This is a little account of some memories
In June 2006 I received e-mail from somebody who was at the same school for teachers as I was in 1984 and he tells me that Christian Nijs committed suicide. It is also noted on the website of the (Dutch) National Pop Institute. They list a year, 2002. The last time I saw Christian was in June 1999. One morning I went to the supermarket, as I was up early, having a baby means no longer sleeping in. The supermarket is quite empty but I see someone that I also saw some weeks before which could be Christian Nijs. I go up to him and ask for his name. His reply was,"You are Frans de Waard." He had just finished working the night, waiter at the local casino, which he did for years already. I tell him about my daughter and tell him that I am in the process of re-releasing all cassettes of Korm Plastics, including a two CDR set of all works by Kapotte Muziek, which includes work done by him. We swap e-mail addresses and after a few weeks I message him that I have a copy for him, even though he didn't show much interest in the original talk. It's not that he wasn't totally uninterested but it didn't seem to matter to him either way. He never replied and I left it as is.
The time before that I met him in a small student room he had been living in for some years. IF Records had just released History Is What Was, the first LP by Kapotte Muziek, and this LP is a sort of recollection of the first years as Kapotte Muziek. I gave Christian a copy that afternoon, and we listened to the record. He says, "I don't remember very much about all of this," and while he doesn't seem to enjoy it, he also doesn't mind hearing it. He tells me about his work at the casino, which he enjoys: it's night work and pays him lots of money. He tells me he likes to play chess and is thinking about buying a chess computer. The LP however makes him think about buying a four-track recorder. After that I won't see him again until 1999.
I first met Christian Nijs during the introduction at the school for teachers in August 1984. He and I were enlisted to become teachers in history and geography. For some reason we didn't stay in Nijmegen during the week long introduction but moved to a small village in a small building that is too small for everybody to get a proper sleep. I decide to sleep outside, as it was a beautiful, hot summer. Christian joined me (also because it was too crowded inside), and we got along well. He tells me he likes the sort of new wave music I like and he has a keen interest in guns and knives. In October 1984 I release the first cassette, Katacombe Vol. 3, on my Korm Plastics label. Christian sees me Xeroxing the covers at the school and buying blank tapes there, and asks me if he can buy one. He's one of the first customers. He quite likes the tape and we decide to create some music together. Christian lived in another student flat, sharing it with several people who all played music. He could easily borrow their instruments and improvises with them. He records everything on cassettes, which he hands to me and I do my bit before releasing them. Some of the works released as Kapotte Muziek were entirely his work: Rock N Roll and Aircraft as well as one side of our release Split. Christian likes the idea of cassettes and starts his own label, Disabuse Transmissions, by releasing a C15 called Chemical Warfare. The label releases five tapes total, mainly due to my connections.
It was Christian's idea to do a live concert, in the house he lived in. All the instruments were dragged into his room in the summer time, August 1986, when everybody is gone. Only one student is there and witnesses the concert. It includes Christian's reading of the 'Cultural Terrorist Manifesto' and lots of noise. The quietest two minutes of the concert end up on History Is What Was.
In October of the same year we start planning a second concert, at V2 in 's-Hertogenbosch, together with THU20 and Odal. It's during this period that Christian looses his interest in experimental music and during our three day stay in V2 while preparing for the concert, he tells me it will be his last thing for Kapotte Muziek, and that he is going to learn to play the guitar properly. For various reasons, the event is a memorable one.
After that I see him very occasionally. He already quit school, worked in the casino and started playing the guitar. He invited me to see him play with a punk band whose name I forget (if they even had one). Christian wore a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and was good. Their drummer suffered from Korsakovs syndrome and leaves during all the songs in the middle. It turned to be a pretty chaotic evening. That must be the last thing I saw of Christian, until the meeting described above.
Christian was an obsessive character. If he would do something, he would have to do it well. He bought arms, semi-illegal. Corresponded with the Flat Earth Society (way before Internet), had works by Aleister Crowley in beautiful bound editions. Played the guitar, played chess and also collected watches. He never struck me as a happy kid, but who in the 1980s was happy when they were 22? I could never imagine him committing suicide though and I’m sad to say I heard that he did four years later.
If anyone has information on Christian Nijs, please let me know. I'd really like to dedicate more words to him, and perhaps even release all his works as Factor 6* on CDR, along with a booklet.
* The Factor 6 release on Opus Dei Society was not recorded by Christian but by me, as he never wanted one, despite his initial interest in making one.
picture: Michael Sanchez for www.watchuseek.com