Lady Lake

~ LADY LAKE ~
Fred Rosenkamp, Leendert Korstanje & Jan Dubbe
talking to Menno von Brucken Fock
in Hengevelde on 15th October 2006

Lady Lake in the seventies was one of those obscure not too well known bands from the same era as Focus, Alquin, Kayak and Ekseption. They never hit the big time however and after only one studio-album, Lady Lake disbanded at the end of 1981.

The small-scale reunion gigs in Deventer and Leerdam in 1991 and 1993 are probably not well known to many. Almost eight years ago Lady Lake’s first public performance in front of a progressive rock loving audience in years took place in Uden (ProgHeaven festival, 1998) and then “Progfarm” in 1999 followed. After this memorable gig with the brothers Goldring from Gnidrolog there was a hiatus of nearly five years until Lady Lake performed live at the “Vestzaktheater” in Enschede on March 28 in 2003. Due to the last minute withdrawal by the Dutch prog outfit “Fluxury” at the Symphonic Rock Festival in Amstelveen November 12, 2005 Lady Lake was invited to play in their stead, which they did of course. Less than a month later Lady Lake performed live at “Radio Almelo” (on December 11) because they were invited by the prog-heads responsible for “Radio Xymphonia”: two whole hours of symphonic and/or progressive rock music each Sunday-evening. “Xymphonia” celebrated their 666th broadcast on that particular evening. Lady Lake’s next gig would be in Zeist on November 3 (2006).

Lady Lake’s first album “No Pictures” was released on CD for the first time in 1997 by Musea. The original album, together with interesting newly recorded bonus-tracks, got sold out however. With the release of the very well received album “SuperCleanDreamMachine” in 2005, “No Pictures” has been re-released by Musea and now a new album will be released shortly. The album entitled “Unearthed” consists of demo’s and live recordings from 1978-1991. The why, how and what will be explained by all three Lady Lake members Fred Rosenkamp (guitar), Leendert Korstanje (keys) and Jan Dubbe (drums), present at the small barn where these three friends (Gentle Giant) usually rehearse in.

Photograph Copyright to Menno von Brucken Fock
Fred Rosenkamp, Leendert Korstanje & Jan Dubbe



MENNO:

Hi guys, nice of you to be here all three of you! Let’s start off by asking how this particular album came to be in an era full of outstanding technical possibilities and special editions in 5.1 surround, while you are about to release an album with material from way back when, recorded on ‘old’ tapes using probably ‘old’ recording facilities ...

FRED:

Yeah seems a bit odd doesn’t it? But you know, it might be good to dig a little deeper into Lady Lake’s history before answering your question in detail. Although the album is titled “Unearthed”, the subtitle should have been (and for us still is!) ‘the album that never was’ and I think that subtitle explains a lot.

LEENDERT:

After the release of SuperCleanDreamMachine we thought it would be a great idea to collect every recording by Lady Lake and make our own archive from all those tapes. We didn’t know if we would use any of that material commercially but listening to all those recordings we came across several tapes that sounded quite good and we began to think: maybe we could use some of this material and put it on CD(-R), just for the loyal friends and fans, nothing hi-tech however and we were thinking about a limited edition of about 100. But listening to the tapes again and again we began to realise that a lot of the recordings might be good enough to be put on a regular CD.

We have a contract with Musea and our ties with this company is outstanding, especially because these people do their work with a special devotion for this kind of music. So we decided to ask them politely what they thought of our ideas, instead of putting our relationship at risk in case Musea should find out Lady Lake had been releasing homemade CD’s!! At the end of the day we sent them an email with a raw demo, put together via Jan’s brother Berend ‘BAUER’ Dubbe, asking their permission to put out an album by ourselves. To our surprise, we got a reply instantly with the message: the material sounds quite interesting and we’d like to release these recordings through MUSEA. Then, we realised the difference between let’s say a hundred CD-R’s and 2000-3000 CD’s is really huge so in that perspective we thought we’d try our best to come up with something better than the raw demo we had sent. Next step was to contact Wouter Bessels, who owns a great cassette-player (by Nakamichi) and has all ready built himself a reputation for mastering ‘old tapes’ (like he did with Tangerine Dream’s Bootleg Box - MvBF).

FRED:

We asked him to listen to all tapes and assess the quality and then get all of them ‘digitalized’ as soon as possible and work on those digital pre-masters a bit further. The first early ‘masters’ sounded quite decent all ready but we decided to have Frans Hagenaars’ opinion about the recordings and he stated that the Wisseloord studios owns some fabulous hi-tech equipment to upgrade Bessels’ masters further by getting rid of scratches, bleeps and rumbles. Of course we had to pay for this special treat (done by Darius van Helfteren) but listening to the final master we all think it was well worth it.

JAN:

By the way this guy Darius at Wisseloord was kind of digging what we were doing all by ourselves so he has been really cooperative in many ways.

