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Blissful synth sequences. Philosophical pop, backed by tight and crispy drum machines. With the release of Meetsysteem’s debut album, Geen Signaal, in the rearview mirror, we visited Ricky Cherim’s abode in Amsterdam West. Over a cup of blue butterfly pea tea from Thailand, we shot him some questions on travelling, souvenirs and (eventually) coming home.
Hi Ricky, thanks for having us over! Have you always lived in Amsterdam?
Born and raised, but I lived and worked in New York for a while. Acting tough, growing up. I worked in a Dutch restaurant called Vandaag. I walked in and said ‘yo, I’m Dutch, can I work here?’ I was one of the first Dutch people to join the team. The restaurant was very hip. You know, they had a good New York Times review. They fed into the idea that nobody has a clue what’s happening in The Netherlands. Selling bitterballs, but also a bunch of Scandinavian dishes, a Indonesian-Dutch chicken satay and stroopwafels with ice for dessert. The restaurant only lasted for a year.
Was New York everything you dreamed and more?
Manhattan was magical, but only for the first couple of months. I was living on a cloud and all of a sudden it was over already. From that point you’re already dying from the inside. Everything is way too high-energy and intense.
Things start losing their meaning?
Yes, you start to see through shit. When I came back home it was like stepping into a warm bath. Cycling around the city, meeting friends at cafés.
I heard you speak about your music as being a soundtrack for travelling on the bike. Could you reflect on that a little more?
Funny that you point that out. To me, music always hits hardest while moving. Slowly drifting away on the bus with headphones on. I get tilted. I get carried away.
“To me, music always hits hardest while moving. Slowly drifting away on the bus with headphones on. I get tilted. I get carried away.”
Post-travels; how is coming home for you?
I really enjoy coming home. Thanks to the designer-eye of my girlfriend, I can come back to a vibey place where I can chill. It helps creating some inner peace.
Anywhere else where you can find peace?
On holiday. When I travel, everything resets.
You travel a lot. Do you live out of your suitcase or do you like to unpack it?
Haha! I usually live out of my suitcase, but if I can find the energy to unpack it, I’ll end up much happier. Being organized is important to me – but I really have to put in the effort.
Living in peaks of chaos and order?
Do you find a similar conjuncture in creating music?
Yes, very similar, but really leaning more towards chaos. Tammo Hesselink (DJ and producer) and Sjoerd Oberman (owner of Nous’klaer Audio) helped me a lot with discovering an equilibrium. For instance, the album order is structured according to levels of energy. Finding a flow between high and low.
How does it feel to put the album out into the world? Do you feel the urge to justify, explain or change anything?
No! I’m so happy! Finally, goddamnit. The song ‘Bonaduz’ is six or seven years old. As is ‘Geduld’, which was formerly English-sung and titled ‘Patience’.
Is patience fruitful as a working method?
To me, It’s very helpful. I’m able to work rather quickly, but to really make something good I need to take my time. I’m very aware that I have to start working on my next album as soon as possible, or it will take 20 years before it’s released. Haha, I’m on it!
Could you tell me a bit more about that painting on your wall? It’s really beautiful.
Cool, right? My grandmother made that. I look at this particular one as acid rain. My grandmother died of a brain tumor. In her process of decline she started painting more and more abstract – even before she was aware of her condition. Most of her final paintings display these intense and abstract feelings.
Could you show us some objects in your house that are dear to your heart?
I cherish this artwork by Tjobo Kho. He’s a friend of mine who made the artwork for the album. Also, most definitely my records. Everywhere I travel, I try to purchase one. This one (Wannadi Ana / Erraghaya by Nass El Ghiwane) immediately gives me warm Atlas Mountains vibes. Takes me back to a particular train-ride in Morocco. People playing music, people talking. A train ride as a social gathering.
Meetsysteem’s debut album Geen Signaal is out now on Nous’klaer Audio.