On Wednesday 06 February 2019, Within Temptation singer Sharon Den Adel joined Jellie Brouwer at the Dutch NPO Radio 1 for an interview. An interview about Within Temptation, My Indigo and her personal life. You can check the full interview online, below a shortened translation.
The interview starts with the experience of Within Temptation duding their South America tour;
Jellie Brouwer: “Sharon, tell me. What is your experience when you’re at an airport at a random South American country?”
Sharon: “Well, there are people, queueing for some time. People with banners with greetings, drawings of band members. But mostly a warm welcome message.”
Jellie Brouwer: “What happens next? You walk up towards them, hug them and talk with them?”
Sharon: “Mostly, they are behind barriers since we don’t want to block the road for other people and traffic. We’ve experienced barriers quite a couple of times now amongst security.”
Jellie Brouwer: “It is a really awesome story to tell, isn’t it?!”
Sharon: “Yes for sure, it’s super awesome. But you experience completely different things, which you usually don’t experience in Europe. Not that you’re not known here, but over there people are more expressive. With a lot more passion, things you don’t really see in Europe. Maybe it’s because we visit European countries more often and South American countries only once in 4-5 years… And then I can understand why they’re more excited and expressive. We even once experienced fans at your window, playing all the songs you’ve performed that night, which is awesome, especially when you want to sleep – haha – I had to sleep with earplugs. Next to that, also people who follow you from the airport, they want to know where you’re staying in what hotel.”
Jellie Brouwer: “In what country on the world are you most popular?”
Sharon: “That is actually really hard to say. The popularity of the band is all over the place. We’re very known in Russia, Poland, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, South America like I just said, but also in Asia. But we mainly focus on Europe. We’ve toured the most in Europe and put our main focus here.”
Jellie Brouwer: “And why? Is that because you’re from here, or…?”
Sharon: “Yes. It is easier for us to get things done here. And to tour, you don’t need to travel far, by plane. Especially in the beginning, it was to see how things went in Europe before we even think of the rest of the world. And after that just pick a country and see if they want to have us”
Jellie Brouwer: “At the end of February, you’ll be touring in America and Canada. Do you get used to things like this, when you conquer the world?”
Sharon: “Eh, no… Even if you visit a country more often, it is a new adventure each and every time. You’ll visit other venues, it is a complete new experience every tour.”
Jellie Brouwer: “And do you recognise your fans from miles away? Do they look a certain way?”
Sharon: “Mostly, they wear our T-shirts, so if they wear band shirts it’s easy. Mostly dressed in black, because it’s a metal/rock vibe, but this with a band tee.”
Jellie Brouwer: “You studied fashion, didn’t you? What does a proper metal diva look like?”
Sharon: “A metal diva… Well, the fun thing about that is that it is a personal opinion. You can decide this yourself. There are no certain rules and that makes it even more fun. It is important to distinguish yourself from the rest. And with your clothing, visuals on stage, stage decor, this all makes you unique as a band. The music you make is important, but everything besides this, is also very important.”
Jellie Brouwer: “You even design your own dresses.”
Sharon: “Well, I studied fashion management. I was good at drawing, but for my dresses I collaborate with fashion designers, at the moment I collaborate with Jan Boelo. This way we can collaborate in a great way and I personally really enjoy this. To share ideas together.”
Jellie Brouwer: “And so is the white dress, which is added the ‘Top 100 of Most Important Pop Items’, right?”
Sharon: “That dress is a dress from Gigi Peeters. She, back then, lived in Gouda. I bought the dress as it came, it was finished already. This also happens with Jan (Boelo), I sometimes buy dresses from the current collection when I like or need things.”
Jellie Brouwer: “But that dress, it’s iconic now, isn’t it? It was THE dress in Ice Queen”
Sharon: “Yes, for sure. Well, actually, it was the Mother Earth dress. The dress from the Ice Queen video is from the same designer, but it was a different dress. It was a white dress, but not THE white dress – haha -.
Jellie Brouwer: “And to continue on fans, you have also received love letters, haven’t you?”
