Exclusive with Dutch musician Harry Kappen

by | Jul 8, 2024

Meet Harry Kappen

Who is Harry Kappen?

Harry Kappen [HK]: I am an independent Dutch musician, producer and music therapist. I am an experienced musician, a multi-instrumentalist, who played in many bands in the Netherlands and as a producer, I worked with a lot of Dutch pop bands. Since I was young, I have composed hundreds of songs, for my own bands or just for fun and sometimes for events or for Dutch television and radio. This year is special to me; I am honored by 5 nominations for the Josie Awards in Nashville and the ISSA Awards in Atlanta.

What is unique about you and your music?

HK: I find that difficult to say about my own music. I’m a guitarist by training, so the guitar is almost always a starting point when I write songs. I also grew up in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands, where there was a real rock culture. But otherwise I have a very broad taste and am influenced by many styles. From rock to folk, from funk to classical.

What or who shaped your music and who supports you?

HK: I am an independent musician who has been composing my own music from an early age. I worked as a producer with many bands in the Netherlands and toured Europe for a while. Of course, that also helped shape me. I have also been guided by Michael Stover’s MTSmanagement group for 2 years now. Because of him my career gained serious momentum.

When did you realize you were going to make music professionally?


Music is second nature to me, maybe even my first, so I have no choice but to do it.

In addition to making music myself, I work as a music therapist in youth care and I teach at the international Master’s program for music therapy in Rotterdam (Codarts). The combination of everything works for me; making my own music, but also using music as an instrument for others in a therapeutic process in mental health care.

What inspires Harry Kappen?

Harry KappenWhat type of music do you listen to?

HK:  I listen to many types of music. Currently I listen a lot to Knower, a band by Genevieve Artadi and Louis Cole; great musicians. They all have very good musical (jazz) skills and certainly their own style. But there are also times when I listen to Motorpsycho, a rough Norwegian band. This band has also created its own sound over the years.

Paul McCartney and David Bowie always play a role in the background; I admire them very much, both as musicians but certainly also for their ability to reinvent themselves over and over again.

Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?

HK: There are few musicians who really break through, which is why there are an incredible number of good musicians who will never reach the general public. There should be an official monument for ‘the unknown musician’, a variation on the ‘unknown soldier’. Not comparable of course, but I just want to say that I have encountered many fantastic musicians in my life who will never be known. I don’t know whether that makes them ‘undervalued’. To me they really exist and I appreciate them all. Everyone has their own ‘value’.

Harry Kappen inspiring us

How do you prepare for your performances?

Harry KappenHarry Kappen [HK]: I don’t perform much at the moment, but when I did I was always very meticulous in my preparations; new strings, one or two spare guitars, and rehearsing as best I can with the people I play with. But over the years I have become easier at it; As a music therapist, improvisation plays a major role in the treatment, so I am no longer surprised by unexpected events. I am good at improvising, both logistically and musically. I’m not much of a gear, amp and effects nerd either. Give me an instrument and we’ll make something of it :)

What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?

HK: So I’m always busy with music, I can’t imagine a life without music. But if it were forbidden, I would paint and spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking. Compose/create with other means :).

Success to you is…?

HK:  For me, success is when I use all my talents to create something beautiful and original, which afterwards I feel like I can be proud of. So I do not express success in money, but in recognition by myself and the people around me. Over the years I have composed a lot of music, now it is the time for me to share it with a larger audience. The Internet is ideal for this and the fact that people support me in this feels like a great success to me.

What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?

Harry KappenHK:  I am satisfied with how everything turned out. Of course, as a teenager I wanted to become famous and rich as an end in itself, but as I get older I realize that that’s not what it’s all about; it’s about getting to know yourself, developing yourself, really becoming yourself and not wanting to be the same as the idols I had. My studies for music therapy have of course had an influence on me.  Self-awareness, enjoying the path to a goal and not seeing and appreciating the goal itself as the only result. And so everyone goes their own way. So if I wanted to give something to someone who is just starting out, it would be: get to know yourself, translate that as best as possible into being a musician, and trust yourself. Play a lot with others, gain experience, but eventually discover your own sound.

What is next for Harry Kappen?

Any upcoming projects?

HK: “Time will tell”, the full album that has just been released for 2 weeks, is currently only available on my website www.harrykappen.com. The new single ‘Cool down’ can be listened to on Spotify and all other platforms.  I’m already trying to figure out which songs will be on the next album. There is so much and I have to make choices. I love that process, I can already look forward to re-recording, improving and adding lyrics. I’m lucky that I won’t be ‘dry’ for a long time. Furthermore, I would enjoy helping other artists and bands or projects further on their musical path, as a producer, songwriter or in any other way.

Where do we find you music?

HK: On my website of course www.harrykappen.com. and beyond on every streaming platform there is.