The parents of Mats Kruijmer (2004-2022) want his premature death to have meaning

The parents of Mats Kruijmer (2004-2022) want his premature death to have meaning
The parents of Mats Kruijmer (2004-2022) want his premature death to have meaning

The Amsterdam Mats Kruijmer was a freebooter who fully embraced life. He had just found his niche at the Herman Brood Academy, when two weeks ago he made a fatal fall from his home in De Pijp, deep in the night. He was eighteen years old.

Hanneloes PenAugust 20, 202203:00

Mats was a bouncing ball, even as a little boy. Totally free of fear. When he could barely walk, he was already climbing trees, doing handstands on the couch and, later, always skied off-piste during the winter sports holidays. The harder, the better. “Mats was an adrenaline junkie,” says his father Robert Kruijmer.

“It was a child who went down the slide first of all his peers,” says Sacha Vermeulen, who, born on January 11, 2004, knew Mats from an early age and is a good friend of his parents.

Every year Mats went on holiday to Spain with his father’s family, who was no longer together with his mother Justine Bakker, together with three befriended families who shared a porch on the Admiraal de Ruijterweg. “A very quirky boy, creative, sensitive and so sweet,” says Vermeulen, who belongs to the group of friends.

Press head

School could not interest Mats much. The system did not suit him. After primary school De Waterkant he went successively to Geert Groote College, Altra College Bleichrodt (special education) and Havo De Hof in East.

Solan Bitter (20) got to know him at the latter school. “I was immediately attracted to Mats. He had no mask on, was open, gave his opinion and didn’t pretend to be anything other than what he was. He didn’t box someone he didn’t like. He jumped in when two people were arguing. He was very mature. Mats taught me not to be afraid and to stand my ground.”

But Mats couldn’t settle in the havo either. He stayed there until the fourth grade, after which he decided, in consultation with his parents, to switch to vocational education.

Robert Kruijmer, music promoter by profession: “Mats had a busy head. He had ADHD and he didn’t like the medication he was taking for it. He started smoking weed to calm his mind. He took the rest of the joint.”

He did this too often to the liking of his parents, who often pointed out that it was better to cut back a bit. Vermeulen: “He smiled and said: ‘It calms me down. I like that.”

The best hugs

At the age of fourteen, he retired from his favorite sports: basketball and football. “He was pulled through the street,” says Vermeulen. “He was also always on the road and cruised through the city with his scooter: from East to West, from South to North. He often hung out on the street with friends or drank weed on the Museumplein. He often also drove by us, sometimes just to give a hug or to stay the whole evening. He could give the best hugs. He was a sensitive and caring boy.”

Mats loved the city very much. He had a tattoo on his chest with the Amsterdam coat of arms and roses around it. Kruijmer: “Amsterdam was his city, De Pijp his place. 1073 was in his profile name from Spotify and Snapchat.”

He was also a big Ajax fan, with his slender build he managed to sneak into the Arena through a hole in the fence to watch an important match.

Hip hop and Vivaldic

Last year he had a conversation with his parents about how he wanted to organize his life. He saw music management as his dream job. He reported to the Herman Brood Academy in Utrecht last September. He didn’t need his father’s wheelbarrow, who has worked in the music industry for years. “He wanted to do it under his own steam and in his own way,” says Kruijmer.

His parents were not surprised that Mats chose this course. Kruijmer: “He breathed music. He loved hip-hop but also listened to The Four Seasons from Vivaldi.”

Together they often listened to the song Catch & Release by Matt Simons, which was promoted by his father. “That was our number. It became Mats’ anthem, his favorite song.”

His eleven-year-old brother Jan, son of Kruijmer and his current partner Judith, also often listened to music with Mats. “He taught me about rap music and about new songs. Then we would sit together in his room and listen. He was my big brother and an example for me and my sister Yael.”

Just everything on the ride

Tyron Vanenburg (25) got to know Mats last September at the Herman Brood Academy. He made a big impression on me on the first day of school. I immediately heard that he was from the city and asked him: ‘Are you from Amsterdam too?’ He said: ‘Yes, from De Pijp.’ We hung out together from day one. He said that his school past was not a red line and that school was not a big deal for him. I recognized myself in him. We became closer and closer and encouraged each other to nevertheless make something of the training.”

Vermeulen: “He had just got everything ready, knew what he wanted, had good people around him and not just the street boys, but people who believed in him.”

Mats would work with Vanenburg in his recording studio. “Mats had the gun factor. He made friends everywhere and brought people together. He was a connector. He would soon sign his first artist, Damico. It hasn’t happened anymore.”


In the night from Saturday 6 to Sunday 7 August – his family had just left for vacation – Mats invited some friends. Kruijmer: “Mats was alone for a few weeks and said: ‘I’m going to work and chill with my mates.’ The first night he was going to make it a crazy night.”

They baked pancakes, made pasta, and decided to take LSD later in the evening. Mats became restless during the trip and could not be calmed, his parents understood from friends who were there that night. He jumped from a higher floor of his house, probably the roof, around 3.45 am and ended up eight meters further in the backyard of the neighbors across the street. “He wanted to fly,” Kruijmer thinks.

Mats’ parents want to tell the story, no matter how difficult it is to share it with the outside world. But his mother said at the farewell meeting last Monday in the Tolhuistuin in Noord: “Please, let Mats’ death have meaning.”

Blue hearts

Kruijmer: “We want to get a message across. Don’t let this be in vain. We want to say to young people: stay far away from LSD. Just don’t do it. Live your dreams but don’t play with fire. For Mats, the intention was to have a nice evening, but it turned out differently. Schools should pay attention to LSD use, even in the seventh grade. Because this stuff is dangerous. Then Mats’ death was not in vain.”

Corona also played a role in the fatal accident, Kruijmer suspects. “Young people couldn’t do much in those two years in corona time. They are now going wild at festivals, because they are afraid that we will go into lockdown again.”

Mats is flying high‘ is written on the farewell card, with three Andrew’s crosses on it. During the farewell meeting, he lay in a wicker basket on the floor, surrounded by candles. No obituary or hearse was involved. Mats was carried to a pickup truck by a guard of honor of friends and family under loud fireworks. Blue hot air balloons in the shape of hearts – Mats always sent blue hearts to friends – went up into the sky. His cremation was at Zorgvlied.

That afternoon all national radio stations broadcast the Matt Simons song for him at half past three. “Then you are a boss,” says Kruijmer.

Rapper Donnie brought the song at the farewell meeting Bat. It was tailor-made for Mats. Vermeulen: “Mats always fluttered through the night.”

The article is in Netherlands

Tags: parents Mats Kruijmer premature death meaning


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