A Blend of Indie Folk and Alternative Pop Emerges from the Netherlands, Nelleke Capturing Hearts with Themes of Love, Nature and Femininity.
A Dutch singer, songwriter and producer Nelleke is making waves internationally. From an early age, Nelleke was motivated to pursue a career in music by the likes of legends like Joni Mitchell, Sting, Bonnie Raitt, and Bon Iver.
The musical theatre abilities of the Dutch singer, composer, and producer were refined at Rotterdam’s Codarts University of the Arts. Taking her passion for theatre beyond her college years, she delved deeply into the performing arts, appearing in “Soldaat van Oranje,” a popular Dutch musical.
Nelleke just graduated from Berklee College of Music, where she was able to hone her musical skills alongside some of the most renowned artists and producers in the industry.
Her magnificent symphony of contemporary love themes is a striking reflection of her varied academic training. She writes songs that explore themes of love, nature, and women via aural landscape painting. Her music offers a wide variety of styles to her listeners, from alternative pop to indie folk.
“Send The Rain,” Nelleke’s newest single, serves as a tantalising preview of her forthcoming EP, “Bird/On Concrete”. The EP explores the range of human experience, from calm to fury, femininity to masculinity, and beyond; it is set for release in early September.
Lyrically and musically, “Send The Rain” conveys a desire for a less complicated, more optimistic outlook on life. The story ends on a hopeful note, teaching the reader to see the beauty in the everyday.
The song opens in the style of a folk ballad, highlighting the depth of feeling in the lyrics. Nelleke’s emotionally charged performance is accompanied by some appealing acoustic guitar. You feel immersed in her story as she sings about the thrilling sense of weightlessness she had when she and another character in the song jumped into the water.
Nelleke shines as a bright example of Dutch melodic ability, blending introspective poetry with an original combination of indie folk and alternative music. Keep an ear out for this up-and-comer, as she’s sure to release more emotionally resonant songs as she broadens her creative horizons.
Who are some of your most important musical influences?
Some important musical influences at an early age were for sure Joni Mitchell, Sting, Eva Cassidy and Bonnie Raitt. I’ve always been drawn to strong female lead singers with outstanding voices.
Voices with both soothing and edgy qualities in their tone. I remember getting CDs from Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone from my old mentor from high school. I respected her and her feminist outlook so much, so when she gave me those CDs I was honoured and intrigued.
I remember that I didn’t know these artists yet, it wasn’t particularly music that people my age were listening to. But she knew I might like them, I started listening and they became a red thread through my early years of puberty.
At a later stage, when I came of age, musicians/bands such as Bon Iver, James Blake and Phoebe Bridgers became very important to me. These artists represented a more alternative sound, but their songs and their music were also very much based on an acoustic approach. The contradiction in sounds (acoustic vs. more electronic) they chose made me want to listen to them.
How did you come up with the idea for your most recent album/song?
The idea behind ‘Send the Rain’ was actually born a few years ago. I just came out of a messy ‘situationship’ and I was confused about what it represented. I was mostly confused about the patterns that I fell into.
The initial song ‘Send the Rain’ was more of an ‘eleven o’clock song’, I almost felt like a character in a show breaking down into pure honesty, baring their soul. But I never did anything with that version because I never stood behind the original sound.
Last year, when I was working on my EP ‘Bird/on Concrete’, I dug up the song and started working on it with my producer Sebastian Izáciga Vega (Mad Tree). I rewrote the lyrics from the beginning, and soon the song became a real confession that had some balls as well. Together with Sebas, I wrote the ending, which to me is a pure celebration of messiness itself.
What message do you hope to convey through your music?
Through my music, I’m battling the stigma around softness. Softness doesn’t mean feminine. Doesn’t mean masculine. Softness means it all, it’s a powerful word because it implies acceptance. Softness can mean boundaries, anger, and above all it breathes duality.
I always had the sense that I wanted to help people feel things deeply, to feel rather than overanalyse. I communicate this through my songs and embrace the duality through my voice. ‘Send the rain’ is the climax moment of my upcoming EP, and the song that represents duality in its purest form.
What was the most difficult part of making your most recent album?
Knowing when to stop within every single phase of the production process, whether it is writing, arranging, recording or mixing. It’s so hard to finalize every phase and to feel satisfied with it. It’s difficult to know when it’s just ‘right’, we tend to overwork or overproduce easily.
So I stopped striving for perfection, or whatever that may mean, and I monitored closely when the performance felt honest and real when it moved something inside of me or my team around me.
Tell me about one of the most memorable times you’ve had performing music.
I think one of the highlights for me personally was performing my original songs in front of ten thousand people at ‘la Nit de Berklee’, last July.
The concert was my graduation concert and it captured the spirit of a beautiful year spent at Berklee Valencia with amazing new musician friends from all over the world. It’s a moment I’ll never forget, because of the ‘togetherness’ that’s connected to the memory.
How do you maintain harmony between your professional and private life?
I wish to say this is an easy question, but it’s definitely not. It’s hard to separate the two, especially because I write autobiographically. However, I started to look at writing as something that’s falling in between ‘professional’ and or ‘private’.
Of course, once you start performing or producing your work to show it to the world, it becomes professional. But the act in itself is something that has mysticism around it and I try to keep it in that place.
It’s a space that I step into on my own and it is a kind of ‘limbo’. I try to guard it with my life. I reflect on my professional life as a big enlargement of private situations. But it’s healthy to realize it’s always just a reflection of it.
How do you respond to criticism of your music?
It always hits me, because the content is so personal, but I more and more try to look at it as a ‘taste’ thing. It says nothing about me as a person. Sometimes I do get caught up in the focus on the digital response.
It’s easy to get sucked into your phone and I end up measuring my successes, digitally. It’s a good reminder for myself that Social Media is a great way to promote my music and get people to know me, but climbing on a stage and interacting with an audience that is there in the room beats it every time. Truth is.
In the moment of writing, I never sit there with an attitude of pleasing a market in mind, but the songs come to life for the sake of my own fascination. I actively give attention to the fact that it honours me every time my music resonates with a person. It’s never guaranteed and I try to not take it for granted.
What words of wisdom do you have for up-and-coming musicians?
There is space for all of us. Make it lighter, follow joy. Make the work deeper, do it together.