Close your eyes and be transported into HAEVN’s atmospheric universe. The long-awaited debut by former copywriter Marijn van der Meer and film composer Jorrit Kleijnen was released last Friday. Exclusively to Nolala they’ve shared all stories surrounding this extraordinary debut. This is: Eyes Closed: Track by Track!

A little over a year ago I spoke with Marijn about how your song Where The Heart Is was discovered by Volvo, about HAEVN’s breakthrough track Finding Out More, and about the anticipation to your first show at Carré. Since then, your music has reached over 36 million streams, you have completed a sold-out club tour, signed a record deal with an internationally renowned label, and Eyes Closed has finally been released!

Marijn: “Yes, it was an eventful year and we finally managed to finish the album. That was quite a task.”

Jorrit: “In the preface of the album’s booklet we described the way Eyes Closed represents an internal journey, a quest into who we are. Finding Out More was something close to an ‘accident’. Marijn and I tried something one day and it got picked up.

Along came the pressure of making an album and it took us a while to figure out what we wanted our music to sound like in the context of a full album. The biggest risk, in this case, is that all songs would resemble each other too much, so this process was necessary to discover the variation and breadth in our stories. I think we achieved that.”

Last year, you expressed your thoughts on music in popular charts, considering it to be too ‘easily digestable’, and that you guys wanted to tell true musical stories. You indicated that your shared passion for music is your main incentive, but that the biggest accomplishment turned out to be bigger than the two of you. According to you, a song is successful when someone recognizes themselves in it. Do you still agree with this statement?

Marijn: “Definitely, Eyes Closed is an antithesis to the fast-paced contemporary music industry, where people prefer listening to playlists instead of entire albums. We do hope people end up listening to this album from beginning to end. That they’ll listen to it in its entirety on a long train ride or while driving at night.

We decided on the title Eyes Closed as a sort of command: close your eyes and discover which images take shape inside your mind. A song could have an entirely different meaning to you compared to somebody else. That’s a given we embraced.

A while ago, we played The Sea at an intimate show and everyone in the audience closed their eyes. After the set, the host asked several audience members: “What did you see during the song?” Everyone pictured something different. It turned out that what we had in mind also applied in practice. I’m curious about the connections people develop with the songs.”

Knowing your filmic sound, the connection to the ‘soundtrack of your life’ can easily be made…

Marijn: “I’ve had this experience while listening to newly discovered music, that feeling of being in my own soundtrack or music video when listening. ‘This has to be a music video, I’m listening to the music!’, I’ll be thinking at that moment.”

To everyone that is still compiling their personal soundtracks, what are the songs on Eyes Closed about? 

1. The Sea

Jorrit: “We discovered a frequent reference to water as a subject. We weren’t aware of this at all, until we looked into the titles of our songs.

The water and the sea are fascinating metaphors for the things we cannot fathom. While being close to the sea, you can feel your brain clear up, yet at the same time it’s so massive and forceful that it’s almost incomprehensible. It is both liberating and intimidating. This is something we tried to capture in the music and lyrics of The Sea.”

Sunrays touch the coastline
Warm our feet, show the glare
We walk through the sand in the warm night
The water will take the weight from us

And all our lives we’re told
The stream will take us home
The Sea – HAEVN

2. Bright Lights

Marijn: “Bright Lights refers to a gut feeling that tells you everything will be fine, but that it just takes a little time. You’re able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is what you keep telling yourself.”

Your words are high and running through a tired mind
A howling wind surrounds you
I’m trying to illuminate a clouded heart
I’m gonna find the strength to stay

Feel we’re gonna break out
At the last step now
Feel we’re gonna break out
I really wanna see your face, and I see

Bright bright lights, bright lights to guide me
Bright bright lights, bright lights to guide me home
Bright Lights – HAEVN

3. Mind Games

Marijn: “We’ve discovered that the theme discussed in Mind Games is one that resonates with many people. It involves meeting somebody you genuinely like, yet that other person is only interested in your attention.

When you push the gas, she hits the brakes. And when you hit the brakes, she speeds up again. It will always remain the same, that distance will always be present. After keeping your distance for three months, she’ll text you at three in the morning and you’re back to where you started.”

The road that you take when I’m caught in your stream
You’re cold when I’m in your play
The rule that you break gives hope and relief
Warmth when I am away

If I let it go, you come for more
But if I let it in, you take control

I let your mind games in
Let your mind games in
Let your mind games in again
Mind Games – HAEVN

4. Back In The Water

Marijn: “Back In The Water is about a situation in which the person you’re in a relationship with is not feeling well. It’s as if she’s under water, she’s out of reach. Though you know that everything will be alright if you decide to wait for her. You just need to let her go for a while.”

