The new single by Ruud Voesten, ‘Clickbait Merchants’ is a breath of fresh air for the jazz world. Drawing inspiration from progressive music, the song incorporates elements that redefine traditional jazz music, making it an absolute delight to listen to. As the track progresses, the mix of the song feels reminiscent of vinyl records, providing a unique listening experience that transports the listener back to the days of classic jazz.
In conversation with Ruud Voesten
Your latest release Clickbait Merchants is dark, intense, and exhilarating. What was your vision behind this track?
Clickbait Merchants is part of my upcoming record ‘Ambrosia’, which I composed to Dante Alighieri’s poem Inferno. In this Italian literary work from the Medieval era, Dante describes how he descends through hell and encounters the capital sins, sinners and punishments. Clickbait Merchants in particular deals with the sin of fraud. Connecting this theme to our current times, reminded me of the strategy media use to grab our attention. By using headlines consisting of bold claims, inflammatory words or flat-out lies they try to capture our attention for clicks. The music reflects this by having a constant brewing tension and big but short melodic gestures.
Funny side note: The title idea came from a short clip of Connor McGregor where he rants against journalists.
An intro on 11/4. At the same time, counting 23 on every turnaround. That’s a rather complex time signature. What inspired you to come up with such a groove?
I never really thought about it in that sense, as an 11/4 or 23/4 bar. My starting point for the song was this small bass line of three descending quarter notes, which I sometimes extended with two extra notes to keep it fresh and quirky. This became the intro, but when composing the melody I ended up with more material over the 3/4 part. So in a sense, I’m feeling the music in 3/4 all the time, until I don’t for one bar, which could basically come at any given moment.
Redefining progressive jazz songwriting
One of the standout features of ‘Clickbait Merchants’ is the way the song shifts through various moods but always maintains a sombre tonality. This allows the listener to truly appreciate the beautifully written horn sections that complement the sonic palette. The horns add a layer of depth, adding an emotional intensity that perfectly fits the song.
The song redefines jazz by often venturing into the realms of progressive music. Could you walk us through the process of composition?
The composition process started by reflecting on what my associations were with ‘fraud’. I searched for what it meant to me in this day and age. Inspired by the Conor McGregor quote I started to move into the direction of media harvesting our attention. I wanted the song to be boastful, loud and demanding attention, but never fully deliver on the initial promise.
The bassline formed the starting point of the composition, combined with the general energy and feel. I wanted the melody to reflect the empty promise of the clickbait titles, so while putting the bassline on repeat I improvised melodic gestures with some medium intervals. I ended up picking the ones that suggested there was something bigger going on / about to happen, but in the end, didn’t really deliver.
For the B part, I put the focus on the horns rhythmically alternating and weaving together. At this point, I was experimenting with writing lower parts for the alto than the tenor saxophone and I really like the way this sounded. The solo seemed to need a shift in energy, so we ended up with this open feel followed by an extended B part to develop the composition a bit more.
What is next for the drummer?
Ruud Voesten’s history as a drummer and composer is impressive, and it’s clear that he brings his years of experience to this latest release. The artist is currently living in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and has been making music for many years. Furthermore, his new single is part of a full album set to be released in 2023.
Inloopmuziek has garnered your outfit a global niche audience and a place in reputed indie playlists. What may fans expect next?
‘Ambrosia’, the full record with music composed to Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, will be out in September on the ZenneZ Records label. We’ll be touring during the fall and I might start working on the second part of the Divine Comedy: Purgatory.
Wietse Voermans and I are working on a new project called ‘Genius Loci‘ which is about making the room/venue where we perform part of the improvisation and composition process. It’s going to be a combination of free improvisation and composed music which we’ll create while doing a week-long residency. In July we’ll spend a full week at the venue Brebl in Nijmegen (NL). Brebl is one of the newer jazz venues in the Netherlands but has always been operating on borrowed time. The local authority offered them a location destined to be torn down for a couple of years. Unable to find a new place they got a little extension in another building, but they’re looking for a new place. This sense of a fleeting home and the urgency of being out of time is something we hope to put into music. We’ll experiment with using the reflections of the room as part of the music and by using the story as inspiration.
An instrumental fit for mystery cinema
‘Clickbait Merchants’ is an instrumental piece that would fit well into the soundtracks of classic detective movies. The track’s progressive sound and experimental outlook would make it an excellent fit for detective movies and whodunnits like The Pink Panther (2006) or Chinatown (1974). The song’s unique blend of jazz and progressive music makes it an ideal choice for indie music lovers who are looking for something fresh and exciting.
Overall, ‘Clickbait Merchants’ is a stunning piece of music that showcases the talent and creativity of Ruud Voesten. The artist’s ability to seamlessly blend jazz and progressive music is truly remarkable, and the result is a song that is both unique and beautiful. Fans of indie music and jazz lovers alike will undoubtedly appreciate this masterpiece from Ruud Voesten.