Strange Boutique

For the 10th entry of our mix series, we searched and found the two kindred spirits that form Strange Boutique. Fueled by visual and auditory experiences, Nicole Martens and Femke Dekker translate their past wisdom into a vibrant and cosmic experience that surely will capture the beholder. Our editor Ocke Weeda has a short talk with the duo in order to learn more about their unique approach.

Hi Nicole and Femke, how’s it going? What are you up to these days?

Hi Strange Sounders! We’ve been great, how about yourselves? It’s been a busy couple of months with Nicole working on an elaborate art project for architecture firm MVRDV and Femke curating multiple projects simultaneously. As Strange Boutique we’ve had a wonderful summer filled with several musical adventures, and highlights such as playing at the Meakusma festival in Eupen in September and a magical boat tour in Croatia leading us to a hidden bikini bar.


Before we dive deeper, how did the two of you come together, and what is the synergy that fuels Strange Boutique?

We met through our mutual friend Nataša with whom we joined an all-girl DJ collective. We soon discovered that we shared a common interest in music that fell outside the collective’s sound. When Femke started hosting a party called Velvet Morning Disco Circle with Tom Trago, Orpheu The Wizard and Young Marco, Nicole had designed the flyers. As our musical interests were very much aligned and Femke felt the DJ booth would easily fit another person, we joined musical forces and became Strange Boutique. We then also started to collaborate on projects outside the booth occasionally, such as a monthly feature in Subbacultcha magazine, and partaking in exhibitions under the same moniker.


Both of you are involved in art, but take on different roles within the discipline, where Nicole creates and Femke translates. Is this something that sharpens your auditory and/or visual output?

Coming from different backgrounds but with overlapping loves, Strange Boutique is a classic case of the sum being greater than the parts. When we work together a new language emerges (both auditory and visual) that we would never have produced if working solo. That said, as we’ve been friends for so many years an echo of Strange Boutique is now present at all times, even when working on our own individual projects.


I experience a lust for exploration as a solo protagonist that vibrates throughout the mix. Is this something the two of you tried to achieve, or are there different goals in mind?

When we’re together we use one voice and although we might take different paths, the destination is the same. We also allow each other to move into different directions and as we both have an inquisitive nature we’re willing to follow one another into unknown territories. It’s like moving through a narrative that we construct together as we go along. So maybe it’s more an internal process where we try to listen to each others stories. We do hope that listeners become our fellow travelers though, so the fact that you feel like a protagonist in our story is a really nice thing to say.


One of our contributors Jannes Heidinga previously explored the realms of sonic art, where he advocates that more should be made and that our sense of art and science is dominated by the eye, called ocularcentrism. What are your views on this?

Jannes is right, ocularcentrism alongside other issues such as identity politics are topics that especially more formal institutes need to deal with. We do think though that sonic voices are back on the rise in the field of contemporary art and culture, and re-emerging radio culture has been one of the main enablers. Through online radio platforms, the voice as both a metaphor and material has made its way back into contemporary art.


Algorithms are increasingly dictating our lives through social media platforms by targeting audiences with information that is supposed to be useful for them. If you two were an algorithm, what information would you be distributing?

In a world plagued by idiocracy, we would love our algorithm to be the voice of reason distributing Trojan horses of intellect and empathy.


And lastly, a tricky one. If you have to drop either your sight or your auditory perception, which one would you choose?

To quote activist Helen Keller: “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.”


Thanks Strange Boutique, I’m going right back into the realm.