Indie Folk

Black Oak

Black Oak is the band formed around singer-songwriters Geert van der Velde (The Black Atlantic) and Thijs Kuijken (I am Oak). Both songwriters were long time fans of each other's bands. Black Oak had existed as a concept for years, as a play on each other's band names. Just like the name of the band is a synthesis of both songwriters' other band names, so too the music a synthesis of the best that both The Black Atlantic and I am Oak have to offer musically.

"We had been joking around for years about our "super group" Black Oak", explains van der Velde. But, it wasn't until van der Velde and Kuijken actually sat down to write songs for a split EP in 2014, that the two found out how quickly and effectively they write songs together. “Our writing sessions are the most intuitive writing sessions” says Kuijken. "You give us a couple of hours in a room with two guitars and out comes a song fully formed song". After the release of the "Black Oak" split EP in 2014, van der Velde and Kuijken kept writing more songs together. These were recently recorded with engineer/producer Matthijs Herder (The Black Atlantic, Sväva, The Horse Company). Dear Island is an album full of unexpected turns; you never know how a song will end. This fits the Twin Peaks obsession which all band members share and that sometimes can be recognised in the gently sloping synthesizer sounds of Arjen de Bock. It's as if soundtrack compositor Angelo Badalamenti is secretly looking over his shoulder. The other band members, drummer Bram Hakkens, bass player Jeroen Overman and guitarist Arjan Kamphuis add elements of swing and rock to the intriguing compositions. In 2015 Black Oak wrote and recorded their debut album Equinox which is released in May of 2016. Just like the equinox is the moment that night and day are of exact equal length, so too Black Oak's album encompasses the moods of night and day. I am Oak's moody, nocturnal folk blends perfectly with the skyward day time grandeur of The Black Atlantic's melodies. Black Oak's music is full of this contrast. Beautiful, earthly acoustic guitar work and soaring melodies create a balanced atmosphere. And then of course there's that magic combination of two of indie folk's distinct voices working together in the best tradition of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Fleet Foxes or Bon Iver. Equinox received some great reviews, German newspaper Bild wrote: The North American folk tradition - especially Simon & Garfunkel, but also more recent examples such as Milk Carton Kids or Fleet Foxes - may serve as a benchmark here. Yet acts "Equinox" neither aspire risch epigonal nor frumpy. But always like a - especially in the outstanding second album half - highly successful, timeless folk-pop work of two great singers and musicians.


The Clearmountain Pause