Sharon: “Oh yeah! Especially as lead singer, but also the guys from the band. They also get letters, you don’t want to know. But everyone of the band gets letters every now and then. But when people get to know you, it changes. People nowadays know that I’ve been with Robert for centuries, 25 years – feels like forever. So it chances from obsessed to fans and admirers of music. And that is personally the most fun thing about it.”
Jellie Brouwer: “25 years you’re with Robert now. Does he still play guitars on your studio albums?”
Sharon: “No. He stopped playing guitars on studio albums. He was part of the band for a long time, we started the band together. Now he is part of the management together with someone.”
Jellie Brouwer: “And also important, you two write songs together and he raises the three children you have together.”
Sharon: “Yes indeed.”
Jellie Brouwer: “Last week, your seventh studio album was released. “RESIST”. And it’s also been released on music cassette?”
Sharon: “Yes, indeed! It is one of the most important and special items from this release to me. I’m from that era where music cassettes were still produced, it’s nostalgic. My parents back in the days started collecting vinyl records and singles, for me it all started with the music cassettes. My brother is 6 years older. Back in the days, he got some pocket money. At the age of 5, I wanted it too. My parents gave me some, but I was only allowed to spend it on music – haha – no candy, only music. Every week, we went to the music store in Indonesia, where we lived back then. In Asia is music cassettes a booming business, I guess, and still is.”
Jellie Brouwer: “And with these thoughts, you wanted to release “RESIST” on music cassette as well?”
Sharon: “Yes indeed, this together with the fact that I’ve done my solo project last year. With “My Indigo”, I also released music on music cassette.”
Jellie Brouwer: “Sharon, you wrote the song “Holy Ground”. As featured on “RESIST”. Your work is always thematic. Why is “RESIST” called “RESIST”?”
Sharon: “It’s a general theme on the album. The song lyrics refer to this theme, indirectly. It is more about that you want to know and free your own freedom, go your own way. To protect yourself, or a general resistance, maybe even political. And personally, to me, “RESIST” is about nowadays you get every day a little less freedom of choice. Due to the algorithms online and we don’t even know what happens on the other side of the computer. It’s a quite scary feeling. “Holy Ground” is more about your personal boundaries. Whether it’s physically, mentally, verbally.”
Jellie Brouwer: “You talked about your solo project, “My Indigo”, which was released last year, 2018. And for the record, there was almost no future for Within Temptation anymore, was there?”
Sharon: “Yes, indeed. It is always fun in the band, but you miss so much around you. Right now, I’m with Within Temptation for 23 years. Together with Robert, whom I’m with for 25 years. I’m in my 40s. And it is when my father got sick, diagnosed with bladder cancer, that I realised I needed to spend my quality time with friends and family also a bit more. When I heard my father was sick, everything became more or less unstable for my musical career. Right now, almost a year ago, my father passed away. It’s a big loss, it was someone who helped me with a lot. Helping with raising the children while on tour and such. My parents moved closely and he stopped his job to help with the children, actually. When I heard he got sick, I realised I was always on the road. If I’d continue like this, I couldn’t be with him to support him as much as I want. I want to be with him during this time. It was the last year of the tour. I never talked about my feelings of quitting Within Temptation, always tried to support him with his cancer. He was a very brave man, wanted to things on his own, there was not a lot of support there needed unfortunately. But I am like my father, I want to take time for myself and decide myself what is best for me.”
Jellie Brouwer: “After the last tour, you decided to put the band on hold to create a solo album. How did you manage that?”
Sharon: “Well, I went back into the studio for Within Temptation. Still close to our home and our parents home. I wanted to continue writing new powerful music for the band but I came into a conflict with my inner self. I was not yet ready to write the kind of music we need for Within Temptation. I was not in the mood for epic and big music. I did not have control of my own life at the moment. I wanted to create something close to myself, more fragile music. Back then, “My Indigo” was born. The contrast between “My Indigo” and “Within Temptation” is big. The Sharon of “My Indigo” is very close to me, but so different from the band.”
