Aestrid returns to Kingston to play The Toucan

Post-punk band from the Netherlands talks Canada’s lasting appeal

Jurriaan Sielcken, Ray Murphy, and Bo Menning of Aestrid.
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Photo by Tess Janssen

Coming to Canada on tour from the Netherlands, Aestrid calls Kingston its “second home.”

This Saturday, Oct. 5, Dutch band Aestrid finished off their tour of Quebec and Ontario with a performance at The Toucan. The three-piece band consists of Bo Menning on vocals and guitar, Jurriaan Sielcken on bass and keys, and Ray Murphy on drums. 

Aestrid put on an intense two-hour show over the night, featuring songs from their sixth and latest album A Lake Inside, which they recorded in Kingston in 2017.

Originally, the group only planned to record a few demos in their sound technician’s basement here in Kingston, but they were so impressed by how the sound turned out that they decided to make those recordings into the album.

“There was something about the moment when we were recording that just felt right,” Menning told The Journal. The three of them have been to Kingston so many times now that, according to Menning, “It really feels like our second hometown.”

Menning traces his love of Canada back to when he was 15 years old.

“I saw The Tragically Hipplay in Cologne, Germany when they were opening for The [Rolling] Stones,” he said.

After that concert, Menning instantly became a Hip fan. He started listening to their music more often, and through it, learned more about Canada.

One thing they didn’t know when they first came to Kingston was that this is where The Hip originated.

Menning recalls driving along Bath Rd. by their sound technician, a Kingston local, who stopped and said, “This is where [The Tragically Hip] record all their albums.”

“I knew they were from Canada and I was a big fan of their music, but I never knew exactly where they were from. It blew my mind a bit,” said Menning.

Aestridnowreturns to Canada twice every year to perform shows, but also to write and record new music.

Menning pays special attention to the places they travel to. He describes the moment when he came up with the album title, A Lake Inside, when the band’s sound technician took them out to Ottawa Valley.

“We went out on the lake in a canoe in the morning, and the water was super still,” Menning said. “You could see all these dead trees on the bottom, and it’s like a whole other world on the other side when you flip it.”

For Menning, Canada’s landscapes are a source of inspiration: they’re an opportunity for self-examination and for “thinking back to where you come from and what you’re doing right now.”

“Often on these Canadian trips, I tend to get very reflective,” Menning said. “We’ve been playing in this formation with the three of us for eight years.”

Thinking of their past and how they started, Menning says Aestridstarted as nothing more than a bedroom project of his.  

Then he met Sielcken through their shared love of recording music, and because they live in the same town of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Later, they added Murphy, who was previously Menning’s boss at an espresso bar. After what was initially supposed to Menning doing them a favour by filling in on the drums during a gig, Murphy decided to stick around.  

After reflecting on Aestrid’shistory, Menning has turned to the future.

“People always ask what’s the ultimate dream for this band, and I always say I just want it to never stop.”

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