Truus’ musical career spans over the last 4+ decades. Born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, she debuted as a chanteuse just at the beginning of the punk craze in 1976. Playing in a number of Dutch bands she released her first single in 1979 on the Plurex Label with a highly experimental duo called “BandT+ Instruments”, it later became Plus Instruments. In 1979, she teamed up with Michel Waisvisz, the inventor of the Crackle Synthesizer. It was the start of a brand new direction as one of the few female experimental electronic artists at that time. It stood out as she took these unusual instruments and blended them with post punk, new wave and minimal beat formations. In 1981 she moved to New York City to continue her musical adventure that continues through today in various experimental electronic forms. Today she performs various solo shows with her self-designed synthesizers as well as her very own project Plus Instruments, a collaborative effort with invited guests. Her collaboration with Miguel Barella, Blue Beast, features prominently and is ongoing. She resides in Southern California.
Miguel Barella is a veteran of the post-punk Brazilian scene. Co-founder of the groups Agentss, Voluntários da Pátria and the duo Alvos Móveis with Giuseppe Lenti. He has worked in close collaboration with Julio Barroso (Gang 90) and Akira S (Akira S e as Garotas que erraram), is a former Guitar Craft student (seminars conducted by Robert Fripp) and member of the trio LCD with Paulo Beto and Eloi Silvestre. Co-founder of the duo Rohrer/Barella. He has performed with several artists including Damo Suzuki, Coffin Joe, Kaffe Matthews, Patricia Ossess, Rob Mazurek, Josh Abrahams, Phil Minton, Hans Koch, Mauricio Takara, Audrey Chen, João Parahyba, Pekka Lehti, Mai-Mai, Arebato, Jim Sclavunos. Played at LEM Festival (Barcelona), 4Hype (SESC), Sonar (São Paulo), RESO and Noise Shanghai (Shanghai). Miguel has an ongoing collaboration with Truus de Groot in Blue Beast and resides in São Paulo. Both Truus and Miguel are seasoned veterans of the experimental electronic / noise world.
At the tail end of the extensive Covid-19 pandemic quarantine, Blue Beast created the 8 track Quarantine Singles album. According to the band:
“During the making of Quarantine Singles we came upon a new sound. As such, we decided to compile 4 songs on an EP”. The band expands further on the reasoning for this artistic exploration:
“This journey started with a re-mix of our song ‘Like a Fairy Tale’ (from the album Roaring) by Apollo Nove for the TV horror series Insania. Apollo presented us with a full version of this re-mix and it steered Blue Beast into a more melancholy Noise Rock sound. We could see what Apollo’s direction offered us so we asked for his guidance on these 4 songs”
There is definitely a marked difference sonically between releases and this is confirmed by the band:
“Truus is using her voice in a huskier, moody way and the songs have a melodramatic flair. As we work completely by means of digital music file exchange between Brazil and Southern California, things started to take shape during many interchanges between Truus, Miguel and Apollo. On ‘Bottom of the Barrel’, horn player supreme, Edward Capel (NL) graces the tracks with his alto sax and horn section arrangements”.
This fascinating insight into the artistic process, down to both geography and the pandemic, is testament to the strong artistic bond that this band has. It is also evidence of the tenacity and bloody mindedness of bands and artist these days that will meet up generate art any which way they can. Truus expands on this:
“’Bottom of the Barrel’ came forward from the Quarantine Singles, but it may have been the blue print for Bar Tears. It has that feeling of desperation; it’s dark, yet serene and a bit dramatic in a humorous way. It really is about the isolation during the pandemic. This lack of human contact that can feel so devastating, we are social creatures after all”.
“On the title track ‘Bar Tears’ we were lucky enough to recruit Blue Beast’s live rhythm section, Paulo Bira (bass) and Kuki Stolarski (Drums). I am not sure if it is an existing term ‘Bar Tears’ but I imagine there are special tears one sheds in a dive bar, reminiscing about the lost loves and whatnot after a few cocktails”.
Truus and Miguel expand on track 3 ‘Obsessive’:
Truus: “It came about in a miraculous, yet typical ‘Blue Beast’ Modus. Miguel presented me with a track that was completely ambient”.
Miguel: “For some reason when it ended up in Truus’ lap she rather heard a beat and bass groove. Blending these two together created that great brooding feeling the song has. The lyrics are a poem that Truus wrote in 2014, even before she met me”.
Miguel has the last words on the final track of the EP, ‘Sand and Sea’:
“It came about as a keyboard hook, when Truus heard it the first time she thought it was a bit too sentimental. So it sat in her files a while and then one day she attempted again and it clicked”.
The band refers to their EP as 4 songs that tell of nostalgia, romance, melancholy and obsessions. The EP is accompanied by beautiful cover art created by prolific Dutch artist extraordinaire Rik van Iersel. ‘Bar Tears’ was released on Bandcamp on July 2nd, 2021 and is available here. The EP will be released to digital world wide streaming shortly after that date.
Words & Music by Truus de Groot (Geertruda Degroot), Dewclaw Ditties (BMI) and Miguel Barella, Rocking Gorillas (Abramus)
Alto Sax on Bottom of the Barrel: Edward Capel
Drums on Bar Tears: Kuki Stolarski
Bass on Bar Tears: Paulo Bira
Mixed by Miguel Barella, Truus de Groot and Apollo Nove
Mastered by Homero Lotito at Reference Mastering Studio
Cover Art: Rik van Iersel Production by Apollo Nove
Article by Ioan Humphreys