Hilke grew up in a musical family and was smitten with folk music from an early age. It was inevitable that her roots would lead her to begin practicing music herself. She started on the piano and recorder at the Schilde Academy, which later on was exchanged for the Academy of Arts in Turnhout. Although she has practiced numerous instruments since childhood, it was the diatonic accordion that eventually won her heart.
At the age of 16 she devoted herself to this great love as an autodidact. To open up the potential of her playing style and let in a fresh breeze of inspiration, she followed internships under Didier Laloy, Anne Niepold, Martin Coudroy, Simone Bottasso, Stephane Milleret, Aurélien Claranbaux en Emile Verstraeten. She obtained a master’s degree in “music therapy” at the LUCA (campus Lemmens Leuven).
Hilke appeared on several stages with her first folk group Sakura, with whom she won the competition at the Lindeboom festival in northern France and released a CD in 2011: ‘The Bea(s)t Inside’. Being a creative and composing musician, she doesn’t shy away from giving it her all to make sure that the music gets the energy it requires. She is currently an active member in Aidreann, Duo Brabants Bauweraerts and Duo Bauweraerts Van Hees (2017 cd ‘Fly In’). Hilke also teaches at the academy in Herentals and the Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege in Malle. Hilke plays an instrument by the French builder Bertrand Gaillard.
Debbie grew up with the pop music of the 60’s. However, it was the Beatles Anthology TV-series that marked a milestone in her early years: previously never been musically active, the latent urge to make music herself suddenly turned into a passion which continues to burn to this day. 13-year-old Debbie taught herself to play the guitar and began writing her first songs.
After having been active for a couple of years mainly in the pop and rock circuit with her youth group Juvenile, she met the sound of a Flemish bagpipe during a walk. This awakened such an overwhelming feeling in her that she decided to blindly follow this love at first sight.
The urge to make music her life became ever greater. However, her subject matter knowledge was insufficient to begin studying at the conservatory. Moreover, the bagpipe was not an instrument that was taught at a professional level, she thought. Until she was made aware of the bagpipe/baroque musette training at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven.
She decided to take the risk and registered for the preparatory year at the art academy in Antwerp where a completely new world opened up to her. The Lemmens Institute then followed. Within the framework of this field of study (more specifically in function of the chamber music exams) she put together a folk group with her favorite folk music instruments. That was the beginning of Aidreann.
Her current projects are Aidreann (Bal Folk), Klaproos (a project on the theme of war) and Pagan Sound Smash (own songs).
Since her father, Wim Brabants, taught the flute at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, Anneleen (1990) got born into a musical family. She started taking violin lessons at the age of six. Some years later harp, piano and viola lessons were added to the list, at the Kalmthout Music Academy. At the age of fifteen, she moved to the Academy of Arts at the Lemmens Institute where she graduated in 2010 with viola as the main and piano the secondary instrument.
During her teenage years, she came into contact with Folk through events such as Boombal, a genre that managed to capture her from day one. Numerous Folk internships (such as the well-known traditional music in Gooik, the Willy Clancy Summer School in county Clare (Ireland) and the Folk & Jazz led by Wouter Vandenabeele, Luc Pilartz, Toon Van Mierlo, Tcha Limberger, April Verch etc. contributed to creating her own playing style on the viola and also to learning to improvise, arrange and compose.
Folk is and remains her genre of preferance. Her experiences within this domain result in her own compositions and arrangements that are greatly appreciated by both listening audiences and dancers. Her compositions are performed by different Folk groups, each in close collaboration with herself.
Anneleen also remains active in classical music. She is regularly asked in ensembles and orchestras.
Her current projects are: Aidreann, Duo Brabants-Bauweraerts, Cosmo and Duo Brabants-Laureyssens.
These groups always have their own repertoire with in-depth arrangements that time and again bear evidence of new influences.
Since the hurdy-gurdy crossed his path, Thomas has been enchanted by the rich sound of this unique instrument. The infatuation became a true passion. Thomas followed intensive workshops & internships domestically (Martina Diessner, Iep Fourier, Hans Quaghebeur...) and abroad (Gregory Jolivet, Gilles Chabenat, Isabelle Pignol, Valentin Clastrier...) .
Several years later he turned to the crank himself with the young folk bands Kléan, Barnabas & Findus. Now he tours throughout Western Europe with the established balfolk formation Cecilia (with Jan Leeflang and Greet Wuyts) and since the summer of 2013 also with the promising young folk band Elanor. Since the spring of 2018, he is the new hurdy-gurdy player at Aidreann and he takes care of the traditional touch at the large-scale project “FolKK” (Folk meets KleinKunst) (a collaboration between Nekka & MuzMoz with Walter Evenepoel as an inspirer). In addition, he is a frequently requested guest musician at different ensembles.
Thanks to his background in computer science, Thomas can combine ancient sounds with the most modern sound techniques. This recently resulted in a new drone project duo: mOthA (with Maarten Marchau).
For many years, Thomas has also been a permanent instructor of his instrument, i.a. at the Stichting Draailier & Doedelzak (the Netherlands), at the non-profit association Westelfolk and at the academies of Dranouter, Gooik and Ghent.
Zjef Van Steenbergen
Zjef Van Steenbergen (1994, Arendonk) began playing the electric bass when he was twelve. After high school, he started his musical studies at the Academy of Arts in Antwerp in 2012, where he was taught by Piet Verbist. The following year he continued these studies at the conservatory in Ghent. Here he was taught by Nicolas Thys, Yannick Peeters, Vincent Pierins and Janos Bruneel, amongst others. He currently plays in various projects covering different genres (jazz, reggae, funk, pop, folk, ect.).