Jermaine Dunes: An Alien in America

Jermaine Dunes: An Alien in America

Anyone who goes to America for love is labeled a ‘qualified alien’. 31-year-old folk singer Jermaine van der Sanden said: ‘There’s no right word. “After ten years in Amsterdam, I suddenly lost my identity,” he says via Zoom from Topanga, a California village nestled between mountains and desert. ‘Somehow it was a relief to be naked all of a sudden, to reinvent myself and build something around this community of musicians. Yes, it was great, but I couldn’t earn any money in the first year in the US, which was not allowed under my residence permit. I was an outsider and had to take ten steps back and find my place again.’

He sings about it in the song ‘Always Affection’ from his debut album Midnight game, a whimsical song that reminds me of Laurie Anderson, with clashing swords, slurred vocal chords and the beat of distant vocals. As a ‘qualified alien’ she lands in the Promised Land, carrying a mountain of papers to prove she is allowed to enter.

To be clear: the love she left for America was Buck Meek. The guitarist for Big Thief, arguably the most important country rock/Americana band of the decade. A band that UFO (2019), Two hands (2019) and Dragon new hot mountain I believe in you (2022) delivered three brilliant albums, each of which ended up on annual charts. On 3voor12, and in many other music media. You could say: the most influential composer of the genre since Wilco. Jermaine met Puck a few years ago in Amsterdam by chance through a friend. “We met once, and then he wrote me long, sweet letters for a year,” she says shyly. “I moved to America first so Buck and I could be together.”

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