Frans De Waard – “Many times I have been asked if I really had a big collection of records, following all these reviews I wrote. Well, no.”

[This post needs a short introduction – I’ve contacted Frans via Facebook on December 2018, with the following message, which actually is the usual one I send to those I invite to contribute to Concrete Shelves. What follows is (nearly) the uncut the conversation that we had.]

Hi Frans! We’ve been in touch many times for your reviews on VW of my records (thanks!).
I’ve now launched a blog called Concrete Shelves. I actually ask people to take a few pictures of the records they have, and I ask a few questions about.
Would you like to take part in this? It’ll take an overall of less than 30′. I’ve interviewed musicians, journalists, actors…
Let me know if you like the idea, ok? Thanks!
I am not sure I understand why you want to run a blog like that then? So if I understand correctly: I take a picture, you ask me a bunch of questions and type all the answers, then you copy/paste it all on a blog? That leaves most time consumption on my side, and there is not really a dialogue, let alone your interpretation of my words. It is what I call, perhaps unfriendly (and excuse my bluntness beforehand), the kind of lazy journalism the whole world is filled with already. It is only to provide more content, and content that has very little to do with my work as a writer or musician (but merely showing off I have a records, or a mess of them or whatever, or no records), and add to that, for both of these jobs, writing and making music, I am already too long behind a screen anyway on a daily basis. I am surely there are plenty of people who would love to be part of this, but for me it’s more work than I want to put in.
You could ask my former band member in Beequeen. He loves his record collection.
I now look at the blog and it seems some people are also pretty short in answering, so maybe it’s the thing you want? I should sleep on this.

[The night passes and in the morning after I get this message from him, and this picture below that]

Thanks for the invitation to share photographs of my record shelves for your blog, but I have to decline your offer. It is not because I am afraid my place will be burgled; I have a pretty good insurance and it is easier money than trying to sell them one by one, one day. I have various reasons and I will explain these. First of all, I don’t consider myself to be a collector of anything, not of records, books, stamps or anything else. I like records, books and all that, and surely have some surrounding me here, and some I would even miss if I didn’t have them, but collecting? Not really. I can pick a CD or LP from my shelves to play and after five minutes I would think ‘why do I still have this?’ and then decide to sell it. It means that it goes to another shelf but lazy as I am it is close to the other shelves, so for an outsider it is impossible to say what ‘collection’ is and what is my ‘shop’. And ‘shop’ also implies all that material that I have on offer from my practice as a music reviewer. Many times I have been asked if I really had a big collection of records, following all these reviews I wrote. Well, no. When I started to live where I live now for many years I had a small bedroom and a living room, 4×4 meters and nothing else; later on expanded into 4×8 meters but still not bigger and it also holds my workbench with some musical equipment. Even if I would keep all the material I couldn’t possibly store it; nor would I have the time to listen to it again, and I consider music as something to hear rather than to collect. In order to devote all my time to music reviewing I offer releases for sale, and while not really a secret for some people a bone of contention. It is what it is, and if you don’t like that, don’t send anything.
Which brings me to another objection. I dislike any form of snobbery. “Look at my great collection of obscure records”, “I only have cassettes/CDs/LPs, because they are the true medium for music distribution, you know that?” or inversed snobbery, “ha, you never expected this many ABBA records, didn’t you?” I don’t like to judge people’s collections, nor that I am judged, which I am sure will happen.
Now such a piece of writing can’t go without a picture, so here’s just one, and I realize it’s also a form of snobbery or showing off. I have this small closet that once housed my cassette collection, but also fits perfectly CDs, which hold the CD releases I was involved in. As you can see it is hardly in much order, which pretty much says all about the slightly chaotic presence of such things in my house. You could also think, “that guy did too much music”, and I probably agree.

Frans De Waard

Ok, so… you slept well? 🙂

I must say, I never sleep very well…

Ahah! Me too. I’m insomniac since I was a teenager. By the way, it’s funny how it seems you misunderstood the aim/content of my blog. I never mention ‘collection’, neither in the message I’ve sent you days ago, where I said “I actually ask people to take a few pictures of the records they have.”
You can check the blog, and you’ll never see the world ‘collection’ in its pages. Even if, of course, the people I’ve interviewed are sometimes avid collectors.
PS: me too I’m not a collector of any sort.

I believe many people will have the same association with record shelves being collections, like I did. They will want to zoom and see what’s there. That is human curiosity I guess.
And I am very structured, thinking about things in logical ways rather than hippy-dippy, ‘oh yeah my shelf’.
Check this interview by Andrew Liles for instance: andrewliles.com/10-questions/frans-de-waard/ against some of the other entries on andrewliles.com/andrew-liles/10-questions/ and you see how I ‘think’, ‘structure’ or perhaps make it a bit more philosophical, sort of question the questions. I always ask myself ‘why is that I am doing this’.

Yes, the blog idea comes exactly from being curious. I am curious. It’s like… if one day I’ll get into your house, I’d probably be very attracted by the CDs you have, and I’ll probably ask you questions. But being both of us bad sleeper, and living hundreds of kilometers apart, this will probably never happen. But I’m happy to have the opportunity to make this ‘virtual peek’ and the related conversation.

Thanks. I’ve decided to be more philosophical time ago. And… Well, it’s hardly my shelves really; it’s more like my ‘archive’. It is a form of chaos I know my way in.

I see. Now I have two daughters, I’m getting old, I’m more and more practical and – perhaps you’re right – a bit shallow. Chaos is not negative… my favorite picture on the blog is the one of Paul Lemos.

Oh, surely chaos is not negative at all. I like that photo. It’s like a bomb went off! I am more into a different kind of chaos.


Frans de Waard has been producing music since 1984 (Kapotte Muziek, Beequeen, Goem, Zebra, Freiband, Shifts, Modelbau, etc.). In 1984 he started his own record label Korm Plastics. He has worked for the pioneering Dutch tape label Staalplaat (1992-2003) and since 1986 as a reviewer for his own publication Vital (now Vital Weekly), a magazine which has been an online source for underground music since 1995.

fransdewaard.com | kormplastics.nl | vitalweekly.net

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