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Biography

I would like to take the opportunity to tell my own story on this website. Anyone listening to my new album, will immediately notice that it sounds very different to the music I used to make. I would like to share my story with you on this website, in order to clarify how this process has transpired.

Most people will know me as “that girl of Ambeon”, at that time only 14 years old. I had been making my own music for years, but as a 14 year old girl, I got the chance to record an album which was called  'Beautiful Red' (2000). It’s a fragile album, with a clear voice and simple piano accompaniment. Some of the lyrics were a bit on the dark side. During that period I was not very happy, I often felt lonely and had many negative thoughts about myself and the world around me.

This album was sent by an acquaintance, without my knowledge, to Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon), who I, at that age, had never heard of. Arjen, so he told me later, is not usually fond of listening to demo’s, but very soon our telephone rang. Arjen had listened to ‘Beautiful Red’ and was impressed by my voice. Would I be interested in singing a few songs on his next album? I was curious and Arjen sent me some of his new music, so I could get an impression of what he was making. I could write my own lyrics and melodies, which made it very attractive to me. During  the following months, I traveled several times to Arjen to record and what was intended to be an instrumental album with a few vocals, turned out to be an album with only two instrumental songs. I like Arjen very much and very much liked working with him. It was also very special to me that I had the opportunity to do this as a young girl. This is how 'Fate of a dreamer' (2001) was born, and soon the album was for sale in many stores.

After the appearance of Ambeon, a very busy period began. Many interviews, also by telephone with media abroad, standing on podia at major festivals, my face and story in many magazines, and many people who wanted to talk with me about my music. Actually I didn’t like it all that much. There were many questions about the meaning of the lyrics on Ambeon, but I didn’t like to talk about that. In my opinion, everyone just had to interpret it in their own way. When I look back on this period, I understand why there were questions about specific numbers, as some lyrics had a very dark content and atmosphere.

After the promotional period around Ambeon I was in need of some rest, but at that time I couldn’t find the rest that I was longing for. In my family were tensions that led to the divorce of my parents, and I wasn’t doing well myself either. I was an annoying teenager, and my feelings of loneliness and my negative thoughts about myself and the world around me became bigger and bigger. I was home less and less, and eventually I ran away from home and went to live with a good friend. At that time I entirely cut off my relationship with my parents.

Some time later I went to live (anti-squat) with friends, where at first I had my own room and later I shared a room with a good friend. It went further and further downhill with me and a heavy, depressive period began. I spent most of my time alone and found it very hard to pass the time. I was already not going to school anymore, I drank a lot of alcohol, used drugs on a regular basis and I felt more and more empty. My self-esteem was minimal and slowly I developed an eating disorder. For months I lived mainly on wine and beer, marijuana and other drugs, and on what some housemates gave me and occasionally cooked for me. Occasionally, my sister brought me a big box full of food, hoping that I would eat from it.

In this difficult time I wrote the songs on ‘Seamless Borderline’ (2005). In the lyrics on this album you can read about my difficult memories of my home, the pain I felt inside, the little confidence that I had in other people, my addiction and my longing to not exist anymore. I started damaging myself by cutting myself, because I felt an urge to still feel something through all the emptiness. However, I didn’t want others to see and always kept my arms covered.

In this same period, I joined the band 'the Endorphins', along with Dennis Edelenbosch (Stone in Egypt/Mirna's Fling/The Good Hand) and Arjan Hoekstra (Sidius/Mirna's Fling/The Good Hand). Making music together with these good friends felt good, and we had some great gigs. But I felt less and less comfortable on stage, because I often felt anxious and confused and didn’t feel the need to share my music anymore. So at some point I decided to no longer perform live. Rehearsing also became increasingly difficult for me, because I was not doing well, which eventually led to the choice of quitting the band.

A few years later my sister, after a long talk, persuaded me to live with her. Being with her, I used less alcohol and drugs and I ate what she so lovingly gave to me. I composed a lot of music and also made many recordings, however these recordings were never released on album. This music felt too private, and I did not feel the need to share it. Making my own music, in retrospect, has been a form of therapy for me. I made music to express myself and it was also my way of handling my feelings.

After a while I went to live on my own again. Here I didn’t have my sister to watch me, and again it went from bad to worse with me. During this time I realized that I no longer wanted to continue my life like this. I felt stuck in my situation, and I felt like I wouldn’t be able to get out of it by myself. I felt strongly that it was time to make a choice. The choice whether I wanted to end my life, or wanted to go looking for a possible alternate way out. This possible alternate way out, I saw in the professional psychological care. Although I was skeptical and negative about it, I decided nevertheless that I wanted to go for it and give it a fair chance. My sister helped me to find this professional help. After a long search, going from institution to institution, and being sent to one social worker after another, we did eventually find something.

