We caught up with Special Force band member Joel van Dijk to discuss discuss his story as an artist, and the evolution that came with being one. Special Force is a band comprising of members from all over the world operating from Los Angeles. The band is a mix of funk, hip hop, soul, psychadelia, and rock music which they refer to as a blend of the sacred and funky. Below is a video for their song, Special Force 99one, followed by a few questions we asked Joel to give insight on the band’s creative journey.
When did you decide to commit fully to creating?
It’s been a lifelong journey… of varying degrees of commitment. As a musician, I often create with others and help them with their visions without having to fully commit to my own. That being said, throughout the years I have a recorded three previous solo albums to making Special Force “Superhuman.” And its predecessor “99one”. I think now more than ever I am committed to making music for everyone, for the advancement of genuine art, and music for our ascension. Much of this came from the removal of my personal ego as the center of the music. It used to be Joel Van Dijk & Special Force, but I not longer want the focus to be around me, I want it to be an art piece, something that stands on its own, without the need for personal glory. I think that goal is being achieved in this project.
What lead you to explore and commit to the style of art/music you create today?
The lack of commitment to any particular style! This genre that I like to call “Wizard Soul” is a mishmash of vibes and styles. I love funk, I love sacred music, I love musicianship and advanced harmony, hip hop and rhythm… Special Force is also very much defined by it’s message. The message is big, it is unity, rising up to our potential, sharing of our wealth and talents, and ultimately rising the whole vibration of human family.
What/who are your biggest sources of inspiration?
I think when I look at artists over time who have inspired me most, there is a theme of grandiosity that underlies them. Artists like Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Sting, and Frank Zappa all express their art in grand terms. In terms of production value, songwriting, and the breadth of work these artists inspire me to think big and not worry so much about specifics of style or band configuration. My band, these guys and gals in Special Force also inspire me greatly. They inspire me with their sounds and their vibes. They create the sound which is Special Force with me, since much of our sound is their sound, filtered through the Force. Lastly, vibration itself inspires me. Crystal bowls particularly, in their strength of pure vibration touch me physically and spiritually. Harmonic movement also has the ability to touch and affect us and move our hearts. Part of the inspiration for the sacred aspect of Special Force is simply, vibration.
How has your craft evolved from when you started until now?
My craft has evolved during the gradual dissolving of the ego and need for personal accolades, and the evolution of intention from making music for myself to making music for everyone. Special Force is also what I would consider my best joining of different skills I possess. Guitar playing in itself is a skill (and my main instrument), music production another, singing, and songwriting all have their own learning curve, as well as some of the less preferable (by my standards) mixing aspects. I craft the music start to finish, recording, arranging, writing mixing etc… so each skill is present in the process and every album I have made has evolved this process. So now I know more about each aspects role in my music, what I can and can’t sing, when to let someone else shine, how to share the process with my musicians, how I want the record to sound and how to get it there. It’s always evolving.
Tell us about some of your personal life and personality characteristics that come across in your work?
I am a truthseeker, and for me the spiritual aspect of life pervades my experience. I am like many beings here, cycling in and out of connection and awareness, trying to strike the flowing balance in life. I find that my partner and wife Leah is my perfect counterpoint for this, she is one of the primary singers in Special Force as well as a talented artist on her own. Special Force is very much influenced by her presence in my life, from the songwriting, to the aspects of genuine expression, she encourages me though her encouragement and actions. She also keeps us a little more light-hearted, she is a joyous being.
How has your music/art developed you as a person and what have you learned about yourself through your craft?
I have learned through my path that it is just that, a path! With dips, curves, ups and downs, that all chip away at the block of human that I am, to be shaped into a beautiful expression of whatever that I may come to be. All forms of art are the same in this way. My art is comprised of individual pieces, but the true piece lies in the totality of who I am and will become in this life. Every new release is usually “My best yet” And such is life, constantly carving to become the best yet. But it is not a destination, one action and reaction creates the next action and reaction, and so on.
What are the biggest hurdles as a creator?
Distribution! Getting this music into the world in a meaningful way, to the people who will truly appreciate it is quite the task.
As an artist, why is expressing yourself/your work important?
Because I, like you, am a snowflake. I have a unique perspective, and the skills to express them. It’s my unique expression in the infinite of expressions. Everyone has one, and it should be developed. Chipping away the blocks of our forms to create masterpiece.
Do fellow artist and non-artist receive/understand your work differently?
Perhaps, there are musical aspects in my music that can be appreciated by those with a trained ears. Though I try and simplify the form enough for a common human to understand and be moved by.
What other creative outlets do you take part in, if any?
I enjoy painting on occasion, and I also make digital visual art that you can witness on my instagram page. I do all the graphics for Special Force, I like to design. I also like cooking, as it is a similar experience, rooted in creating with multiple elements and balancing them (this is the same process as music production)
In what other ways does art express itself in your life?
I think life is art, and we are always choosing and creating our master “piece.” Creation itself is expressing itself as an artist does. So even in a simple task such as organization, I feel like there is an art, a method of design that is expressed.
Do you give priority to creating art for your audience or do you mainly make art for your own satisfaction regardless of who “gets it”?
I am still searching for my audience, so they don’t have any expectations yet, but I prefer to make it for both of us. I believe that making a unique (but genuine) statement serves the greater good. Serving my unique instincts serves others in its expression.
What impact/meaning do you most want your art to bring to it’s audience?
Unity, and greatness. I am an idealist and I believe that a harmonious world is possible if we come together and combine our uniqueness. To inspire a Superhuman society and rise up to our potential of greatness.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I think the music is powerful played live, and I look forward to sharing the music with audiences everywhere. The full idea for the show is to be a theater show, with crystal bowls, dancers, theatrics and the like. I want it to be a trans-formative frequency raising experience for everyone.
Download the Special Force “99one” EP for free at:
specialforcemusic.com Also available on itunes, spotify, amazon music, soundcloud and more!
Directed, Shot and Edited by Ryan Calavano