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  • Foto van schrijverRuth Bootsma

Behind... The Light


On a lovely day in August 2016, I drove to Baarn, a beautiful little town in the middle of the Netherlands. I participated in a workshop called Your Song in a Day. I was excited to learn more about songwriting - I released my first ever single a year earlier - from one of the best songwriters in the Netherlands, who wrote and still writes for known Dutch artists. When I arrived, I immediately noticed the trees that surrounded his studio, and it felt inspiring.

In the morning we started with an exercise – we had to describe our surroundings in detail. And right in front of me, behind a large window, stood the most beautiful tree with small green leaves and large branches. And that’s how I came up with the ideas for my first verse. At that moment still unaware of the story behind the song.

Our second exercise was about storytelling. I decided to write about loneliness. I realized we all feel lonely sometimes, but that some people are (or feel) structurally lonely. (Back in 2016, I volunteered at a nursing home for people with Alzheimer’s and I recognized that feeling.) But I also decided it needed a call to action. Because, to stop feeling lonely you will have to take action yourself. You are the only one who can change this feeling! And that’s why at first the song was called ‘Change’.

We spent some time writing on our own, doing some more exercises, and I worked together with Jan (the workshop host) on the chord progressions that would fit the idea I had in mind. The song came together, and by the end of the day, we shared our song with all participants. I was happy with the result… at least for a couple of days. But I also noticed that the song wasn’t there yet… It took me two years to figure out what was missing… Two years in which I barely wrote…

In the summer of 2018, I grabbed my old notes and started rewriting the song. I kept the verses and wrote a completely new chorus. And, by doing so, I also adjusted the bridge to fit in even more. My inspiration for the change of the story: a person close to me who suffered from PTSD.

She described to me that everything felt dark, that there was no emotion left in her, and that she didn’t know what to do anymore.

That’s how the original chorus:

I think about how it was

And how it should be

I’m afraid to fail

Afraid that no one else can see

who I am

I thought it all could change

And then it starts to rain

became…

I’m feeling blinded by the clouds above my head

I’m feeling frozen ‘cause I’m standing here alone

The clouds are crying the tears I hide

I’m falling – please bring me back the light.

I personally love the third line: The clouds are crying the tears I hide.

Even though she told me she didn’t feel a thing, which she described as darkness above and around her, I saw her pain and discomfort, the sad look on her face, and the depression in her eyes. And, when I drove home through a thunderstorm, the image of rain as a substitute for tears became the main idea for the chorus.

The last line of the chorus (please bring me back the light) is a cry for help, that leads to the call to action in the bridge. In the end: you need to change, you need to act. You can ask for help, but it’s you who need to do the work. That’s why I added a line to develop that idea even further. And that’s how

I have to change

I don’t want this no more

I couldn’t rely on myself anymore

I must do whatever it takes

I will change

I will change

became…

I have to change I don’t want this - no more - couldn’t rely on myself I was crying for help I tried it all…

So, whatever it takes I will do anything I will change! I will change!

But it took me a couple of years to actually embrace my song, and to finish it. At first, I started working on the (new) chord progressions with a friend of mine (a guitarist who loves metal). Unfortunately, that didn’t lead to a finished song, and that’s why in 2021, I took it to Nils Westerhoff. He had already produced two songs for me, but in a completely different genre. I asked him if he wanted to work together on a metal EP, and luckily, he said yes. Until that moment he hadn’t produced any metal, and he asked some help from Roel Kemp (a metal guitarist). With Nils and Roel I worked on the arrangement and in May 2022 we finished the demo of The Light. And now, a year later I have released my first ever symphonic metal single. I am super proud of the result!


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