Admiral Freebee

Admiral Freebee is the stage name of Antwerp singer-songwriter Tom Van Laere. His music is sometimes described as roots-rock and is at times reminiscent of Neil Young. Van Laere has an enormous fascination for Ensor. Now his Einstein Brain is musically interpreting the KMSKA collection.

  • Antwerp singer-songwriter
  • Nickname: the ‘Belgian Neil Young’
  • Sings the joyful despair
  • Fascination with James Ensor


Enforced metamorphosis

"A persistent arm injury forced me to put my guitar aside. As a result, I started working with keyboards and all kinds of electronics. Keyboards allow for more than a guitar, so it provided a new, fresh way of working. Now my songs sound more cinematic. But the joyful despair is still there, you know. It’s in my DNA.”


"These days I read a lot of short stories by Chuck Palahniuk, known for his novel 'Fight Club'. It fascinates me to make music from the point of view of the narrator. Looking back at what happened. And then to put in the cathartic feeling of grief or loss that a song sometimes needs. You can do such themes musically very well with a keyboard.”

Oasis of peace

"For me, the KMSKA was always a place that offered peace in a city that could be too busy. I am looking forward to spending time in the new and renovated museum halls again. As Artist in Residence, I feel like a resident and an ambassador of this temple of art on the Zuid. A great honour!”

The effect of art

"Coming into contact with old and modern masters gives new energy, inspires me. Admiring and studying the works of art repeatedly brings new insights to my music. I also like to observe people: how they look at art objects and talk about them."

Embracing the mystery

"Looking at art enhances the mystery that is art. I am not looking for answers, but for new questions. It is amazing how technique and form generate content. Therein lies for me the mystery of making music. By helping to magnify the mystery rather than coming up with answers, I hope to make a difference as Artist in Residence."

Joyful despair

"Ensor inspires me the most, perhaps because he’s from the province West Flanders... My mother is from the same province. Ensor shows us the mask we wear. Our fears arouse desire, so that we forget our mask. Ensor shows us joyful despair, which is exactly what I also want to express in my music. The undercurrent of absurdities motivates and drives me in this."

Favourite date

"I'm going for a double date. A meeting with Melanie de Biasio and Elise Mertens. This is not Ensorian desperation. I'm just inviting them to 'my' museum!”