Interview with Personal Trainer

  • March 26, 2024
  • 5 min read
Interview with Personal Trainer

Personal trainer, intangible, indie rock, alternative rock, indie pop

We had the chance to interview the incredibly talented Willem Smit about his band and the upcoming music. Check out our full interview below:

1. Can you share the story behind the formation of your band? What challenges (if any) do you face with rotating band mates?

Before Personal Trainer started, I was in another band called Canshaker Pi. When a band was going for a while and more people got involved, I think I started to take the songwriting and music-making process a little more seriously. Things started to take longer to be a finalized product, which meant there was a lot more thinking involved. Personal Trainer started as a name on bandcamp where I would throw stuff I recorded online, without being too picky. I “released” a bunch of EPs and I had a little project where I made three records in three days. This was very freeing and fast-paced.

Then I decided I wanted something similar live. I would ask a handful of people to play some simple songs with me without rehearsing too much. This slowly changed in a line-up with rotating band members, as in bars and at shows I would ask lots of people if they wanted to join my band. Casper van der Lans, who played bass in the band, convinced me to start recording and putting out the music too.

The big challenge of the rotating members for me was that, in the end, most people wouldn’t rehearse too much, but I would rehearse with a lot of different people. I was looking for spontaneity, and found out that I was getting a little busy going through songs with different people, on top of writing, recording and putting out the music, doing all the planning, and booking all the shows. The production of the songs changed too: they weren’t two or three chord songs anymore, they got more and more layered, so it was great to have a slightly more set version of the live band, where everyone was a little more involved with how we’d approach things live. I think the songs basically asked for a set group.

2. Could you walk us through your songwriting process on “Intangible”? What inspired this track?

For intangible I had come up with a chorus before anything else, which rarely happens. I bounce a lot of material I make on to a soundcloud link and sometimes listen to it while cycling through Amsterdam, to hopefully get some ideas for the songs. I had a fragment of about 15 seconds of the chorus to intangible, with gibberish lyrics on my phone for about a year, together with a revolving cast of about 30 song ideas, and at some point I heard it and thought: I should finish this. I worked a while on how the bass and tempo should be. I remember I wanted to go for a slightly slower version, with thinner, drier drums and I wanted the bass to sound a bit more like what I’d heard from Thundercat. Really into “untitled 03” and hits like “King Kunta” by Kendrick Lamar at the time. There was some Dutch pop bands and stuff like Justin Timberlake too that inspired me a little.

After trying out a lot of things I decided to ask band mates Kick Kluiving and Ruben van Weehberg to record the bass and drums to some songs with me and co-producer Casper van der Lans. Production wise we kind of restarted a bit from there and it turned into the finished product

3. Who are your biggest musical influences, and how do they shape your sound?

When I was 16 I listened to a lot of Pavement, early Beck, The Breeders, Ought, Gilla band and Scram C Baby, and I think that stuff will always be floating around somewhere. I think over time I’ve become a little less judgemental about music on first listen. I hope I’ve become a little more patient listener with “open ears” or whatever, and I try and see the good things about songs or artists that I would maybe write off quite quickly before. It feels like I can draw inspiration from a lot of different sounds, which feels good. I decided I’m not scared to lose the cohesion by making different sounding songs, because I believe it will probably make sense as a whole, coming from the same brain.

4. What message or impact do you hope to convey with your music?

I think I have no clear message, I like to make music. My main concern is that I’m happy with what I make, which is really hard. Maybe it’s getting even increasingly hard! That occupies most space in my head. It feels like there’s no room for what I’d want other people to hear when they listen to it.

While making music I do try and think about what I would personally think I’d hear when I hear a song for the first time, as well as on my twentieth listen.

I would like for as many people as possible to hear the records and watch the shows. The dream would be that enough people will buy tickets to shows and buy the records so I can keep making records and playing shows.

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Check out “Intangible” below:


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About Author

Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan is an accomplished promoter, event planner, producer, activist, counselor, poet and blogger. Within the course of two and a half years Chris Ryan has worked with some of NYC's most established promoters/event planners, been named 2007′s GaySocialite of the year, granted a promoter of the year award from NYC's most famous gay establishment, Splash. He's worked in some of NYC's top venues including; Avalon, Capitale, Cipriani, Cielo, Pacha, Element, Le Poisson Rouge, XL, G Lounge, Plumm, Hilton Hotel, Indigo Hotel, Spirit, Myst/Quo, Splash, The Ritz, Vlada, Roseland Ballroom, Heaven, etc. In 2008, Chris Ryan has begun to unveil some of the most innovative & unique parties New York City has ever seen. The Fusion events "fuse" together all disciplines of art into an event that remains diverse yet cohesive at the same time. won best gay promotions website from NYC Event Patrons in 2008 & he was granted an award from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Gov. Patterson & Michelle Clunie (QAF) saluting him for his hard work in nightlife. Chris Ryan has also begun working with many renown companies, including; doctors, lawyers, physicians, modeling agencies & more. Chris Ryan has been responsible for wide-scale promotions for all these companies & generating tremendous business. Chris Ryan has even started to become National with events taking place in LA & Miami this year. In May of 2009 Chris Ryan received the very prestigious honor of being named a "40 Under 40″ Gays in America by the Advocate Magazine. He also created three successful parties that generated over 1,500 patrons each. In January of 2010 Chris Ryan was featured as one of the top promoters to look out for in Noize Magazine Chris Ryan joined forces with legendary promoter/event producer, Lee Chappell and created one of the most talked about events of all 2010, Desire @ Capitale. Chris Ryan and Lee featured one of the most outstanding artists NYC has ever seen, "Oh Land." Her performance coupled with an exquisite and unforgettable set design added to this extravagant event that held over 1,000 patrons in one of NYC's most successful PRIDE events! Chris Ryan then joined forces with legendary Pacha promoter, Rob Fernandez in addition to Jake Resnicow and Tommy Marinelli to bring one of the largest and most successful parties worldwide to NYC, MATINEE. The event on Governor's Island saw over 2,000+ attendees and one of the most ambitious productions ever. In 2011 Chris Ryan started Emerge Music Promotions with business partner Darren Melchiorre. Emerge Music promotions began signing artists with plans to develop and market the artists to the community at large. Emerge Music promotions has big events planned for 2012 and 2013. Chris Ryan debuted the IMAGE events which took place on top of two of NYC's most beautiful rooftop venues, Rare View and Indigo Hotel. The events were blogged everywhere and featured the fashion designs of several clothing designers, artists and photographers. Chris Ryan felt that fashion and art should be displayed at every event and attracted the likes of Malan Breton, Calvin Klein and even Katy Perry. Chris Ryan began an extremely successful event which incorporated the concept of a house party into a nightclub atmosphere. The event Twist'D at G Lounge has been one of the most talked about events in NYC and allows it's audience to play nearly-naked Twister, beer pong, flip cup & more with other attendees. Chris Ryan was granted an excellence in volunteering award from AVP (Anti-Violence Project) for all his efforts in supporting the organization. 2013 has a very promising landscape on the horizon and Chris Ryan is complacent in saying "you haven't seen anything yet!"

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