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Check-in with… HMTP talents and coaches 

Berber Meindertsma (author)

Berber Meindertsma

Berber Meindertsma has been with Het HEM since its founding in 2019. Alongside her responsibilities as development manager, she has curated and cultivated public and community programmes for Het HEM. She continues to develop her own research interests by writing on topics concerning hosting, hospitality and resonance in art.

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Published 25 Oct 2023


min read
Participants and coaches during the HMTP writer’s camp 2023. Image by Mette Krah

Berber Meindertsma checks in with two participants and two coaches of the first Homebase Music Talent Programme (HMTP) Writer’s Camp: Fabs (Fabienne D’Azevedo), KG (Marisela Cook), Milka Martins (founder and director of Goddess of the Mic) and music professional Olga Zegers. The HMTP writer’s camp (5-8 June 2023) has been set up to create a network for female music talent in response to the local needs of the young creative community in Zaanstad and Amsterdam. It is part of the broader vision and mission of the Homebase initiative, created together with rapper and organiser Ella John who grew up in Zaanstad, to provide a space for young local creatives to develop and present their talents and to connect them with the makers and thinkers of Het HEM’s artistic community.

The writer’s camp was organised in collaboration with Goddess of the Mic, a Rotterdam based record-label and platform for female and non-binary music entrepreneurs, and Rosetta Beats, a platform for female and gender non-conforming music producers based in Amsterdam.

Artists Fabs and KG met during the camp where they worked on the song Vamos together. I had an online conversation with them three weeks after the release of Vamos, to ask them how they have been doing; how they look back at the writer’s camp; and what their top ten favourite things are.

“The vibe during the camp was so good. I would definitely do it again, and again, and again.”

Hello, so nice to see your faces together on one screen! Where are you all calling from?

KG: I’m in The Hague, I just finished work and I’m on my way back home to Rotterdam.

Fabs: I’m at home in Badhoevendorp.

Olga: I’m also calling from home, in Amsterdam.

Milka: I’m in Rotterdam.

Looking back at creating Vamos

Fabs and KG, how do you feel now that you’ve released Vamos?

KG: We got a lot of nice reactions, views and over 10.000 streams. We dropped it on YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram. It went very fast.

It’s amazing you found each other during the writer’s camp and you now made this song together. How did you manage to work together? Artists have their own artistic vision, I’m curious how you managed to combine that.

KG: It went very easily. I could unfortunately only join for one day, as I had to work. When I arrived on Wednesday, my (biological) mother Milka paired me up with Fabs and asked what type of beat we wanted. We collectively decided on drill. Fabs started writing while my mom was making the beat. She wrote very fast and in no time had enough bars ready to record. While she was recording, I started writing my bars and then recorded it. We went back and forth like that and in no time the track was done.

Fabs: We immediately had chemistry. We both have a similar music style which is different from the others in the group

KG: We are also the youngest of the group, that also drew us together.

Fabs: True. I was already excited about the writer’s camp and that excitement only grew when I heard KG was going to be a part of it. I saw KG on Instagram years ago, participating in rap challenges. I didn’t know then that she was Milka’s daughter. When I heard she was joining the writer’s camp, I knew I wanted to work with her.

Milka: Yes, it was very nice to see how it went so organically between them two. It really was meant to be.

Fabs and KG in Rotterdam

Were you complementary to each other in the creative process? In what ways are you similar, and what ways different?

KG: We motivate each other to pursue a career in music and to take it more seriously. We are both very driven, and started rapping already at a young age. I was 14 when I started making my own rap videos. Milka: One of the reasons why I put KG and Fabs together is so that they can learn from each other. Fabs is really dedicated, very eager to learn and she has a lot of energy. KG is a bit more laid back in her music, but has more knowledge in recording and using her voice in different ways. The dynamics worked very well; it was so nice to see and experience the similarities and differences between the two. KG: I’m a bit more nonchalant when it comes to music, but my personality is more energetic. With Fabs it’s the other way around. You can see that in the music video.

