Myrthe van de Weetering | violinist from Utrecht, NL

sun sign: scorpio.
currently reading: Identiteit by Paul Verhaeghe & What I Loved  by Siri Hustvedt.
hopes her last meal will be: Moms lentil pie.

Myrthe composes, records music and plays violin. She is also into combining music with ‘good stuff’ helping out refugees, saving the planet, doing something sweet for children in hospitals, and bringing joy to old people in nursing homes.

When did you first realize music was your calling?

Strangely it was only when I was fifteen and I heard music played on a violin in a completely different setting than what I was used to. I had already been playing classical music for ten years with youth orchestra’s, but it wasn’t until I saw a gypsy band playing in a bar and noticed the audience having such a good time – drinking beer during the concert – that I was sold.

 

How did you get your music off the ground?

It was a combination of working very hard non-stop, genuinely being nice to people, not letting other people’s lack of faith or destructive feedback get under my skin and life’s fortunate flukes. Also, as a strategy, I just said ‘yes’ to everything. I’m not sure I’d recommend the latter because I also wasted a lot of time and energy on projects that still fill me up with shame when I even think about them. At least they provided me with loads of experience, paid the rent at the time and, last but not least, made for some hilarious stories.

What makes you/ your playing unique?

I guess I’m an out of the box kind of violinist. Most violinists play classical music, and those that choose another path somehow often end up playing gypsy jazz, folk music or dance music. My musical taste is very broad. In principal, I love literally almost everything; hip-hop, jazz, Latin, Caribbean, Turkish, Arabic, Malian, pop music etc. Besides my classical violin I also own an electric violin with effect pedals that I use to make soundscapes or to change my sound completely. Sound is very important to me, I’m really peculiar with my choice of bow, strings and the way I finger my instrument.

 

What is the biggest challenge for you as a musician?

For me personally it’s a struggle between wanting to do different things (composing/ arranging/ producing/ playing/ singing) but also wanting to be really good and specialized at one specific thing.

 

What inspires you to keep going?

I’ve always had a very strong intrinsic motivation to create music. However, when someone reaches out to me to say he/she liked my music or that my music offered someone joy or consolation, it feels absolutely amazing. I can thrive on a compliment like that for an entire week. Those moments make me feel like my music suddenly has more right to exist because it made somebody’s day better. I also really want to be a female role model. I studied music technology and was one of very few girls in the entire school. I studied at the jazz department of the conservatory and I was almost the only girl playing an instrument. It’s time to change that! I also think a lot on how I can show a better-balanced picture by putting more thought into who I choose to collaborate with. Let’s represent and celebrate all genders&colors&cultures&religions!

By giving money to an artist, you buy them time to stop worrying and create headspace to think about what they really want to make. Maybe you think the artist will think you think they cannot take care of themselves: stop overthinking! We run around with tip jars, we’re past shame. We need you.

What’s your life motto/ what mantra do you live by?

Believe in karma & embrace absurdity.

 

How do you ensure a good work/life balance?

I don’t. I’m just very lucky to be surrounded by people that understand and support what I do. We app, we call, we’re there for each other in times of need but it doesn’t happen often that I take a day off to chill out. I hope to change that, and this period of quarantaine has been very inspiring in that respect.

 

How has the Corona Virus affected your work?

This is going to sound weird, but this has been the best time of my life! Despite the confinement I’m experiencing freedom. No bra, no make-up, bouncing around in my dragon onesie! 🙂 But seriously, I finally have full focus without being interrupted by anything or being obligated to go somewhere. I have time to sleep, sport, yoga, read, dance, play chess and eat well – to take care of myself. There is time to study and write. And there is even time to make music just for the sake of it. How I’ve missed that! Finally, I’m transcribing solo’s for fun, writing stuff, collaborating with other artists via split screen video’s, and am having a great time. Of course all my work is cancelled and that sucks balls, but luckily I had worked 24/7 on music for two movies before quarantaine kicked in so I had a bit of a buffer.

What can people do to support you and others in your field?

It sounds lame but honestly, money helps. There’s a great read by Rutger Bregman called ‘Gratis geld voor iedereen’, where he describes the benefits of a national basic income. He explains that when you experience a shortage of money, you are temporarily significantly dumber (your IQ literally drops!) and are far more likely to make stupid short-term decisions. When last month’s rent is still due, it’s impossible to think about what you would like to be achieving in two years time career wise. Rich people often state that people are poor because they make stupid decisions, but it’s the other way around – people make stupid decisions because they are poor. By giving money to an artist, you buy them time to stop worrying and create headspace to think about what they really want to make. Maybe you think the artist will think you think they cannot take care of themselves: stop overthinking! We run around with tip jars, we’re past shame. We need you

What do you see for the future?

Well, theoretically it could go two ways, but I’m a bit pessimistic honestly. I think lots of festivals, organisations, foundations, booking agencies, restaurants and venues will go bankrupt. There will be less opportunity to play, and probably employers will abuse the situation by trying to cut prices. Desperate artists will effectuate that by accepting unfair payment. The government seriously needs to take better care of their independent entrepreneurs for the sake of the economy. Unfortunately, I doubt it will happen when blatant morons like Wiebes are still in charge. Government funding will also completely dry out soon. Artists should finally put their hands together and form some kind of trade union, but they are either too disorganised or too proud to be compared to other artists (that are not in their ‘league’ or genre) so I doubt that will happen. Cd’s are going extinct, the costs of making an LP are too high to make it profitable and most online music streaming platforms don’t offer fair pay. The only way to earn money is by playing gigs. For future’s sake, we need to organise those gigs ourselves. The days of practicing in your room 12 hours a day waiting for the phone to ring are long gone. We have to become promotors, bookers, website builders, social media guru’s, marketers, entrepreneurs, accountants and if you’ve got some time left, maybe you could play a few notes. Popular culture will prevail even more so ‘elite’ culture like theatre, dance, ‘world’ music and classical music will have even more difficulties to stay alive. If you want to earn money with your music you’ll need a job as a teacher, or play in a cover band. Hopefully, initiatives like patreon, or crowdfunding will become more popular – and I guess we’ve also gotten a taste of online gigging these days 😉

Do you have tips for people who want to start a career in music?

1. Build a time machine and go back about 50 years to when even in the Netherlands people still worshipped artists. Now everybody’s seen it all, done it all and bought the t-shirt. Worshipping in general has faded when secularism kicked in, we’ve grown into a highly individualistic society. I guess that makes us lonely and it brings up philosophical questions. So maybe, if you manage to find a connection that addresses the loneliness and the search for mindfulness, you’ll be fine.
2. Stop complaining. We still live in the firstest world country ever, so just claim responsibility and try to make something out of your life. Yes, the cultural landscape used to look better before. Get over it. Move forward. Or do something about it.
3. Don’t let your self esteem be determined by the size of the crowd or the amount of gigs or prestige, let it only be determined by your own standards.
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