Stef Kamil Carlens – Be Who You Wanna Be


Brand new album from the legendary Stef Kamil Carlens

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A playful, funky album, born from the desire to be live again; a playful and funky band that will tour in Belgium and the Netherlands from April.

First single ‘Walk On Red, Stop On Green‘ that is included in the Radio 1 playlist and the Vox list is a song like ‘My Favorite Things’ from ‘The Sound Of Music’: ‘If anything bothers me, and I’m feeling unhappy, I just try and think of nice things! What kind of things? Song starts!

The song sets the tone of this new album. A simple structure, over which a web of rhythm is woven using instruments from old drum machines: the Roland CR-78, in dialogue with live drums and percussion. Lots of sax, tenor and baritone! A pumping bass. A frisky pizzicato violin. Vocals based on the ‘Boy Scout Trail’ principle; the leader sings and the others repeat. And then of course the classic keyboards: the Fender Rhodes, the Hohner Clavinette D6, the L-100 Hammond organ. And many analogue synthesizers: a rippling Juno-106 draws the path to be followed, which is crossed with phrases from other museum pieces: Crumar’s Stratus, Farfisa’s Synthorchestra, Sequential’s Prophet-10. Or the Casio Club M-100, which is actually a toy, but has been subtly coloring SKC’s songs for years!

These instruments are the sound and subject of the song. The singer praises with great enthusiasm the skills and ingenuity of its builders. Through years of collecting and restoring, SKC has surrounded itself with a very extensive collection of musical instruments. They are the raw materials for the many projects he works on as a songwriter, producer, arranger and composer of film and theater music. But his enthusiasm also extends to other, local makers: luthiers, traditional clothes, shoe and hat makers, bicycle factories, the small workshops spread across this country, where despite the crushed competition of mass production, with heart and soul and a lot of know-how, wonderful creations see the light day in and day out.

And then there are the big examples: Prince and his entourage, an artist who SKC has started to follow with increasing admiration since he pulled ‘Controversy’ out of a record bin in the corner of a small shop in Antwerp’s Kammenstraat in the early 1980s. . Or John Lee Hooker, who knows how to create an irresistible groove with his silent power and clicking heel. And Little Feat, the band of the legendary Lowell George, whose irresistible grooves of, for example, their ‘Spanish Moon’ made a deep impression on SKC.

SKC has often delved deep into the repertoire of artists he highly values in search of forgotten or forgotten gems to edit.

Also on this album!

With his 7-piece band he interprets ‘The Future‘, the opening song of the soundtrack that Prince made in 1989 for Tim Burton’s idiosyncratic version of Batman. A dystopian story about a world that is succumbing to drugs, violence and exploitation, in which spiritual hygiene and ethical conduct are put forward as a solution.

Suspicion‘ by Dez Mona is given a hue and cry of tranquil funk, based on a driving Fender Rhodes riff and an off-centre snare, which gives the song, despite the melancholy of the lyrics, an almost cheerful quality.

‘C’est Comment qu’on Freine’ from Alain Bashung’s dark album ‘Play Blessures’ from 1982, with lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg, is, in contrast to the cold and atonal arrangement of the original, immersed in a warm bath of funky guitars and brass. It has been since Zita Swoon’s 2007 album ‘Big City’ that we heard SKC sing in the French language, but his love for it is still intact.

And your own work?

Love Me Like A Prayer‘ about an intense love that endures despite the passage of time and its turbulence. A plea to separate what is really important from what is not.

Take A Little Time‘ is a song about friendship. About taking time to be with someone, to share stories. With a beautiful quote from the 11th century Persian poet and philosopher Rumi: ‘Far beyond ideas about doing evil and doing good lies a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lays down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about it.’

Alone & Attracted‘ about an unattainable love. About a desire so great that the person who carries it is willing to deny himself and pretend to be someone else. A story about failure, about a consuming desire, about a passion that is gradually starving.

So Much Love‘ is inspired by the film ‘Zeitgeist – Moving Forward’, the 2nd part of Peter Joseph’s trilogy. SKC already wrote a number of songs from the first part on his previous album ‘Making Sense Of Infinity’. An attempt to capture the frustration and anger that exists today in a song.