Jorrit: “Yes, it’s about conflict in intimacy. You’re really close to somebody, but you can’t share that intimacy. You express your loyalty by making sure the other person knows you’ll give them time to get out of it.”

The night fell slowly on our glory days
I lie awake to see you fade away
You’re lost without a trace

And when you’re hiding underwater
I’ll be waiting, till you’re ready for my love

When you washed away your sorrow
I’ll be right here, until you’re ready for the road
Cause I’ll go with you
Back In The Water – HAEVN

5. City Lights

Jorrit: “To me, City Lights is nostalgic. Reminiscing, cherishing things that have been.”

Marijn: “The word ‘reminiscent’ summarizes it quite well.”

Waiting on the corner I first saw you
Rising of my heart, everyone will see
There’s no wrong in all the things you told me
There’s a wall for all the truth in me

Well it’s time to leave the darkness baby
It’s time for us to know
Nights that we got lost my baby
I’ve seen you grow

I can see in your eyes
City lightning
City Lights – HAEVN

6. Let Love Tear Me Down

Marijn: “Everyone must have had the thought: ‘Now it’s time to party and I’m going to lose myself completely’. That’s what Let Love Tear Me Down is about.”

Jorrit: “To surrender yourself to love, especially all the downfalls that accompany it.”

All your burning hearts
Come and find me
I want deeper love
I wanna dive in
I am here to fall

So don’t ignite me
I have seen it all
So come and blind me 

I want your lovin’
I want you to be tonight
I wanna melt until our
bodies’ states are unified
So pull me closer
Let the rhythm take our life
Let’s get together on the sharp edge of the knife
Let Love Tear Me Down – HAEVN

7. Where The Heart Is

Marijn: “Where The Heart Is is about chasing your dreams, listening to your heart. Most of the time, people understand the references made in this song. I think that might be the combination of words and music at work. In this song, you can practically feel yourself jumping in at the deep end.

High above the tallest tree
Courage will come your way
It’s the need that burns the trust that shines
When you climb out of the shade

Your high awakes the things you wanna be
Where the air is thin and sweeps you off your feet

Where the heart is
When the light’s at your side
When the faith is ready
No more guidance
Take the leap of your life
As the ground is shaking
Where The Heart Is – HAEVN

8. Finding Out More

Marijn: “Finding Out More discusses the question ‘What If?’. It can be about anything; what if I were single? Or what if I would be in a long-term relationship? What if I’d resigned from my job? Or what If I hadn’t? What if I had stayed in Australia while travelling there? Decisions are there to be questioned.”

If you like to go far, run fast
But if you chase love, don’t pass
Chances never built to last
I better run and chase

Finding out more
Finding more ways
If you need it all
Try to operate
Finding Out More – HAEVN

9. (Interlude)

Jorrit: “Interlude doesn’t contain lyrics, it’s a moment of peace.”

10. Sinner Love

Marijn: “Sinner Love is about..”

Jorrit: “Marijn’s Tinder adventures, haha!”

Marijn: “Haha yeah, Marijn’s non-existent Tinder adventures. But yes, it refers to finding love through social media. Online, everyone only shares the best versions of themselves, and how could you find real love in a fabricated world?”

Jorrit: “In a world where the fake bubble has to burst before reaching the real. Everyone only posts their best photos, nobody shows any vulnerability, no one is truly honest.”

Marijn: “Exactly, the best version of yourself. Nothing different from what you’d present at a bar.”

Jorrit: “Yes, but that’s a bit harder to fake.”

Somebody save from this perfect world
But I keep searching in this shallow pool
Someone with a real heart
Someone with honesty
Somebody full of flaws
Someone with a real touch
Somebody off-screen
Cause life is full of faults

Holding on
O, I like to think it’s alright
Sinner love
O, I like to think it’s alright
Sinner Love – HAEVN

11. We Are

Jorrit: “We Are describes the sense of feeling lost while walking the streets at night. A desolate sense of losing something you don’t want to lose. You can’t really stop it either, it’s slipping right out of your hands. That’s the feeling we both had while writing the song, it was almost therapeutic.”

Marijn: “Yes, and we wrote it at night. It’s the most personal song on the album and I hope the feeling with which we wrote it will resonate with the listener.”

Walking through the dark night
Calling out your name
I’m waiting for an answer
How did we end up here

I try to find a shoreline
With no ground beneath my feet

I miss your hand in mine now
I try to understand

Cold we are, we are, we are
We Are – HAEVN 

12. Love Is A Game

Jorrit: “Despite living in the civilized world of 2018, the dance floor still resembles a jungle sometimes. Glances, body language, and intonation play a bigger part than anything else.