LEENDERT:

Wouter still has a lot of stuff recorded from that same period ’79-’80, probably enough for four or five CD’s!! The peculiarity of this collection of tracks is, that after the release of ‘No Pictures’ these compositions would have been chosen for our next album, that never came to be because in the early eighties no one seemed to be that interested in ‘progressive rock’ anymore. Anyway these tracks are in fact the album that ‘never was’ plus an extra two recordings. The first one is very special to us. In our early days (we’re talking about ’74-’75) we had Peter Schoemaker as our drummer and one day Peter and Fred recorded the very first version of ‘The Magic Twanger’ in some bedroom on a cassette. Now this guy Peter had a brother, who owned a car which is very old now, over thirty years or so, and one day someone emptied the contents of the glove compartment and that’s when they found this cassette with “demo Peter & Fred” written on it. Naturally this cassette had been laying in that car for all those years, but instead of throwing it in the garbage can Peter’s brother decided to hand it over to Peter and Peter on his turn gave it to Fred. The sound quality was very poor of course but with lot of effort the recording ending up on “Unearthed” sounds fairly OK. Second bonus-track is a live version of “The magic Twanger”, recorded in 1998 but this version is quite different from the one that ended up on the album “No Pictures”.

MENNO:

How about the actual recordings?

LEENDERT:

We used to rehearse in Twello, in a very old farm. In there we had our own small room where all our gear used to be set up. In the back of the attached barn, our sound-tech Aart van de Water, had made his own very small recording facility, the walls covered with numerous carton boxes (the ones used to put eggs in) and two very sophisticated tape-recorders. For those days, with all the microphones and a mixing console, this was almost a professional studio! Aart and his brother Peter (sadly deceased), used to fiddle around with cars or were eager to make to best possible recordings whenever we played, during 1979 and 1980 almost every Sunday. We never realised they recorded so many of our rehearsals. So I must emphasize these stereo recordings were definitely far better than material recorded the way so many bootlegs have been done.

FRED:

Peter used to look after the stage (lights) while Aart ‘did’ the sound: they were like “Ed en Willem Bever” (little joke for the Dutch readers).

LEENDERT:

Yeah, they were awesome and Aart did a perfect job and you know what’s interesting? All those recordings were one take recordings and every piece of music on “Unearthed” is exactly how we played the music back then…no overdubs, no trickery!!

MENNO:

The hiatus between 1980 and 1998, what happened in between with Lady Lake?

LEENDERT:

A friend of Fred, in 1991 an artist, made contact with Fred and he used to like our music. His request was if would be able to play during an exhibition.

FRED:

Although we hadn’t seen much of each other for a number of years, we always remained friends and thus we thought it would be fun to do it So in fact this guy was responsible for getting us back together!

LEENDERT:

We got together a few times and rehearsed on a couple of (lazy) Sunday afternoons in the boardroom at Fred’s office. I even had to buy a keyboard! Anyway, we performed at the exhibition, but the fire had been lit so we decided to do another gig just for friends in 1993 because in that year it would be twenty years after Lady Lake had been founded. Funny thing is that we found some video-recordings of that performance in Leerdam last year! Than from 1994 onwards Musea expressed their interest in releasing “No Pictures” on CD and as you know that plan became reality in 1997.

MENNO:

During the negotiations with Musea about “Unearthed”, has it been discussed to make this a double album or even a box set?

FRED:

Although Musea specifically asked for more material it is our opinion that you shouldn’t put more material on one CD than 55-60 minutes. There are some extremely premature considerations of asking Wouter Bessels to master a distinct selection of all those tapes we still have, but those, we want to use ourselves.

LEENDERT:

Yeah, more for our own fun, but is really too early to make any statements. We’re just toying with this idea.

FRED:

Besides, the objective was to release the album that could or maybe even should have been released in the early eighties….

JAN:

If you realise that these recordings are almost thirty years old, I think it’s pretty amazing what we accomplished in those days.

LEENDERT:

You can also appreciate the evolution of the band. The songs on “Unearthed” are like a perfect bridge between “No Pictures” and “SuperCleanDreamMachine”.

MENNO:

I presume a big percentage of the compositions on SCDM are in origin from that same era?

FRED:

I think in general that’s true. Because we spent so much time together in those late seventies we had the opportunity to experiment with all available musical ideas that everyone in the band came up with.

MENNO:

In 2007 it will be thirty years ago that “No Pictures” came out: any festivities our particular celebrations in mind? Have you thought about a new album yet?

LEENDERT:

I don’t think so, but we will be treating ourselves with an extra special gourmet dinner ...

FRED:

And a drink or two, three…….(laughter) . But seriously, we have spoken about releasing a brand new album in 2007 but the three of us all have regular jobs and if you really want to come up with some decent tracks, it will take a lot more time than a couple of months…On the other hand, geographically we are living miles apart but thank god for MP3, because for any new album we will be able to have interaction and co-composing through the digital media. But in fact that would be a totally new way of composing for us.

