To Play, To Dream, To Drift,
An Anthology

To Play, To Dream, To Drift, An Anthology (2009)

(Chikaree Records distributed by Bang!)


“To play, to dream, to drift, an anthology the first disc is like the name indicates, an anthology, and the second is composed of unpublished works”

“It’s almost embarrassing to admit. But when you hear this double CD it is once again confirmed how Belgium is way ahead of us in the area of music when it comes to quality and originality. They’re in the Champions League while the Netherlands is dangling somewhere at the bottom of Topclass. That’s just the way it is.” Leon Weterings for 21/01/10

SKC and Dirk Steenhout, an interview:

This year, Zita Swoon celebrates its fifteenth + birthday. The perfect moment to look back on their career so far. To Play, to Dream, to Drift has become a two-part retrospective with a ‘Best of’, serving as an introduction for those unfamiliar with the Antwerp band, and a second disc with previously unreleased material, which uncovers the history of Zita Swoon and offers a look at what the future could bring.

“The first disc was easy to compile,” says frontman Stef Kamil Carlens. “Most of the tracks had previously been released as singles. What makes this project interesting to me is the second disc, because the obscure material on it has been just as essential for my musical evolution. This collection is the end of an era for me, while the sleeve, featuring over a hundred pictures, once again showcases the visual side of Zita Swoon. At the same time, we are launching our new website, which will make it easier to keep track of our activities.”

Why the interim inventory? “I want to explore new paths. There are a few projects I want to focus on right now,” the singer explains. A number of these projects have already taken shape: a sequel to Dancing with the Sound Hobbyist- a collaboration with Rosas - for which Carlens wants to write new material with the band and delve deeper into the interaction between dance and music. He also intends to go on a musical journey through Burkina Faso and Mali. And then there’s the Zita Swoon Orchestra, an entirely instrumental project, which allows Carlens to move away from lyrics and focus completely on the music. “It would be nice to work with a more comprehensive lineup, with instruments that Zita Swoon has rarely or never used before.

To Play, to Dream, to Drift is a reference to the instinctive manner Stef Kamil Carlens has organized his career so far. “I want to stay true to that motto as well,” he stresses. “I do a lot more planning than I used to, but at the same time I want to stay receptive to new impressions and unexpected opportunities.”


‘Baby I'll Be Sad When I See You Again' (disc 2, track 1)

‘Melinda's Blues' (disc 2, track 2)

‘Hangover in the Laundry' (disc 2, track 3)

SKC: “These tracks date back to the early nineties, and my first band A Beatband. It was a very exciting time, and I felt great as a musician. Back then, I wanted to become a blues singer. Blues was the genre that appealed to me the most on an emotional level. ‘Baby I'll Be Sad' and ‘Hangover in the Laundry' were on our first tape. I was nineteen, still in school and sharing a house with several buskers. During the Christmas holidays I traveled to Glasgow and Edinburgh with a female friend to make some money busking. It was here that I met Craig Ward, who would later join dEUS.”

‘Spike Smiths' For All Lost Goods' (disc 2, track 4)

‘Two Horses Blues' (disc 2, track 5)

SKC: “A Beatband's second tape was called Two Horses Blues and the third one featured ‘Spike Smiths' For All Lost Goods'. I liked the song so much that I included it on our album Jintro Travels the Word in a Skirt two years later. I reused the trick with the clashing vocals in ‘Two Horses Blues' for dEUS's SUdS & SOdA shortly after that. We already had that track before dEUS released their first single ‘Zea'. Both bands existed simultaneously. Tom Barman and I shared the same house, the same rehearsal space and the same instruments. It's hardly a surprise that Tom can be heard on ‘Looking for a Friend'.”

‘Looking for a Friend' (disc 2, track 6)

SKC: “Over the years, I have re-recorded and performed this song live several times. Versions of it can be found on Jintro Travels… - it was called Big Black TV Cat back then – and on Big Blueville. It's one of those songs with a constantly changing arrangement.”

