De Kift has been making poetic fanfare punk for more than thirty years, with texts borrowed from world literature. In “Water cradle me”, documentary maker Sanne Rovers tries to capture the creative process in which new songs arise. Frontman Ferry Heijne literally sails into this to meet people who want to share their story with him. That should lead to new inspiration and thus new music. Early in the documentary, Heijne explains what drives him to set (existing) lyrics to music, namely: “That you can enrich the text with music, make it more beautiful.”
How this works is beautifully illustrated with a poem by the Iraqi poet Rodaan al Galidi, who came to the Netherlands as a refugee and is one of the people who wanted to share their story with Heijne. Ferry reads a part, visibly enjoying the text, and as the documentary continues, more and more sound is added. But also the story of a father who loves surfing and the water, and his daughter is lost in a fatal storm. Heijne makes the mental connection with Paul van Ostaijens ‘Melopee’ and argues the rhythm of the music and the choice of the different instruments and how they should behave. “Along the high reed / Along the low meadow / Slides the canoe to the sea …”
In principle, Heijne is alone on the boat, working on the new music, but his band members are never far from him. They are located along the quay, on the banks, and are part of the landscape through which Heijne runs. In this way, Rovers also brings poetry to her images. The creative side of De Kift is further interpreted by percussionist and artistic director Wim ter Weele, who gradually paints a large canvas with a mixture of water and mud from the river. Even if you don’t know the band yet, it becomes clear what makes De Kift so special. The connection with the audience becomes extra intimate, especially for the people whose story leads to new music. Rovers shows their reactions by filming them listening to “their” song for the first time. The emotion is easy to read from the faces.
But Ferry herself also appears to have a sad story with her. He tells about father Jan Heijne, a metal worker, who played the trumpet in the Assendelft fanfare band, which meant Ferry’s first encounter with live music. When he started De Kift together with Wim ter Weele, a trumpet player was needed and that is how Jan rolled into the band after his retirement. Ferry becomes emotional when he talks about how his father’s health is deteriorating. Paralyzed unilaterally after a TIA. When Jan hears old music from De Kift now, he invariably starts to cry. Ferry describes his father as “an ever smaller flame, which at one point just … goes out.” During this story you initially see a television on the bank slowly disappear at dusk. In the picture: father who in his heyday plays ‘Orenmens’ in De Kift, a key song from the band’s oeuvre.
The documentary is called “A musical ode to sadness” and some stories are certainly sad. But “Water cradles me” also gives a lot of beauty and comfort. And resilience. Like the woman who bought a boat for her family, but who was left alone after a breakup. At first, the boat was a tough place to be, because of all the memories. But now she is busy doing odd jobs again, to make it as beautiful and homely as possible. “Keep going,” Ferry Heijne sums it up for her. Or as it sounds in the song that is written for her: “Hey, ho, yay!” The Kift in full detail.