I’ve been a bit down in the dumps for a few weeks now. Physical pains, high-stress levels, emotional imbalances… The works. It’s been a tough year and I feel I’ve held my ground for a lot of it. But becoming a parent wasn’t easy, particularly the start of it and the first months. Changing jobs in the middle of it was not beneficial either, and severe high standards for myself are an added bonus. I guess at that point, you can hit the floor hard somewhere, at some point, at some time. I feel lonely a lot, misunderstood, inadequate… It’s been hard. I miss the validation, I miss the warmth, I miss the community.
And at the same time, I have everything. I have a fantastic wife and daughter, a great new job, and kind people around me. But I find it harder to reach out, to stay connected, to have the interactions that inspire, motivate and energize. Seeing some good folks this weekend and the last has been particularly wholesome. And I know it’s going to be OK. It’s Roadburn time, and that’s been a happy time. But I’m struggling with my depressions a lot, and that’s just something I want to set down in words. I don’t think I have anything new to say here. Depression is not a big flag, it’s not something people see. It’s not uncommon either… But it’s a struggle against the irrational, a fight with yourself, it makes little sense but it is there.
So why does Roadburn matter? Well, three years ago, I was also fighting myself. It was all too much, and Roadburn seemed too daunting. I put my ticket for sale online and dropped out. And then Walter got in touch and asked if it would help me to just visit for one day… I did; it was fantastic, cathartic (Une Misere, Cul de Sac show), wholesome. It was then, and there I realized how much a part of me this has become. This music, this world. I’m very grateful to Walter for that. I’ll keep trying to contribute to the festival, even if it means writing pages full that don’t get used.
This year, I contributed to the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. 5 Years going strong now. I sent in the wrong file for one interview, so that was a mess. My essay didn’t make the cut. It’s here for you to read. I hope you enjoy it, and I miss and love everyone.
The essay itself is a little more upbeat than where I’m at now. JJ tried to get it in the zine, but you know… things. Or maybe it’s not good. It’s here anyways.
Gather the tribe
What a year… Never thought I’d be getting ready for an online festival season, let alone my second, but here we are. Locked down, boxed in, we’re all just men and women in boxes thanks to the big C. Personally, I had an adventurous year, where my daughter was born, and the situation gave me the luxury to be at home more than ever and spend it with her in those precious first months. Yet, there’s an itch you cannot scratch. Live music is not something your living room sound system can ever reproduce (note to self: finally buy a sound system). Bathing in the sound, being submerged in the atmosphere and basking in the aura of a band giving it their all on stage…
Yet, what we saw last year and again and again is beautiful; people coming together, embracing music in whatever limited capacity they can. But more so than that, it’s about togetherness. Gathering the tribe, to hear the war drums and dance (certainly, at times, fairly peculiar) tribal dances in a yearly ritual of heaviness. Man, I wish we were in Tilburg in the Weirdo Canyon right now. I have this thing I always do at the start of Roadburn. I get to the festival, and the first show I go see, I just stand by myself, usually on the balcony. I have a cup of coffee (I can’t tell you why it has to be coffee), and I slowly shut down all the regular processes in my head. There’s a state of quiet and peace that comes over me. And then, I switch on to the music, and it swells and envelops me. I’ve called it ‘my Roadburn feeling’ before. It’s the best.
So as I write this, I’m sitting in my home office, a.k.a. my home… It’s been a year, and I’m surrounded by cassettes I seem to have stockpiled over the last months. It’s mostly dungeon synth; I’m now a devotee to the dungeon cult. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up here. There are unplayed records on the table, next to baby toys and half-empty coffee cups (one appears warm enough still). I guess that’s what you get if you don’t have that hard reset every year, right? Let’s hope this is the last wait and that even though it’s online, we get a little whiff of that real Roadburn feeling. The tribe must gather again. Soon.
So back to now. I am OK, or getting there. But this Roadburn thing matters. It’s about coming together, and for me, it is about being ok with myself. Loving the things I love and embracing that which gives me joy. Never let go, always be you. Let’s connect.