Interview with Roos Meijer

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Roos Meijer’s new Album ‘‘Why Don’t We Give It A Try?’’ is out now 

 
Roos Meijer is a singer-songwriter from the Netherlands who recently released an alt-folk album called ‘Why Don’t We Give It A Try?’. The LP is inspired by conversations she has had with ‘changemakers’. Roos spoke to eight people committed to very important social topics such as climate, anti-racism, human rights, homelessness, orphans, feminism. ‘Why Don’t We Give It A Try?’ is the result of these conversations. It was really interesting knowing more about her and chatting further about the album and many other inspirational topics. 

HELLO ROOS, YOU JUST PUT OUT A NEW SINGLE CALLED “WHY DON’T YOU GIVE IT A TRY?”. TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS RELEASE AND YOUR STORY SO FAR.

‘Why Don’t We Give It A Try?’ is the first song of my upcoming debut album. It’s the introduction to the musical journey that the listener will go on. The whole album was inspired by conversations that I’ve had with changemakers, so every song is linked to a societal topic. The first and last song are written from my own perspective, and are a collection of questions that I have about how we live our lives as humans. 

YOUR ALT-FOLK ALBUM “WHY DON’T YOU GIVE IT A TRY?” HAS A REALLY INTERESTING CONCEPT, WHICH TOOK INSPIRATION FROM THE CONVERSATIONS YOU HAD WITH 8 PERSONS. WHAT IS THE MAIN MESSAGE YOU’RE WILLING TO CONVEY WITH THIS RELEASE AND COULD YOU DESCRIBE MORE THE PROCESS OF MAKING THE ALBUM?

The main message would be that even though the world can sometimes feel overwhelming, with all the big issues happening all over, every person can provoke change. These changemakers have inspired me deeply, and have showed me that every one can do something to make this world a better place. As cheesy as it sounds, I do really believe in this and I hope this message will reach more people through my album.

WHAT ARTISTS INFLUENCED YOUR MUSICAL STYLE THE MOST AND WHAT ARE YOUR NEW FAVORITE FOLK PROJECTS? 

I have been influenced by many artists, in a lot of different genres. In the folk area my biggest influences must be Bon Iver, Anaïs Mitchell, Linda Perhacs and Joni Mitchell. They have all inspired me in their own way. I also take a lot of inspiration from Middle Eastern music as; I am a huge fan of Fairuz, a Lebanese singer, and of Selda, a Turkish protest singer. But also indie rock music like Radiohead and classical music like Edward Elgar form a little puzzle piece in the whole of my inspiration. My current favourite folk (influenced) project must be Big Red Machine; their new album has been on repeat ever since they’ve released it and I am so touched by the brilliance of the music and the collaborations on it.

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WHAT IS YOUR SONGWRITING APPROACH AND HOW DID IT CHANGE FROM YOUR FIRST EP “MAKTUB” RELEASED IN 2018?

Before ‘Maktub’ my inspiration came from within; from my experiences and emotions. When I wrote the songs for ‘Maktub’, this was the first time where I took my inspiration from someone else; the refugees whom I met while doing voluntary work in Greece. For that EP I had a person in mind for each song, and I imagined what I would feel if I went through their experience. In that way, I tried to share their stories with my audience; since I felt strongly that they needed to be heard. For my album, ‘Why Don’t We Give It A Try?’, I took this a step further; I interviewed changemakers (people who devote themselves to a societal goal) and translated that conversation into music. So this time, I used their actual words and experience. This was a super special process, which was completely new to me, and I am very happy with the end result. Mostly I would have the conversation, then I would listen back to the conversation and write down the essence and lines that stood out to me, and from there I would start improvising the music. Once I had a full draft, I would send the lyrics to the person who inspired it, and I would ask if they felt represented well. If not, I would adjust whatever did not work for them. So these changemakers were basically my co-writers, which made it very unique and intimate.

YOU RELEASED THREE OTHER SINGLES THIS YEAR CALLED “I DREAM OF A WORLD”,  “IN MY NAME” and “TO BE FREE”. WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THESE THREE TUNES?

‘I Dream Of A World’ is an activist anthem, inspired by Zaïre Krieger, who was one of the organisers of the Black Lives Matter protest in Rotterdam and is a wonderful spoken word artist. ‘To Be Free’ tells the story of a young Syrian boy who needs to relearn what it’s like to be a child again, after living on the streets due to the war. This song was inspired by a conversation that I had with Alaeddin Janid, who is the founder of Child Houses; an orphanage in Syria. And ‘In My Name’ was inspired by Julia Jouwe, who is an activist for a free West Papua. 

HOW DO YOU FIND THE MUSIC SCENE IN NETHERLANDS AND HOW DOES THIS INTERACTS WITH FOLK MUSIC?

We have quite some nice bands and artists in the Netherlands. I don’t think folk is the most popular here, but we do have quite some wonderful artists in this genre. I really love the  indie-folk of la loye and the unique folk inspired music of Pitou.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2021? 

I just released my debut album, on November 12th  2021.  My release concert will be on November 29, with the Residentie Orkest (orchestra!) so at the moment I am rehearsing for that a lot, and I can’t wait for that special evening. After that I think I will need a little break, since this was such a busy year 🙂