JAN:

Considering the pace in which we used to compose and the way we used to keep changing songs (play some, add some, play it again and change a bit etcetera) it will still take us a few years probably.

LEENDERT:

We have a lot of ideas and small parts & bits but hardly something you could call a complete new song yet! We love to play and have an idea grow on you, have discussions about things like tempo, breaks, interludes and so on.

MENNO:

Does the new management (Solution Productions) make a difference in the number of gigs and the amount of rehearsals?

FRED:

These last weeks we rehearsed every weekend because of the upcoming gig in Zeist, but normally far less frequent ...

JAN:

Before these weeks our last rehearsal took place in April. But normally we do listen to music a lot and sometimes, as is in my case, play along with a recording just to maintain a certain level of craftsmanship. It seems there’s a bit of disinterest of prog-heads to go to concerts I’m afraid. It might have to do with age but there are so many concerts with only a handful of people, for that reason the management probably had a hard time to find venues where Lady Lake could perform live…on the other hand it might be ‘overkill’ because if you look at the gig-guide there’s lots of opportunities to see bands live every day of week! Apart from that, the extraordinary line-ups on the Arrow Rock Festivals in the last years, with a crowd of more than 20.000 people make it hard for other festivals or less well known groups to get any attention.

MENNO:

What do you think of opportunities to keep prog alive? Is the ‘special’ of ‘limited’ edition the definitive answer to downloading music instead of buying the CD or do you believe the industry should do something else?

JAN:

In my opinion bands should have far more places to play, just like in the early days in café’s and other smaller venues. The Bluescafé in Apeldoorn for instance: a relatively small venue but….six days out of seven there’s alive performance. This means a lot of bands and artists get the chance to perform live there which is superb! A lot of bands (like us!) try their best to do numerous rehearsals every year for just an occasional show, festival or not. And these festivals or shows are extremely tight as far as organization is concerned and personally I’d love to play (or jam if you prefer the circumscription) in a ‘cantina’ or any place else…just play and have fun. In the seventies we used to perform anywhere....small venues, open air festivals (small scale!) with extremely varied line ups but also on weddings, receptions and so on. Nowadays people are accustomed to go out and scream some words in each others ears because they just know there will be a lot of noise and they don’t seem to care what kind of noise, while back than a lot of people were really paying attention to the music that was being performed live ...

LEENDERT:

Where we are now, it’s not our goal to become rock stars, we’re just three friends who want to make progressive music, music we all love.

FRED:

It’s not the poor response we’re getting you know. We have come across so many good to even excellent reviews on SCDM, it’s really amazing how people pick up the chords and subtle wizardry we have woven into our music and some even called this album one of the highlights in Dutch prog! Something to be proud of don’t you think? And I agree with Leendert: we certainly are not relying on shows or CD sales, financially. For us it’s more like a very serious hobby but still it’s a great kick when you get some response and recognition. Should there come a change in attitude and Solution Productions would have to send us an email every week telling us what our busy gig-schedule is...then we’d have to reconsider what we feel is most important in our lives, but at present I don’t think we have to worry about that a whole lot!

MENNO:

In the mean time you gave me the opportunity to listen to some excellent tunes of your upcoming album and I must admit it’s amazing how that raw demo from The Magic Twanger developed into the beautiful song played live in Uden!

LEENDERT:

Sometimes these things happen and therefore we tend to hold on a certain song until the moment we feel the distillation process has come to an end…..A striking example of how weird things can go in the music-business is the theme Jan’s brother Berend used on his first album (under the name ‘BAUER’). This piece of music eventually became a highly well known opening tune for a very popular tv-series for children called “Twaalf Kleine Hamstertjes” (“Twelve Little Hamsters”). It was originally taken from a track on our first album called “Between Bremen And Hamburg”, only Berend decided to use an accelerated version. Later on we had our ‘revenge’ by taking a tiny piece of Berend’s version back and put it on SCDM right at the beginning of “Doo Dah Damage”!

MENNO:

What kind of music did you listen to lately?

LEENDERT:

I rarely listen to other music than classical, mmm let me think….yes, I think it was a string quartet by Beethoven! Recently I went to a concert at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. The Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra performed works by modern classical composers from 1950-2000, ‘heavy’ but terrific!

JAN:

Nowadays I only buy albums to put them on I-pod….I guess it must have been the latest single (bought it via I-tunes!) by the Who and before that probably the latest album by Judy Sill and also an album by Chris Stills (son of Stephen Stills and Véronique Sanson).

FRED:

Midlake and Head Like A Kite, the last DVD would be the one by Bruford (with Allan Holdsworth a.o.)

MENNO:

Fred, Jan & Leendert: thank you for your hospitality and time and granting me the privilege to witness a private performance!



Interview for DPRP by MENNO VON BRUCKEN FOCK


LINKS:

Lady Lake Official Website
Menno von Brucken Fock Website [Previous Interview]

DPRP Review of Lady Lake's "Supercleandreammachine"
Solution Productions
Musea Records

 


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