Interview: CALAX-002
Willem de Ridder
Willem de Ridder (W) :
Can you hear me ?

Calax Records (C):

Okay. Hi, nice to see you.

Nice to see you. Thank you for your time. Can we start the interview?

Yes. Absolutely.

Thank you. What was the beginning of your career as an artist? And what were your initial activities as an artist?

I started already very young. When I was in school, there was a teacher. He told every last 15 minutes of the day a story. And he asked “Where did we finish last time?” And everybody knew. He improvised a story that lasted 15 minutes and I loved it so much that I tried everything to stay for another year in his class. But he noticed. So, I was no longer around people who did storytelling. My father never told stories. So I started storytelling every morning. When I came outside to go to the school, about 20 kids sometimes were waiting for me. And then, I said “Where did we finish last time?” They said “No.” Four times a day I told a story that I improvised. At a certain moment, my father made a puppet theater and I started playing puppet sheets all over town. And also I became a magician. I did tricks. So, I was very creative already when I was very very young. That's how it started.


What kinds of stories have you improvised ?

A long time ago. So, I don't remember anymore what kind of stories, but there were very exciting stories. And by the time we got to the school, it was a very powerful moment. Friends were waiting until we got back for lunch. I kept telling stories day in and day out.

When did you first become aware that you were an artist?

At a certain moment, my father decided that I had to take a job. And I was working with an insurance company. That was terrible. I hated it. I made the biggest decision in my life. “I will never take a job in my life. I don't want to have anything to do with money. And I only do what I love to do. I play in my life. I played all the time.”

And then I waved at the four directors sitting in front of me. And I took the typewriter and moved off the table, then knocked it to the floor…Bang! I was thrown out. Then, I said to my father, ”I want to go into publicity. So I have to go to art school. I make more money that way.”

I left my home at 18 years olds. I lived in a very small house where I was forbidden to stay, but I did anyway. And I started painting because I went to an art school. That's when I started studying what artists were. But I didn't like the idea of artists. You know, artists were for centuries and centuries in the service of royalty, of the powerful decisive movements, decision makers, the kings as they decided who was an artist and who wasn't. And if you were an artist, your paintings came into the palace. But I didn't like that. When the french revolution came, those powerful people lost their power, then, a lot of artists started to do things that were different. Because, before that time, the royalty decided what was art and what wasn't. And now they tried doing very weird things like Dada and Cubism and Impressionism. And nobody could stop it. There's no royalty anymore to stop it. And nowadays, we still have royalty. They have palaces that we now call museums. And the director of the museum is like royalty; he decides who is an artist and who isn't. I hated that. I thought I don't want to be an artist. I'm going to play overnight. I want to do weird things.

In the town where I lived, I had all kinds of friends and we had an organization for the prohibition of art, that is, no art. When there was an exhibition we went there and threw stink smelling bomb. I mean, they've put out pamphlets that art should be forbidden. And of course, the police arrested us as young kids. And my father had to pick me up from the police station and he gave me money. He put me on the train and said “You go to Amsterdam!” That's why I grow. That’s why I came to Amsterdam.
Then, I came in contact with all the young composers. And I made it clear to them that they had to study in the conservatories to become artists, official composers, but music was not only sound. It could be some morphines. It could also be an expression. It could be anything.  Because I'm really interested. So, I started to bring a lot of young composers together. I was very good at organizing things, and they organized the mood engineering society, MES. We gather to do active kinds of performances. For example, at a concert where there was a piano standing there, a young composer came, he sat down behind the piano and tinkled it. Taaan‥‥‥! The whole audience became silent, then, I came as a singer. And everybody was waiting until something happened, but nothing happened. And then, someone in the audience said, “Hey! What is happening now? What are you doing?” And we said the same, “What is happening now? What are you doing?” And every time they made noise, we repeated the noise. Thus, the audience was actually making a piece. Of course, the press was really furious about this. So, the young composers were really afraid for their career as they all stepped out. I was really disappointed that those conservatories and those official kings and states decide what is art and what is not.

