For Koen Van De Wardt, making music is a far greater pursuit than simply creating something to catch someone else’s ear. “The more people that respond to my music the less lonely I feel,” admits the singer and musical architect who records ethereal, oft- hushed but forever gripping synth-anchored music under the moniker Klangstof. “For me it’s just about getting in the studio and erasing all the bad feelings I have in my mind.”
The Dutch-born, Norway-raised Van De Wardt is on the surface a happy-go-lucky 24-year-old (“People expect a very depressed young man and instead they get this smiling asshole”), and yet when he retreats to his solitary place to write music, the anxiety, the negativity, the feeling that he’s misunderstood, it all comes pouring out. After moving with his family from his native Netherlands to rural Norway at age 14, the once-social teenager found himself totally isolated. “My life was torn apart and I had to start all over again.” He became enamored with Radiohead’s seminal 1997 album, OK Computer, and specifically the undercurrent of unchecked pain in lead singer Thom Yorke’s voice.
In short time, creating music became an almost manic pursuit for the fledging musician. Even after attending Hedmark University College and playing bass in a popular Dutch band, Moss, Van De Wardt felt compelled to return to his own well. “That’s when I started to do Klangstof” – a name with no particular meaning (“klang” means echo in Norwegian and “stof”, dust in Dutch) – “and then I couldn’t stop.”
Following the addition of Salomé as their resident synth wizard and production guru and the release of ‘Close Eyes To Exit’ in September 2016, Klangstof have completed extensive tours around the globe with The Flaming Lips, Miike Snow and Jagwar Ma. In 2017, Klangstof became the first Dutch band to play the world-renowned Coachella festival in the US, a remarkable achievement that should tell anyone all they need to know about the band’s abundant musical ability and undeniable upward trajectory. In February, they took home the award for Best Alternative Act at the Edison awards, the Dutch equivalent of the Grammys.
Written initially in the back of the band’s splitter van while touring the US, Klangstof’s new EP ‘Everest’ sees the Dutch alternative act exploring the more electronic, synth led aspects of their widescreen sound, forged on their excellent, calling card of a debut album ‘Close Eyes To Exit’. Largely borne out of a desire to push the band sonically but partly down to the fact that their van didn’t have space to put up amplifiers and guitars, Klangstof threw themselves headfirst into “synthesizer heaven”, as Van De Wardt puts it.
The result is ‘Everest’, an EP that washes over the listener with warm waves of synths and the band’s characteristic, sharp, snappy drumming. The ‘Everest’ EP is Klangstof’s finest work to date, a simmering cauldron of emotion with the permanent threat of eruption.
- BEATS 1 ZANE LOWE
“If you love Radiohead, Pink Floyd, My Morning Jacket, Mercury Rev and all of the amazing musicians which take songs into a more widescreen environment, and you get to know Klangstof. It’s called ‘We Are Your Receiver.’"
- NME MATT WILKINSON
“‘Hostage’ by Klangstof sounds like the more shimmering moments of pre-bloopy Radiohead, if they had aligned themselves with the production tendencies of Abel Tesfaye and the soaring beauty of all those Sigor Ros moments that make nature programmes so atmospheric."
- IDOLATOR MIKE WASS
"the soundscape is impressively vast, the lyrics (as sparse as they are) and tone are decidedly intimate."