Meet our lovely Jerusa van Lith. 29 years old, singer-song writer.
What motivates you in life?
I make music and write songs, work together closely with producers and other songwriters, and I lead my own band.
Currently I'm mostly writing and producing for myself, but sometimes I get approached by managers, artists or labels for a collaboration.
For example : Last year I wrote a song together with the Opposites.
We initially prepared a writing session that was meant for me, but ultimately the song ended up on the album of the Opposites.
Personally for me this was fantastic, because I didn't had anything released yet, so it was a big honor.
What's the name of the song?
" Je kan het niet". ( 'You're not able to do it' ). I was so surprised, even though they're with a major label they gave me the opportunity to work together in the studio, that was very motivating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e2LCuQicE0
If you 'give away' your own written song to another artist, how do you get satisfaction from it? Besides money?
Well, for example with the song " Je kan het niet" ( You're not able to do it). I was a little shocked, because the song got a totally different vibe than initially intended. But at the same time I was very excited because the song got noticed, I had 0 experience with the music industry and this opportunity came to me completely unexpected. I was of course impressed by these successful artists, and when I heard the final result and how Willem ( from the Opposites) had 'translated' it, I was convinced that this version of the song was the best. That gave a lot of satisfaction".
' I never went to music school, so I don't write from music theory or ear training. I just have my musical ideas and can happily translate it in my way'
Are you with a label?
No. I joined Universal Music publishing under the wings of Ilse de Lange 4 years ago. Our paths crossed and she was immediately very interested. They offered me a contract; a developmental trajectory. So I could develop myself as a songwriter and as an artist under Universal Music. For me, this was a huge deal and very cool. Also it was good motivation to keep on going with music. I learned a lot from that process.
My contract didn't get renewed because one of the producers began to put pressure on the developmental process, and wanted me to come out with my new identity. I felt I wasn't ready yet and should learn a bit more..
What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of a music-label?
If you are fixed at major labels you are somehow tied to what a label wants from you, what sort of identity you should bring outside. If you are not connected to a label you obviously have much more freedom to do whatever you feel like doing and produce whatever you want.
Why didn't you do an audition for a music academy?
I think you always need an education, but I don't think you necessarily have to go to school for that. And certainly the times we live in, you can learn a lot from yourself and the world around you. You can either choose a course/school for four years or you do it yourself. I also believe you can learn a lot from the people that inspire you, try to find out what motivates them." Learning on the job!". There have been moments when I thought : " What if... I would have applied for the Conservatorium of Amsterdam...". The main thought behind that "if' - question is the huge network a music academy offers you .
Do people appreciate you enough, even if you're not connected to a label or music academy?
I am quite privileged that I could develop myself at Universal Music with Ilse de Lange. I never overestimated myself and I have been modest in my way, taking time to develop, to travel (especially to the United States of America). All the steps I've made were on my own initiative. I really believe in my process. So, what I'm trying to say is I was able to grow quite quickly and fortunately did not have to deal with a lot of setbacks.
' People sometimes see music as an upgraded hobby. Unless radio 3FM pays attention to you; then suddenly they understand'.
What are you currently doing?
Monday was my first debut-single launch.
What's your debut-single about? And can you tell us a little about the process?
The song must of course be created first. The past years I visit the United States of America at least three months each year, mostly Nashville. There I write with various artists. I've really built up my connections and friends, you could say my total network. It is important to do research for the right artists. It takes time but in this way you'll find the right collaborations.
The debut-song originated during one of my trips to Nashville, with other songwriters. It was an enormous challange. The whole process took about one and a half years. It went from being really excited to desperation.
But in the end, I learned even more from it. This process was a part of my education.
How do you reach your target-group without a label?
Well, you will ask yourself questions like:
- Should I send this to labels?
- Should I hire pluggers to go to radio stations?
- Do I need to hire PR?
All this needs to be figured out. In addition, I'm luckily surrounded by people like the opposites and his management, people like Eric Corton, who are enthusiastically involved with my work. That makes me happy. They really are my sounding board.
Would'nt it be easier if you were with a label?
Of course. There are advantages of being with a label, such as studio costs, or the large network. Now, I'm paying everything by many different jobs and that's not always easy. Actually, I'm much more a pratical person, do it yourself - DIY. I find it a nice concept and spirit of this time, but it is not true, because we are so dependent on the people you work with, so i'll rather say: Do it together.
How would you describe yourself and your music?
I like to describe my music as cinematic, singer-song, pop.
Cinematic as it is cinematic, visual and atmospheric. Singer-song because I have quite a lyrical way of singing, emotional, images and narrative.
My songs arise from an instrument, not from a beat or groove, but often from a quitar or piano, traditional. And pop, because I do really love getchy, but recognizable, songs that after listening once linger and where you can sing along.
Who are your musical examples?
I create a lot of music that you have inherited from your childhood. But there are also many artists of today that inspire me and I combine those two worlds. But many family members listened to soul, motown, funk, and rhythm and blues. But my mother, for example listened to music from the 80s, as Kate Bush, Cindy Lauper. Incidentally, I also love hip hop. Since I was 14 I listened to Carole King, she is really a great example for me.
And I'm so impressed by this guy 'Among Savages', when I listen to his music I am like : "really? Did you just really say that and sing it so lovely?". His music is so beautiful it is almost annoying.
Hozier, Asgeir, Daughter, Matt Corby, Fink, London Grammar.
What is your future dream?
That I'm touring worldwide, and especially because I have a strong connection with Nashville and LA, hopefully I can arrange something, that I write half of the year there and the rest of the remaining part of the year in Europe, Netherlands.That is my dream, but also really one of my main goals. Otherwise it remains a dream and I want my dreams to become reality".
Do you have time for love? Besides all the fuss?
Yes, I'm in love, for 9 years already.
How do you combine love with your future dream?
He is a camera-man, specialized in documentary, news and current affairs, he travels a lot, with everything that is going on in Ukraine, and the Middle East, he is constantly away. That's not always easy, but you get used to it and you learn to deal with it. In principle we could combine our working-fields in a different country. He would be able to go anywhere allong with my future dream. We are passionate and ambitious. He is following his passion and I am following my passion, therefore I think we are matching so well. We are on the same level"
Why did you wanted to meet me at the red light district in Amsterdam?
I think the old church is a beautiful center around the red light district, the ultimate paradox between peace and chaos, pain and hope, filth and cleanliness. This intrigues me greatly and a walk around the church with all the impressions you open to all kinds of emotions and ideas. For me, as a songwriter a fine condition.
Furthermore, the church built in 1300 is a symbol for something safe, something solid, a sanctuary.
Photography: Roos van Rij @ The Lovers & Drifters Club.