Anyone who names their album after the bad guy from the Smurfs (and the opening track after said bad guy’s cat) must be a quite the fan of the little blue creatures. Case in point: Gargamel, the new album released by Steven de Peven under his Awanto 3 moniker this month on Dekmantel. To celebrate this, I thought it’d be a good idea to take Steven to the movies, and more specifically, to see Smurfs and the Lost Village. I didn’t expect much of the pitch—we don’t know each other, and who wants to see a movie with a complete stranger?—but in about three minutes Steven emailed me back to say he thought it was a good idea.
Before the movie started, Steven admitted he was a bit anxious—not about meeting me, but the film itself. “You’ve got an image [of The Smurfs] in your head from your youth, and I hope they keep that image intact,” he said. The 3D-version he had deemed “too much,” so we went with the OG version. Bubbling with anticipation, and each with a medium popcorn and a bottle of coke we wandered into the theater. The teenager checking our tickets, upon seeing two grown men attending a matinee viewing of a children’s movie, remarked: “Ah, the Smurfs, so nostalgic.”
The movie wasn’t half bad. To be honest, I enjoyed every minute of it. At the film’s core was a powerful message for young girls (the story’s about Smurfette dealing with an identity crisis, but in the end she finds out she can be whatever she wants), and it was animated beautifully with vivid colors and many breathtaking stunts. Around the climactic ending of the movie, I honestly got a bit emotional, and I could swear I heard Steven sniffling next to me as well (he had a cold, but still). The movie concludes with the character Gargamel exploding and ending up in a swamp filled with flesh-eating fish.
Afterwards, we sat down in a cafe to talk about his album, and what we had just seen.
THUMP: When we left the theater, you said you felt bad for Gargamel.
Steven de Even: Yeah. He disappears into nothing.
He’ll be back though, right? The Smurfs need him.
I guess, for the story to be complete that has to be true. But he has such trouble with himself, I think.
He’s hungry for power.
He runs into himself again and again.
It was said in the movie as well, that he’s someone to feel bad for.
The viewer feels pity. Even the other Smurfs felt bad for him.
What’s so special about the Smurfs in your opinion?
Well, I didn’t name my album Gargamel because I’m such a big fan of the Smurfs. Of course they have a special place in my heart, because I grew up with them. They’ve always stayed with me.
Because they’re so peaceful, and pastoral.
Yeah. The ingredients of the Smurfs are so nice and easy, not a lot of noise. And also they’re nostalgic of course.
Do you understand Gargamel?
No, I don’t feel like him.
That’s not what I meant.
Azrael is a nice name, I think. Gargamel as well. The house where I produced the album is a real Gargamel house. That’s how I felt when I moved there. That’s where it started. Not because I have a Smurfs fetish.
I was always under the impression that Gargamel wanted to eat the Smurfs, but apparently I was wrong. But I wanted to ask you how you’d prepare Smurfs.
I’d grill them. I’d like them crispy. By the way, when you asked if I could understand Gargamel, I said no very resolutely. I do understand him. A little.
Well, it’s a kick for him, catching the Smurfs. I understand that. I like a good kick once in a while. I’ll buy mackerels and mash them in a bowl of quicksilver and add some smoking hot licorice and some horse snot, folded into puff pastry. If you take that, you feel very good, you get really high. It can make you feel whatever. Until you come down again. Then you disappear into nothing, like in a swamp. So yeah, I get Gargamel.
Today’s the day your album is released. What do you do on a day like this? Do you eat some cake?
Well, it’s a day like any day. It’s not often that I have an album out, so there’s no ritual or anything. It’s a day with unexpected moments. What I do? I see a movie with you, we saw the Smurfs. I did walk into Rush Hour to see how the record looks in a store.
Beautiful. It’s nice to see it in stock.
Did you make the cover art yourself?
No, I wish. Stefan Glerum made it, he’s old friend of mine, who did the artwork for Rednose Distrikt in the past. He let himself be inspired by the music and listened to the album and then took elements from it and turned it in a sculpture, which he then photographed.
If you could be reincarnated as anything what would it be?
As Patrick, my cat. He’s got an amazing life. He lives like a king. If I look at Patrick, I think to myself: I wish I was you.
Your cat is named Patrick?
I love giving cats human names. Martin is also a fantastic name for a cat. Or Anne.
Would you rather be the CEO of a large company or miss one leg?
Miss a leg.