July 2015 was a very warm day. Robert Jan Stips thought so
as well. He
had agreed to play on three pianos more of less simultaneously at
the Beauforthuis in Austerlitz: a Steinway, a Fazioli and a
Bechstein, each with its own characteristic sound.
three pianos were arranged in a triangle and he played complete
versions of the first three LPs by his old band Supersister. The
concert was recorded and was issued on CD and DVD on 27 March
2016. The concert was performed again when the release took place, and
this time the weather was colder but the performance was again warmly
received. All of this gave Robert Jan Stips enough reason to look back
at his period with Supersister.
An escaped rabbit
staff member Paul Lemmens had the opportunity to interview Stips at
length about Supersister, their music and the concert on the three
pianos. The interview was interrupted only by the return of his
children from school and a rabbit that escaped from its hutch. The
rabbit must have known something about Supersister, because such an
action fits perfectly with the image of the band. Why? You can
find out in two programmes in our series Popart in which
the interview is interspersed with music by Supersister, Soft
Machine, Erik Satie, Sacha van Geest and – in part two – with music
from the concert on the three pianos.
Popart with Supersister /
Broadcast:Wednesday 5 October,
22:00 - 23:00 CET, part 1, click
here for more information.
The music from Supersister is less dated than much of the pop music
from the early 1970s. Supersister
was appreciated both inside the
Netherlands and internationally. Maybe that was because Supersister never betreayed their roots and – despite becoming part of the Canterbury scene – always felt a close assocation with the pop and classical music from mainland Europe.
Supersister had more in common with Dutch contemporary classical
music – Louis Andriessen and Peter Schat – than with the more
usual influences from rock, blues & soul from the US. These
elements, delivered with a sense of humour that ensured that things
never became too serious, resulted in many fans from outside the
Netherlands - including the influential BBC disc-jockey John Peel
who released their music on his own label in England and always
played their music during his gigs.
Star configuration with revolving stool
Supersister were no longer able to perform their own music
live following the departure of the flautist Sacha van Geest and
the bassist Ron van Eck. However, keyboard player and
singer Robert Jan Stips realised that he could also reproduce the
themes and atmosphere of the music using just a piano. Following a solo
piano concert in the Beauforthuis in Austerlitz, he was asked if he
would like to experiment with the three pianos that they have there.
This led to the idea of a performance of the first three Supersister
LPs( Present from Nancy, To the Highest Bidder, Pudding en Gisteren) with the pianos in a star configuration around a revolving stool.