Photo: Marijn Kluijfhout
We have dreams and aspirations at a young age. The journey we take in life brings us full circle back to our beginnings. Josie, composer, singer, and artist from the Netherlands, went from professional training at age 6, through periods of doubt and low self-confidence, then back on the path to a successful career in music.
I had the opportunity to find out the soul’s journey in one’s passion, whether supported or others trying to dissuade, whereby, through determination and listening to the heart, life has a way of being our master teacher and guiding us to where we are meant to be.
Josie shares her joys, trials, triumphs and tribulations.
You are an accomplished composer, singer and artist with two albums. Tell me about your early years singing, when you started and your passion for singing.
I was very lucky my parents gave me the opportunity at an early age (6) to get to what we call ‘School For Music’. That started with the basics like reading notes and music theory. I hated it! Poor Miss Jensen, the head of the school, must have hated me too because I was being a very bad girl most of the time and sent to the hallway a lot. I guess I sang my own tunes back then already. Ha ha.
Then my parents bought a piano. A big wooden instrument that took up a lot of space. It was more being playful to me than looking at black notes with rules, and I loved playing it. But, again, I was sent to the ‘School For Music’ to learn Mozart, Bach and Chopin with a very strict teacher from Romania who used brutal force, who made me sit up straight, and keep my arms in the right position… again, you understand this was not at all my cup of tea.
Picture me more as a boy at that time (I was 7!), climbing in trees, jumping (and falling) into ditches, etc. Being locked up in a room with Agatha Trunchbull as a teacher did not match my free Spirit. So, my music ‘career’ got off on a wrong start, one could think. But my soul is strong and knew it had to be music, but in my own way.
The last lesson, the teacher told me we would stop doing the lessons if I refused doing my homework, but, she gave me one last chance. The next lesson she asked me, as usual, if I had done my homework and practiced Rachmaninoff (the basics, I wasn’t some kind of wonder child) and as usual I said: “No, I didn’t.”
Before she could say anything, I said: “But I did write my own song, Miss.”
Photo: Marijn Kluijfhout
I still remember her face so clearly. Her mouth opening to say something, but with a large pause. The silence in the room felt like music to me. “Really?” she said. Her voice sounded kind and warm for the first time. Her shoulders shook off the military pose she was always in, and her energy melted to a warm and loving person. A woman. Human almost.
“Really!” I confirmed proudly and sat up straight because I wanted it so bad and played with my two little fingers, my song, that up until now I still remember how to play. When I was finished, she applauded in such enthusiasm the other classrooms must have heard it.
“Bravo! Bravo! Josie!” she said happy, and patted me on my back. Then, she taught me how to write down the song in notes, so I could remember and teach others. The principal of the school, Miss Jensen, had told my parents about what took place and together we decided that I was better off with a more modern teacher. From then on, I had some young guys from a professional music university who taught me how to play pop music and covers just by listening.
The singing came in too, this time, as it was more fun to play Supertramp with vocals than without. Tori Amos was especially a huge inspiration for me. She felt eccentric and cool, and I played many of her songs just by listening and trying out how to do it.
My last piano teacher was still in high school and played piano in a band with a choir that sang pop songs. By the time I was 14 I joined the choir and was allowed to play keys in the band when he was away for a gig. During my piano lessons with him I learned how to play the songs, so the lessons were fun for me! (Also, because he was gorgeous, but that’s another story) 😊
In the choir I started as an Alt (low tunes for women), as I had a very small range at first and could only sing the low notes without getting my throat in split. When I wanted to play Supertramp or Tori Amos at home I was often not able to sing the higher notes, and so I sang the second verse or third and therefore, quickly developed the skill to sing backing vocals.
Film still music video Let Him Go – Sound of Lighthouse
At 16 I arranged some of the choir arrangements, but as I still couldn’t read notes (maybe it was hard for me due to number dyslexia) I had to learn all tunes by heart and teach the members of the choir by singing it for them. Even the sopranos! I therefore had to practice and practice at home to sing the high notes as well and stretched my range slowly. As you see, I didn’t take the easy road, but it was my way. 😊
After the choir, I taught myself how to play a little bit of guitar on an old one my father brought from Africa ages ago and bought myself a bass guitar from a friend. I sang in some bands and played bass in a girl’s band. Nothing fancy, famous or virtuosic, as I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands, but it was nice. I enjoyed it a lot.
Who has inspired you to pursue singing as a career? Why?
My soul knew since I was little singing was my passion. I watched all FAME episodes and told everyone, when I am older I am going to America to the Fame Academy and become a performer/singer. I don’t know exactly what happened when I became older, because I didn’t.
