Protest songs

Yesterday I joined forces with flamenco singer Erminia Fernández Córdoba and some more musical folks during a climate demonstration in The Hague. We played a protest song she wrote to call for action. It’s great to see so many people raising awareness for the climate crisis now! We are preparing more musical activities for the upcoming Global Climate Protest 27 September….

I danced flamenco as a teenager and it was great to feel the spirit and passion behind it again in this gathering filled with Spanish music and dance. In some ways Spanish folk is similar to the Irish folk culture that I’ve become so familiar with: making music with simple acoustic instruments, clapping and stamping, and a large communal factor and a feeling of passion and rebellion involved. I loved it! Very powerful stuff!

So what we are doing now with the club of people, apart from writing suitable songs ourselves, is gathering great protest songs. I have a list already that I play during my own performances, varying from Melanie Safka’s “I don’t eat animals”, Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush”, The Kelly Family, “When the last tree has been taken”, Joan Baez’ “We will overcome”….and many more. Do you have any suggestions of good protest songs, especially about nature or climate? Please let me know! And see you 27 September ‘ on the barricades’!

Dress yourself happy!

Since people keep asking me questions about my dresses, why not write a happy blog post about them! Cause no matter how minimalistic I live, I have to admit I love to pick dresses for our performances, oh and for daily life, as I wear them as easily for rainy cycles or hiking up a muddy mountain. I have always thought dresses are more comfortable to move around in since I was a kid. Where do I find them? I don’t know! I suppose I just bump into them by accident, as I don’t like shopping at all! Especially not when you really have to find something…

When I was a little kid we were holidaying in Spain with the family and it was the first time I saw flamenco dancers. That must have been the first time I really wanted a polkadot dress..besides learning to dance flamenco of course. So I did both. And I still have this polkadot dress addiction! In many colours of the rainbow!

Do you have specific clothes or colours to cheer yourself up or to give yourself a confidence boost when you have something important coming up? I would like to know! Enjoy the rest of the summer in your happiest outfits :)!

The illusion of property

There was a time when I was very idealistic. From the age of 17 I worked many summers in a national park as a volunteer to do my share for tree conservation. I graduated on a legal topic hoping to contribute to the preservation of common goods: property of our common heritage. Things that don’t belong to just one person like our bikes or cars, but areas like woods, seas and lakes that belong to us all, that should be kept in a good state….

Western society sadly isn’t based around the preservation of “common heritage”. Most of our lives we spend focussed on our individual property: saving money to buy a car, a house, the nicest of clothes, saving for expensive holidays to far away destinations. We work all of our lives because we committed to pay off a mortgage to finally become the full owner of a tiny plot of land, or an appartment in a big block of houses with other people doing the same. But with which higher goal? Or should I even say: with which entitlement? I have always found it very interesting that humans are not well able to think for the sake of all people.

In the meantime the effects of climate change are really making themselves known now. Wildfires on the North Pole, unbearable heatwaves in the most of Europe, smog alarms: it’s only a small part of what’s to come in the next decades. Why are we still obsessed with expanding our own individual properties, neglecting the effects our lifestyles have on the planet as a whole? Knowing that if we continue like this our own little situations will be affected?

I could imagine a system where people would be rewarded for their footprint, like getting a basic financial incentive when keeping their footprint under a certain amount of points, taking into account how many kids one has, not having a car, eating a plant based diet etcetera. Many people are waiting for the government or companies to come with solutions. What we can do as individuals now is raising awareness about lifestyle changes and voicing out our opinion, like when friends announce their 5th flight to a destination far away or buy a second car.  Even though this might not be nice. And even though it might seem futile: it is all in the little things!

Apart from that in my opinion the State’s public property of common goods should be getting a distinct position as ‘common property not meant for exploitation’, like it used to be in the past and still is the case in some countries. It seems the only way….Do you have any other good ideas to combat climate change?

In the meantime I’m working on songs on the subject. All I can do as a musician….

Eat yourself happy!

I was on a beach yesterday enjoying the heatwave and I was a bit shocked to see the amount of people suffering serious obesity. I would never judge anyone for that as I know there might be causes at work that can’t be influenced easily. I do know however what it feels like to carry extra weight around. I was a bit overweight in the past and it still takes some effort trying to keep my BMI within the normal range. I love food!

I have been researching a lot about nutrition the past years since had to improve my diet and lifestyle to minimize symptoms of endometriosis. I found out this really helps for both the physical symptoms and the anxiety or tiredness that can come with it. No dairy, no alcohol, no sugar, no soy, little cafein, gluten, no processed foods, the right fish oils. It all helps me keeping a healthy body and a healthy mind!

Not sticking to the optimal diet for your own situation has effects that go a lot further than only physical diseases. Lately more and more is scientifically understood about the relation between an unhealthy intestinal microbiome and the mind! Anxiety, depression and many more diseases go hand in hand with problems of the intestines. I find this very interesting as this confirms my holistic view on health.

So basically, we can not only get ourselves in a good shape but also eat ourselves happy! Reducing stress, doing enough sports and getting a normal amount of sleep of course helps a lot for this aswell. Do you have similar experiences? I would like to hear your personal stories. Oh, and by  the way….. do you know the benefits of the foods pictured?

Keep cool with the hot weather!

