For his Tapedag project, Keez Groenteman was inspired by American department store music from the 90s. During ADE Tapedag you will perform at Bijenkorf.
Every month and then every week there was a new bar running all day long in American Kmart supermarkets. It contained current songs and golden old performances, mostly in instrumental arrangements, but there was also music made specifically for Kmart, technically muzak. In between, that month or week’s shows promoted:Shoppers Attention…”
Today there are only 17 Kmarts, but in the ’90s you had them all over the United States. That was the time when Mark Davis worked at Kmart. On most Kmarts, the music bars have been discarded after use. Davis kept it and was also able to get the tapes from the days before he worked at Kmart himself (he opened his first store in 1962).
About ten years ago, Davis put his collection online. Kmart employees at the time may have been crazy about the tapes, which played continuously for 12 to 14 hours a day, but for today’s listener they were very interesting. Sometimes the musk seems almost dead, while at the same time she has something soothing.
Amsterdam musician and composer Keez Groenteman discovered Davis’ Kmart group four years ago when he was working on music for a stage adaptation of the film. Thelma and Louise (1991). “There was a scene happening in a supermarket. I wondered what the music was like in the ’90s. Google I came across Mark Davis.”
The vegetable seller was taken away immediately. “In the end I didn’t do anything with it in the performance, but I listened to it a lot. Pop music, I missed such music.”
What Gruntman also found fascinating was that the music on Kmart tapes sounded completely “off,” as he calls it. “Extensive use can be heard from those cassette tapes. There is a lot of noise on it, there are problems with the stereo effect and you have a lot of drops; then the tension on the tape disappears for a while.”
The next step was for Gruntman to make such music himself. recently appeared Infinite Plaza, the first album of his project Tapedag, and of course also on cassette tape. “It’s not a version of Kmart’s music, but it’s definitely influenced by it.”
It was the mozasac from the ’90s, made specifically for Kmart, that inspired him. “Previously, Kmart mainly played easy listening, which I also love, you know, but I really like the synthesized sounds and PC drums from the ’90s. There’s a warm nostalgia.”
Old fashioned tape recorder
Tapedag sounds very different from the music Groenteman made before, including the Lola Kite group. “Usually when I write songs, every part of it has something new for the listener to discover. That music has to be monotonous. Within ten seconds what’s going on in the song is put out. I often had to backtrack a lot.”
The ancient equipment was not necessary for the sounds he was looking for. “I used a lot of samples, including samples from old computer games, which often have choppy sound.”
And how did he get this lingering influence in his music at times? “This is manual work. I record digitally, and then put the music on tape from one of those old recorders. If you lightly touch a coil with your hand while it’s playing, the music will slow down. Very simple, I learned it from Jack Gardner.”
Gardner, the world-famous maker of Dutch modern psychiatry, is one of the many musicians with whom Gruntmann collaborated. He played with Skip & Die, Altin Gün, Eerie Wanda and Bettie Serveert, among others. With his brother Jan, a pianist, he makes music for theater, television and podcasts. “I am a drummer by birth – I studied at the jazz department of the conservatory – but after twenty years I can say that I can also play guitar. I am particularly effective in auditions.”
In 1992, he was only 8 years old, and Gruntman was known at the national level. It was Keesje who was in the program lion cry Introduced as a big fan of Gordon and in front of the singer If I could be with you for a little while rich. According to presenter Paul de Leeuw, he did it so wrong that the show was stopped, after which Keesje was completely burned.
Holland stood on its hind legs and many members of the Fara revoked their membership, but it was all spoiled. “It was a very well executed joke. So it’s very funny,” says Gruntman now. “I joined the program through my Aunt Haneke, who was an editor there. You wouldn’t get away with something like that now. I think Gordon suffered the most and didn’t know anything about it. I ran into him a few times after that. He was nice, but also uncomfortable” .
One of the songs in Tapedag’s debut is called Beehive. Gruntmann is pleased that he will perform next week as part of the ADE at the Amsterdam branch in Bijenkorf. “The best thing would be in an empty Bijenkorf, then the music would reverberate nicely, but that’s also great of course.”
I’ve done with Tapedag twice before so far. How did it go? “Good, really good. I was at the Tweetact Festival in Utrecht and the audience really approved of the music. I tune the music up a bit during performances, the tempo picks up a bit and it’s all a little bit compressed. It wasn’t allowed on Tweetakt yet, but I can imagine dancing at a festival.”
Tape Day, Begenkorf Amsterdam, 10/16, 4 p.m.
The Mark Davis collection can be heard at: archive.org/details/attentionkmartshoppers.
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