Photo: Marijn Kuijfhout
Maybe I had started to listen to the grown-ups around me saying there was no future in music? Or maybe I learned the world was an unsafe place and I didn’t dare go to America, as movies and news showed us that in this country everyone was having guns and there were dangerous people who did really crazy things. Or maybe I just lost the little brave kid in me that up until then always decided to do her own thing?
Whatever the reason was, after my 13th birthday I became insecure, unsafe. I felt life was hard for me. So many things I didn’t understand about humans, so many feelings inside I could not cope with. I didn’t know back then, I sensed the world and got confused which ones were my own feelings. I had no clue about my high sensitive abilities.
So often people didn’t understand or believe me, the things I saw or felt because they didn’t see it, or didn’t want to face it and I, without knowing, confronted them with the things they didn’t want to see. In short, my adolescence was a drag. I felt alone, started drinking and smoking weed around 16 and hid a lot in my room or in the pub.
Throughout my youth there were periods that music was my best friend and became like a diary to me. I wrote hundreds of songs, which I forgot how to play because I didn’t want to remember, as it was old and painful. And there were periods of absolute absence of music for years! I didn’t touch the piano or guitar, I didn’t even sing in the shower. Can’t explain it.
As no school after high school was a fit for me, I started working early and worked my way into the entertainment business. I talked myself into a job at the theatre in my hometown and had the luck of having an amazing boss who gave me all the freedom to learn. I met awesome artists, and when they were in the restaurant eating dinner, I sneaked in on stage to play the grand piano.
I found music again!
It happened frequently that a famous artist sat in the back secretly listening to me, or coming on stage with me to jam or sit together on the piano stool. I guess my veins started to boil here again. I had an awesome time!
When the theatre closed down, my little universe collapsed because this was the closest I had gotten to the world I wanted to be a part of. My boss put out a good word for me at a large theater in the capital city of the region, and so I was transferred to a real theatre. I worked myself up from selling tickets to PR and communication and there, my life changed!
As I had the key of the building and access code of the alarm, I sneaked in late at night when there were no concerts or plays and climbed on stage. Often there was an incredible Steinway that I pushed from the backstage to the middle of the stage and sat in the dark playing, or with white TL light on as I knew the theater spots were way too expensive to turn on.
I have always thought it was my secret.
What I didn’t know was that the manager of the restaurant often worked late or on the days there were no concerts and had heard me play many times, never said a thing. Maybe he told one of my colleagues, who knows. But one day I came in and found a leaflet on my desk. It was about a Fame academy in the Netherlands. The colleague who had put it there knew the director of the school and said I should go for it. I did audition and got in. The most amazing time of my life, as the school was a theatre and academy at the same time, and the teachers were famous artists.
What have been your struggles that have been your greatest teachers? What are the lessons you have learned from them?
My two greatest teachers were a famous singer/songwriter from my country named Bram Vermeulen and one female famous singer. Bram in the states is not known I guess, but he was an important figure and start for our pop music, an amazing lyricist, and he combined theatre with pop. And that was my dream!
He was a straightforward man and during one of his masterclasses he stood up for me, as one of the teachers warned him upfront that my songs may not be that good, but there is something about me. Bram turned around and said: “Let me be the judge of that,” and encouraged me in a very kind and safe way to do my thing. Imagine, I was 28 at that time and had lost the tough little rebel in me for a long time!
When I was done he turned around to the audience, my class, and the other teacher, excitedly exclaiming I have a gift. “This was remarkable! Josie is even able to transform words into music. The way you sang “Let me go, let me go, let me go” it became music. There are not many people who can do that. Well done, girl!”
I felt very proud and there, I started to believe in me a little again. I guess along the way I learned there is not one way to make music or write songs. Each artist has their own way. I was looking too much at others and comparing. I learned it is not about that. I have my own unique way and there are people who love it and people who don’t, and that is fine!
Another great teacher is a very famous female singer in the Netherlands. I got the chance to sing for her live for a full theater and live on national radio at the same time. She would give me a live master class so to speak. It was terrible. We were no match at all, and the mean things she said after the show hit me hard. I don’t want to give it too much energy here, but she advised me to stop singing as I would never be able to learn it decently.
I wasn’t ready to cope with this. I was in the middle of a breakup with my lover, lost 25 kilos after working so hard and studying at the same time, and I had lost connection to myself to see what was really going on here.