Jellie Brouwer: “Tori Amos is one of your biggest sources of inspiration. She also wrote a song about her father, “Winter”.”
Sharon: “Yes! It’s my favourite song from Tori, it’s so beautiful…”
Jellie Brouwer: “Like you said before, the energy to make metal music was not in you at the time of “My Indigo”, when did you get this energy back again?”
Sharon: “Next to I did just not have the emotion to write for the band, we also did not have a clear direction in which we were going with writing. We always want to surprise ourselves, to push our boundaries to create something refreshing. After “My Indigo”, we learned new techniques of writing and producing. This, together with the music we listened to, inspired us to create the new album. We got inspired with bands who make different music every time and thought ‘why don’t we have like a cross-over with the genres we like?’. With some elements from the music of, for example, Imagine Dragons – which we listened to quite often – we learned new ways to create different music. Not only this band, but the scene. Once we knew which direction we wanted to go to with our new album, the puzzle pieces fell into place. I fought the demons inside of me, made new music, personal music, close to me. I can conquer the world again, and I’m ready for Within Temptation again.
Jellie Brouwer: “Another song, now for Within Temptation, “Supernova” is also dedicated to your father, right?”
Sharon: “Yes, indeed. It has the message which other people also feel, I think. You’re waiting for the supernova, the afterlife to give you a sign to let you know he’s okay, or that he knows that we’re okay, that my mother is doing fine. I don’t need to worry. It is not that I discussed this with my father, not been raised with a religion. My father did not talk about stuff like this, even if I wanted to.”
Jellie Brouwer: “What kind of father was your father? How would you describe him?”
Sharon: “My father was a good man, it was very nice being around him. If I need to describe a perfect day, it would be filled with warmth. If I was at my parents house and the weather was nice, the doors were always open, music playing loudly, snacks on the table, my father in the corner reading a book… He was a source of warmth and cosiness.”
Jellie Brouwer: “It’s special to think about, when you think about it, soon you’ll be performing this song in huge venues in America and Canada. Do you talk to fans about the background of songs?”
Sharon: “Mostly during interviews. During shows, you would like to keep people in their flow. I’m trying to limit myself with talking, I will take about things, but will keep it to a limited time. You want to keep people in their flow during the show. I try to talk about different stuff in shows, to keep things interesting every show. With “My Indigo”, it was different, it was close to me and people could understand it more and would be more open to it, compared to our big Within Temptation shows.”
Jellie Brouwer: “When I look at you, the contrast is so big with the Sharon which I see on stage. I mean, I’ve never seen you performing live, but checked you out online. How do you feel, when you’re on stage?”
Sharon: “It’s my thing, I really enjoy it. I had to learn how to, it’s not a gift given to me naturally. But it is more, after the second song, I get more relaxed. In the beginning I’m mostly afraid of making mistakes, I’m sometimes too much of a perfectionist and try not to fail. But on the other hand, people only like it when I fail – haha – those are the things why I am nervous. But luckily one of our guitarists calms me down when this happens. He talks to me in a good way like, ‘Why do you do this again Sharon, what is the reason we go on stage?‘ Oh yeah, because we like it! That way, I enter the stage in a way better mood.
Jellie Brouwer: “But how did you discover this? That you wanted to go on stage with music?”
Sharon: “I knew it for a long time, music was my passion. But I never prepared myself that it would be successful. Never prepared myself to be in the spotlight, better not to be though – haha – but making music is my passion. I know, for example, Barbara Streisand was afraid to go on stage. But these days, I hear more and more artists near me say that they’re actually also afraid and the pressure. I’m not that much different, I think. Before, I had Robert. With him, talking to the audience was completely natural, he loves to talk. When he decided to stop with Within Temptation, I had to learn it. To think how I would do this. So now I prepare myself what to say. So many people, so many voices, people waving and talking. You get distracted so quickly. But I got to say, after a couple of shows, I get way more confident – haha – and nowadays I am more spontaneous although I did not choose to go on stage to talk to people. I chose to sing and write music.