それから、私は若い作曲家たちと連絡を取り合うようになりました。私は彼らに、正式な芸術家や音楽家になるには音楽院で学ばなければならないが、そもそも音楽というものは音そのものに限らない、音楽とはモルヒネや表現それ自体であり、何にでもなりうるということをはっきりさせました。私自身もそのようなことに興味があったからです。そして、私は何かのネットワークを組織したりするのが非常に得意でした。そこで私は多くの若手の作曲家を集め始め、それはMood Engineering Society(MES)という組織になりました。その組織はあらゆる種類のパフォーマンスのために集まった組織でした。例えば、あるコンサートでは舞台上に置かれたピアノに向かって若手の作曲家が現れ、彼がおもむろに鍵盤を触ります。ターン…!と会場にピアノの音が響き渡ると、オーディエンスは静まり返り、そこに私がシンガーとして舞台上に現れるのです。舞台を見つめる全員が何かが起こるまで待っていました。しかし、いくら待っても何も始まる様子がありません。そのとき、会場にいた誰かが、「おい!いったい今何が起きているんだ?お前たちは何をやってるんだ!?」と叫びました。そして私たちも同じことを繰り返すように彼らに訴えます。「おい!今何が起きているんだ?何をやってるんだ?」彼らが騒ぎ立てるたびに私たちも同じように騒ぎました。そうしてオーディエンスは自ら作品を創り上げるのです。もちろんメディアはそのコンサートで起きたことをとても煽情的に取り上げました。若い作曲家たちも彼らのキャリアを踏み外してしまうことを恐れていました。私はそのことに全くもってガッカリしました。音楽院、あるいは統治者や国家のような存在が何を芸術たりうるものなのかを決めてしまう現状に。
Concert of the Mood Engineering Society, Peter Schat – Sextet for three musicians and three players (photo Herbert Behrens)
Then, I heard about Nam June Pyke from Korea. I heard that he did very weird things, very beautiful things, that really interested me. So, I went to a local magazine office. And I said “I want to write about Nam June Pyke.” They said “Okay.” So, I visited Germany for his exhibition. And I told him all the things I had been doing. And he looked at me and said, “You are Fluxus!” “What is Fluxus?”, “You'll see.” But he didn't tell me. And then, when I came back, I wrote a piece about him. And at a certain moment, I got a phone call from George Maciunas, the man who started Fluxus. And he said “Willem de Ridder?” I said, “Yes!”. Then he said “You are Fluxus!” And he invited me to take part in Fluxus as there was an Fluxus event for the first time in Amsterdam.


At a certain moment, I was doing all kinds of weird things because of an invitation to make a television program about New Arts. If you go to my site ( ), you can still see that movie. It was made in 1963 at the very first television studio. And it became quite popular. It's called “Signalement”. I worked together with Wim T. Schippers, who became a very famous artist. And we did all kinds of strange things. If you watch the video, you will see a large object with a crumpled up piece of paper running behind a police car. That was very beautiful. I didn't want to make paintings anymore. So the last piece of art that I did was I took a piece of paper and crumpled it.

また、あるとき私は”新しい芸術”に関するテレビ番組の制作に招待されました。私のウェブサイト ( )にアクセスすると、その番組の動画を見ることができますが、この番組は1963年にテレビ局のスタジオで制作され当時とても人気を博しました。「Signalement(報告)」と呼ばれる作品で、この作品は有名な芸術家となったヴィム・T・スヒッペルス と共同で制作したものです。とても奇妙なことを実行しました。映像を見るとパトカーの後ろに紙をクシャクシャに丸めた大きな物体が走っているのを見ることができるでしょう。それはとても美しい作品でした。私はもう絵を描くことをしたくはありませんでした。私が最後につくった作品はこのように紙を集めクシャクシャに丸めたものだったのです。
First program of FluxTV organized by W. T. Schippers and W. de Ridder for the Dutch television
Contents: interviews and performances by W. de Ridder, D. Spoerri, W. T. Schippers, W. Vostell, S. Brouwn, etc.
Length: 30'17"
Paper constellation (PK).
Paper constellation(以下、PK)ですね。


What was the inspiration for this PK?
I like painting, but I like the effect of painting. To keep painting, I wanted to have paint that didn't dry up. I didn't want to make a final result. I wanted to see all these movements. Then I got really inspired by looking at how you came into some kinds of music. All the time I kept painting and I didn't like it to dry up, because I liked the process. On the other hand, people wanted paintings. That's why I made a joke out of making a PK. So here's my last work of art.  It's a very easy way either everybody can make it: you take a piece of paper, crumble it, then, have a piece of art.

Do you have any artists or friends or art movements that influenced you at that time?

