A Chat with Facing Mountains (08.12.20)

The brainchild of Dutch singer-songwriter Xander Slikker, Facing Mountains brings a new type of folk-pop to the masses. With intimate melodies, insightful lyrics and an overall beguiling sound, Facing Mountains shows individuality in his original material. We speak with Xander Slikker about his album Season’s End, Covid-19 and recycling.

OSR: Jumping right into it – what is the backstory to your new album Season’s End?

Slikker: Season’s End came to life in June 2019 and started off as a one-song experiment. After focusing on classical music for many years, I felt the necessity to incorporate and explore different styles of music. The first song I wrote was ‘The Beggar’ and it created such a creative influx that I had to follow this instinct.  I spent one year in isolation writing one song after the other as slowly step by step the album Season’s End gradually took shape. Recording ‘Slowing Down in Daydreams’ meant the capstone of the album.

OSR: Did you face any challenges during the writing and recording process?

Slikker: Yes, definitely. Some days the writing process can really be an agony. Sometimes nothing works no matter how hard you try. This can be very frustrating and can drain your energy. Also, what I found challenging was the fact that everything was written, recorded and produced in my apartment. Unfortunately, the space is limited so you need to be creative with what you have and keep yourself motivated and disciplined!

OSR: Season’s End is a self-produced album. What are the pros and cons of working completely independently?

Slikker: I think the pros and cons are intertwined with each other. It is really great to be free and completely independent! It is lovely when you can just experiment and there is nobody to tell you that you have to do this or that. The downside is, however, that all this freedom can make you insecure and indecisive. So to avoid getting lost, it is nice if there is somebody down the line who can enforce some restrictions and can act as some kind of quality control.

OSR: If you could change one thing about Season’s End what would it be and why?

Slikker: Releasing the album was such a relief and I am very happy and proud of the end result, but I must say that it is difficult for me to listen to the record. I only hear things that I want to change or do better. Especially in the field of mixing, I am still searching for my identity and have a lot that I want to learn. Also, I think that I am a bit of a perfectionist, so maybe I will never be 100% satisfied.

OSR: Describe your music in a single word.

Slikker: Organic.

OSR: What is your favourite kind of weather and why that weather?

Slikker: Ooh, that is a difficult one! I must say that I really need all four seasons. They all put each other in perspective. Riding your bike on the first day of spring is just fantastic, but I also like the gloomy and dark days of November and December. If I had to pick a favourite, then I would say rainy and cold.

OSR: Do you feel the Covid-19 pandemic will affect the music industry on a long and short-term basis?

Slikker: To be honest, I have no idea. One thing I do hope is that live streaming concerts will remain popular and continue to develop. I think this makes intimate concerts widely available to everybody. I think there are many new possibilities to be discovered by artists online.

Xander Slikker press shot
Image credit to Daniela Masterson

OSR: Do you recycle?

Slikker: Yes, whenever possible. This goes for my music ideas that I cannot use and also for products in real life. 🙂

OSR: Do you watch any soup operas?

Slikker: Not really. I do watch more series than before, but I prefer watching tutorials on YouTube or reading music books.

OSR: What can we expect from Facing Mountains in the future?

Slikker: To become bigger than The Beatles! No, that’s a joke of course. My goal is to make music that I love and find interesting, and I hope to find a crowd that resonates with it. I don’t have the ambition to become as famous as (or to become) the next Justin Bieber. Maybe my answer is a bit boring, but my goal is to dive deeper and explore the current sound I have going on and try to develop and learn more as a composer, musician and artist.

Thanks to Xander Slikker for speaking with us. For more from Facing Mountains check out his official website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify.

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