Mathijs Leeuwis (1985) is a composer and pedal steel guitarist with a deep-rooted fascination for analogue sound sources. Mathijs stood out with the album GALIBIER (2018) with which he emphatically showed himself as an idiosyncratic voice within the instrumental Dutch musical landscape. Cycling and pedal steel guitar, two apparently completely different worlds, were forged into one new image full of conviction and eloquence: with this album boundaries are pushed (Written in Music).
Mathijs has had a Grand Tour through the world of music. But with one clear landmark: he hears the greatest beauty especially in the transience of sound. One might call it the authenticity of decay. Whether it’s Alan Lomax’s field recordings or experimental compositions with everyday sounds from the musique concrète, Mathijs is fascinated by it and wants to master it. There has to be life in sound, an unpredictability. Imperfection as the highest attainable.
Over the past two years, this quest has brought him many different collaborations: a completely analogue sound installation has been built with composer Mathijn den Duijf, in which tape loops, pedal steel guitar and ambient sounds are transformed into new sound landscapes. In 2020 Mathijs released several EP’s with guitarist Marzio Scholten, a mixture of pedal steel guitar, improvisation, soundscapes and raw direct-to-tape recording. An answer to Mathijs’ question on how to create as much impact as possible with as few notes as possible was given in a series of private masterclasses by guitarist and producer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno). For his recent solo work, Mathijs was apprenticed to composer Anthony Fiumara, where the foundation was laid for his new album Généalogies (2020). These projects were shown at renowned festivals such as November Music and Grasnapolsky, on national television at VPRO Vrije Geluiden and De Avondetappe, heard on Radio 4 and frequently used for radio, podcasts and television scores. In December 2020 Mathijs took over the position as Tilburg’s city composer from Anthony Fiumara. In 2021 and 2022, Mathijs will work intensively with many different makers in and around Tilburg, including Ensemble VONK, searching for a musical expression of the different manifestations of this city. The old and new city composers celebrate their mutual love for ambient as a musical-duo: Poulson Sq.
Recently Mathijs has teamed up with Mathijn den Duijf and Anneroos Goosen to develop an experimental lab space in Tilburg for analog sound: Het Concreet. This place is all about intensive collaborations with composers, musicians and students to find new sounds and unexpected collaborations. We focus on process and experiment, more than on direct output. At the same time Het Concreet is also the basis from which the latest album by Mathijs Généalogies // 2 (September 2022) arises.
Connecting improbabilities and allowing uncertainty seem to be recurring themes in Mathijs’ career. This can be seen in the eclectic list of work that Mathijs has behind him: from songwriter to driving force behind a music label, from guitarist in a garage band to producer of theater music and from pedal steel guitarist to composer. Improbable roads lead to the most interesting destinations. The engine behind these apparently random movements is always the same question: what else is there?