‘The Wind Got Lost in the Sky' (disc 2, track 7)

SKC: “This track was also featured on A Beatband's 1993 EP. This was the first song we ever recorded in a real studio, on analog tape and with overdubs.”

‘TV Song' (disc 1, track 1)

With the Moondog Jr. album in mind, it was time to sit down and take time to write songs. I moved from the vibrant centre of Antwerp to a quiet street close to the inner ring road and the ‘rabbitfield', a patch of green on the southern outskirts of town. A lot of music had already been made and recorded: dEUS's Worst Case Scenario had become a bestseller and I had also recorded several tracks with my own band, but things were getting serious now. It had to be better, more real and more intense. Island Records even offered me the chance to work with a producer and a budget.”

Ice Guitars (disc 1, track 2)

SKC: “A dark song that I'm very proud of. I will always keep on playing it, also because I really love the lyrics. It's about losing a friendship that I had been playing music with intensely since I was fifteen.”

‘Jintro & The Great Luna' (disc 1, track 3)

SKC: “You will find a basic version of this song on the Moondog Jr. album, but we'd actually been playing this track live in a swinging band version for years. When Island asked us for a second single, we quickly recorded the band version in the days that we had off on our European tour.”

‘Giving Up the Hero' (disc 1, track 4)

SKC: “After the extremely intense dEUS adventure, I was once again a free man and this was the first thing to come my way in that period. We were asked to perform a score for a silent movie - Murnau's 1927 masterpiece Sunrise - at an Antwerp film festival. This project really put the band in the right perspective: we were not an ordinary pop band that limited itself to radio hits: we wanted to explore a whole range of styles. The album featured instrumental music and songs, inspired by the film's story. This song, however, is a clear reference to my own story: I couldn't ignore the similarities between the man who returns to this safe home after the temptations of the big city and me, and my return to my trusty blues band after the turbulent blitzkrieg with dEUS. For this project, the band was joined by violin player Klaas Janszoons and percussionist Piet Jorens.”

‘Exit Loneville' (disc 2, track 8)

‘Orpheus' (disc 2, track 9)

SKC: “Two draft versions of songs, made in the period between Sunrise and our departure for New Orleans. The previous owners of the apartment that I had just started to rent had left behind a piano, and I wrote several songs on it. This explains the unpredictable song structures I used at the time.”

‘She = Like Meeting Jesus' (disc 1, track 5)

SKC: “Recorded in New Orleans. It was the city of my dreams, the place that had brought forth musicians like Dr. John. Bjorn Eriksson, an amazing player of the slide guitar, joined the band and coloured the music with his acoustic, bluesy sound. I longed for the sound of my teenage years. I wanted the songs to echo the sound of the eighties. I bought a synthesizer and a hard disk recorder and started working with samples, programmed beats and the possibility of magnifying and refining arrangements. The songs were no longer played on the guitar or on the piano, but emerged from sound collages. According to me, ‘She=Like Meeting Jesus' is the ultimate love song. The main character is locked in an emotional prison and is liberated by a woman who gives meaning to his life.”

‘Our Daily Reminders' (disc 1, track 6)

SKC: “The same woman from the previous song reemerges here. The difference is that unspoken conflicts and misunderstandings now prevail. I had already made a demo of the full track in my tiny studio in the Scheldestraat in South Antwerp. By pressing the wrong button, I had accidentally erased everything. This means I had to start over, leading to a few new additions. This explains why the song is a bit like an epic.”

‘My Bond With You & Your Planet: DISCO!' (disc 1, track 7 + ghost track 16) 

SKC: “I wrote this song on a 4-track in Brussels with a bass borrowed from a friend and an old Roland drum machine. I simply babbled some phonetic English over it. When producer Malcolm Burn and the band started working on the track, it evolved into the burst of astonishing energy it is now. Crafted around a simple bass riff and a rickety upright piano, flavoured with eighties synthesizers and delay guitar. It's an ode to a universal language: groove, swing and disco! As far as I know, the remix of the track is one of the first remixes ever made by the brothers Dewaele (Soulwax, 2 Many DJs).”

