Erik Laan

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Which instruments do you play? Including brands and effects.

I am Silhouette’s keyboard player and one of the vocalists. Brian sings most of the lead vocals, while I do the backings. But every now and then we switch sides and I take the lead vocals and Brian the backings.

My main keyboard is a Korg Kronos 88. The great thing about this instrument is that you can put samples in and then it is as if you play classic instruments suchs as mellotrons, CP80 electric piano’s and Moog leads. I have a set of PK5 foot pedals to trigger Moog Taurus bass sounds and I use a switch pedal to jump from one sound combination to the other while playing. This is great, because in live gigs, you don’t  have to take with you a  lot of keyboards, as the old prog keyboardists did. Only one keyboards is enough.

However, in my studio “the Brewery”, I have my real analogue Moog Voyager. I don’t take that one often to gigs, but I love to create my own lead sounds on it with real buttons and knobs. However good the Kronos is, the analogue sound of the Moog is something very special.

What bands or artists made you want to become a rock musician?

I remember that when I was 12, I bought myself one of my first albums, which was Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. I loved the combination of atmospheric analogue keyboards with real acoustic orchestral sounds. Also this was when I got hooked on concept albums. After that, I discovered UK’s two brilliant studio albums, which I couldn’t stop listeing to. Genesis, Pink Floyd of course were other sources of inspiration. When I hear Marillion’s Script for a Jesters Tear in 1983 on the radio (I was 16), I skipped class and hitch hiked to the nearest music shop: I couldn’t wait to buy it and I was breath taken. Later on I listened a lot to Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, more recently to Anathema, Big Big Train. I also am a big Ayreon fan.

Which three CDs would you like to take with you on an uninhabited island.

Pink Floyd  – The Wall
Genesis – Seconds Out
Big Big Train – Underfal Yard

How and when did you end up with Silhouette?

I was a very ambitious and active musician in my teenager years, was planning to study piano in the conservatory and played in the successful rock cover band Foo Nam, but somehow I got frustrated with the people around me saying I should think more commercially. Also, it took me years to recover from my piano-teacher complaining that I shouldn’t play Bach too romantically.

When I did a leadership training years later, they asked me: “where do you want to be in ten years?” I could only think of one thing: be on a stage with my own progrock band. That awareness struck me and I immediately started looking on the internet for possibilities. I couldn’t believe that nearby where I live, in Utrecht, a couple of guys had just started with a band inspired by the same great progrock bands that I liked so much. I contacted Brian and I felt we had a connection. We started just without any ambitions or illusions, but the chemistry was so strong that it grew out of hand, started to write music as fanatics and we became close friends. Now Silhouette is the main project in my life, I built the mentioned studio attached to my house and we have an enormous amount of fun! The great thing is that my income does not depend on our music –  as I have a full time job – but this also means we can just write the music we want without compromises. And the fun is: people from all over the world seem to appreciate just that!

What’s your favorite Silhouette song?

I think that must be Breathe, as it is a story about a very dear friend to me who decided to take his life. The song helped me to live in peace with his decision and to make sure I will keep remembering him at the same time. I was very content with how it worked out to translate my inner struggle about this tragedy into music.

Erik Laan

Keyboard player