I came in contact with George Muaciunus. He made me the chairman for northern Europe and he gave me a lot of Fluxus works that he made. And I had to sell them to a mail order warehouse. That's why I came in contact with all kinds of Fluxus people all over the world, Mieko Shiomi in Japan, for example, and people in America, people in Europe and everywhere, with sort of invitations.
I remember the famous Fluxus works used to be a party, alas, became an art! That's why I had no special artists that I really admired. But I was, of course, interested in people who developed Fluxus, Dada and all these things. Duchamp, for example. All kinds of weird things but we never call it art.

Okay, What was your impression when you heard the word “You are Fluxus!” from George Muaciunus?

He said that is like making a joke out of art. That's why I started making all kinds of Fluxus works too. For example, four people on stage with a mask laughing, and it would go that the whole audience is laughing. That's called “a piece of laughing”. Things like that, you know.

彼はフルクサスをジョークのように芸術を生み出すことだと言っていました。なので私もフルクサス作品を数多く作り始めました。例えば、笑っているお面を付けた人間が4人壇上に並んで立ち、次第にオーディエンス全員を笑わせるようなパフォーマンスを行いました。それは「a piece of laughing (笑いの作品)」と名づけられました。そのような活動です。
At another moment, I made special cards. Then I said, “Please hand this card to the person next to you.” And of course, you hand the card, read it, and hand it to the person next to you and so on. There were all kinds of instructions. So, people became artists themselves. That was nice.

At another moment, I organized a big dinner party. And then, people who came to the dinner party ordered on the menu what kind of Fluxus pieces that would be served at their table. We did it in the Hilton hotel in Amsterdam.

What was your role within Fluxus?

He gave me this big suitcase full of Fluxus art works that he made, boxes with cards and whatever. And he told me, “Can you please in Europe sell this?” That was impossible to sell because nobody knew what Fluxus was. But I've been active in this field. So I organized Fluxus festivals in Holland, all kinds of places. Before I was traveling all over Europe taking part in the Fluxus things, I learned to know a lot of people doing weird things like me. That's why I can be involved. I like it.

You have worked with so many media, including radio programs and pornographic magazines. How did you become involved in the media?

I started a magazine, a newspaper in which everybody could write whatever they wanted. The whole young generation got a voice. And of course, the older generation hated that. But it became very very popular. A lot of young people sold the newspaper on the street because the official distributors didn't want to. Everybody could write whatever they wanted. A lot of young people started to write about sex. At that time, it was completely forbidden, a deadly sine.

And I got a phone call from England and I knew there's a newspaper there too. And she said, “Willem, if we do that in our newspaper, we will go to jail.” And I said, “Okay, I will ask my printer if he wants to print it for you. And come here. I will design a magazine about it. And you bring all the letters that you don't dare to publish.”

And we made ”SUCK”, the first European sex paper in Amsterdam. And they gave all kind of famous people like Germaine Greer, famous feminists from England. And all kinds of other famous people from England came all over to our office in Amsterdam. And I made the magazine. But as soon as it was printed, the next day the police were in our office. So we hid it and brought English tea and some cake to them. When no evidence could be found, it's gonna stop. Since then, we have been making all kinds of special issues within people's homes.
In the end, I organized the first European movie festival, porno, sex film. People from all over Europe came, and later we made a special book about it. “The Wet Dream Film Festival.” All kinds of artists took part in it. The last issue we made in California. I remember I moved at a certain moment to Hollywood. And I walked on the street there, and I saw a magazine, a newspaper. And it said “a special SUCK issue” and I took the newspaper out. So I saw all the pages that I designed in that magazine. I went to the office, and I thought about the police. But, at the same time, I thought, “No. Don't worry, Ridder. You should make a magazine in which everybody could write whatever they want about sex.” One hour later, I was making the first issue and it became a big sensation in America. Then, at a certain moment, I had to be careful because I moved to a beautiful penthouse next to their office. Everytime I went to their office, I had to make a phone call to see if the police were there. And I started also the first sex lines on telephone, you know. I had to escape the country and go back to Holland, because the police probably put me in jail.

最終的には、私はヨーロッパ初のポルノ映画祭のようなイベントまで企画しました。ヨーロッパ中から人々がやってきて、後日そのイベント「The Wet Dream Film Festival」のことも、特集号というかたちで発表しました。あらゆる種類のアーティストがそれに参加していました。この雑誌の最終号はカリフォルニアで発行されました。あるとき、私はハリウッドへ引っ越したのですが、通りを歩いていると、とある雑誌を見つけました。そこには「SUCK特集号」と書かれていたので、私はそれを手に取って持ち帰りました。あらゆるページに私のデザインが散りばめられていました。オフィスへ向かい、警察に連行されるかもしれないと考えました。しかし、それと同時にこうも思いました。「いや、心配することはない、リダー。お前はセックスについて人々が言いたいことを全部書けるような雑誌をつくるべきだ」と。その1時間後には私はアメリカで再びポルノ雑誌を作りはじめ、その雑誌はとても大きな反響を呼びました。その後、私は警察署の隣にあった美しいペントハウスに引っ越してしまったせいで、オフィスに向かう時には毎回警察がやって来ないか気を付けなければならないときもありました。そして、私は史上初めてセックスラインも立ち上げました。その後、警察に捕まることを恐れアメリカを出国して再びオランダへ戻ることになったのです。
When I lived in America, I got a cassette from a friend who was working at the Dutch radio. And he said “Williem, why did you go to America? We miss you. You've done so many beautiful things with your newspaper, with all that thanks to storytelling.” And I made a special program on the new cassette. And it was a spoken letter to him. I sent it to him and I got some money back and he said, “Willem, Fantastic! We put it on the radio! You can make a weekly program if you want.” At that moment, I made cassettes every week when the show for it. What I did in America is about a whole kind of weird thing. It was very nice. And that's why I became involved in radio.

When we had an escape from America to Holland, I started making radio plays, a kind of storytelling. I made serial radio plays which were called the “DEADLY FEAR THERAPY.” It's a very scary radio play, because I wanted to find out if I feel fear and it's real, you feel it, too. Then, yes. That was true. People who listened to the radio were so terribly terrified that they escaped the house and made it outside until the radio play was finished. She didn't even dare to turn it off. And people wrote so many letters and turned into telephone calls “Can you give me the address of this Mr. William Ridder? His voice sounds exactly like the man who tortures me in a concentration camp in Germany.” People were terrified.
アメリカからオランダへ逃亡したときに、ラジオ番組を始めることにしました。その番組で、ストーリーテリングのようなことを始めました。「DEADLY FEAR THERAPY」という連続モノのラジオ劇をつくりました。それはとても恐ろしいラジオ番組でした。話し手側である私が恐ろしいという感覚を味わっているとき、それは現実となってリスナーにもその恐ろしさが伝わるものなのか確かめたかったからです。そして実際、確かにそういうことが起こりました。番組のリスナーはラジオを掛けると酷く怯え、番組が終わるまで家の外へと逃げ出してしまったのです。彼らはあまりの恐ろしさにラジオを切ることすらできませんでした。人々から多くの手紙や電話が番組宛に届きました。「ミスター ウィレム・リダーの住所を教えてくれないか?彼の声はドイツの強制収容所で私を拷問にかけた男の声にそっくりなんだ。」彼らはとても怯えていました。

And then I made a famous program called the ”DEADLY FEAR THERAPY TRIP.” And you have to go to your car at one o'clock in the night, turn on the radio, and listen to my voice. I will give you instructions and you start running. And thousands of people did this. It was incredible. So, in the middle of the night, at a traffic jam, I said “If I count one, two, three, you turn all your lights off for 10 seconds.” And all traffic jams driving in the dark. On a very small dike next to the river, there were thousands of cars. I said, “Oh! I made a mistake! We have to turn around!” Can you imagine they god tried to turn around on this small bar?  At the end, they came into a small village, there was a big castle and a little harbor. And the man in the harbor was hired to bring everybody to the castle for a final party. But when he saw thousands of cars, he escaped. And everybody jumped out and took boats and made floats. All the newspapers are writing about “the end of the world.” It was a really big sensation and people started talking about it. And then, after that, I moved to Italy.
そして私は「DEADLY FEAR THERAPY TRIP」と呼ばれる、当時人気となった番組も企画しました。番組のリスナーは深夜1時に車に乗った状態でラジオを掛け、私の声を聞かなければなりません。私がいくつかのインストラクションを与え、車を走らせます。何千人ものリスナーがこの番組の企画に参加していました。信じられないことでした。真夜中になぜか渋滞が発生したのです。そして私は「今から1、2、3と数えます。数え終わったら10秒間、身の回りにある明かりをすべて消してください」と指示しました。渋滞した車は、まったくの暗闇の中で走っていました。川の隣にある小さな堤防に何千もの車が走っていました。そこで私はこう言いました。「ああ!間違えた!ここはUターンしないといけないんだった!」小さな細長い堤防の上で何千もの車がUターンしたのです。信じられますか?番組の終わりに彼らは小さな村に辿り着きました。そこには大きなお城と小さな港がありました。港には男がいて、彼は辿り着いたみんなを最後のパーティーに出迎えるべくお城へと案内するために雇われていました。しかし、彼は何千もの車がやって来るのをみて逃げ出してしまいました。リスナーは車から飛び出してボートを持っていき、漕ぎだしました。あらゆる新聞が「世界の終わり」とそのことを報じました。センセーショナルを巻き起こし、人々の話題はその話で持ちきりでした。それから私はイタリアへと引っ越しました。

