From before I could walk, I was dancing to music. I really worried my Mum, because I would pull myself up on the barrier of my cot and just dance, but my legs weren’t strong enough so they started to go a bit O-shaped. But that love for music and creativity has always been there and it continued when I moved to Sheffield.
Moving to Sheffield:
I moved from the Netherlands to The University of Sheffield for a study abroad programme on International European Law. I’d vaguely heard of Sheffield before as some of my favorite bands – Bring Me the Horizon and While She Sleeps – are from here. Then I read that it’s the greenest city in the UK and I was like ‘yes, I’m sold, I’m going there!’. And I’ve loved it here ever since.
I mainly started being involved in the music industry in Sheffield. My background is musical
theatre, but shortly before I moved to Sheffield four and a half years ago, I started learning to play the guitar in the hope of writing my own songs. Then I started going to open mic nights and getting the taste of ‘oh, I can do this and I can actually write songs.’
I think I needed Sheffield to have that change of scenery. The new start that people always talk about – reinventing yourself at uni – it really is real. If you don’t have your family and everything that you know, you have all that space to discover the things you’ve always dreamed of.
The first time I did any singer/songwriter stuff was at The Green Room for open mic nights, and I’d never played guitar outside of my bedroom before. One thousand mistakes, lots of original songs (because I didn’t know any covers) and a whole load of nerves, but I instantly had a rush of adrenaline knowing that I could do it. So Sheffield was really important in growing from musical theatre to a singer/songwriter to forming a band and now… we’re headlining Record Junkee.
Being an independent artist:
Life as an independent artist has been pretty good so far. Ask me again in 10 years and I probably won’t feel the same way, but I only decided to fully pursue a musical career about a year ago. When I started performing, I thought it was quite late, as I’m now 26, but I think that even though I’m still a bit insecure sometimes, I have a bit more confidence in myself. I’ve proven over the years that I do know what I’m doing and whatever I do next I’ll find a way to make it work.
The whole streaming service era has made the industry less reliant on age. You don’t need to feel too old to do things. At first, my age was a bit of a barrier but I think it has made me stronger and less reliant on shit gigs that I know I can reject.
Also, it’s nice to build that momentum on your own. Although it’s daunting and very stressful, I’m doing everything by myself, learning about the music industry on the way.
Being independent also makes you diversify. At 26 with a law degree I would have expected to be a barrister, not a part-time barista. But I’m actually really enjoying it. Being an independent artist forces you to do more things that you love and be okay with the outcomes.
I got to the point where I was bored of being a solo artist so I just messaged the other guys to get them to join the band. We were already friends because Sheffield is a very close-knit community, especially if you are a musician. The funny thing is, my current guitarist is also my boss, the owner of the coffee shop where I work, so he’s my friend, employer and guitarist all in one. It all fell into place from just being here in Sheffield, making friends, and I love that you can go out in Sheffield and come home with five new friends.
What inspires my lyrics? Myself. Lyrics are very personal, it’s my view of the world, my experiences. I write in a very personal way because I only feel the need to write when I’m emotional. Although the songs are very personal to me, I try to write them so that other people can resonate with them too. That’s the beautiful thing about music.
But I’m also inspired by a vast array of artists. My inspiration grows and expands, but I always come back to artists like Florence and the Machine and St. Vincent. And there will always be a space on my playlist for bands like Bring Me the Horizon. It’s always nice to have a mixture of different sounds and different ways of writing lyrics to be able to pick from what inspires you and what works for you.
We recently did quite a lot of shows, just here, there and everywhere, which has been amazing and received well in all the cities. Everyone has been really receptive to a bunch of strangers playing some music that they’ve never heard before. We played Newcastle for the first time and I had no idea what to expect but the reception was so much better than I ever could have anticipated. The whole audience really vibed off our music, wanting us to come back. So we’ll do just that.
We’re currently working on Lio’s first EP which I hope to put out in the first half of next year. It’s been daunting. The last year has been a big learning curve, but I feel ready for it: I’m more excited than daunted.
Let’s put more songs out into the world!
Image Credit: Natalie Lam