Music enthralled him from an early age, and like all true music lovers he absorbs influences from a wide range of genres. In his early twenties, he released his first eclectic solo album “Mating Season” with the Dutch label Djak-Up-Bitch. Barely a year later he had dashed off his second full album “Born to be a Bob”. Both records showcase Dijf’s versatility and were well received in the national and international press.
These tracks ‘Bestial Boezem’ and ‘Cheerleader Memorial’ from his first two albums attest to his predilection for electronica and absurd song titles.
His big breakthrough came in 2007 with his band The Violent Husbands, an eccentric, cabaret-esque trio that performs a mix of folk, rockabilly, blues, rock and swing in a broad West Flemish dialect. They scored a radio hit and received a pleasing amount of exposure on national television with a cover version of Ivan Heylen’s ‘De Wilde Boeredochter’. This was soon followed by their untitled debut album, which put the band firmly on the Belgian map.
In this fragment you can see The Violent Husbands on the national Belgian TV station één:
Following his first solo album “Homesick” in 2008, Dijf temporarily shelved his solo aspirations and increasingly immersed himself in producing other bands behind the scenes. In the meantime, along with The Violent Husbands’ singer Jason Dousselaere, he founded the electropop duo Teddiedrum, with which he brought out the album “European Weekend” in 2012 and toured extensively.
Teddiedrums’ single Miami:
In that same year, along with Jason Dousselaere, he was invited by the Belgian national TV channel Canvas to participate in the Emmy Award-nominated documentary series ‘Soundtrack’, in which he travels through Israel/Palestine with a group of fellow musicians and enters into a dialogue with the local people and their music.
Inspired by this extraordinary experience, he once again released some solo work after an eight-year break. The epic ‘Moonlit Planetarium’ – a contemporary mix of electronica, psychedelic rock, exotica and all kinds of ethnic music – was widely tipped in the specialist press as one of the best albums of 2016. The album again revealed a new sound by Dijf and paved the way for a well-received follow-up entitled ‘Java’, which appeared in late 2017 on the Belgian jazz label W.E.R.F. and may well be his magnum opus (for the time being, at least).
Armed with a battery of field recorders, Dijf was commissioned by Europalia and KAAP to journey into both the urban and rural corners of Java like a modern incarnation of the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, collecting an impressive arsenal of recordings as he went. Once back in Belgium, he disappeared into the studio with the assembled material and invited various friends and soulmates to put the icing on the cake. It is no coincidence that the three guest musicians – Nathan Daems, Filip Vandebril and Simon Segers – are all members of Black Flower, a band that is famous for its flirtation with Oriental sounds. (See portrait of Nathan Daems.)
The album became a bestseller and garnered a huge amount of press attention, both in Belgium and across the channel in the United Kingdom.
This trailer provides an insight into the creative process that culminated in ‘Java’: