I'll try to be brief. I'll outline the beginnings and evolution of my creative carreer and point to some life events that have influenced my style and approach of things. I will not name people from before the Volt Stupor time, because there are too many to mention, and it would result in the tale taking too much emphasis on certain aspects of my history where I do not wish to deny my other personalities, who have different sets of associations, priorities and sense of importance. I am many.
It all started on the 20th of January 1977. That was a thursday, and it was a New Moon that day. And it was super cold, and I was born deep in the night (around 4-ish). I can't recall much of the early years, just some basic impressions that might or might not be constructed memories from photographs and parental tell-tales. It is beside the point. The 20th of january has been scientifically proven to be the most depressing day of the year, and I had to pick that one to enter the world. 1977 is also the year in which Elvis died. Probably because he had to make room for the talent that was me.
I went to school in the town of Schoorl, where I grew up and where I choose to live still - after a brief time in Amsterdam, I decided that urban life is not for me, but more about that later. Schoorl is a town with hills, and hills are pretty. They are also pretty rare in the Netherlands, because the Netherlands are largely flat and full of roads, and if you want to see hills you need to move to the southern parts of the country where the people aren't all that Dutch anymore. They start to sound funny and behave increasingly in a Belgian fashion. Not that there's anything wrong with Belgium, but it's not the Netherlands. Living in Schoorl is convenient too in regards to my job, because my jobsite is further up north and the more I would move towards the cities and the turmoil of social life, the further I would move away from my work, and that would be no good. Besides, my parents still live in the same old house where I grew up, and I am very glad to still have both my parents. I am also glad that my relationship with them has become really solid, after a troublesome time in my teens and early twenties.
Anyway, on the attic of my parental home my father kept the old sound installation with a record player and a cassette deck with stereo microphones, and from an early age on I loved to play with that old sound installation. Going through my parent's old records - amongst which Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Animals, The Troggs, some Motown soul stuff, Abba, and a bunch of singles among which Ennio Morricone's The Good, The Bad & The Ugly with The Ecstasy of Gold on the B-side. Brilliant. Masterful. That music would be the first music I would regularly listen to. And I would listen to the radio and pretend to be a DJ and use the cassette deck to "host" my silly shows and play records. Later on, when the CD player was introduced, my father would not wait to get one and so followed the influx of CD's - Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, I would be listening to that a lot too. While at the same time my primary playmate was the next door girl, and her older brother, who lived on their attic, would have a different taste altogether, playing punk and rock music. I can swear he had a Joy Division album, but I would not get into that type of thing until much later in my life.
I was also keen on writing and drawing comics as a result of the collection of PEP comic magazines that my dad kept in the attic. My imagination was surely being stimulated, and my head was always full of stories and ideas. And if you have a creative mind, you need output - and it didn't take long before the first music instruments entered the homes. A simple keyboard at first, a slightly better one later, a digital drumpad and when I got to 16 I got myself an electric guitar and took lessons. By the end of that year I would be recording my first home recordings on a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder. It had begun.
Naming the project "Floodhound" at first, and naming myself "Heldan Wolf" (which both means "Man-wolf" and is an anagram of "Dawn of Hell"), because every artist needs an Artistic Alias, or so I thought (it was basically a result of my real name - Tom van Dok - not sounding artistic enough, to my taste. That's probably got more to do with the self-image I had back then, because there's nothing wrong with my real name - abroad, Dutch names are a "hot" and interesting thing after all), I explored the psychological side of music, translating my messy emotions and troubled views into sounds as good and as bad as I could. A little bit before this time I had been introduced into the world of Pen & Paper roleplaying and somehow these things complemented eachother really well. This was also the time of my romantic awakening, and even though I sometimes think I've made good progress since, my romantic life persists to be a pathetic mess, but more about that later.
So we've arrived at the mid 1990's, and I had started producing music. I had been going out since a few years getting a taste of dance-beats and the lights and strobes and smoke machines that come with a floor filled with luscious, bouncy people. Girls in dresses gracefully swirling scents that suddenly made that old Pepé le Pew cartoon make a whole lot of sense. Some of the run-ins and dealings with the girls of that time eventually lead to the writing of "Happy Valentine" - which, as a disclaimer, does not refer to any single person in particular, even if the name of the song could suggest otherwise. It is a conscious stab, that is true, but not a malicious one.
Anyway, although my concerns were mostly creative, I did pick up guitar playing because I wanted to impress the girls. And I wanted to get on stage - and I got this opportunity at first through my guitar tutor, who hooked me up with another student of his - a bass guitarist, a girl I have sadly lost track of, because I think we could've gone to some creative lengths after this initial project. I don't even remember her name, atleast not to full confidence. So strange how that goes. Anyway, what we did was a Nirvana cover project. A few Nirvana songs where I would do Cobain's bit (without the drugs, mind), and she would play bass, and our teacher manned a drum machine, and we would perform for school classes to introduce children to the joys of music making.
He also arranged for me to do some summer work to provide music - playing guitar and piano - at a terrace in Bergen, which was a funny job and I still wonder how the hell I managed to pull it off. I have no formal piano training, so all I could do was noodle away, but the people appreciated it and the restaurant management paid me a bit for it. Tips, basically, but it was cool.
And I played in the school band. We rehearsed for the graduation party, and I think that particular night was the first night I experienced the effect of "Groupie". But I will not go into details about it. My romantic life was messy then, and it still is.
Experiences however all make an imprint on the creative process and on the songs I would produce. From a certain Pen & Paper roleplaying session set in 2015 Detroit (which seemed a bit more futuristic than it will actually be, next year!) emerged the band name Totem Spectre (as it played a pivotal role in that session) and as my music had changed from emotion-driven, wavy and dreamy to more grinding, drum-pounding and darker psychedelic, I decided to drop the old Floodhound and rename the project to Totem Spectre. My music had changed as a result of my introduction into the Gothic scene, going out to clubs in Amsterdam, meeting the DJ's, and I wanted to get my stuff on the dancefloor of "De Inrichting" too. I would achieve that goal quickly, as I recorded songs for that purpose specifically. I thought of the lights and the strobes and programmed those beats, screeched those strings, hollowed those vocals. And it was a fantastic experience, hearing my song busting through the dance hall, beautiful people swirling all around me, not knowing that what they were dancing to was dancing with them exactly.
Also, meeting more interesting people, I would sniff out alternative clubs and parties in various other cities as well, while my romantic life started to get even messier to the point of downright incomprehensible, eventually spinning out of control, and crumbling entirely at the sudden death of someone I held incredibly dear, whom I in retrospect could name "my girlfriend of the time", and although my heart was and is rather big... There were other love interests, but she was so much more mature, was really transitioning me from that troubled adolescence into true adulthood, and she just died. Suddenly. Hemorrhagic stroke, and that was the end of it. And it devastated me, because a part of my life crumbled, and it would take me over a decade to finally realize what she had meant to me and how her loss affected me. Because I dealt with it terribly, by simply denying that I could be hurt in that way, and so I denied that romance could mean anything to me at all.
Her death also came a week before the live debut of Totem Spectre as a band, but I decided to go through with it, because more than ever I would focus on my music, and so quickly alienated from everyone I knew. The goth scene had turned meaningless to me, goth music and people being all just a fashion statement of sorts, which I could for the life of me not be bothered with. I wanted to delve to the roots of reality, because I didn't understand - I wanted to get away from all the fluff and small talk, get away from headaches and seizures and the general discomforts of having a body at all. I cancelled my studies, and managed to get a menial job at the company I still work at and I started to earn some money.
So I left that goth scene and started playing in a regular rock band just for the experience, and although there were some good performances, the lead singer was a complete dick (actually a bonafide sociopath, whose antics I've bundled here) and my personal music project was on the decline. Soon, I would leave the Amsterdam scene altogether, because I really wanted to erase every trace of my social life in order to reinvent myself from the ground up. Eventually this meant having to leave the rock band as well, something I can't regret at all. But besides the lead singer being a sociopath (and I hear his life has taken turns for the worse ever since, which pleases me lot), the other band members were great guys, and some nights, playing at MacGuire's, really reminded me of why it is very nice to have no romantic ties whatsoever.
I hid in my hollow for the rest of my life. That was the plan - but blood crawls where it can't go... First of all I really had to improve on my professional position, because I needed a better paycheck to sustain myself, and I was still a creative mind and creative minds demand output. So I had to put great effort in lobbying for a better position which would take many years as well before that paid off, but hey - can't complain about my position and paycheck now. Some shrink sessions (with the discovery that being non-neurotypical (what?) has it's perks), management training and an academic-grade radiation physics course later... What a little bit of math talent can do for a person. But that's the "employee" side of things, and this bio is about the creative side of things.
Anyway, I was hiding in my hollow, withdrew from social life as much as I could, but I needed to be social anyway to lobby on the employee side of things. So, to counterweigh grit and boredom, I started to produce some new tracks, taking the approach of "what would Totem Spectre sound like in an alternate universe where I made just a few different decisions in my life", leading up to the infamous "Perk" project, and around that time ran into Ed who recruited me as a bass player for what would become Volt Stupor.
This opened the door to a new social circle, and I met up with "Grainshifter" Bas who produced electronic music on his own, and whose life bore quite some similarities to mine. He would be recruited as synth artist into Volt Stupor, and he and I would soon create music together in our own sideproject, me as "The Decimator", getting as far as being broadcast on regional TV while performing for an art project, with VJ's providing imagery to our experimentations.
But Volt Stupor was not to last - troublesome personality clashes broke down the project and I was ready to forget about the whole "band life" again - but once a musician, ... The story continues on the next page...