists in residents with a collection Landmans instruments.
The Moodswinger as well as the Home Swinger are included in the permanent collection of the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ. The SONS Museum in Belgium owns another instrument of Landman.

Which was the first instrument do you remember?

You mean the 1st instrument I bought? A Westone bass guitar. The same as the one John Taylor plays in Duran Duran's videoclip of The Reflex. But not for that reason of course :)

Why do you love the guitar?

I do not really love the guitar, sorry. Not anymore nowadays. I used like it for it's aggresion. The energy coming from it.

Which work of your own are you most proud of, and why?

I regard the Home Swinger my biggest achiefment. Not specifically for how it works, that was already discovered by many prepared guitar players, and Hans Reichel and Glenn Branca built nice predecessors. But I like it so much because I enhanced their concept to a 12 tone set up, incorporating the circle of fifths and adding a color coding system and a 3rd bridge diagram clarifying the tonal composition of the occuring timbres. The Moodswinger preceeded the Home Swinger. A much more slick design, but I prefer the HS for many practical reasons. It's much cheaper to produce, much faster (4 hours only instead of weeks) and it's light in weight, 3 kilo. The design is very much focused on form follows function and functional design instead of making the most beautiful looking instrument.

Another design I'm quite keen on is the Landmine Long String Instrument. A 15 cm small device that can be mounted on a table or whatever with two tuning pegs and pieces of string. The long string goes to the third tuning peg and at the other side of the room mounted to something in the space with a screw terminal. Again, I didn't invent the long string instrument, Ellen Fullman and Paul Panhuysen worked with it already in the early 80s, but my design is very practical. You don't have to drill a hole in the wall, use glue clamps or whatever other impractical heavy weight/force solution to secure enough tension on the string. As simple as it might look, it costed me three years to develop this set up.

Other things I like are the steel on foam beds with pickups inbetween the beds derived from the sound art works of George Smits and very recently piezo amped unopened PET soda pop bottles. That's a sound I discovered myself, finally I'm authentic:)


Oh, and I forgot my beatmotor! A motor driven rotating arm with in one top a magnet that flies over a pickup. Each time it crosses the pickup it creates a induction puls. My intention was to copy the sound of a helicopter, but it turned out to sound much closely to a very deep house beat, bop... bop... bop... I use that machine a lot in combination with a Boss PS-3, a rather sought after pitchshifter delay. The PS-3 creates an rising arpeggio, bopeli-bopeli-bopeli....

Tell me something you need from music?

I'm intrigued by sounds primarily, it doesn't have to be music. Though it is nice when people make music with surprising unexpected sounds.

What is your relationship with other disciplines such as painting, literature, dance, theater ...?

I like movies, graphic novels, visual arts and literature. I'm not very interested in dance and theater. Perhaps one day, who knows.

When I was a teenager and in my twenties my biggest artistic ambition was becoming a comic book artist. I'm much better at drawing than playing music actually and I like to tell stories. Comics are a combination of visual arts and storytelling, so that's applied well to my artistic desires. Though my preference for visual arts evolved over the years and I became more fascinated about many Modern Art movements which often involves abstract non-figurative concepts. That stood in the way of making comics, which is figurative work. So nowadays I enjoy Die Brücke, Bauhaus, Futurism, Dada, CoBrA, Abstract Expressionism, Minimal Art, Die Neue Wilden, but don't use it very much in my own output. I do not know a lot about Contemporary Art. I've to work that out a bit more. A knowledge gap.


Anyway, I was talking about comics. I became disappointed about the comic book scene. I made coming of age autobiographical graphic novels and expected my readers would be like minded people of my age. Instead I was doing book signing sessions for old 60+ man who didn't really care about my books, but just collected basically everything published in the Dutch language. Like collecting stamps. Also it became clear I couldn't earn a basic income with the books. I sold twice as much as most other titles, but still it was just a few thousand euros for a year work. Going to the international market and publish in English, French and Spanish was not easy and closer to never happening. So I quit and started focusing more on my second love: music, and a bit later building instruments that created new sound. Luckily that worked better for me. It became my full time job.

What's your fetish device in the sound chain? 

I lost my fetish for vintage guitars, amps and pedals when I started building my own stuff. I don't have strong feelings for gear anymore. They are just tools, in my case strings mounted on wood with a bit of steel and electronics involved.

  A valuable advice that someone has gifted to you in the past?

That's more career wise than artistically I guess. I always remember something Jaap Boots (a Dutch DJ, you could call him the Dutch John Peel) said to me: Becoming an artist or musician is like building a wall. First it's just a brick and you put one next to it, etc.. It takes a while to build a wall. Just continue and create a series of good things and your career will grow over time. Unlike popular music, success doesn't come as a big splash with artistic music.

I'm quite a moodswinger and thrill seeker. That quote helps me when I've a temporary gap in my agenda and feel down about it. Looking at the past eight years makes me happy. A lot has happened since 2006, and, apart from a very narrow niche, as an artist I'm still broadly unknown in the world. So the wall is not finished yet:)

What quality do you admire most in an instrument?

