Monthly Archives: April 2015

Language and distance

As you’ve probably read in one of my previous blogs, I’m living in The Netherlands.
Thanks to the internet distance doesn’t have to be an issue. The work that I’m doing can be done from anywhere and there are endless options to get in touch when we need to talk things over.

Though sometimes the distance can be a bit frustrating. Almost everything we do, goes through email, the easiest way to get in touch with people. That works very well, but sometimes it would be easier to just pick up the phone and call. That would become a huge expense though, so if phone calls are needed with people from the UK, Robb is doing that himself.
Glad he does, cause even though my English isn’t bad, it’s not my first language… Writing English is a lot easier for me than speaking English, cause when writing I simply have more time to think about how I am going to say things. So, unless it’s really urgent, I’ll just let Robb do the talking. 😉

The language sometimes leads to awkward situations….
I remember that at some point Robb was asking me a question and I didn’t understand what he said… Robb can speak English very fast and what he asked sounded like one big word… I think I asked him 3 or 4 times before I understood what he said. I was about to tell him to text me the question so I could read it.

And….some words in English are just really weird….they sound like Dutch words, but have a completely different meaning in Dutch… The same thing the other way around… Dutch is not an easy language….and it’s very hard for English speaking people to pronounce Dutch words… Vowels are pronounced differently and that’s funny! If Robb and the band are here for a tour, I often get questions about Dutch words…
Robb took the picture below during a tour:
I had some explaining to do about the word ‘slagroom’…
It’s not pronounced the way English speaking people would pronounce it and has a different meaning than you’d probably think it has 😉
Slagroom = whipped cream

I forgot to ask but I hope they ordered the coffee with apple pie, vanilla sauce and whipped cream!

As for the language, that never was or is an issue. We perfectly understand each other…maybe not always right away, but eventually we do!

There have been more moments that I wished I’d live closer.
With the album release for example. A lot of work needs to be done for that and how easy would it be to just be able to step by for coffee and help with the packaging of CD’s that needed to be sent out or other things like that.  Or simply go to a gig…it’s just not possible.

And there’s that thing that I can’t watch or view everything from the BBC.
That led to some frustration yesterday!
Last night BBC Two NI broadcasted The Arts Show in which Robb performed The Darker Side.
Unfortunately I couldn’t watch the full show, but thankfully BBC Ulster uploaded Robb’s performance on YouTube, so at least I could watch that!

But benefits are there as well. The distance makes the moments you do see each other more special. Another positive is that nothing really is usual. Sure we got used to working this way, but there are always differences, simply because things are different in The Netherlands than they are in the UK. It’s more challenging to make it all work. Besides that, because I live in The Netherlands the word is spreading over here and due to that, Robb is able to tour in The Netherlands.
A third tour is being organised at the moment…. Good subject for my next blog!

Watch Robb performing The Darker Side for The Arts Show.

If you missed The Arts Show yesterday, the show will be repeated on Monday, 4th of May, 23.20 GMT on BBC One NI.

Inspiration and motivation

When I started this blog, I was wondering if I could keep the writing going. But there is so much to write about and to share…so here I am…writing blog #3 within one week.

In the past couple of days I’ve been thinking about what inspires me, and what motivates me to keep doing what I do behind the scenes. The first thing that came to mind is that it brings me energy. It simply doesn’t feel like work. But why? That’s not an easy question to answer, cause there are so many reasons why this brings me energy.

One of the reasons is the constant challenge to make things work. Like I wrote in my last blog, sometimes things turned out to be a waste of time and money, but that’s simply how it goes. You won’t know, until you’ve tried. The challenge is to come up with another idea, try something new and make it work. There’s not a handbook for musicians to find which tells you step by step what needs to be done to succeed. Of course there is a lot of information to find on the internet and some websites do have really good advice for musicians, but you will have to make your own plan and try things to see if it works. It’s a matter of not giving up. There have been numerous days when I didn’t feel confident that I could get things sorted or make things work. It’s how you deal with the disappointments and rejection. It’s a learning process. There never was a moment in the past few years that I thought about giving up though. Until now it’s always been two steps forward and one step back, followed by two steps forward, one step back and so on, that’s not bad at all! 😉

And there’s that thing that you just have to like challenges when you’re working with Robb Murphy. To give an example…(this is only one of the many examples I can give…) Robb came over for a tour for the first time. Getting a tour sorted is a lot of work and doing that for the first time is pretty stressful. I was happy that I got everything sorted. At least I thought I had everything sorted…including instruments for the band to use when they were here. Robb got in touch with me about a week before the tour saying he had good news, but that he’d probably make my head explode. Another band member could come along, the bass player…but…a bass guitar and an amp were needed… Well…talk about a challenge…where was I supposed to get a good amp and a bass guitar at the very last minute?? Thankfully I had an idea pretty fast and it all got sorted, but it sure was a challenge…

But…back to what I was writing about…reasons why the work I’m doing behind the scenes is giving me so much energy. The many positive things that happen are one reason.
Another positive, is the increasing amount of people who’ve listened to Robb’s music. Even though we know there are a lot of people who will like Robb’s music, the key is to find those people. It’s hard to find them and even harder to get those people to listen to the music. Thankfully, there are a lot of people who do take a couple of minutes to listen to the music and it’s really great to see when they share it on social media. Those people probably don’t have a clue how much it is appreciated, but it is really helpful and great to see people sharing music online.

Another reason is the kindness of the people we’ve met and worked with. From venue owners, to DJ’s, musicians lending their skills, blog writers, promoters, bookers, support acts, people lending us instruments to use while on tour, fans who are spreading the word and people who just give a helping hand. Really great experiences that inspire me and keep me motivated.