Yes, let’s talk about the video. The video clip for Vamos is very fun, with the sombreros and face masks. How did the idea for the clip come together?

KG: That idea also came very spontaneously. My mom was making the cover-art for Vamos. The dog with the sombrero inspired us to use props like sombreros, mustaches and masks for the video. The shots for the video also happened quite naturally; on the streets of Rotterdam, on the bus and on the subway. The bison were very random. They somehow appeared out of nowhere.

Fabs: Do you remember when they walked into the water?

KG: Yes, it was hilarious! I have a video of that.

And who shot the music video? How was that process?

KG: That was Floyd aka Fereaux from Mind Lock Residence. He is really fun to work with. We filmed the video in one day, and then he edited it within a week. Everything went very smooth.

What a smooth ride it has been for you! So, what’s next for you? Will you collaborate again?

KG: Before the end of the year I definitely want to write and release another track with Fabs.

What about an album?

Fabs: An EP would be amazing!

So where can we follow you? Will you be playing the song somewhere live?

Fabs: I’ve been invited to be a guest at the online radio station GirlPower Radio. I will be able to pick four songs that they will play. Vamos will definitely be one of them and of course , which is my new single that was also made during the writer’s camp together with Milka.

KG: To perform live would be great, but then someone needs to book us!

Milka: At this moment the focus is more on the creative process; having enough material to actually perform with. Next year we will focus more on how to put together a great show, work on stage presence and have rehearsals.

Experiences during HMTP writers camp

"By doing something small in the first edition, we created the free and creative atmosphere that is so needed in the music industry."

Let’s zoom out a bit more on the writer’s camp now. Fabs and Marisela, what did you take from it, in addition to this great connection between the two of you?

KG: It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot - even though I could only stay for one day. I didn’t want to sleep, I wanted to stay up all night to write songs. But it was the last night and the others already did those all nighters. The vibe during the camp was so good. I would definitely do it again, and again, and again.

Fabs: Yes the vibe was very special. The others were very nice. I learned about using my voice in different ways and how to make connections.

KG: I also made a track with AXL Blessed, a producer who is associated with Rosetta Beats. I really like her beats, and hope to work with her again.

Olga and Milka, how was it for you to coach the participants? Did you also learn something new?

Olga: It was very unique, we really felt like one group. You never know in advance if there’s also a match in personality, but that was definitely the case here - amongst the participants but also amongst and with the coaches. Dieuwertje Heuvelings for example gave a masterclass about networking. She was supposed to be there for 1,5 hours, but stayed for 3. Everyone was so engaged and had so many questions, which they all were able to ask her. It was amazing that she took the time for everyone.

Dieuwertje Heuvelings giving a talk at HMTP writer’s camp 2023. Image by Mette Krah

Milka: Every connection is a mirror of yourself. Everyone comes with their own creativity; their own perception of experiencing the world and creating. This is never the same, and that makes collaborating and networking so interesting and valuable. You learn more about the other but also about yourself; about who you are as an artist. Finding your own passion through the passion of someone else. The most valuable learning experience to me during the camp lies in this passion to create work as the main driver. In this day and age everyone is so focused on making money, there is almost no room for pure passion to create things anymore. During the camp, we became one united voice that didn’t exist before. We made one artwork together. With different participants, this work would have been totally different.

Olga: We managed to create a very pressure-free environment, which worked very well. There was no need to deliver any product for example, as the goal was to connect with each other: really get to know each other as artists and people. Many participants commented that they had never even worked with a female producer before. It was an all-female crew – this is exceptional in the music industry. The group really bonded. They did all-nighters just because they got on so well. It made me even more aware of the importance of this type of writers’ camp. Milka: Yes, it is very important to create time and space to focus purely on the joy of creating. Rap and hip hop are very much catered to men, and to a male audience. Women deserve more opportunities to freely create and express themselves the way they want to, instead of what is expected of them.