We enjoy that teasing feeling of trying to impress or control somebody. That’s what Love Is A Game is about.”

Love is a game they say
Looks like you’re winning
The hunter feeds on prey

Your eyes are killing

I can see it in your eyes
You’re wonderful
It’s in your eyes
You want to go home
Love Is A Game – HAEVN

13. Hold On

Jorrit: “In Hold On, the title really speaks for itself. Whatever you’re doing, hold on to it.

Drowning in our days
As the night hour left its trace
Calm this raging thirst
At it’s best it showed our worst

Chasing-off the past
Let go of what we’ve had
Our lives are on repeat
Working hard, holding the peace

We will try to overcome
We will try

And just hold on and walk on
And just hold on
If you want then I can show
There’s a way out
Hold On – HAEVN

14. Fortitude

Marijn: “Fortitude is powerful and refers to believing in a happy ending. Believe in love.”

Jorrit: “Yet it also contains doubt. Pugnacity. Is it worth fighting for?”

You hold it back from us
No need to hide no more

And the world’s love holds me 
And the world’s love holds me

I’m gonna walk down the lane 
Of true love 
Not gonna bend or break 
It’s in all of us 
Could it be right
Could it be right
Could it be
Would it be right
If we would stop this fight
Would it be right if we would stop tonight
Fortitude – HAEVN

Wow! Thanks for these explanations! To what extent are the songs autobiographical?

Marijn: “I think they all are. Though I have to say, inspiration for a song like Sinner Love was found in my surroundings. I’ve never had a Tinder profile myself, but I’ve heard stories from my friends. They’ll tell me that they’ve had 5 dates in a week. I’ll think to myself; ‘Wow, that’s a job on its own!”’ 

Jorrit: “You’ll have to take a day off work!”

Marijn: “Right, haha! Our songs are always personal stories or stories we pick up from our environment. I always think our lyrics are concise, but not everyone is able to discover the meaning or think our lyrics are vague. Sometimes, people ask us: ‘Is your music really about anything?

 Now you know our versions of the songs, you understand our intentions behind them. When people discover the meaning we intended, we feel accomplished: ‘We did it!’. And in other songs we prefer that sense of open-endedness, so that people are able to create their own stories.”

Jorrit: “That’s the main concept behind Eyes Closed. We have our own stories, but the listener is king. We want to be humble in that sense. Ultimately, we’re film composers rather than pop musicians. We don’t want to explain things to you, we just want to create the soundtrack of your life.”

Eyes Closed out now to buy and listen to 👇.

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Interested in more stories behind music of other singer-songwriters? Read the interviews with Andreas MoeBastille and the SYML for their interesting stories!

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– The Sea is written by Jorrit L Kleijnen / Marijn Van Der Meer © S.I.A.E. Direzione Generale, Night Shift Publishing, Day Shift Publishing, 2018
– Bright Lights is written by Jorrit L Kleijnen / Marijn Van Der Meer © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 2018
– Mind Games is written by Marijn Van Der Meer / Gordon Groothedde / Jorrit L Kleijnen Mind Games lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 2o18
– City Lights is written by Gordon H G Groothedde / Jorrit L Kleijnen / Marijn Van Der Meer © S.I.A.E. Direzione Generale, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Bv, Night Shift Publishing, Lunty Music Publishing, Day Shift Publishing, 2018
– Back in the Water is written by Marijn Van der Meer / Daniel Bjorn Gibson / Jorrit L Kleijnen © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, Concord Music Publishing LLC, 2018
– Let Love Tear Me Down is written by Martijn Tienus Konijnenburg / Lieuwe Roonder / Jorrit L Kleijnen / Nienke B Paardekoper / Marijn Van Der Meer © Downtown Music Benelux Bv, Night Shift Publishing, Tienus Music, Day Shift Publishing, 2018
– Where The Heart Is is written by Jorrit L Kleijnen / Marijn Van Der Meer © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, 2018
– Finding Out More is written by Jorrit L Kleijnen / Marijn Van Der Meer © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, 2018
– Interlude, 2018
– Sinner Love is written by Jorrit L Kleijnen / Marijn Van Der Meer © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, 2018
– We Are is written by Marijn van der Meer / Jorrit L Kleijnen © Night Shift Publishing, Day Shift Publishing, 2018
– Love Is A Game is written by Marijn van der Meer / Jorrit Kleijnen / Nienke Paardekoper © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 2018
– Hold On is written by Jorrit L Kleijnen / Marijn Van Der Meer © Night Shift Publishing, Day Shift Publishing, 2018
– Fortitude is written by Marijn van der Meer / Jorrit Kleijnen © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, 2018

📸: Eveline Vroonland