And last but not least…it’s fun to do! We laugh a lot and silly things happen a lot. I suggest you just go and check out Robb’s Vine page to see what I’m talking about 😉


Where there’s a will, there’s a way…

As you can read in my previous blog, I’ve been working with Robb Murphy, singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland for the past 2 years. A while ago I started thinking about writing blogs about my experiences, because a lot has happened over the past few years and a lot has changed. I decided to give it a go and start writing. So here I am, writing another blog.

What started out with sending music to radio stations grew into so much more.
Thinking back makes me laugh, cause how little did I know when I started helping out Robb. Like so many other people, all I saw/heard was the finished product…an album. I never really thought about the work that’s being done before and during the release of an album and what needs to be done to spread the word.
I was lucky enough to see the process of making the album ‘Sleep Tonight’. Robb wrote a blog about it some time ago. Gives an idea of all the work he and everyone involved did to record the album.

I really admire the perseverance, creativity and skills of all musicians involved.
Perseverance is probably the most important trait a musician/singer-songwriter needs to have. Without that you really won’t get far. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Finding that way is a different story though. There really is a lot of work to do when you’re an independent singer-songwriter and to keep things going, having a helping hand is not an unnecessary luxury. The work is never ending. There are endless options and opportunities and there are so many tools that can be used to spread the word.
But not everything always works and it’s hard to know upfront what will work. You need to try and find out. Do it and after a while you’ll know if something worked out the way you hoped for or not.
If not, then you just need to move on and focus on what does work, try new things and hope for the best.

Hope…that makes me think of a quote from Shawshank Redemption…

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies”

Shawshank Redemption…one of the best movies ever and it makes me giggle, cause something funny happened about 2 years ago…
During a conversation with Robb, Shawshank Redemption came up. It came up because back then I tweeted Tom Robinson (BBC6 Music) every now and then to ask him to play Robb’s music and it reminded Robb of that movie.
Andy Dufresne, the lead character, applies to the Maine State Senate for funding to expand the prison’s library. For years he gets no response to his weekly letters until the Senate finally sends him $200, thinking Andy will stop requesting funds. Instead of ceasing his letter writing, he starts writing twice as often. It results in a major expansion of the prison’s library collection.
I remember that I was joking about it, saying I would tweet Tom Robinson twice a week then to get him play Robb’s music.

I went on tweeting Tom Robinson every now and then….
Robb responded to the next tweet I sent to Tom Robinson, saying:
“she’s going to do an ‘Andy Dufresne’ on you Tom, good luck ;)”
A couple of weeks later I found out that Tom Robinson blocked me on Twitter.

So….here’s some advice…don’t tweet to Tom Robinson to ask him to play a track too often….cause you’ll be blocked. In case you’re wondering….I’m still blocked. Think I’m facing a life sentence here 😉
This is a perfect example of something that totally didn’t work and actually was a waste of time, but what happened is funny! And thankfully there are so many other possibilities and opportunities that do work.

There’s a song Robb wrote about sticking to your goal and not giving up.

The song is called ‘To Be A Fool’, listen and enjoy!

Robb also wrote a blog about this song which you can read here:


The Stuff-To-Sort-Out-Later-Box

This afternoon I’m tidying the living room and while I’m halfway done my eye catches a box….

I forgot what I had put in that box. It’s just always there and it’s often being used to put in stuff laying around. It’s a “stuff-to-sort-out-later-box”….
I’m looking at the box wondering if I should open it and finally start sorting out the stuff that’s in it….

I decide to have some coffee first. With a cup of coffee in my hand, I open the box and work my way through the stuff that’s in it. Receipts, pens, notes, crochet needles, some yarn, paperclips, tape, envelopes, an old mobile phone, cd’s, notebooks and so on…

While drinking coffee I start reading in one of the notebooks…
An old notebook from 2 years ago…memories start to come back while reading and it’s making me smile. It’s weird to look at the scribbles in that notebook, cause it was the start of something that became a big part of my life over the past few years.

Something a lot of people are unaware of, but I’ve been working with Robb Murphy, singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland for quite some time now.
At the end of the summer 2012 I found Robb’s music through the internet and Robb and I started talking. Around that time I was listening to a lot of new music and I kept wondering how it’s possible that so many great artists stayed under the radar. That depends on a lot of factors. Luck, perseverance, time…and a lot more. Time might be the biggest issue, cause next to the music most musicians have a job and, like any other person, lots of other things to do.

I started helping out by sending music to Dutch radio stations. Since I’m from The Netherlands it was an easy thing to do. I didn’t expect much from it, but the response was good and the music got played.  One thing led to another and along the way I started doing more and more.
Going through the scribbles makes me realise how much we’ve done in the past few years and how much has changed. Two tours of The Netherlands, a third tour being organised at the moment, a new album has been recorded and released, the amount of gigs is increasing, radio plays are increasing, more and more the word is spreading and with that all, the amount of work is increasing rapidly. Along the way we learned a lot. There were ups and downs. Some things worked out very well, other things didn’t. It’s a never ending search for possibilities and options to spread the word.

One thing is for sure… If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would be doing all this right now, I probably would have asked that person if he/she was out of his/her mind… I just never thought that I would be doing all this, but I am. It’s good, cause I’m doing something with the one thing I’ve always been passionate about…music. Somehow our paths crossed and looking back I am very happy we somehow did meet. I love doing all this. It’s been a wonderful journey so far and I am looking forward to all that is to come and to where this journey will lead us.

The “stuff-to-sort-out-later-box” ….it was nice to look into it… it sure brought back a lot of memories. Enough for me to turn the “stuff-to-sort-out-later-box” into a memory box…a box that will be filled with a lot more notebooks and memories.

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