“SONG FOR EWE”
with KATELIJNE DE BACKER of
MTV ALTERNATIVE NATION
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a personal inspiration and the reason I ended up working in TV. She produced and directed MTV Europe’s 120 Mins with Paul King and then Miles Hunt of The Wonderstuff presenting, but I met her when the show had become Alternative Nation and was fronted by another hero of mine Toby Amies.
A soulful, hyper-intelligent indie kid from Belgian turned cosmo and cosmic auteur, she had a fantastic way with bands and labels, and a karmic prescience I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. She got me into dEUS, Einsturzende Neubaten and The Flaming Lips, and she set me on my professional way for which I’m truly thankful. With her “song for ewe” it’s the brilliant Katelijne De Backer!
I’d been watching Alternative Nation when we got MTV into my student house and when I bumped into Toby Amies, who I recognised “off the telly” at a gig with Sub Pop band Earth I gave him an original Velvet Sheep fanzine. It started a chain of events that a year saw me come and meet Katelijne, Toby’s producer, at MTV Europe’s HQ at Camden Lock (the old TVam building with the eggs on top).
Katelijne invited me to come and work as an unpaid intern for 6 weeks, and when we discussed making a punk rock special she asked me to stay longer and really let me get my hands dirty with it, tracking down old vids and touching base with punk fanzine hero Mark P (Sniffin’ Glue). I also have very fond memories of accompanying Kat to meet the Bad Seeds’ Blixa Bargeld on the video shoot to Einsturzende Neubaten’s “Stella Maris”.
Katelijne was a brilliant first boss. She often used to say to me when she saw me drinking lots of coca-cola and eating fast food that I was poisoning myself with lots of bad stuff. Despite fact I was suffering from eczema and on occasion had to wear a Michael Jackson style white glove, I’d bat this off, but it’s only now, 20 years later that I realise how right Katelijne was!
Kat ended up leaving MTV way too soon, and I missed her influence, although was still able to hang out with our good friend Toby. She originally headed to New York to open a macrobiotic restaurant before I’d even understood totally what that was (always way ahead of the curve), and has since had a thriving career as an arts director and curator in New York and now also Miami. It took a while to get properly back in touch, but I am so glad I did, and I am beyond delighted that she’s chosen a song she’s enjoyed lately. And what a tune. Without further ado, it’s over to Katelijne…
I do have one that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. I found it on a compilation CD that came with a book a friend gave me called “Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960’s” compiled by Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker. I like this song because…. since I’ve lived in NYC I have been traveling many times to South America, and I LOVE it there! I hope that one day I can move to… Brazil, Chile, Colombia… I don’t know yet where and when, but one day I hope, and this song makes me want to go even more: Birimbau by Nara Leão.”
CHEERS KAT, GLAD TO HAVE YOU ON V.S. X