2017 Artist Survey: Annelotte de Graaf of Amber Arcades

De Graaf on 2017's Best Albums, the "Me Too" Movement and Sexual Harassment, Bad Dates, Trump, and Music Critics

Jan 17, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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For Under the Radar's 15th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2017 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Dutch musician Annelotte de Graaf, who records as Amber Arcades. Her debut album, Fading Lines, came out in 2016 via Heavenly. In 2017 she released a new 5-song EP, Cannonball, also via Heavenly.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the various sexual harassment and assault allegations, the "Me Too" movement, the chaotic first year of Donald Trump's presidency, the Charlottesville alt-right rally and racism in America, embarrassing moments, professional regrets, which Breakfast Club character they are most like, the end of the world, and much more. 

Top 10 Albums of 2017

1. Charlotte Gainsbourg: Rest
2. Father John Misty: Pure Comedy
3. LCD Soundsystem: American Dream
4. Perfume Genius: Shape
5. Beach Fossils: Somersault
6. Phoenix: Ti Amo
7. Thundercat: Drunk
8. Aquaserge: Laisse Ça Être
9. Big Thief: Capacity
10. Foxygen: Hang 


What was the highlight of 2017 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point? 

High point: Playing the Glastonbury festival. Low point: The food wasn't that good.

2017 saw sexual harassment and assault allegations against many men in the music industry, film industry, journalism, politics, and elsewhere (including Harvey Weinstein, Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Real Estate, Brand New's Jesse Lacey, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Democratic Senator Al Franken, and others). Why do you think the floodgates opened in 2017 and do you think any meaningful change will come from it or will sexual harassment and assaults continue to be prevalent in certain industries?

I guess it just started with that one New York Times article and the climate was right for it to be picked up majorly, leading to more women feeling confident enough to share their stories. Why the climate is right for these stories to come out now I have no idea. I guess some obvious explanations would be the advancement of women's rights over the last years and more people being aware of the inequality still around today. Plus, people love to see powerful figures fall down and be disgraced, but I think that is something of all times. I don't really think something will change dramatically in the long run, but that's mostly because I firmly believe that people in general are just the worst. 

In 2017 the "Me Too" and "It Was Me" social media hashtags further brought sexual assault and harassment to light. Have you ever been the victim of harassment or assault, or witnessed such behavior, or been the perpetrator? And what concrete steps can be taken to combat sexual harassment and assault in the music industry and make it a more welcoming place for women?

Luckily I've never experienced assault or abuse of any kind, besides my parents making me eat according to a strict macrobiotic diet when I was a kid, which sure felt like a cruel punishment at the time. In terms of steps to be taken, I don't know man, I'm just a simple musician. Maybe we should all change our Facebook profile picture to a Venus symbol.

It has been said that 2016 was the year your favorite artist died, and, because of the litany of sex scandals, 2017 is the year that your favorite artist became dead to you. Which artist did you stop being a fan of this year? Which public person would you be most devastated to learn had a history of abusive or predatory behavior?  

I really dug the Ducktails records. Actually, I still dig the records, just not a fan of him as a person anymore. Not that I even knew him at all, so can't say I ever was a fan of his person. So maybe not that much has changed, really. The person I'd be most devastated about to learn they had an abusive history is Bernie Sanders I guess, he seemed like the ultimate good guy in your abstract political theatre piece.

Should we be able to separate an artist's work from his or her actions? Or should an artist's negative behaviors completely negate the quality of his or her work? 

I think everyone should answer that question for themselves. If you can still enjoy music or movies made by an abusive perv and get some good times out of it then good for you. Whatever you can enjoy in this mortal life you should hang on to as tight as you can.  

The first year of the Trump administration has been chaotic to say the least. What has President Donald Trump done so far that most concerns or angers you? Is there anything President Trump has done, proposed, or said that you actually agree with? Why do you think his base continues to support him?

Oof, where to start... I'm Dutch so the things he's done that affect not only the U.S. but the rest of the world too, I find the hardest to see happening. Unilaterally declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel was definitely one the recent most sucky things he did. It's all bad, you know. Whether he said/did anything I agreed with, I wanted to say no straight away, but decided to go through his Twitter just to be sure. I saw he tweeted something recently about wanting to put more money into the U.S. infrastructure, which I actually don't think is a terrible idea. But also I'm pretty sure that even this good idea will somehow be turned into some evil-ass Machiavellian plot. I'm not really surprised people still support him. Like the whole thing he ran on was this story of how the "elite" are controlling the media and politics and how they are all lying stuck-up creeps trying to take advantage of the "common people." So whatever terrible story comes out about him, it can't hurt him, because the story will by brought to the people through the media, and hence it will only confirm his whole narrative that the elite media are out to get him and he's the only one fighting them and all the other elite bastards for the good of the American people. It's pretty genius, actually. 

Many predicted President Donald Trump wouldn't last long in the White House and yet he's still there. At this point how hopeful are you that he'll be impeached? Barring that, how optimistic are you that he won't win reelection? And although it's still very early, is there already a potential candidate you would most like to see run for president in 2020?

Being Dutch I'm not really sure how the whole American procedure of impeachment works, so I find that hard to say anything about. I do know I'd like to see Bernie do a re-try in 2020.

The alt-right/neo-Nazi/KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ensuing violence, and President Trump's reluctance to condemn such hate groups further showed that racism is alive and well in America. What concrete steps can we take to improve race relations in America and the world at large?

I'm just gonna take this question and apply it to the Netherlands instead of America, if that's cool. One major thing we need to do in this country is get rid of the Zwarte Piet character in our Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa Claus) tradition. The whole discussion even is just starting to make me sick. Get with the times already, geez. 

2017 saw several music festivals cancelled due to low ticket sales (not to mention the Fyre Festival debacle in the Bahamas). Are there too many music festivals right now?

There's definitely not too few.

Which Breakfast Club character are you most like and why?

I've never actually seen The Breakfast Club but they all seem nice enough.

Tell us about the best and worst dates you've ever been on.

Worst: Probably back when I was 16 and I invited my boyfriend of two days over to chill with me and my best friend and they ended up kissing and announcing they were a couple now, and I was like, sure whatever. I think I was actually kind of relieved because this dude was pretty weird, he thought he was an actual vampire. Best: Taking myself out to get Surinam food for lunch sometimes. 

What's the most embarrassing (or funniest) thing that's happened to you in front of your bandmates (or on stage)?

Making a Trump joke during a show in Ohio and having no one in the audience laugh about it. Although I guess that's mostly embarrassing for them, to be on the wrong side of history re: my jokes. Time will tell.

What's your biggest professional regret?

Not releasing that ska album I made last year. Can't find the hard-drive it's on anymore now.

If you heard that the world was ending in one week who would be the first person you'd call and what are some of the things you'd do in that week?

Call my grandma and smoke an ounce of DMT in one final attempt to understand the universe.

Would you be open to having your phone and other technology implanted into your body in the future?

Definitely, I'm longing for the day when I can get rid of these pesky no-good fingers.

Which band, album, film, or TV show that was generally disliked by critics do you genuinely like and find yourself defending to friends?

Last week I ended up in a heated discussion with a music critic where I was defending the honor and genius of Mariah Carey.

www.amberarcades.net

 

 

 

 

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