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Territory: The Netherlands
“The solo project of Arnold de Boer gives us a bunch of avant-garde elements loosely structured - like a child’s play - just to build his sonic world.” AOTY
“Zea is the solo alias of Arnold de Boer, vocalist in The Ex; using a minimal set-up of guitar and sampler, Zea creates a maximal one-man polemical punk funk pop juggernaut. Mechanistic but ramshackle with it, he deployed wobbling bass electronics, dub and scabrous guitar scrapings. There was sharp electro-punk poetry “taken to a field where donkeys grow” shouted with heart-lifting anger. Zea fills the veins and lights-up brains without neglecting to move your feet.” - Ears4Eyes
“I like African music, children songs and sirens” Arnold de Boer once said in an interview when asked to talk about his inspirations; “I also love the work of documentary maker Johan van der Keuken. The way he weaves his personal story and viewpoint into the stories of people, events and objects from all over the world, is very inspiring. I write songs with the same approach. In my songs you hear me in interaction with the world I come across.”
Arnold de Boer (1974, Makkum) started Zea in 1995 at a university campus in Amsterdam together with two school friends. Michiel Verburgh played drums; Corina Kuiper played bass guitar and Anton van der Kerkhof, a fellow student, joined on guitar. Arnold wrote the songs and the four of them recorded their first cassette tape “Lots” in Arnold’s parents garage in Friesland. After a year Remko Muermans was added to the band, playing sampler and keyboard.
Two more tapes (“Zooom” and “Leopoldo”) were released before Zea recorded their first full length album. In 2000 the album “Kowtow to an Idiot” was released on the Transformed Dreams record label. An intense period of playing, organising and touring followed. Zea played live on national radio and TV, played festivals like Lowlands, went to Studio Brussels and was played by the great John Peel on the BBC radio. In 2001 they did two tours in the UK. National broadcaster VPRO followed them for a year to make a documentary called “Op weg naar Stadskanaal”. This includes Arnold’s trip to New York and Boston, playing solo in the Sidewalk cafe, Brownies and the legendary CBGB’s club.
In 2002 Anton, Corina and Michiel left the band. Arnold and Remko moved on, shifted gear and accelerated. In 2003 a new album came out on Transformed Dreams, called “Today I forgot to complain”. Zea went to the USA and did two long tours, next to more touring in the UK.
A few 7”es later Zea released a remix 12” called “One Bomb Fits All” on which Melt Banana, Felix Kubin, Jason Forrest / Donna Summer and 1-speed Bike remix Zea songs. Zea as a duo was much more electronic with Remko controlling the drum machines, analogue synths and sampler while Arnold was playing guitar and singing. They shared the stage with many break core acts those days.
In 2005 Zea went to Russia for the first time. By then they had been playing all over Western Europe but this was the first trip to the east. Many would follow, including tours in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and the whole Balkan. In 2006 Zea recorded a live session at BBC Maida Vale Studio for Huw Stephens’ BBC 1 radio show and released the third album called “Insert Parallel Universe”. After six tours in Russia Remko did not want to go back to Amsterdam. He married Katya, the drummer of Russian girl band Iva Nova, and started a family with her in St Petersburg. The last tour Remko did with Zea was in Ethiopia in 2008, invited by The Ex; an adventurous end of a fantastic time and collaboration.
Arnold continued alone. In 2008 he recorded seven new songs, which he released on a 7” in January 2009 on his new record label called Makkum Records. He went to Ghana where he played live and recorded, which put down the basis for collaboration with Ghanaian musicians from different regions. In 2012 Arnold set up a studio in Ghana, in 2013 Zea played the Accra National Theatre and in 2014 Zea appeared on six different local and national radio shows, played for TV Africa and joined national star King Ayisoba at his album launch in Kumasi in front of thousands of Ghanaians.
In 2010 Arnold released the fourth Zea album called “The Beginner” on Makkum Records. A collection of 7”es followed. In 2014 the fifth album, called “The Swimming City” appeared. In 2015 Zea existed 20 years and released a compilation cassette for the occasion, called “The 7” Cassette”. Since 1995 Zea has played over 1500 shows in 35 different countries on six different continents.