Reading the stories on this website is a humbling experience, seeing that every person has been through so many things — both good and bad — and it only goes to show the evils of ignorance and presumptions, which may just rid one of many a great encounter. At the same time, acknowledging the scope of everybody’s inner world can become a maddening experience. When stuck in traffic or when boarding a bus, the realization that everyone there has a family to go home to (or not), with their own individual problems and pockets of happiness, who are having children, each with their own proper names and lives, etc., etc. can drive one crazy.
Did you know that there is a word for this? Sonder, or “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” I am afraid some people never have this feeling, which is unfortunate for themselves and everyone around them. But I am also convinced that an artist cannot live without it. The artist manages to internalize other people’s stories and turn them into art: in doing it, the artist makes the ocean’s vastness intelligible, drop by drop. In keeping with this analogy, we find that some stories are constantly and haphazardly pumped from the water’s surface, whereas others must be sought for at the depth of the Mariana trench.
I fear that my story belongs to the latter category, but don’t pity me because I’ve already come to terms with obscurity. Now let this be the introduction to my own little story about how a Dutch bloke decided to write an album based on the first publication by America’s greatest author.
People ask me what instruments I play, and usually, I respond with, “Whatever gets it out of my head.”
Music has been an outlet for me for more than half my life at this point. I come from Chesapeake, Virginia, a place where music (let alone any form of art or entertainment) is totally underrated, never even remotely appreciated.
In January 2022, I released my fifth studio album, “Hus.” It felt okay, but not particularly great, despite all the work I had put into it. I was taken aback by my own lack of enthusiasm at the time, but I wasn’t particularly surprised either.
Three years had passed since I started a side project, which began with a writer’s block. I had become tired of myself and felt trapped in my own image. A question sneaked up on me. Did I actually like my own music? Or, more specifically: would I listen to it if it were made by someone else? No, probably not. The answer surprised me.
I have just released my first solo album. It is called Mox Nox, a sundial motto that means ‘night, shortly’, and the theme running through the record is the passing of time, particularly the transition from day to night. Rather than writing songs specifically for the album, I looked through my songbook for things I had already written that fit this theme, and one of them (now called The Broken Song) jumped out at me as being a bit of a curiosity.
I’ve always been a night owl. I can be absolutely exhausted at 10pm, but by 11 my head will be racing with ideas. The Broken Song began its life during a nocturnal writing session, and its original lyrics made direct reference to being up all night. The song was clearly relevant – but it was also an underdog, half-written and still wearing its working title. I hadn’t thought about it in years.
Looking over the lyrics, I remembered that I had always liked the verses but struggled to come up with a chorus. I’ve never been too worried about following a verse-chorus structure, but I knew this song needed more, and I knew that it was stuck. The breakthrough came when I deleted my crappy excuse for a chorus and looked at the lyrics that were left. Quite suddenly, I saw that the song I had thought was about a particular event in my life was about something else entirely.
My mother used to say that when I was 2 or 3 years old, I was a little pest, but when music was on the television, it was silent; it was peaceful at home. I was absorbed in what I was wanting to do forever. Music.
I started my sound adventure learning sounds; I created them around me with a k7s recorder. I walked around the house reporting where I went, something like: “And now this is the sound of water, and let’s all listen…” turned on the bathroom faucet “listen, it’s the water singing…”
The Pilgrim is the artistic name I gave myself as a singer-songwriter and guitar player because I’ve done and studied so many different stuff, lived in many places, traveled and changed my life more than once. I’ve lived many lives in one, in the search for myself, guided by inspiration, challenging myself, learning so much and preserving my essence and sensitivity.
I live for freedom, truth, justice, compassion and altruism. I want to get moved, I want to cultivate special experiences, relationships and feelings, I want to investigate the dark sides of the soul.
They sat in that window seat for 5 days as we moved through the house as normal, 106 Erlanger Road in London. We had a pact in that house that came from somewhere deeply rooted, you could feel it in the wooden corridors, in the table, the cups and furniture, it said, you’re ok – whatever is happening inside and outside, we got you.
15 of us shared the space, the landlord, living out in the countryside, set it up years before to be a kind of sanctuary I guess. They interviewed prospective tenants and also trusted friends of friends to fill the rooms.
Some of my favorite moments and memories consist of being out on the road wearing a hat over greasy hair and some of the same travel clothes for days. Stepping out of the van barefoot to see the sights, the wind blowing my clothes as I look out over the expanses, I feel free of earthly possessions, free of the need to control how I look and feel, and free of the expectations of the outside world. Truly anonymous in a hat, I travel from town to town in and out of diners and cafes with my face slightly obscured. I’m just a traveler blowing through, never promising anything to anyone. I’m a transient presence for a moment and then I’m gone.
The songs in “Notes From Planet Earth” include Indie Folk, Rock, and Country styles. They deal with the disastrous direction our world seems to be taking driven by the likes of Trump and the GOP, and their kind worldwide. The songs are grounded in the understanding that without a major change of course, we’re in the process of degrading and destroying the world we live in rather than passing it on to the future in good shape. I hope these songs touch some hearts and that we pull off that change of course successfully.
Life during the lockdown and one finds oneself turning to the online world for community, support, and solace. The pandemic is a global phenomenon after all, and it would seem by the swell of blogs and posts on social media that millions of people the world over are doing the same. Social media explodes with information, disinformation, misinformation, distraction, and instruction.
One of the most shared posts by the online artistic community tells me ‘use the pandemic and the new reality to write that song, that novel, that screenplay you’ve always wanted to’ but this merely serves to impose a feeling of guilt -after all learning to adapt to the restrictions is difficult enough without the added pressure of trying to summon the muse and create new music.
What if I have no new ideas at my immediate disposal to inspire new tunes or fresh ideas to share with other musicians, let alone an audience?