I don't really admire instruments anymore as said above. It's just a tool to make sound with. 88

What means lutherie for you?

I don't consider myself a luthier, more an inventor of musical instruments. A luthier tries to built the best sounding copy of already existing instrument, I try to built an instrument that sounds different from any other instrument. I don't care too much about making it sound better after I've built a new thing. I continue on another instrument that again sounds as different as possible from any other existing musical instrument.

Yuri Landman

A luthier is a very respectful craftmanship. I've a deep respect for people that are so dedicated to such a detailed job. I'm far too lazy and wild for such an activity. I like to built stuff as fast as possible. I really regard an instrument fantastic when I can built it in one day. That's the part that fascinates me most to answer your question before this one. I can be very pragmatic.

What dead artist would you like to have collaborated with?

Not really any artist actually. Though I regret I never tried to get in contact with Hans Reichel. He lived very nearby, just a few hours from here in West Germany. It's stupid of me. He is a big example for me as an artist, basically the only one who was still alive. Oh, I forget Pierre Bastien. I'm glad I've talked with him about his instruments!!

comic art by Yuri Landman
Het Verdiende Loon

Regarding working with musicians, that was a short career. I was dreaming about working for ... and for ... and for...
And then one day I took the decision to mail Liars. They responded I did the Moodswinger and then I mailed Sonic Youth and Lee replied the next day and I made the Moonlander for him. Then one for Jad Fair, but then this fascination faded away. In two years I did the hippest new noise band, the best band in the world and one of the biggest cult artists in my perception. Nothing to explore on that front that goes beyond those three. I was happy with giving something away to Melt-Banana and Kaki King though. Nice people and very unique in their own ways.

Nowadays I don't work for artists anymore. I'm too busy with touring and building for myself. Though I make exceptions occasionally. But no hunting for big names or fame. Only if the artist is a cool person and has a good idea. I'm now for instance working on an electric cymbalom with a Dutch contemporary classical musician Nora Mulder. A very nice woman and her knowledge and suggestions are very insightful. We built the instrument together, because she's the professional instrumentalist in the team. I'm the practical guy solving the design bugs. It's almost ready, we have an Amsterdam presentation of the instrument in May.

What’s the difference between a good guitar and a bad guitar?

That's more a topic for guitarists. I don't play normal electric guitar anymore, so I don't really care very much what's good or bad. I think it's a personal question players have to figure out themselves.

For sure not the best guitar if you would ask a luthier, my favorite guitar is the Twister guitar I built for myself. Nine strings, five single coil pickups connected to five outputs. One is for all six strings, three are angled 90 degrees splitting up the string sections into one Bass string tuned in A, a middle secion sounding like a Sonic Youth octave tuned guitar and one channel amps three thin string tuned unisono, but slightly out of key, sounding like a screaming solo guitarist. The fifth pickup is behind the bridge. The behind the bridge section is 16.25 cm, creating notes two octaves higher than the open string at the opposed part and resonates along in nice harmonic overtones on the open string and the logical frets 5,7,12,19.

Talk me about your work as music / composer.

I've a strong preference for staccato tones that continue for a long time in music. The piano in This is Not America has that for instance. The piano in Wanna Be Your Dog also. The Viola in Venus in Furs. In a lot of my music I play notes like that. Apart from that I've a tendency to create minimal structures. I'm not very good at transposing and song writing in the more common way as is happening in pop music. I like it when others do it that way, but I don't have a good talent for that. In Bismuth Arnold makes most melodies that form the backbone of the songs. I add the arrangements together with him. I consider myself better in creating sound than writing actual music. Though I have too, because there is not really an audience for sound only.

What’s your next project about?

Our Bismuth record is now being printed. It will be released in April. Fifty deluxe copies will come with an electric instrument. That will probably raise some attention and I assume more gigs will follow.


The biggest new project is a collaboration with Dutch sound artist Wouter van Veldhoven. He has built a fantastic installation with multiple tape recorders that play loops backwards and forwards. He triggers the recorders with sequenzers built out of relays and he uses a modular synth to filter the sounds. I don't really understand it all exactly. Pretty complicated stuff. But anyhow, I'm building string instruments that are employed with solenoids and motors. He builts a relay sequencer that switches the solenoids and motors on and off. It's our plan to create an orchestra with it and we only play the sequencers, not the instruments. The show element has to come from the moving parts on the instruments.


As a musician I'm currently focused on improving my solo set. Actually it's not 100% solo. When I've a gig I most of the time invite local people to join. We rehearse one hour, I explain my parts and we decide what the others play and then go on stage. I'm very keen on working this concept out a bit more. It's an uncommon apporach in pop music, but in the Free Jazz people do this all the time. I'm not keen on that music very much, I prefer music with an simple beat as a backbone. But I realized the participation aspect is very interesting. You get input from all unforseen angles you never would get when you play strictly solo. And business wise it's very smart, since you invite people and they invite you back. That's why the Free Jazz scene works so international well connected.

And for the rest it will be touring abroad the rising months. It's going to be a rough time, I'm doing twelve countries this year. Never been so busy before.