For one and a half years I had intensive counseling, during which I worked hard on my self esteem, my negative worldview, my difficult childhood memories, my eating disorder and my addiction. I underwent this counseling with many mixed feelings, because my negative and skeptical attitude was sometimes hard to break. Yet I realized that if I wanted to give it a fair chance, I really had to go for it. This gave me a lot of willpower and perseverance, which made me able to take big steps in the process of working on myself. In this period I also made the choice to, after seven years, restore the contact with my mother, in the first place because I had many questions. This restored contact really helped me to, very slowly, become myself again. I could take down the wall that I had build around me in all those years, brick by brick. When I had taken down most of my wall, I found a very different person inside. From beneath the bitter and hard layer, a very tender and sweet person came forward. Someone who is longing for harmony and warmth. Someone who is longing to feel and share beautiful things. Someone who, in an almost childlike and uninhibited way, dares to be happy again and is able to feel happiness. It seemed as if, through my dark clouds, a light had begun to shine. It seemed like I literally had seen the Light. I kind of felt reborn. This was the person who spent years locked up inside of me, and so longed to be free and to exist. Still I had to keep working hard on myself, because it was a long struggle. Even after the treatment, I continued to work hard on myself, and I noticed that it kept on getting better and better.

In 2009 I decided that I wanted to go to college, and pick up a study again. I had no qualifications, but I very much wanted to study on my own level. I also strongly felt the need to do something meaningful in my life and help other people in difficult periods of their lives, and so I took an admission exam for the study to become a social worker. My study is going very well, and I am grateful that I still have got the opportunity to be able to go to school again.

After not having been making music for quite some time, I very strongly felt this need again. But where I at first made music out of 'emptiness', I noticed that now I wanted to sing about things I had learned and about the insights I have gained. I now want to make music out of ‘fullness’, to share my happiness and harmony. This is also the reason why my new album, ‘Het Licht der wereld’ (2012) sounds so different. In my music you can also hear that I've developed a great love for classical and oriental music. What is also striking, is that this is my first Dutch album. I noticed that my own language gave me more opportunity to express exactly what I feel and mean. Singing in my own native language feels much more intense to me. I also felt the need again to share my music, in which I would like to express what I have learned about myself and life. I want to give other people something with my music, and I hope that it may mean something to some people.
Looking back, I now see that my black worldview and my great feeling of emptiness were caused because I am a very sensitive person who completely turned away from positivity and Light. I was so impressionable for everything negative around me. This, in combination with my alcohol and drug use and not eating enough, made me entangled in irrational fears and unhealthy thought patterns. I've really gone through a very deep and dark period, but I have come out a very strong person. I learned a lot about myself and about other people. I hope that I can inspire people, by showing that by hard fighting, positive thinking and the courage to ask for and accept help, you are always able to overcome your problems. And don’t get discouraged, if you seek help, if someone doesn’t understand you, but search on for someone who does, and where you feel good about. I am convinced that there is help for anyone who seeks it.

When I now look back on the music and lyrics that I have written in the years that I was not doing well, I find myself looking very differently at it. In these years it was very necessary for me to be able to express myself in this way, and therefore I am very grateful. But what I do regret is that, by releasing this music, I sent a lot of negativity into the world. I understand that this was caused by the way I stood in life back then, but I can no longer approve of it. The negative message I conveyed, contradicts the positive message that I now want to convey. However, I can imagine that there are people who maybe recognized themselves in me, and felt understood. I can very well understand if this brought some people understanding and perhaps consolation. If, in this way, I have been able to help other people a bit, then that’s a beautiful thing.

‘Het Licht der wereld’ is an album that shows very clearly my current worldview. It's about Light and love, positivity, about feeling carried, and about asking for help and receiving it. What you can also clearly hear in this album, is my love for God, which I again got to know in my quest for help, happiness and meaning. I am aware that some people may have a problem with the use of the name 'God', and that some people associate it with negative feelings. I would like to make it very clear, that I do not mean God as how the church often depicts Him: judgmental and punitive. For me, God is love, light, positive thinking, the power that created everything and keeps everything in balance. It is a name, which I myself feel comfortable with. Everyone is of course free to choose and use their own words and interpretation, such as ‘Universal power’, ‘Source’ or other names.

I would very much like to thank the people who have helped me on my way, for all they have done for and meant to me. In particular, I would like to thank my dear sister for always being there for me, and my dear mom, who full of love helped me to find my way towards the Light again. En of course I would like to thank God, our dear Father, for I know He is the source of all things!

The last thing I would like to say is that I hope that many people enjoy my music, and may feel touched and supported by this album. I would like to read your reaction on my Facebook page.

 

 

 

©2012 www.astridvanderveen.com
website by Linda van der Veen
thanks to Joris 'Sygmoral' Debonnet for the domain