Photo: Marijn Kluijfhout
In short; all the stress and pressure I had put on myself to BE famous came out in psychical problems, and I saw no other way other than to stop with the school. Never came back. Although this was not a pleasant experience, I learned I must follow my heart and dreams, regardless of what others think. This teacher taught me a profound lesson, and I carry the strength gained from that time with me as a reminder of who I am, and that no one can take me away from me.
“Everyone and everything is here for a reason!”
Now, many years later I understand why Spirit had sent me this beautiful soul. I learned that when people act mean they are hurting themselves or not able to access the love that they are. She, as a human, was simply not able to act in a different way. And as a soul, she did me a huge favor to stick with the script we once signed together before we came to the psychical plane. For that, I can now feel great gratitude and even admiration!
In her comments on the radio she had said that when you sing a sad song, with lyrics about a sad subject and you sing it in a sad way (which at the time I did), it will do the song no good. The audience is always listening to a song with their own stories and heartbreaks in mind, they do not want to hear your pain, they are seeking for hope, for a way out.
By singing such a song with hope in mind, the song interpretation has another energy. She didn’t say it in those words, but later I understood this is what she meant. Many years later, I was 38!! It suddenly hit me when I accidentally recorded a sad love song on my phone while I was smiling.
There it was!
The ‘hope’ she had referred to! My voice opened up, it was much nicer to listen to, not like a “I am a pathetic loser and I want to die” kind of voice, but “You know what, this hurts, but I will make it through.”
For the first time in my life I could actually listen to my own voice and recordings. She was right about that part and taught me the way I am singing now. She wasn’t right about I would never learn. But that is 3D and doesn’t matter.
You believe “the truth shall set you free.” Expand on your thoughts about this.
Since my journey started I have been able to get glimpses of seeing behind the Matrix. What I mean by this is, seeing me, us, behind the conditions, teachings, and assumptions, our thoughts became beliefs, illusions of the mind. Example; the belief that I am not good enough as a woman, lover, singer (assumption, self-rejection or taken as truth because the famous female singer told me) versus “I am unique; a beautiful, loving, and kind soul singing my own tunes and the ones that like it are most welcome, the ones that don’t, its fine, too (truth).
I had been so busy wanting people to like me, see me, love me, that when I stopped doing that, I became free. Free of pushing, doing my best, trying to understand why this, why that, why they don’t see me, love me, want to be with me.
I also see it around me. People who are saying the same thing over and over again to themselves and everyone around. Trying to convince everyone, but most of all themselves of something that isn’t true. Why else would you have to repeat it that often? 😊
When we stop and really take the time for ourselves, to see what is there and what isn’t, we become free.
To stop and ask why we are actually repeating this same sentence over and over. Daring to ask yourself questions like what you really feel for this person? What really makes you stay in this job, relationship, country?
The answers of truth will set you free. The truth that I discovered is: I am love and can, therefore, never lose it. If I am love, I do not have to chase it anymore. Wow! What a freedom!
The same goes for freedom itself. “When I have sold my house, company, whatever, I am free.” The “When I” I learned, I place it into the future.
But the truth is; I am free! As a soul! We are energy! We can travel with our minds to other places. We are free within. Even prisoners know this, or people who are trapped in a disabled body have taught me. It’s often the circumstances we created that we thought would give us freedom, are the ones making us feel trapped.
“Losing everything made me rich!”
The biggest eye opener for me came when I became homeless and without any penny besides the ones I found on the street. As I still had my van (given by a special friend), I wasn’t sleeping on benches or in the park, but that was all the luxury I got.
The situation however; how poor as it may seem, gave me so much! I found abundance and freedom!!
From the money I found, I gave a part to the homeless and people who are begging on the streets. If I had two bananas, I would give one away. Why? Because I found I AM abundance! I already have everything I need! It’s difficult to explain or maybe hard to understand when you are not in that position, but we, as a part of the creator, have it all: love, happiness, abundance, independence, freedom…these are states of being we were born with! But, because everyone around teaches us we have to DO something in order to BE it, we have forgotten!
So, to make a long story short, to me “The truth sets you free” is seeing we already are perfect when we come here. We are whole! There is nothing to be fixed! That, too, is an illusion! We already are, and have, everything we need.
The freedom we are looking for (when we have the money). The love we so much desire (once we have a lover). The independence we need (once we have a job or income). It is already here for us to take! To BE!
Approaching life, people, experiences, opportunities from a place of knowing we already have it; THAT TRUTH! to me is total freedom! The extra plus is that, the Universe then feels like an open road to bring me more of the love, abundance, freedom, independence that I already am. Because I am no longer blocking the road with expectations, hopes, and needs.