It's almost like controlling the audience.

This is the reason why I am called a master of storytellers.

It is maybe difficult to do the same thing nowadays.

No! Not difficult. I still do storytelling. I started in Italy making radio programs for young people about the adventures of Prins Wilhelmus and his friends Misolini.


In this video, I started to tell fairy tales and ancient stories, which are thousands of years olds. And two days ago, I told a story like that too here, in the neighborhood, in people's homes.And tomorrow, I will tell a story like that. I will go to a little theater tell an ancient story. And a lot of people come to sit there with their thumbs in their mouths, because I'm a great storyteller.

At a certain moment when I was on Dutch radio, I started a program where everybody could send in a cassette. But the cassette was something new at that time. The first time everybody could make their own recordings. So you sent me a cassette. I opened it, I didn't listen to it before, put it on the cassette recorder and played it on the Dutch radio. People couldn't believe it. And that's how I got on a certain cassette from Cora Emens. She was singing. I thought “Wow! Nice.” If I didn't like it, then I played only one minute. But if I really liked it, then I played the whole thing. And it became all kinds of incredible music from people who are really terrified that they couldn't come on the radio and now could call on Dutch radio. That's why I put in contact with Cora.​​​​​​​
And together with a friend of mine, we started recording special in English, a special place of music that we sent on cassettes in America and Australia and England to university regular stations. And if they liked it, they could make a complete copy piece of the cassette and send it to other stations. And it was called the “All Chemix Radio.” And together with Cora, Hessel and Nicole Veldman, we formed the group. And we made all kinds of recordings and radio plays and music which we sent to America, Australia, Canada. That was very nice. That's why I came in contact with Cora. You brought it out on your LP.

そして、私は友人たちと特別に英語でレコーディングをし始め、そのカセットをアメリカやオーストラリア、イギリスのラジオ局に送りつけました。もし彼らが気に入ったならば、そのカセットをコピーして他のラジオ局に送ることができました。それらのカセットは「All Chemix Radio」と呼ばれていました。そして、私とコラ、ヘッセル・ヴェルドマン、ニコル・ヴェルドマンとグループを結成しました。あらゆる種類のレコーディングを作り、ラジオで放送し、そしてその音楽はアメリカ、オーストラリア、カナダへと広がっていったのです。それはとても素晴らしいことでした。そうしてコーラと知り合うようになりました。その時の作品をあなたたちがLPにしてくれましたね。
How you work together for making music?

Now we were in short moments. We went to Berlin, and the wall was still standing there. And we were with Alvin Curran, the famous American composer who lives now in Rome. And I took part in a festival, where I did all kinds of weird things together with Alvin and Cora. We made all kinds of weird sounds. He had all kinds of equipment. We even did a radio play. But no existence of these works remains

Who is the most memorable person you have ever met?

Nam June Paik was, for me, a very memorable person.He was a very normal person.
I liked him a lot and later I took part in a big festival in South Korea. He has a big museum there now.

What kinds of life are you leading now?

Tomorrow, I will tell a story. Then, I disappeared completely into the story and the audience, too. If I go into it, you go into it, too. So we have one. When I started storytelling, I gave a little introduction.
Life is a mirror. If I look at you, I see myself. If you look at me, you cannot see me.


Do you have any message for young people?

For young people, it's very important to realize that whatever you see is your idea. As soon as you change your idea, you start to see something different. In fact, we have great power if you tell yourself. This is what happens. it will happen. If you are afraid, you get fear. If you put lots of difficulties in your life, you have difficulties all the time.  So, it's very important to realize we have the power.