Stef Kamil Carlens is a multidisciplinary artist. Visual artist, musician and composer, he combines all these aspects in the stage performances of the company Zita Swoon Group.
Carlens rose to fame in the 90s, and after a stint as bassist with dEUS, he began a colorful career leading to dozens of CD’s, hundreds of concerts on national and international stages, as well as projects for theater and film.
In his plastic work he tries to be both his actual age as well as a child. Thus arise colorful worlds that unite the uninhibited and the melancholic.
“I did a series of images and colored drawings, depicting figures, animals, people and plants which are largely constructed with geometric shapes. They are rigid shapes made with compass and ruler, mostly symmetric. In the sculptures this is in sharp contrast with the material of which they are made: oriented strand board (osb), a construction material that because of its rough texture is essentially used for base constructions and which rarely remains visible. The panels I use are leftovers from construction sites, too small to still be used in that sector, pieces that are mostly thrown away.
I make forms and installations that could just as well have been toys. I seek, by the use of colors and shapes, to connect with the child in the spectator often hidden under a host of other personalities that he or she has, willingly or not, adopted over the years and whom that person often has forgotten.
I aspire to touch that part of the person that is independent of his gender, the color of his skin or his roots; that from which a human arises, but which is generally invisible to others and to himself: someone’s origin.”
“Integer and purified
(…) The new material sounded remarkably mature, while the older Zita Swoon songs, which equally employ a minimum of ornamentation, remained effortlessly afloat.
(…) “New” is actually a relative term, because for at least three years now, many of the unpublished songs have already appeared in the Carlen’s infrequent solo performances. But Stef Kamil Carlens is in no hurry. In part because he has been involved in a series of other projects over the last few years (…) but also because he is well aware of the fact that songs, like fine wines, only get better if left to mature a while.
On stage the artist is surrounded by an impressive array of acoustic and electric guitars, but to bring his songs to life, he also employs a harmonica and simple floor percussion.”
Dirk Steenhaut 29/11/2014 FocusKnack
“Some people cast a wider and wider net as they get older, others turn the mind’s eye inward. Soul searcher and singer-songwriter Stef Kamil Carlens has made such a journey. Musically of course, going from being a founding member of rock band dEUS in the nineties, to injecting his sense for musical experimentation into Zita Swoon, to making the simplest of arrangements: one man, one guitar. And yet, he strives for the same perfection in that one instrument and one voice in all his projects. He’s a painter, a sculptor and is known for his outspoken environmental and global awareness, getting involve in projects like “Friends Of The Earth” Tedx Flanders
“Stef Kamil Carlens first became known as the bass guitarist, singer and fellow songwriter of Belgian band dEUS. It was not long before he went his own way as a singer-songwriter, accompanied by his band, Moondog Jr., who were renamed Zita Swoon after their first record. In 1996, Carlens left dEUS so he could concentrate on Zita Swoon and other projects, such as writing scores for films and theatre productions, creating dance/theatre/music performances, and making sculptures, installations, drawings and paintings.” Janus
“I’m a fairly optimistic person. But I’m ‘an optimist with a heavy heart’. I just have a clear vision of the world. When you look around and really see what’s happening, then you can’t be fully optimistic.” De Standaard
“Carlens’ songs are semi-surreal exercises in emotional excavation, never afraid to veer off at lyrical tangents, though always staying within the unusual boundaries. Benelux boy Carlens takes more poetic chances with a foreign language than most English bands: the result is music which gains, rather than diminishes; in mystery the more one hears it” The Independent