"Women deserve more opportunities to freely create and express themselves the way they want to, instead of what is expected of them."

Milka: The fact that we could create a safe space in which women could be who they wanted to be, was very important. A space where being a woman was not a genre nor a theme. The camp was about being an artist, not necessarily about being a female artist. KG: That’s true, I’ve actually just realised that everyone was a woman. I didn’t notice that before. Milka: With this first iteration, we created a strong foundation from which we can grow. Olga: The intention is now to step by step build on to this network and make it a reliable source of connections, which participants can tap into. By doing something small and intimate in the first edition, we created the free and creative atmosphere that is so needed in the music industry.

Do you remember what you were thinking when you were approached for this?

Fabs: I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate. The participation of Zulu Green and KG together with my eagerness to learn more about music, is what eventually got me to join this writers camp.

KG: This is the first writers camp where I actually got to participate. I went to other writers' camps before, to learn from seeing others write and make music. This time I got to write and record songs myself. I wish I could have stayed the entire time, but I feel I was very productive with the time I had. I’m very pleased with the songs I wrote.

Participants in the studio. Image by Mette Krah

is a track in which all the participants contribute. Can someone give me the background story on this?

Fabs: I said “hè” after I made a mistake while recording. We actually liked how that sounded, so we decided to use it and to build the song around that.

Milka: Yes, “hè” is like Fab’s catchphrase. She says it a lot. So, I suggested to use it more intentionally on certain parts of the beat and song. I thought it would be funny to make a hook out of it. We asked other participants to record the word “hè?” in their own way to later use as ad libs and to create the hook.

I really like the effect it has. Nice that a mistake turns out to be a success - like most great discoveries!

Top ten favourites

So now we would like to ask you all about your ten favourites – even though we know they’re hard!

  1. Favourite music artist?
    Fabs: TeeZandos
    Olga: Grace Jones, Roisín Murphy
    KG: Sevn Alias
    Milka: Sade
  2. Favourite concert?
    Fabs: Ella John
    Olga: Grace Jones
    KG: I’ve never been to any concerts, so I can’t say
    Milka: Grace Jones and Saian Supa Crew
  3. Favourite festival?
    Fabs: SMIB fest, OH MY!
    Olga: This year it was Milkshake Festival
    KG: I’ve only been to two festivals so I cannot determine what my favourite festival is
    Milka: I’m not a huge fun of festivals because I get sensory overload, but the Reggae festival in Rotterdam with my daughter was fun
  4. Favourite track?
    Fabs: Focus and Uh by TeeZandos
    Olga: Slave to the Rhythm by Grace Jones
    KG: Icin’it out by Sevn Alias
    Milka: At the moment that is Fils de Joie by Stromae
  5. Favourite movie?
    Fabs: I spit on your grave, recently saw it
    Olga: The Wizard of OZ, haha
    KG: Avengement
    Milka: The Matrix
  6. Favourite thing to do on a Friday night?
    Fabs: Chilling at home
    Olga: Hanging out with friends but also relaxing at home after a busy working week.
    KG: Playing GTA in my PJs after coming back home from work
    Milka: It depends. It’s to either do nothing at all or to make music
  7. Favourite brand?
    Fabs: Nike, Hennessey
    Olga: Nothing specific really, I do like Aesop skincare
    KG: Balenciaga
    Milka: Goddess of the Mic
  8. Favourite city?
    Fabs: Amsterdam
    Olga: Amsterdam, Melbourne but there are so many great places…
    KG: Rotterdam
    Milka: Rotterdam
  9. Favourite snack?
    Fabs: Popcorn
    Olga: Anything healthy
    KG: Fries
    Milka: Tony Chocolonely (the yellow one!) and something salty; recently I’ve been having a lot of plantain chips
  10. Favourite sport?
    Fabs: Dancing
    Olga: Bikram yoga, not officially a sport but very intense
    KG: Swimming
    Milka: Tang Soo do (Korean Martial Arts)
We collected all sources in one place, so you can browse through them all.

In this series