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Donna Bleu captures a unique and special sense of time and place

Donna Bleu captures a unique and special sense of time and place

Rarely is a band’s name appropriately depicted in photos and music as is the case with Donna Blow. “Donna is a character in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Blue is the feeling of sadness and sadness, of nostalgia.” You can also see the blue hour in it, the mystical transition from light to dark. And that’s allowed, because Donna Bleu represents a unique and special sense of time and place.

Donna Blow is a Dutch (non-) band consisting of Danijk van Kesteren and Bart van Dalen. They both sit beautifully next to each other behind the laptop screen, as befits a good couple. Or is opinion not at this time and are we already visually fond of another time with prejudices, associations and interpretations? After listening to their debut album Dark Roses, this fits beautifully in Donna Blue’s script, meticulously depicted in eleven beautiful songs that together reflect this duo’s experience. Danique smiles: “After three previous EPs and singles, we wanted to make something complete with a full album, head-to-tail. And it worked out really well.”

Dark Roses feels like the product of a well-researched text on the one hand, and an organic process on the other with plenty of room for interpretation and improvisation. But before we get to the plot, let’s get a caption flashback: “Bart was in a band and I was working at a music venue. We actually met backstage, so to speak. When we were living together I did a song for Bart, I guess out of boredom.” Which unexpectedly led to the creation of Donna Bleu. “It fueled his enthusiasm for making something together.” There’s nothing quite like serendipity, because it was exactly at that one-of-a-kind moment… that a new season of Twin Peaks had begun. “That series, that atmosphere… yeah, it inspired us.” Daneke says enthusiastically, Bart agrees: “That applies in any case to many of the films and their music, their visual ambiance.” Atmosphere and imagery play a major role in the work of Donna Blow. Danique: “I also work as a photographer, so I spend a lot of time working visually with photos. I actually did it for Postcards From Mars, the band Bart played in.”

Baby’s song became the first song in which their visual thoughts saw the light of day. “It was also our first video, also in the setting of Twin Peaks. It was created in one day and immediately put online.” With many positive feedback. We thought, ‘If all goes well, we can still make a song. The ball has begun to roll. It has been rolling for five years now. A ball with unexpected strengths and turns, invisible and unheard of in the Dutch music scene.” “There is such a coexistence between us now. We immediately understand what the other means, with a certain guitar tone by Bart or an atmospheric picture of me… We live together, have the same references, listen to the same music and watch the same movies. “Make one and one more than two…

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The movie “Black Roses” was released on Friday, May 13th. “It was not specifically sought, but perhaps it should have been…” Reviews often try to capture the musical atmosphere in comparisons to films and directors. “We are trying to make music that captures the imagination of people, who can imagine certain scenes. If this is reflected in the reviews, then the plan has worked.” Danic proudly tells and doesn’t lag Bart behind: “The comparison to David Lynch is often mentioned. His soundtrack is riddled with puzzles, captured in retro, but also timeless. We love it ourselves. And if people also think it’s about our music, That’s a good comparison.”

Donna Blue cleverly uses the metaphorical power of images, just like in the cinema. The same goes for the Cote d’Azur. “It always evokes a certain feeling.” Bart could already see himself: “He drives such a beautiful car across the French Cote d’Azur, just like in the old movies. Delicious.” Which immediately provides a bridge to the French language. Because although most of the songs are performed in English, “Solitaire” and “Rouge” are intentionally sung in French. Danique takes care of most of the singing and explains. “Yes, French brings kind of a new spark to the song. There is something romantic about it. It also has a different rhythm naturally. It is a seductive language that you can play with in a completely different way.” Femme fatale is perhaps not a French expression by chance and Danique often takes on this seductive role in Dark Roses. “I’m definitely not an actress, but as a singer I play a certain role for each song, in order to create that archetypal atmosphere or energy.” Coincidence or not .. the songs are shown regularly on French radio …

Donna Bleu’s songs breathe the atmosphere of a certain time. “The inspiration is very broad. Italian films from the 70s, those Giallo films are full of horror and mystery.” “And in the 60s of course. That’s what we started with.” Beautifully depicted in her latest “The Idea” video, in black and white of course. “We wanted a sort of ’60s TV vibe from Top of the Pops-esque.” This was fine for the two thirty-somethings, who were probably born too late to realize the world. “Well no,” Danik replies, “but a ’60s vacation…if I could I would.” On the beach with the transistor. With music that could serve as a reference for “Black Roses” after the 60’s vacation. “Like the songs of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. They’re so weird, so beautifully sung, and so special.” “And Ennio Morricone, more of his Italian films, his more mysterious side so to speak.”

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Dark Roses can be heard like a movie. “It also has a story, with a different feel, for every scene, for every song. The track list also has a narrative order.” And so “The Beginning,” the appropriate opening, leads you to the album perfectly. With the ominous bass line, humming guitar, soft buzzing. You are instantly intoxicated and want to keep looking for what? For more. And you hear Danique’s provocative voice: “Come close, my dear / Let me tell you about my dream / Come closer, don’t be afraid / I want to show you what we can be.” It’s clear: “This is how it’s meant to be, as an invitation to enter our world. But I don’t complete it for someone else, because everyone comes up with their own references. Art doesn’t always have to be explained. It’s good that everyone can experience their own moment of discovery.”

Halfway through the recording, between other English and French songs, with an ambiance from Lynch to Cote d’Azur, “Waking Up From A Dream” appears as a sudden plot twist. why? What is this number doing here? Bart highlights a tip: “Look at it as a kind of break, which, of course, also happened in the old movies.” Danique also reveals, “It’s an idea that we come back to in many songs, just like the soundtrack…I even think that’s why it’s also a central song to the album’s story. The main theme…

When asked which song is the most memorable on the recording, both heroes are a little silent. “The album is also very extensive.” Maybe describe? “Independent Pop Cinema, With a Bit of the Sixties?” “Maybe pop noir, there’s French in it too, light and dark, cinematic ones.” This way you don’t fully understand it. This is probably the perfect scene for a cliffhanger setting… and meanwhile listen to Donna Blue, to “Dark Roses,” because there’s so much more than Danique and Bart can describe in words. Donna Blow depicts a unique and special sense of time and place.

Photo essay (c) Philine van den Hul