Jellie Brouwer: “And you got a very beautiful voice, let’s not forget about that. Because that’s how you and Robert got together!”
Sharon: “Yes indeed! During our college period, I was in the school band. Robert wanted to know me and joined the school band. I was also in the party committee and saw him there as well. “There is he, again“. I found him in the early days pretty annoying, he has an opinion about everything and is pretty loud in everything he says, thinks and talks about. Eventually, we became a couple. Back in the days he was already in a band, with our current keyboard player and bassist, “The Circle”. He got kicked out eventually, but I really liked the music. He introduced me to this music and I fell in love. Eventually, we started Within Temptation. We wrote the music together, he wrote the music and I the lyrics.
Jellie Brouwer: “And eventually, it all collapsed. Because being together for 25 years, okay, but being in a band for that long and a family?!”
Sharon: “No indeed. In 2007, we were even separated for a while. It became too much at a certain point. We were even on tour for a week and a half, or longer even, while we were not on good terms. I can never recommend anyone to be in a band as couple. The pressure on the band and performances increased over the years. In 2007, Robert and I were together for 15 years already. We started a family, just moved, in combination of the pressure on the band made it gone wrong. Eventually, we got back together. But you need to take a step back and think ‘what is going wrong?‘. Well, that became clear, it is not healthy to be together for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every month, every year, at home, on the road. That was the turnpoint of him leaving the band. It was his decision, and I fully agreed actually. It was a good decision, I had to adapt but it was the only choice for him. He really enjoys to go on tour and explore things with the guys, that’s what he needs to miss these days. But every now and then he joins us on stage for fun, to see all the fans and band members again. But he really enjoys writing and designing stage decor the most, actually.
Jellie Brouwer: “And you had to keep it all a secret, didn’t you? You’re still a world act, and this is hot content for the media… How did you manage to keep this a secret?”
Sharon: “Yes indeed. Well, you know. I also personally asked people not to talk about it in public. Because, if more and more people give opinions, whether it’s on the internet or wherever it is… It is already complicated enough. We didn’t even know ourselves what we wanted to accomplish with this separation yet and how to continue with the band. The following weeks, I went on tour solo, with the band. We noticed, it was actually pretty relaxed without Robert on tour. I mean, we had quite some fights along the way together, that’s also not nice for the band members. Now it feels like I’m living a double life. Now I’m here with my family, and in a few weeks I’m on stage performing for thousands of people. A tour is three weeks, when I’m on tour, I’m in a completely different rhythm, it’s a nightlife life. We always try to call, but it’s not always successful, if you’re in a different time zone or on the road, it’s not that easy to schedule a call. But I always try to call, or Skype, or whatever else you have these days. And then you get home and then you need to fight for your place at home. The kids are now listening to daddy, but I also have my opinion – haha -, but by the time I won my place back, I’m ready to go back on tour again – haha – it’s not an ideal world, but with every tour we’re trying to make this mess of a puzzle as good as possible. But I’m not the only one with these issues, every band member and crew member has it’s limits and restrictions. We need to find a way to make everyone happy.”
Jellie Brouwer: “But you were quite used to it, weren’t you? You’re raised in a family of expats and seen the corners of the world. What did you think – I can raise my kids this way as well?”
Sharon: “Actually, not at all. I always hated it when my father was away. I wrote him angry letters and received one back from him. Explaining in a very calm and natural way. It’s a beautiful way to reply. Back then I understood the way, and I only liked that he wrote a letter back, I always wanted them around us. I’ve got the sweetest mother of the world, but I wanted to have my father around as well… I have not yet received any angry letters of my kids – haha – but I always try to connect with them, as much as possible. To check in how they are, their grades and all…”
During the show, artist get the change to write a personal piece of text on a tile, which means a lot to them. Sharon explained she has two important lines, “Carpe Diem” and “Live and let live”. She chose the last one to write on this tile. You can listen to the full interview, in Dutch, on the NPO Radio 1 website. This global translated interview is translated by DONTTEARMEDOWN. Feel free to translate it back to your language, respect the website and always link back to this page.