Front joins forces with Jasper Willems, the Rotterdam-based music journalist who has previously published pieces on Front. In collaboration with Front, Willems is publishing Rotterdam Goddamn: an outsider's testimony , a book in which he enthusiastically collects his stories about the idiosyncratic underground of the port city.
Photo: Michele van Vliet
Rotterdam Goddamn: an outsider's testimony will be released on December 18th and can be ordered here
About Rotterdam Goddamn: an outsider’s testimony
Rotterdam is often portrayed as a monochrome city of bricks. In reality, however, the city harvests a small but dynamic music scene that features several overlapping factions, all of them spearheaded by a specific ethos and personality. Lo-fi fantasists, noise pop revisionists, rabid post-punk outfits, rock deconstructionists… all of them not quite fitting in, but nevertheless not fitting in together. Between the cracks of Rotterdam’s malformed city skyline, small-scale initiatives grow out like weeds. Bands such as Rats on Rafts, Lewsberg, Iguana Death Cult and The Sweet Release of Death all took their first steps at venues like Roodkapje, Rotown and WORM, releasing their music either independently or on taste-making labels like Subroutine Records. Subsequently, they garnered a loyal following both nationally and internationally.
From band members to label owners and promoters: the Rotterdam underground offers a tight network of outsiders, so it’s only fitting this story should also be told by one. In 2011, music journalist Jasper Willems moved to Rotterdam. Little by little, he became immersed within his newly adopted city. He made friends and got to know some of his favourite bands personally. Yet he always remained the puzzled outsider looking in, and contently so.
Rotterdam Goddamn: an outsider’s testimony is a collection of personal stories from the nine years Willems spent skulking across Rotterdam’s scenes and venues. The stories have been swimming in his mind for a good three years. After the corona pandemic hit, he initially decided to publish them online, and much to his own surprise, the chapters were all warmly received. Now Willems teams up with Front, a Rotterdam-based music platform that’s been active since 2019, for a physical release.
“Honestly, I’ve hesitated for a long time whether to publish this story, mainly because it took a while before I considered myself a true Rotterdammer. I guess that’s where the whole “an outsider’s testimony” comes into play. I want to stress that I do not wish to claim the narrative on the Rotterdam scene. This book offers a very personal snapshot of a much larger happening. A part of me hopes the reader will take most of my sheer astonishment in jest. First and foremost, I wanted to write a book that’s fun and accessible to read, the kind of story you finish in one go in the restroom, as a matter of speaking. If the reader learns to appreciate some of these artists on a deeper level, well, I feel I’ve accomplished my mission.”
Rotterdam Goddamn: an outsider’s testimony Rotterdam Goddamn: an outsider’s testimony is the first book by Jasper Willems and the first physical publication to be facilitated by Front. Jasper Willems wrote pieces about, among others, Lido Pimienta, Moor Mother and Better Oblivion Community Center. for Front.