How much does our own origin shape us? And to what extent do our decisions and experiences continue to write our story? For Hamburg-based musician Van Deyk, the search for identity is the force behind his artistic work. He explores his life with an optimistic drive. And that's why his complex, epic pop songs are not only infused with high intensity, but also with a fine lightness. It’s about really experiencing happy moments. The chemistry between two people. The power of the sea. The feeling of being part of something bigger. "I want to consciously enjoy such moments. Including how I have to let them go afterwards. That's okay," Van Deyk says. "Because, after all, the positive feeling continues to reverberate within me."
On his album "To Cut A Long Story Short", Van Deyk looks at drastic experiences with casual self- awareness. These include impulsive irrationality, but also those realizations that only come gradually. In particular, however, he always returns to exploring the dynamics of togetherness. The adrenaline and the beauty, the mysterious and the ephemeral. Van Deyk relies heavily on connections. For his twelve new songs he has collaborated with numerous personalities like bassist Mark Tavassol (Wir sind Helden, Gloria), drummer Robin Brink from the South African band Beatenberg, the young singer Sukie von Seld and the Hamburg pop duo Joco. This cooperative spirit is simply part of Van Deyk's open and highly charismatic nature.
Dominic van Deyk, who performs using just his last name, grew up bilingual. His mother is German, his stepfather comes from Wales and lived in London in the swinging sixties as a drummer, touring with bands like Pink Floyd. "There are lots of stories from that time. I was socialized as a child to be fascinated by being a musician," Van Deyk says. So while many parents warn their children about pursuing such a penniless occupation, his home in Frankfurt am Main was filled with songs and stories. His mother also played songs on the guitar and took Dominic to her choir concerts. At the age of seven, he received his first piano lessons, and at eleven, he started learning the drums. But most of all, he displayed an uninhibited curiosity about music. He established a game with his best friend, for example, of being able to recognize pop classics from the Beatles to Billy Joel after just one second.
His family history drove Dominic van Deyk to increasingly explore his identity. Writing song lyrics served as an outlet. And, of course, the music itself.
Until his mid-20s, he channeled his inner turmoil, his youthful searching and yearning, by playing in a hard rock band.
"I did that very intensively as a drummer. Sweaty, bare-chested - the full program."
This unfiltered power, however, no longer fulfilled him after a while. The projects became more complex, poppier, more poetic. What remained, though, was a thirst for freedom and a hunger for life. For love's sake, he set off for Scotland, where he enrolled at the university in Aberdeen to study psychology, politics and anthropology. "But the best thing was that I was able to sneak into the music department and play the piano undisturbed." He experienced a growing desire to professionalize his own art. Back in Frankfurt, he studied music education, added the guitar as an instrument and created his first solo album “Days On A Unicycle” under the name Dom van Deyk. The music scene in Hamburg was a huge draw for the musician, who ultimately moved there. And through the renowned pop course at the University of Music and Theater, he met two like-minded people, drummer Mathias Blässe and guitarist Robert Holstein, who shared his explorative spirit. Van Deyk was born.
"The energy Dominic van Deyk once unleashed as a hardened drummer is still in him, but it now flows into more intricate songwriting."
And theoretically, the Van Deyk project could have really taken off with the first EP "Happy People" in 2017. Theoretically. But then life got in the way. The quick death from cancer of a close friend threw him off track and inhibited his creativity. Only gradually did the words and melodies come back. For example in the song "Dominos", the initial spark for the current album. A song about moving on. A promising drifting on guitar and keyboards, which oscillates finely between melancholy and confidence. Everything began to pulsate again. But just when the new songs were on the right track, life intervened again. At the beginning of 2020, Dominic van Deyk barely survived a parachuting accident in South Africa. Both shinbones were shattered. The fact that he can walk again today is nothing short of a miracle. But during this existential experience, he was carried by a feeling: everything will be all right.
"In my life, it was the absolute lows that ultimately gave me an absolute confidence that things will go on. Sadness is followed by joy.
And lack of perspective is always followed by a clear goal that makes you feel alive," Van Deyk explains.
The song "Mindfuck" is about the pivotal moments when, after difficult and tough times, it becomes clear that a positive development is beginning after all. That things are moving forward. And that we can control our own happiness to a certain extent. This message is accompanied by an undercurrent of seething sound, over which Van Deyk's haunting voice rises. "Feeling Fine", on the other hand, is a wonderfully playful and ultra-relaxed celebration of the art of indulging in sweet existence. Smoothly rapped, with horns, whistles and handclap charm. Van Deyk is ultimately a romantic who embraces opposites and loves risk - especially beautiful to hear in the beguiling single "Stereo". In it, he depicts an amorous encounter that seems to spin everything out of control.
Van Deyk is an extremely emotional songwriter who courageously plunges into the mood of a song. He recorded and refined "To Cut A Long Story Short" in Hamburg together with producer Ruben Seevers in his studio in the Schanzenviertel as well as with Julius Trautvetter in Hamburg's 106Hz Studio. "I enjoy playing the tracks as a stripped down version first and then bringing out all the dimensions that the sound can have," Van Deyk says. He also shows this range in his live performances, where he sometimes plays a reduced folk version, and sometimes the lush band version. The main thing is that everyone is carried along by his songs. For example, in the direction of the sea - like in the singles "Closer" and "Anytime". “I can hardly describe love and longing with any other image than the vastness of the ocean," says Van Deyk.
"The rough sea here in the north is perfect for me. When you watch the cold and choppy water stretch into the horizon, your own life stops for a moment."
The perspective shifts. And I can feel something like complete freedom. On stage, when making music, I also experience this feeling. Nothing else matters then. It's pure happiness."