Interview with Goldkimono: sunny sounds across the Atlantic
Goldkimono, otherwise known as Martijn 'Tienus' Konijnenburg, pops up on the screen with a smile. Calling in from the American East Coast, he’s not as close to the sunny Californian weather he’s used to. Goldkimono was the only Dutch candidate to be nominated for the Music Moves Europe awards at Eurosonic Noorderslag 2023, which is supported by the Creative Europe Desk. Working between the Netherlands and the US with multiple international partners, Goldkimono lives and breathes the term global creative. DutchCulture catches up with the singer-songwriter in the spirit of international creative practice and the inspirations and practicalities that make it all possible.
Tienus, you're from the Netherlands but Goldkimono originated in sunny California. How exactly did you end up in the US?
“I actually grew up in the village of Nieuwkoop, which is near Utrecht. Moving to Utrecht for the Rockacademie is when I got in touch with real music writing and collaborating with other artists. At some point, I was like, how amazing would it be to do what I do already, abroad? So I started looking at ways to do that… I told the publishing house I was working for at the time that I wanted to go abroad and ended up in Berlin – for a week to write. It got me thinking about where the world of songwriting really comes together, and there was really no place other than LA… The world comes together there.”
That sunny cali sound can be heard back in your music… what did working in California do for your creative process?
“Of course, that kind of sunny positive feeling was always something I inherently felt and somewhat reflected in my music, so being in LA was just the best way to bring out what was already there – there was more space for what was already part of my lifestyle. Venice Beach is also where I originally was, and I just love the beach and the coastal lifestyle. That influenced my creative process in all the right ways – the vibrations of the city, Venice Beach especially, was raw and creative across disciplines – it made me want to contribute and be a part of that creativity. It’s a cultural difference as well, the musical landscape is very different in the US, and it’s a much more developed industry with all the right infrastructure. People respond differently to artists as a result because they’re taken more seriously.”
Most of your collaborators, like Adam Friedman (US) and Christian Kalla (GER), are similarly creatives working abroad. What makes working with international partners so special? And what makes such a collaboration easy or difficult?
“It’s funny you should mention Adam and Chris, 'cause they’ve also become some of my best friends. It’s another line of influence in your creative process, of course, working together with another person. It’s incredibly inspiring to meet fellow creatives that look at the world in a different way, regardless of background. We met in California, which of course gives us an automatic point of reference, but I think you always attract the kind of people you work well with. Adam was originally my neighbour, of all things… Of course, there are two sides to a coin, but LA really is a place with so much possibility in the air.”
What exactly would the other side of that coin be?
“You can feel like you’re on top of the world but it’s also a city that can overwhelm you. The flip side of a place with so much potential and possibility is that you can end up feeling small. Comparison is the thief of joy, and LA is a city of great contrasts. It can be a hard city to live in. There’s a tension in this ‘you make it or you don’t’ mentality. But that’s also why finding like-minded creatives is so important. That kind of community makes all the difference – it’s the humanity in the creative process that makes it so special."
Covid-19 meant less travelling, has that affected your work? Anything you’re hoping for or expecting?
“Well honestly, as soon as the borders reopened and we were able to travel I went and picked up where I left off. This way of working has become my norm, so LA is my source of inspiration and standard. It’s where business happens, so for me, it has been more or less the same old.”
You’ve just played at Eurosonic Noorderslag 2023 and have other headline shows coming up later this year. How are you feeling about all this?
“Goldkimono is trying to do more with the European market, so ESNS is of course the spot for that. It’s a huge opportunity for showing international bookers what we’re doing and a great festival in general. Groningen is cool. I feel like it’s important to be building networks across borders and exploring different work environments.”
You recently won a Citation of Achievement award from BMI for your song ‘A-O-K’, what does winning something like that mean for you?
“A prize like that doesn’t necessarily mean so much for me but says more about what someone else thought about my work. It’s cool to know that someone else enjoyed my work, that’s really special. But that night was also a great way to meet peers, usually being creative is such an independent process – so an award show was the perfect occasion to bring people together.”
A great point about the importance of a creative community… What can we expect from Goldkimono in 2023?
“We’re honoured to have been nominated among the 15 European candidates for the Music Moves Europe awards… It’s a nice start to the year as Goldkimono is going to be touring the Netherlands in 2023.”