The making of (Everything Grows)
It's a big day (for me). Actually, I'm writing this two weeks in advance. But on the day you're receiving this e-mail, Everything Grows is released. And today I'm writing about how it was made.
First, we have to go back to two years ago: The Mirror was released, and just like that, there was room for new songs in my head. I had some vague ideas about where I wanted to go next, but a clear picture was still far away. In a moment of naive optimism, I decided to book 10 days at recording studio Katzwijm in Voorhout in September: “we’ll figure it out”.
So now there was a deadline! I wanted to have a ‘base track’ (scratch guitar/vocals and some drum samples) for every song on the record before heading to the studio.
I failed pretty miserably! I had no lyrics for half of the songs and no base track for the other half. But we went ahead to the studio anyway and decided to just go for it.
Before this turns into a big sob story about the hard life of a musician: I absolutely loved my time at Katzwijm. It was nice weather, we had tons of time to work on the music so nothing felt rushed, and the studio is a wonderful place to be at. Drinking beers by the fire with Jasper, Kat, and Jim are memories I fondly think back to.
But it wasn’t easy: some of the songs simply weren’t done.
So after ten days of living at Katzwijm (okay, I went home for some nights cause apparently being holed up in a workspace for 10 consecutive days is not good for your mental/physical wellbeing) we were done for the moment. The day after we played a weird festival to an uninterested crowd, got rockognized at a Burger King on the way back and crashed at home.
The picture above sums it up nicely: now what?! In hindsight it all seems so easy, but at the time I was struggling pretty hard. Lyrics just weren’t working out, and songs full of potential just wouldn’t pan out the way I hoped. But I went on. In the next couple of months, I wrote, threw away, recorded, ctrl+z’d, rinse & repeat.
At this point, it might be good to understand my headspace at the time. It might also explain some of the themes on the album. I was feeling not-great about a lot of things. When The Mirror came out, many people seemed excited about this project. We had cool shows lined up, nice reviews, etc. But COVID wasn’t done, shows got canceled, and it felt like people were ready to move on to the next new thing.
The music industry, and especially the Dutch music industry, can often feel like a rat race. Writers, booking agents, and promoters: always looking for the next big thing. And as an artist, making art (typing this out to emphasize: we make art) - it’s hard to be a part of something like that without feeling confused, sad, and disappointed at times. You’re fighting a monster that you desperately want/don’t want to be a part of.
A friend of mine called this growing pains at some point. I think about that a lot.
But the big dumb thing is: I was making music (something I love) and lots of people enjoyed it (something that made me happy). So to quote a Sheryl Crow classic, later covered by the fantastic emo band Michael Cera Palin: If it makes you happy, why the hell are you so sad?
So there I was, with all those feelings, trying to finish a record. And I guess… I just did it. There wasn’t some magic moment, I just had to go through the shit and at some point there was a batch of songs that I am now incredibly proud of. They tell a story that I feel very close to and I hope that you, as a listener, might open your heart to them as well. And those feelings? They reappear, from time to time. But I know them a little better now, I can deal with them at my own pace: Everything Grows.
Everything Grows is out now. Buy it on vinyl/CD online or at your favorite record store. Listen on streaming or Bandcamp. Add it to all your playlists so the big scary algorithm knows that we exist. Share it with a friend and/or arch-enemy. Want to hear what I’ve been listening to? There’s a playlist.
Gefeliciteerd Jasper! Wat een prachtig geschreven stuk over de weg naar Everything Grows!