We are celebrating our 75th anniversary as British Council in the Netherlands in 2020-21 by sharing 75 personal stories from people who have a special connection to both the UK and the Netherlands. Read the 75 NL-UK stories and join us in celebrating our 75th anniversary. Watch the personal message from Wim Pijbes here and expand the box below to read the full story by Lucky Fonz III. New stories will be added in the months to come.
75 UK-NL Stories - Arts
Lucky Fonz III
Lucky Fonz III
buried his harmonica in Scotland
In 2002 I studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. It was a formative year for me; the preceding three years I had actually done nothing at all – I spent the days in my room listening to Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. I was a very lethargic, mildly depressed student. In Scotland I changed overnight: I was introduced to the depths of literature which sparked a passion for text, and became a member of the folk song society, a study association for folk music. I was inundated with inspiration and desire, was immersed in the world of folk, and bought a guitar and this harmonica for the first time. I have long been insecure about my guitar skills – I still cannot consider myself a guitarist – but the harmonica… This may sound arrogant, but I was able to play it right away. I thought: there are just ten holes, you can either blow or suck the instrument, so you have to make do with twenty options only. It also makes a difference that a harmonica is always in one key, so essentially it is not possible to produce false notes. I bought the harmonica in the afternoon, and in the evening, I was already playing it in a folk pub. It is such an expressive instrument – so closely connected to your breath. To me it felt like an entrance into the folk world, a way to play together, as you can always bring a harmonica with you.
By the end of that year I was a different person: I was convinced I had to become a singer-songwriter. I am sensitive to symbolic actions, beautiful rituals… I could not just discard that harmonica – it had worn out by now – nor give it away, that would be gross. So, in August 2003 I thought: I will simply bury it in the garden of my student dorm. I will leave it there forever, and only allow myself to dig it up when I have become a star in music.
Ten years later, in 2013, I went back to Scotland with my girlfriend Linde with an E. We passed my old house, and I thought of the harmonica. She said: “You could dig up that thing now, right?” So that is what I did – I remembered exactly where to find it. I now keep it in my studio as a relic. When I look at it, I reminisce about my time in Scotland, where I laid the foundations for what I still do today. The artistic ideals of the folk scene are still my personal ideals too: it is about community, amateur music, approachability, and accessibility. My harmonica is a great reminder.
Lucky Fonz III
This is a translation of a text originally published by VPRO 3voor12 / Timo Pisart. The original article can be found here.