Harry Kappen is an independent musician and music therapist from the Netherlands. He’s an experienced and diverse musician who has played in many bands and has also served as a producer for a number of Dutch pop bands. Outside of his music career, Harry works as a lecturer in an international master’s degree in music therapy located in Rotterdam. There, he helps young kids and adolescents cope with a variety of issues and also assists families battling dysfunctional patterns.
Kappen has released several successful singles including “The Freedom Inside,” “WarGames,” and “Not All of Us Agreed.” All totaled, Harry has more than 325K Spotify streams! Harry took time out to talk to us in this exclusive one-on-one…
How would you describe your creative process in writing and producing music?
It often starts with some tinkering on my guitar; root note with sevenths, sixths and the first minor or major third. Then comes the bass line. So the music is usually there first and then the lyrics. When the basics are ready, I often listen to them in my car and sing along as much as possible. Then back to the studio and adjust what is needed. An interesting process in which I put the musical puzzle.
I enjoy that time and I also take my time. And honestly, that’s the best thing about composing; I’m almost disappointed when a song is finished, because I’m going to miss that process. But the end always comes and is inevitable. Everything comes together when all the puzzle pieces fit together seamlessly. Magical and sad at the same time.
What is the story behind your new single “Not All Of Us Agreed”?
I made this song because many people feel overwhelmed by the rapid development of technology, such as A.I. Everyone just has to adapt and hope they can keep up a bit. Others drop out and become apathetic and withdrawn. Moreover, it is also clear that these new technologies have advantages and disadvantages. And I sometimes get the impression that we are underarmed in the face of the disadvantages.
Nowadays I wonder more and more whether I actually agree with how everything is organized and developed. So I thought the question: “Did you ask me if I agree with it” was an important question for me.
How do you think this new single fits into your overall body of work?
I prefer to make songs that are really about something, that are meaningful to me anyway. Songs that go a little deeper than the ‘I love you baby’ songs you hear a lot in the current charts. Other musicians can make those much better than me.
“Not all of us agreed” certainly fits in the list of singles from last year; ‘Wargames’ about the war in Ukraine, ‘The Freedom inside’ about the contribution that everyone can make themselves in changing things that go wrong in the world.
You can read all about it on my website http://www.harrykappen.com
What do you think are the implications of our current and future interaction with technology?
However these developments will take place, I hope that we as people will not lose each other, that it will not be at the expense of human relationships. An A.I.-text now writes itself. We can only hope that the outcome of such a text will not distort the truth. And in a world in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate facts from fiction, this is a great danger. But I’ve also read that in medical science A.I. has incredibly many positive opportunities. Yet history teaches us that there will always be people who will misuse originally beautiful inventions. To be honest, I’m scared of that.
What role do you think music therapy plays in helping young kids and adolescents cope with a variety of issues?
Music naturally has a number of beautiful properties: melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics and expresses feeling and emotions. I use it in the treatment of my clients. My clients are mostly adolescents, often in combination with their immediate family. In the music of dysfunctional families you usually quickly hear that dysfunction. And they also become immediately audible to the participants. By ‘repairing’ the dysfunction in the music, the families also indirectly work on their own daily problems.
Because music is ‘structure in time’, it also offers many possibilities to help people/young people who find it difficult to structure themselves (ADHD, ADD). The music therapy sesions are then a rehearsal space to practice with structure.
Because music is a translation of feeling and emotions, it is a nice practice space to get started with lyrics. Young people in particular would rather make (pop) music than have to talk about themselves. Writing about problems in music is often more acceptable and safe for them. In this way we also work indirectly, through music, on personal issues.
What message do you want your listeners to take away from your music?
I don’t feel like a musician who has to deliver a message if necessary, but rather just someone who writes about things that are close to his heart. What everyone does with it, everyone should know for themselves. I see things and make music about them, I signal, but I certainly don’t want to come across as pedantic. I also hope that people just enjoy listening to the music. I often listen to music when I really don’t know what it’s about. I myself am a big fan of Bowie and McCartney and many more musicians. I will certainly be influenced by that, it’s in my DNA. So there will also be people who will recognize music elements from the 70s, 80s in my music and will therefore find it nice music. That’s fine. Fortunately, I am now also being listened to by many young people, which I think is really great.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you are excited to share?
I’m busy finishing the new album. That’s what my focus is on right now. I take my time and don’t want to rush things. I depend on the weekends because I do my therapeutic work during the week. Moreover, I am a teacher on a master’s degree in Rotterdam, so I don’t have much free time. One thing is certain; it will be my best album yet!
So feel free to keep in touch via my website: http://www.harrykappen.com
What advice do you have for emerging musicians who want to make an impact on the music industry?
I would immediately advise anyone who wants to let go of that wish. I don’t think the goal should be ‘wanting to make an impact’, but your goal should be ‘I want to perform my music to the best of my ability’. Above all, be yourself, improve yourself as much as possible, and above all have a lot of fun making music.
What do you hope to achieve with your music going forward?
I still have a lot of ideas to finish and the world around us is changing every day. So there are plenty of opportunities and reasons to make a lot of music.
I also hope that more and more people can find me for their own project. In addition to being a musician, I am also a producer and I love working on a project with others and sharing my knowledge with everyone.