The stories behind 'Why Don't We Give It A Try?'
Every song on this album is inspired by a changemaker who I’ve interviewed, and represents a societal cause. To me, hearing their stories really shed some light in a world that can often feel quite dark to me. I hope the album will do the same with you.
'Worthy' was inspired by my conversation with Caroline van Dijk, who works for the non-profit organisation Stichting Melania. This organisation focusses on supporting women in becoming independent. Melania strives to empower women economically; in this way they initiate sustainable development and initiate an inclusive society in which women's rights are respected. From an independent economic position, women can determine the direction of their lives themselves and participate fully in society. When I asked Caroline what inspired her most in her work, she answered 'seeing these women blossom once they realize that their worth is not dependent on anyone else, and that they're worthy on their own.
You can read more about the work of Stichting Melania here.
I first became aware of Zaïre Krieger when I was scrolling through the internet and I stumbled upon her spoken word performance 'Codeswitching', at TedXAmsterdamWomen. Mesmerized by her work and fierce appearance, I reached out to have a conversation with her.
She told me about her drive in her work and activism, and shared her vision on life - including all it's vulnerabilities. After speaking to her, I felt empowered and created the strongest protest song on the album: 'I Dream Of A World'.
Something I personally really love, is that Zaïre taught me the word 'sonder', which turned into one of my favourite words and is included in the song. It means 'the profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passing in the street, has a life as complex as one's own, which they are constantly living despite one's personal lack of awareness of it.'
You can follow Zaïre here, to stay updated on her work.
We also recorded a podcast, where Zaïre and I speak comprehensively about the origin of the song. Listen here.
This song was inspired by a conversation I had with Julia Jouwe; an activist for a free West Papua, and co-founder of the Young Papua Collective. Her grandfather, Nicolaas Jouwe, had a very prominent rol in West Papua. After he passed, Julia's journey to fight for the same cause began. We spoke about collective accountability, the drive of activists and the power of her family name.
We recorded a podcast for you all to hear more about the background of the song and the free West Papua movement, listen to it here.
You can follow Julia here, to stay up to date on her work.
'All That We Have' finds its inspiration in the conversation that I had with William Amanzuru: an environmental human rights defender and the team leader at Friends of ZOKA in Uganda. Friends of ZOKA is a group of environmentalist activists named for its members' love for the Zoka Central Forest Reserve, located in Adjumani District in the West Nile region of Uganda. They are fighting to stop the illegal plundering of the reserve and the entire environment in Adjumani-West Nile, which is under attack by illegal loggers, timber dealers and charcoal dealers.
We spoke about William's love for nature, and his wish that human kind will find back their connection to nature - since it's all we have. Therefore, 'All That We Have' became a lovesong for Mother Earth.
Read more about William Amanzuru and his work here.
Emma and I met in Greece, while both volunteering in refugeecamps. When I interviewed her for the album, she was relocated to London and worked for St Mungos - supporting homeless people. We spoke about the growing number of homeless people in London, and how tough the situation is for them. Emma said that one of the most painful things for them is that they are constantly being ignored by other people. Somehow we have the tendency to look away when we see someone who's homeless. But by pretending to not see them, we actually dehumanize them. Sometimes a look, a smile, or a chat, can already mean a great deal to them.
When I asked Emma why she dedicated her life to people who are in dire situations, she said 'I guess I want my life to be bigger than me'. This idea really spoke to me, and therefore became the core of the song.
Learn more about the work of St. Mungos here.
Alaeddin Janid is founder of two non-profits: Happy Caravan (education for refugeechildren in Greece) and Child Houses (a safe house for orphans in Northern Syria). During our conversation we spoke about the children who are cared for in Child Houses. One image that stayed with me after our talk was that Alaeddin said that if you look into the eyes of these children, no matter how young they are, it feels like you are looking into the eyes of an adult. Since they had to survive on the streets, by themselves, they were forced to grow up immediately. Furthermore, Alaeddin shared an anekdote about one of the children, who was about 9 years old. During play time, the teachers saw that this child was standing in the doorway, with a knife in his hand. When asked what he was doing, he answered 'I'm on guard, watching out for the kids'. It was in that moment that the teachers told him that he didn't have to take care of the other children anymore, he was safe now and adults were there to take care of him. Deeply touched by this story, Alaeddin said 'I know there is wisdom in pain, but I just want him to know how it feels to be free'.
This entire sentence formed the chorus of 'To Be Free' in the end, my favourite song on the album.
You can read more about the work of Child Houses here.
My first interview was with someone very close to me: my grandmother. For the album, I wanted to interview a great variety of people, and my grandmother has always inspired my with her deep sence of justice, and urge to stand up for what she believes in.
After growing up in an entirely different world than I did (during the Second World War), my grandmother spent over 30 years working as a volunteer for Amnesty International. I really believe that she has been a big influence in why I feel so deeply connected to social issues and doing whatever I can to make this world a little better. When I asked my grandmother 'how do you find the power to always keep going?', she said 'there's no other way'. This inspired me to write 'Change Will Come'.
You can read more about the work of Amnesty here.
The first and final song of the album were both written from my own perspective, and walk you through some of the questions that go through my mind when thinking about the world and humanity.
But the core of this album are the stories that I've enlightened above. To me, hearing the stories of these changemakers really shed some light in a world that can often feel quite dark to me. I hope the album will do the same with you.
Thank you for listening.