I wasn’t always like this and learned the hard way. Of course, I struggled and felt fear when it all happened and sometimes still do. But now I feel blessed more often, and I am grateful to the bone to the Universe/God, of who knows my own (true) self, arranged this for me so I could become aware.
What is it like to sit down and create a song? I would love to know your process as an artist, what steps you take from conception to the actual recording. It must be an amazing experience to have the final rendition of a song come into existence.
I love the feeling of starting from scratch. An empty page, an empty screen of my recording device or composing program, an empty head and all of a sudden a melody, words, a sentence!
A whole verse!
A cello in my head playing a melody that colors the rough idea I’m having. Sometimes there is flow, how it all happens and is suddenly there, feels like magic to me.
I never am very much aware of it when it happens, but now you ask, it is indeed amazing! I guess it feels amazing because we are co-creators. That is what we are! And while creating, whether it is a meal from scratch, a painting or a song, it doesn’t matter. Creating means we are utmost aligned with what we are. That is why it feels so good!
Describe the joys of being a singer and the impact you have on others through your songs.
I recently received a request from a lady. Her best friend and soul sister had died, and she asked permission to play one of my songs at the funeral. I felt very honored and grateful she asked permission in a world where taking music without paying seems so common.
After she paid for the song I sent it to her, together with an email of gratitude and, of course, my condolences. Two days later she shared how the service went and how the people received the song.
I felt so blessed and grateful. This is why I do it! I have personally sung at the funeral of my friend. The love and gratitude I felt while singing for his friends and family are a memory with a golden frame on the walls of my heart.
Do you feel you are guided in some way when you compose a song? Tell me more about this.
Absolutely! Most songs, melodies and lyrics are given to me. When I sit down to create, often nothing spectacular comes out. It’s when I am in a bath, taking a shower, watching a movie, or waking up in the middle of the night with a melody or lyrics is when the magic happens.
I often receive insights of my own personal growth, my life, or lyrics during watching a movie on my own. It’s a sentence in the movie that touches my soul. My soul recognizes it, so to speak. I will pause the movie, get my notebook and start to write the insights, which drop in like crazy.
I can’t hardly write that fast and keep up with what is coming in. It is like a river of words that never seem to stop. Often, not even seconds later, when I think I am finished, more comes through and I continue my writing. It can come in movie form, frame by frame. Sometimes complete sentences with rhyme and metric (the rhythm of the words) finished already. Sometimes I need to adjust them a little later.
“It is not about me! Music has been given to me, as me and through me, so I can pass it on.”
Once I wrote during a song’s creation forming in my mind. I opened my recording devices and just started. Everything flew out of my hands. Chords, other instruments, the words, the layout from verse, pre-chorus and chorus, everything all one after another. It is amazing when this happens. It fills my heart with so much joy and excitement! Especially while listening back thinking, “Did I make that?
The crazy part? That particular song was about my best friend’s dad who died many years ago. I was in my basement where the studio was and recorded it during the making (I often do) and suddenly, when I wanted to get my friend to show him what I just made on the spot (a complete finished song in just a few hours), my laptop crashed, and the song was not saved.
Film still My Eyes Only Dance – Sound of Lighthouse
I was devastated and sat back in my chair, couldn’t believe what just happened. I sat quietly when something in me called to do it again. Miraculously, I remembered everything only even better this time, recorded the whole song again and put “save” after every minute or so. 😊
Then I went upstairs to tell my friend and said: “I wrote a song, would you like to come and listen?” He followed me, and I said a bit nervous: “It was just given to me. I recorded it, lost it and did it again. So, I have no clue what it is about or if it’s any good.” I gave him the headphones and watched how his energy got surrounded by the tunes and vibrations of it. Soon, tears were running down his face. He recognized it! When the song was finished he asked with a soaring voice: “Come, I have to show you something.” He took me to his computer and showed me his Facebook timeline. During the making of my song he had posted that today was the date of his father’s death…I was stunned!
Lately after having a series of these kind of ‘miracles,’ I understand; the music isn’t about me. It is not about being seen, ego, glamour, or the industry. All the things I could never relate to in the music business and my struggles with wondering if this was my world after all.
But then and there I knew, music has been given to me, as me, through me. So I can pass it on, for those who are open to receive.
Yes, the process of creating is magnificent! And sometimes I sit to create, just to create. Many times I don’t do anything with these musical brainstorms. Sometimes I later use parts of it for a bridge, for example, or as an arrangement for a new song.