MAR 13th - 16th Birmingham UK, The Big Bang Fair 2014, Daily Instrument Demonstrations

EUROPEAN TOUR Solo Performances w/ Those Foreign Kids

MAR Tue 25th Metz FR, @ a Record Store Session

MAR Wed 26th Lyon FR, @ La Triperie feat. Jake Burton (Action Beat)

MAR Thu 27th Prato IT, @ Factory Club, Calenzano

MAR Fri 28th Lodi IT, @ Parco Belgiardino

MAR Sat 29th Mantova IT, @ La Boje

MAR Sun 30th Riva del Garda IT, @ Lochness Pub

MAR Mon 31st GE/CH, tba

APR  Bismuth Album Release Parties in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Groningen & Haarlem, more info asap

APR Fri 4th Rotterdam NL, Motel Mozaique @ De Schouwburg, Lecture about String Preparation Techniques as an introduction for Hauschka’s concert

APR Fri 25th Porto PT, @ Celso Pinto’s Workspace, Home Swinger Workshop

APR Sat 26th Porto PT, @ Celso Pinto’s Workspace, White Eagle & Strat Eraser Workshop

APR Sun 27th Porto PT, Orchestra Performance

APR Tue 29th Lissabon PT, @ ZDB, Home Swinger Workshop

MAY 1st Lissabon PT, @ ZDB, Orchestra Performance



MAY Sun 4th Brugge BE, @ Concertgebouw, Duo Performance with Der Wexel Wessel Westerveld with his Intonarumori at a Futurist Exhibition

MAY Tue 6th Tampere FI, Workshop I, students only, more info asa

MAY Wed 7th Tampere FI, Workshop II, students only, more info asa

MAY Thu 8th Tampere FI, Workshops III, students only, more info asa

MAY Fri 9th Tampere FI, Orchestra Performance, more info asa

MAY Sat 10th Barcelona ES, Home Swinger Workshop, more info asa

MAY Sun 11th Barcelona ES, Orchestra Performance, more info asa


MAY Mon 12th Evening Berlin GE, @ Liebig 12, Home Swinger Workshop

MAY Tue 13th Evening Berlin GE, @ Liebig 12, Kalimba Workshop

MAY Thu 15th Evening Berlin GE, @ Urban Spree, Solo & Orchestra Performance w/ Peter J Taylor Ensemble

MAY Fri 16th Evening Berlin GE, @ Liebig 12, White Eagle Workshop & Strateraser Workshop


MAY Sun 18th Amsterdam NL, @ Splendor, Instrument Presentation

JUN Fri 13th NL, not confirmed yet, soon more info

JUN Sat 14th NL, not confirmed yet, soon more info

JUN Sun 15th Amsterdam NL, Holland Festival @ Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Triochord Workshop


JUN Mon 16th NL, not confirmed yet, soon more info

JUN Tue 17th NL, not confirmed yet, soon more info

JUN Wed 18th NL, not confirmed yet, soon more info

JUN Thu 19th NL, not confirmed yet, soon more info

JUN Fri 20th NL, not confirmed yet, soon more info

JUN Sat 21st NL, not confirmed yet, soon more info

JUL Sat 12th Rotterdam NL, Bazar Bizar Festival, Bismuth Performance

AUG Fri 15th - Wed 20th Saalaam, Otepää ET, Set of Experimental Site Specific Workshops, more news asap

AUG Thu 21st Saalaam, Otepää ET, Orchestra Performance, more news asap

AUG Fri 22nd Tallinn ET, Workshop, more news asap

AUG Sat 23rd Tallinn ET, Orchestra Performance, more news asap



SEP Sat 13th Nijmegen NL, @ Extrapool, Suprematic String Plate Workshop, Talk and a Performance w/ the Participants & Solo Performance. Only 5 spots for this workshop!



NOV Sun 16th -

Sat 22nd Liepaja LV, a Series of Workshops and Orchestra Performance


SPRING TOUR US Tour, Workshops and Orchestra Performances in Austin, Montreal, NYC, Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore, Atlanta, Hot Springs/Little Rock, Chicago, Nashville, Portland, San Franscisco, LA. No concrete details about this tour yet. If your city is not in this list, but you are capable of booking a decent event, contact YL for options.

Is your city not in this list? Please forward the brochure on ISSUU to your local venue/art space/festival and try to convince them to book an event!


Yuri Landman works in close collaboration with Rotterdam based WORM’s Artist in Residence Programm. Landman shares his collection of instruments with WORM studio for artists working there… read further


Yuri Landman: strateraser(a) – instrument orders, business & press only. For informal mail, please use Facebook. Please don’t propose weird instruments. YL only builts this list of instruments for direct sales.


Yuri Landman

-        Workshops

-        Ensemble Performances

-        Lectures

-        Special Events

Booking: Julie Tippex Art & Music Agency, helene(a)

Bismuth (Yuri Landman & Arnold v/d Velde)

-        Live performances

Booking Dutch shows: Alles Los Agency & Events, jeroen(a)
Booking international shows: More Zvukov International Booking Agency, natasha(a)