Recorded, produced & mixed by SKC at The Rabbit Field, Hoboken, Belgium

All music & lyrics written by SKC


The Future: music & lyrics written by Prince

Suspicion: music by Gregory Frateur & Nicolas Rombouts, lyrics written by Gregory Frateur

C’est Comment qu’on Freine: music by Alain Bashung, lyrics by Alain Bashung & Serge Gainsbourg


The Swoon:

Alban Sarens: tenor & baritone saxophone, keys

Nel Ponsaers: vocals, keys

Maarten Moesen: drums, percussion, el. guitar

Jonas Meersmans: el. guitar

Mirko Banovic: bass

Rahmat Emonds: vocals, violin

Stef Kamil Carlens: el. & ac. guitar, bass, keys, programming


The guests in studio:

Jeroen Baert: viola & violin

Nicolas Rombouts: upright bass

Thomas De Prins: Hammond organ, Solina

Geert Hellings: ac. guitar, baritone guitar

Andres Fernandez: trombone


Mastering: Karel De Backer

Photography: Charlie De Keersmaeker

Artwork: David Suls

Lay-Out: Alain Rylant

Production Manager: Laurence Bourgeois

Booking: Greenhouse Talent


1993 was the year Stef Kamil Carlens first appeared on stage and drew the attention of both press and public with the EP ‘Zea‘ by dEUS and ‘Jintro Travels The Word In A Skirt’ by his own A Beatband (later Moondog Jr. and finally Zita Swoon). Fast forward 30 years: he has recently completed his 20th album in his studio The Rabbit Field near Antwerp. During these 30 years, he has given several hundred concerts in Belgium and abroad, ranging from raw blues to playful theatricality, melancholy, and super funky escapades.

As an artist, it is impossible to classify Carlens in any single category. He is a singer, musician, composer, producer, theatre maker, designer and visual artist. His journey can be roughly divided into 3 major periods.

From 1993 to 2009: SKC operated primarily under the name Moondog Jr., and especially Zita Swoon, who received the first of several gold records for the album ‘I Paint Pictures On A Wedding Dress’ recorded in New Orléans in 1999. They travelled extensively throughout Europe for many years with their intense and explosive concerts. 2009 was an anniversary year, and this period is wrapped up with 5 sold-out concerts in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and a “Best Of” album.

From 2009 to 2016: SKC renamed his group as Zita Swoon Group. They functioned more as an artistic company than a pop group. Using music as their point of departure, they interact with artists from other disciplines and cultures. They travelled to Africa, worked with Rosas and Needcompany and ultimately created 5 productions and 4 studio albums.

From 2017 to present: SKC plays under his own name. He performs songs from his last 2 studio albums, combined with a selection from his wide-ranging extensive repertoire, alternating between working with his group and giving notable solo performances, in which he plays several instruments simultaneously as if he were an octopus.

In 2019, he won a Music Industry Award in the “Best Musician” category.

With the one-off formation The Gates Of Eden, he deep dived into Bob Dylan’s repertoire in 2021, which gave rise to a streaming concert, a live album and a tour in 2023. SKC and his group could recently be seen at the KMSKA in Antwerp (where he is artist in residence) giving four wonderful performances during which, inspired by a selection of works from the museum’s collection, they performed compositions with automated instruments, with the title: “Meeting At The Museum: Humans, Robots, Wooden Friends, Space and Time”.

So new music in 2024! In January, part of the veil was lifted with the funky first single ‘Walk On Red, Stop On Green’. SKC’s live band turned sizzling septet, is gearing up to tour, starting in April, which neatly coincides with the release of the brand-new album.

Stef Kamil Carlens: vocals, acoustic and electric guitar / Rahmat Emonds: vocals, violin, mandolin, electric guitar, synths / Nel Ponsaers: vocals, Wurlitzer piano, synths / Mirko Banovic: electric bass / Maarten Moesen: drums, vocals / Jonas Meersmans: electric guitar / Alban Sarens: tenor – and baritone saxophone, piano, synths


Additional information

Vinyl or CD

Vinyl, CD


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