Artist You Need to Know: Netherlands-Based Band The Young River

By Aaron Wagner

In a sign that country music’s impact and popularity is stretching past states south of the Mason Dixon line and past the coasts of California and the Carolinas, country music is making its impact in Europe, as this week we chat with a new country band from The Netherlands.

Meet The Young River.

The band of four is catching people’s attention for playing modern country music, something as they talk about, isn’t something that a lot of people listen to in their country. But let’s hope they start because these guys have a great sound to them. Think One Direction gone country.

Their most recent release is “Go Getter” which is a fun, tempo driving song that is such a catchy ear-worm that will have you playing it on repeat once you add it to your playlist. If the suits and business people on Music Row are serious about expanding country music’s impact globally, “Go Getter” is the exact type of song that should be the song they play to potential country fans.

Another one of my favorites is “Ghost Town” which showcases just how great their harmonies are together. They’re legit. A must listen.

We were fortunate enough to chat with the band about how they were formed, their introduction to country music, and what they hope to accomplish in the music space.


What’s the story of how the group was formed?

We all studied music at the Dutch Conservatory and have been friends kinda since the very first day we met. We all listened to very different styles of music but we had one thing in common: We all loved the modern country sound that Nashville was producing. We decided to try to write some music together and we had so much fun that from that day forward we met almost every single week to work on this project, later to become The Young River.

Ever since we have been a band our friendship has only grown stronger and it is a blessing to be able to travel and make memories with your best friends while playing the music that you love. Since modern country music isn’t really known in the Netherlands, or even Europe, one of our primary goals is to make people fall in love with the music we love on this side of the ocean. But if we’d get the chance to cross the ocean and play in the US we wouldn’t hesitate for a single minute!

What drew everyone/the group to country music? Is it fair to assume that country music isn’t too popular in the Netherlands?

Well…those are 4 complete different stories…

First of all, what you assume is ABSOLUTELY TRUE. When you mention Country music in the Netherlands people immediately think of Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. And don’t get me wrong, they are both amazing, but nowadays country music is so much more than that. We all fell in love with the more modern and more poppy sounding country music but most of the people in the Netherlands, or even Europe, don’t even know of the existence of this genre. Since a few years it is slowly growing and getting more media attention, but since discovering country music via the normal media routes isn’t really how  it works on this side of the ocean, all four of us came across the genre in different ways.

Our lead singer Nick always has been a fan of American sounding (which means polished and produced here in the Netherlands) Rock and Pop Punk bands. One day he came across “Long Hot Summer” by Keith Urban, which basically was a Pop Rock song with a banjo. He immediately fell in love with the sound of the country instruments and songwriting. From here on he went down the modern country rabbit-hole and discovered a whole new world which would later become the biggest inspiration for his songwriting and ultimately the start of the band.

Our bass player Timmy grew up on country music since his father was a big fan and was always playing modern country music in the house. 

Our drummer Gijs has lived in Australia for a year. He had to drive lots of hours through backroads that seemed never-ending. That was when he discovered that country music was the best road trip music.

Our Guitarist/Banjoman Martijn has always listened to southern rock so he has always been drawn to the southern sound. When the rest of us introduced him to country music he too, was sold.

Who were some of the artists that you were “raised on” and have influenced you as artists? 

We were all raised on very different artists but one thing they all had in common is that they were from the US. Nick grew up on mostly Pop-Punk acts such as All Time Low, Simple Plan & Mayday Parade. Timmy grew up on Punk bands like NOFX & Rancid, Gijs on Arena Rock such as Bryan Adams but also Nickelback & Martijn always had been drawn to the more Rock sound of acts such as 3 Doors Down. We all (except for Timmy) were introduced to country music a little bit later in our lives. Nowadays our shared inspirations are acts such as Keith Urban, Dan + Shay & Hunter Hayes.

Your most recent single “Go Getter” is so fun and fresh. What was the songwriting process like and why did you want to release that song as your next single?

This is kind of a funny story.

We had been writing for a while and collected a few songs that we really liked but it felt like a real single was missing. One day when our singer Nick was on his way home, the melody of the chorus of “Go Getter” struck him while driving. Instead of heading home he took a left turn and headed straight to the studio to finish a work tape. As soon as we all heard the track it was clear that we found the single, even though we had no idea where the production would go.

We headed into the studio to experiment and try to get a vibe for the track. We wanted to combine modern beats and sounds with classic country instruments while maintaining an uplifting rock vibe. This was quite a challenge but since we self-produced the track we had the time to craft the sound we were looking for. Also Covid made sure that we could erase all the shows in our calendar which is a bummer but kinda helped us focus on recording and releasing the track. “Go Getter” felt like the right track to release as a follow-up on our latest EP Taking The Wheel because it has a feel-good vibe (and we are happy people) but also because the track is a combination of modern pop, classic country and Rock. Basically everything we like!

What goals do you have as a group, making country music in the Netherlands? 

One of our main goals is to make people familiar with the genre here in Europe. We have played many festivals where people were really impressed that a banjo actually can be really cool! We would love to play more countries all over Europe and spread the word! But as we said, If we are able to play in the US it would be a dream come true. Also we are planning to release lots of songs and we want as many people as we can.

FAST MONEY ROUND

Dream collaboration: Keith Urban

Favorite album of all time: Dan + Shay – Where It All Began

Song you wish you would have written: Tequila, Oh My Gof. What a track!

The best concert you’ve been to: Country 2 Country Amsterdam. So amazing to finally have some great Nashville artists over here.