She became world famous with the epic, symphonic metal sound of Within Temptation, but tomorrow Sharon den Adel will release a solo album with a completely different sound. With ‘My Indigo’ she processed an eventful period in her life. She transformed her deepest feelings into small songs with personal lyrics and an airy sound. In an open conversation Sharon told me her special story behind the honest lyrics.
For someone who has had a successful musical career for decades, I can imagine that music plays a central role in your life. But what does it mean for you personally?
Sharon den Adel: “As a child I was pretty shy, which is really weird because I am very open by nature. But you can easily get hurt if you really open up, due to circumstances I have become more conservative.
For me, music has always been a catalyst to process those emotions. At a young age I noticed ‘If anything makes me happy, it’s singing. For me it’s the best outlet’.”
Which artists inspire you?
“I listen to all kinds of music. For me a good song is a song that touches me, in a positive or negative way. It can be the melancholy in metal or the positivity that reggae has. It is just what fits the emotion of that moment.
Janis Joplin, Tori Amos and Kurt Cobain are my great heroes. They have formed me in my teenage years. I recognized myself in their raw lyrics and being angry or frustrated about something. On the way to school or home, I often listened to Nirvana and when I arrived, I had completely lost that feeling.”
How important is the meaning of music for you?
“Very important, I always listen to the lyrics. I also cannot write lyrics that don’t make any sense. I think that if you give an emotional charge to something, you have to substantiate it.
It cannot be possible that you write a song about a violent subject and that afterwards it appears that you have never experienced it or have no opinion about it. That’s not allowed. In metal anyway, authenticity is perhaps even more important than in any other genre. I captured that with ‘My Indigo’. ”
‘My Indigo’ is much more subdued in both sound and lyrics than we are accustomed to from Within Temptation’s music, how did this album come about?
“That has a special reason. I devoted my entire young adult life to Within Temptation. I went for it with great dedication.
With Within Temptation I can stand on the barricade. We make strong, euphoric songs with great stories about themes that play a part in world politics, for example. After 20 years I found out that for a while, I could not write that music anymore.
I had too much on my plate and at that moment I didn’t feel great. I looked at myself and I thought, “Who am I? What do I want to do in the last 20 years that I am still on stage? ‘”
What kind of insights did you get?
“I found out that I had not yet processed some things from the past. Within Temptation became so successful that something new kept coming our way. For example, if our record went gold, we celebrated with a drink, but the next day we got on the plane again and we continued. In those twenty years I could not give certain highs and lows a place because the machine kept on going.
Xzibit once said something to me that touched me tremendously: “You can buy anything in life, but you can’t buy time”. It is really nice that you are so successful, but when your time comes, you have to be sure that you have spent time on the things that are really important to you. That means more time for family and friends. That gave me the final blow to my mental block. And that ultimately also caused me to bring more balance in my life.
How did you do that?
“I have taken more time for my family and friends and have decided to organize the future with Within Temptation differently, so that I am at home more often. I’ve also written a record to process all the highs and lows, to give them a face.
‘My Indigo’ contains personal songs about the 1980s in which I grew up but also about the present and the future. About how this has shaped me and how I live life. I often talk about emotions in colors and indigo was the color of the period in which I wrote it.”
Is there one song that has a special meaning to you?
“When I wrote the song ‘My Indigo’, I knew; now I have the song that tells everything at once, that goes to the core.
And though you never take my hand
Even when I raise your shipwreck from the sand
And though you never count the cost
Of the innocence you’ve lost and what it meant
People express themselves in different ways and although you grow up together, you sometimes show emotions in a different way. One is more introverted, the other more extroverted.
You don’t have to love me
There’s one thing you should know
My love will not unravel
My love will never perish. I love you, no matter how our life has formed and how we think about each other. You often do not understand me and I often do not understand you, but despite that I love you.
Even the heart won’t let show, you don’t have say, to let me know
My Indigo – My Indigo
The most important thing about this story is that sometimes you can be very unhappy when it is not necessary. But it can form you. Communication is perhaps the hardest thing there is, but I think it is very important that you are always honest with each other. Especially if it bothers you so badly.”
I find it very courageous and special that you share this.
“I had no choice. I also think these songs should be more honest than anything I’ve written before. It just goes so deep. “
Has the person who the song is about, heard it yet?
“Yes, and it hit home. But it led to wonderful conversations. It turned out that he loves me, but does it in a different way. He had no idea at all that he had made me feel like that for years.
With these conversations we have been able to settle it and I have been able to give it a place. I think that’s wonderful. I love him even more now.”
‘My Indigo’ is available from tomorrow and can be listened to via the streaming services.
About Sharon den Adel
Sharon den Adel became world famous as front-woman of metal band Within Temptation. The band was founded in 1996 and is now one of the most successful in its genre worldwide. The band scored many hits, including Ice Queen, Stand My Ground and What Have You Done and released 7 studio albums, 2 live albums, a cover album and 3 DVDs.
Worldwide they sold more than 3.5 million units and for years they were the bestselling Dutch band abroad. In addition, Within Temptation won many prestigious prizes and they have been touring throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America.
Sharon has also done several successful ‘featurings‘ in recent years, including In And Out Of Love with Armin van Buuren. My Indigo is the first solo project for the singer-songwriter. The album of the same name is the first release from this project, but in the future we can expect more releases from it.
Want to read more articles like this?
Read the interview I had with Sharon about lyrics in metal and the message of the newest Within Temptation album Resist: Within Temptation shakes up fans with protest songs.