I have no clue how the process works. I have no clear names of deceased famous composers or songwriters who give me the songs. How awesome if Michael Jackson would want to work with me! 😊
Maybe our brain is like an antenna and the Universe is like the internet. All we want to find or create is already there. All we have to do is put out our antenna and pick it up. If that is from deceased composers, spirit guides, angels, I honestly have no idea, and it doesn’t matter. It would be ego wanting to know and sharing that the songs have been given by Prince, MJ, David Bowie. I mean, there are many on the other side now. But no, I guess for me it is not important. Also, I would have many worldwide hits by now if they helped me, and that’s not the case. LOL.
Your song, “Take Me Home,” was recorded using a frequency that resonates with the heart chakra. You recommend this for mindfulness and being present in the now. Share with me your insights about this song and the messages within the lyrics.
I wrote two songs earlier, ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ and ‘Hometown’, both represent my new understanding that while I became homeless, that too was an illusion, as I found out the heart is my home!
Hometown is about not searching outside of ourselves for anything, but within the heart.
The song ‘Take Me Home’ somehow brings you straight to it. I created it feeling very much connected to the other side, our 5D (spiritual) world. It is like that energy got captured in the song. If that makes sense. However it works, people have experienced an immediate silence in their head as there are no thoughts inside our heart.
“Home take me home, where thoughts and fears are dying. Home take my home. Where hopes and dreams are flying” means: when there are no blocks, there is space for insights and possibilities that are here already to come to you.
That is why mindfulness is so important! Our holding on to the past or thinking about what is not yet in our reality or how we think it’s supposed to be blocks us. Being here now, helps us to see what is! And from there, things can create in truth for our highest good, not what our small minds think it should be; which ultimately creates our suffering as it almost never happens that way!
I created ‘Take Me Home’ like I did the song about my friend’s father. All instruments came to me. The Caisa is tuned in D minor pentatonic and I feel resonates with our heart chakra, just like the frequency of my voice in that song. A sound healer recently told me the same.
The cello came in and feels like an instrument for grounding. When we connect to the other side and to our heart, it’s necessary to ground well, or we will start to float, at least in my experience. There was a time I wished I could only be in the other world, as I felt so much happier there.
I wasn’t grounded enough to also experience that same bliss here in the psychical. That was, and still is, my soul’s journey. To be 5D in the 3D world. Also, I feel that by listening to this song, blocks are being released.
Being grounded is then essential!
What is your favorite quote?
“It’s because of the darkness, I discovered my light.”
I learned this from Neal Donald Walsch, whose seminars helped me a lot. And I discovered that all shitty things, mean people, experiences of darkness show me what I truly am.
If there is lack of love, I discover that is an illusion; I am love.
If there is no money, I discover I am abundant.
When I feel stuck in a certain situation, I discover I have the freedom to leave, even though it has consequences.
I will be free then and the universe will solve the consequence.
I could talk about this topic for hours! So yes, it’s because of the darkness, I discovered my true self.
What are some words of wisdom you can pass on for others who wish to tap into their creative self and pursue their passion in the arts?
Create to create! Not to be seen, famous or rich.
Create, sing even when no one will listen!
Don’t compare yourself with others, there is only ONE YOU!
Skip the news, social media, and opinions or gurus for a while, the more you will hear your own wisdom.
Undress the beliefs you may have about your being not good enough.
See through the fears you may have. Where did they get rooted? Is it true? Or did you believe it to be true because others told you or you told yourself?
The more you clear and undress the layers, the more you will be empty and able to connect to source, so songs and ideas will come to you.
Film still Sound of Lighthouse
The most important realization I had as a singer is my discovery that the energy behind words is so important! Scientists have proven that 75% of what we write down becomes the truth or if it’s already there stays in our presence! So, I stopped writing songs about the bad things and turned them around into what I truly am or what I want.
Imagine yourself as a singer singing night after night “I don’t wanna lose you, I don’t wanna lose you” or “I am hurt because of you” guess what happens? We as artists are creators! So I asked myself “What do you wish to create? “What kind of world do you want to live in?”
Because what we put in songs, movies, and writings, we are giving to the world! Do we want our audience to believe the world is a bad place? Or do we wish to give attention to the true self, the one that creates and lives from the heart so more and more people will do so? This goes for writing in your journal or Facebook posts as well.
We can change it! It’s a long way, but we can!
Want to discover more about Josie? You can follow her at:
YOUTUBE SOUND OF LIGHTHOUSE
HEALING SONG : Healings Available by email email@example.com by donation or as an extra bonus buying the new album Close To You