‘Fun for Free' (disc 1, track 8)

SKC: “Now I felt like it was time to make a highly produced record, with a very tight sound. We took a mobile studio to Jan Fabre's Troubleyn Theatre and created two setups: one to record the songs and another, a demo studio, to come up with new material. It was the perfect way of working: I didn't have to wait, bored, until the other musicians were ready with a take or an edit, instead being able to use that time to create new material. ‘Fun for Free', an angry letter to someone I worked with at the time, was immediately ‘processed' by the band after I wrote it. That is probably why it sounds so fresh and why the arrangement is so well-balanced: everyone played spontaneously, without thinking too much.”

‘Hot, Hotter, Hottest' (disc 1, track 9)

SKC: “This song is the result of my admiration for eighties funk artists like Robert Palmer, Grace Jones and Flash and the Pan. It's a melancholy story of a deceived lover in the mysterious Antwerp night, set to a pumping bass and blaring horns.”

‘People Are Like Slamming Doors' (disc 1, track 10)

SKC: “Originally featured on Life = A Sexy Sanctuary, but this version, which was recorded during a TMF session in the Brussels Jet Studio, is so much better. The band's performance was super tight: this was the playing level I had dreamt of for years.

‘Thinking About You All the Time' (disc 1, track 12)

‘Thinking About You All the Time' (disc 2, track 10) 

SKC: “The sound of this song was created during a nightly recording session in the Ardennes. I had made a new wave-inspired model for it, but it seemed impossible to transfer that atmosphere to the sound of the band. Aarich and Kobe decided to take a different approach and the result was the blueprint for the sound of A Song About   A Girls: a bluesy, rootsy feel with a swinging undertone. Both versions are included on the compilation.”

‘Intrigue' (disc 2, track 11)

SKC: “I had made a few demos with elaborate arrangements, but now I wanted to know what they would sound like when played by a real band. So I assembled a band with Mauro Pawlowski on the guitar, Mirco Banovic on the bass, Guy Van Nueten on the piano, Karel De Backer on the drums and Kobe Proesmans on percussion.”

‘Hey You, Whatshadoing?' (disc 1, track 11)

SKC: “A Song About A Girls was a pivotal moment, the album really liberated me. Everything suddenly became clear, and the music became more personal. This was the warm sound I had been trying to create for years.”

‘Josiesomething' (disc 1, track 12)

SKC: “On of my many Josie songs, declarations of love to an incredibly complex woman.”

‘I Feel Alive in the City' (disc 1, track 13)

SKC: “After A Song About A Girls the Gysel sisters joined the band. First at concerts, and later on the albums A Band in a Box and Big City. It was a dream come true. The band had become a close-knit group with a well-balanced and intensely musical sound after the extensive A Song About A Girls tour and the A Band In A Box live concept, which saw the band perform with minimal amplification among the audience instead of on stage. I decided to finish the planned record with the entire band, so we isolated ourselves a few times to work on the songs and arrangements. That's why the songs on Big City sounded very open and transparent, despite the multitude of layers.”

‘Quand même content' (disc 1, track 14)

SKC: “This is from Big Blueville, an interlude that was originally intended exclusively for France. The album was recorded in two or three days, with hardly any overdubs. This explains why it sounds so much more raw.”

‘Lonely Place' (disc 2, track 12)

SKC: “A song from Dancing with the Sound Hobbyist, a performance with Rosas. It was recorded in front of a live audience in the NTGent.”

‘Wake Up for the Trees' (disc 2, track 13)

SKC: “A new song that we recorded just last summer with Zita Swoon's latest lineup. Newcomers are: Simon Pleysier, an excellent guitarist, and Hugo Boogaerts, a saxophonist that I've known for years and once a member of Wizards of Ooze. I wrote this song when my neighbour chopped down ten beautiful big trees.”


By Jespers and Jespers


Bache Jespers, Gauthier Bourgeois, Stephan Vanfleteren, Bert Dentant, Kris Molchaers, Kika Didden, Gordon War, Elke Boon, Ronald den Decker and...


Subscribe to our newsletter.