One day before Van Son submitted his thesis, he was in the studio to record his carnival number. As he was singing the song, his girlfriend merged the chapters of his dissertation into a PDF document and checked all the page numbers. Then, when he received feedback on his thesis, it was the exact same day as the release of the music video. The defense of his thesis will take place on Friday, February 24, three days after Carnival. The PhD candidate won’t deny that he’s had a lot of late nights recently, but the result is Lonely Tony, his very first self-written carnival song. It is a dream come true.
“I always thought it would be fun to release a carnival song. Music is my passion and I like silly jokes: the perfect ingredients for carnival music”, says Van Son. Inspired by Peter Selie, a secondary school teacher with a similar dream who captured the entire process of creating a carnival song on camera, the PhD candidate decided to take the plunge. “I reached out to Peter Selie because he was my role model. The person who produced his songs didn’t have time for me, so what I did was enter all the parts into a music program with samples myself.” Through Fiverr, a platform for freelance jobs, he found someone in Bangladesh who was willing to help him make the song sound better.
“I sent him a few songs as examples of what I wanted it to sound like. He said that he’d noticed that all of those songs had a slower part. I hadn't even thought of that myself. Isn’t it crazy that someone from Bangladesh inspired me to adjust the song?” With the improved music, Van Son then dove into the studio to record. After mixing, tweaking and mixing again and mastering, the song was finally ready. The next thing on his list was recording the music video, which he did in his favorite bar: F.O.R.T. ‘Pie Debye’ at Matrix, the association bar of T.S.V. ‘Jan Pieter Minckelers’ (aka Japie). “It was the bar I visited the most so it was an easy choice to make, and the bar's committee liked the idea too.”
Finding extras for his music video was also a piece of cake. “The people featured in the video really wanted to be in it, I didn’t have to convince them at all. And as the shooting progressed and the beers kept coming, they got even more excited.” Half of the extras were from his own research group. Initially, they were quite surprised when Van Son announced that he had come up with his own carnival song. “When I told them I’d written a song and was going to make a music video, their first reaction was: ‘What? Why a carnival song and why a music video? But also: sure, I’m in.’ Then again, it can’t have been that much of a surprise, because they were used to my silly jokes.”
And many of these jokes can be heard in Lonely Tony, which is full of references to chocolate. The idea randomly struck Van Son when he was riding his bike. “The chorus came to me out of the blue. Once I had that, I thought it’d be fun to continue with the chocolate puns, like ‘I won’t leave you out in the cocoa-ld’ or ‘there’s a party at the chocolate bar’. That was something I could work with.” The success of these puns is also evident from the comments posted below the video on YouTube. Not only did other performers like Huub Hangop leave comments there, but many people also come up with new chocolate puns. “I think my favorite was: ‘It’s choc-full of people here, I hope no one has a cocoa-ld.’ They definitely understood the assignment!”
Chocolate manufacturer Tony Chocolonely also appreciated the PhD candidate's initiative. Before shooting the music video, Van Son contacted the company to tell them about his carnival song. “They said they’d send me a chocolate bar. I then asked whether they could put my name on it. That bar can be seen at the beginning of the music video.” The chocolate bar features his stage name Entert Eendje. That name is a pun in and of itself. “I wanted it to be something with duckies (“eendjes”) because we have a lot of rubber duckies at home; so I came up with the name Entert Eendje. Because he’s an entertainer, get it?”