Sustainable summer travels

With temperatures soaring over 30 degrees the past weeks, while planning my summer hols I couldn’t help feeling guilty about even considering the idea of taking a plane somewhere.  And I think we all should! With this climate crisis showing its tangible effects, it get’s more and more attractive to stay at home, as it’s hot enough here already, and to choose environment friendly ways of transport like hiking, cycling, inline skating or taking a train or a ferry somewhere.

It’s not only a matter of budgetting for me, but also really the question if holidays are really “necessary” that way. Do they contribute that much to your life to justify all these extra emissions? I couldn’t justify just flying somewhere for a concert for a weekend for example. Of course sometimes it’s hard to avoid planes, but to cut the frequency down helps already. Some people tell me they fly somewhere every few weeks as it’s cheap enough. Well reconsider!

I signed up for the Wwoofing website as I always wanted to have an organic farm volunteering experience.  It would feel good and useful to combine a holiday experience with learning something about self sufficient living, work with animals, and giving something back to the earth. And I’m considering a camping trip or taking a ferry to England. Handy for bringing instruments aswell. And maybe that one flight a year to Ireland? Because it’s an island far away and it takes ages to get there and back again as a foot passenger? If that’s OK with you? Excited to hear your opinions! Happy conscious summer travels!

 

I love the cold weather!

Suddenly temperatures dropped 10 degrees tonight after the heatwave of the past days. It felt as if an extremely heavy hot blanket that had been thrown over my house got removed and my world got bigger again all of a sudden. Finally able to breathe again! I love this!

Yup, I am one of those crazy people who love the rain and cold. I do like sunny days ofcourse, but certainly not above 25 degrees. Above that temperature I can’t exercise or think well and it really works on my mood, no matter how sunny the beaches look. I spent a lot of time in the sea the past days to cool down. It’s amazing to have the sea nearby!

The interesting part was that the hot weather had me thinking about the other places with a bit more nature where I could see myself living in the future. I really felt like escaping now and then. I had considered the South of Holland before since my ancestors are from there and I like the region but there it’s even 5 degrees warmer (!). Or the equally land locked East of Holland? I am pretty negative about the effects of climate change so I think we should brace ourselves for even hotter weather in the future. Or my favourite cool country: Ireland!

I think it’s interesting why some people love the cold and others love the hot. Does it have to do with body posture, where you’re from, what you’re used to or just a personal preference?  Any other lovers of rain and cold out there? In which places could you see yourself live ideally just looking at climate? Summer all year? Do you worry about the future effects of climate change?

Into the wild

I can be quite a hermit at times. I have always been able to easily entertain myself for days without interacting with other people. Last week I stayed in a house in the woods at the Veluwe and most of my social activities were with animals haha! A conscious decision! So nice to be fully in touch with nature. Waking up at 5am when the sun rises, with the sounds of the dawn chorus, long walks in the national park, cycles, horse riding, swimming, deer spotting. All of it just out in nature, no city visits etcetera. It reminded me of the feeling I had when living in Ireland and that I sometimes miss here. To really be away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. I find it very relaxing and it helps me grounding and focussing on my own goals again.

Even though I love the dunes and the beach it’s impossible in The Hague to go for walks without seeing any other people. Have you ever had that experience of being alone in nature for a longer period of time? What feeling or which insights did it give you? I hope you’re enjoying the spring weather this Pentecost and your inner fires will be resparked aswell!

 

 

Music & touring

Of all the skills one can have music is a very handy one to make money on the road whereever you are. I first encountered this source of freedom while busking in Europe. Lateron all my ‘holidays’, visits home and many many times back to Ireland, turned into tours. It’s a great way to reduce travel costs. Sometimes a lot of work though: working out gig schedules, hotel arrangements, borrowing or hiring sound systems on location, organising transport, sorting gig posters and press releases on location. Oh and then actually doing it haha! Despite the sometimes very luxurious hotels with spa’s and swimming pools, it’s still work and especially doing all of it solo can be a tough one. I have great respect for people touring all year round. After all these travels over the years I always love being able to just cycle to gigs and then cycling home again!

Part of being a musician is that you have to get out there. Yesterday I was chatting to a musician friend who is on the road fulltime all year and lives from touring only and I asked how he is able to keep that up. He replied his motivation is not the music in the first place but the people he meets on the road. And that music is just a channel to reach them! Beautifully said!

Any practical advice for touring musicians? Always book an extra airplane seat for your guitar so you don’t have to worry about airport staff taking it from you at the gates and it getting damaged in the hold. When booking with low cost airlines it usually works out cheaper than the musical instruments ‘check in fee’ for the hold. Mine is called ‘Mr Guitar’ on the boarding passes! And I couldn’t think of any better reliable and agreeable travel companion.

Anyway, I’m off to look at the organisation of another trip. Got an invite for Vienna this winter. Let’s see which new people I will meet out there! Where are you heading to this summer?

 

What’s your career story? 

At the age of 17 I moved to Maastricht to study European Law & Language Studies. Specialising in Dutch Administrative Law I hoped to realise my idealistic ideas in environmental law. In my Master thesis I researched legal ways to differentiate a ‘public property’ of common goods from private property. Shortly after I was offered a student-assistentship teaching all first year Bachelor subjects in Maastricht University.

At 22 I was sworn as an Attorney at one of the bigger law firms in The Netherlands. I enjoyed the intensive work experience, but something was missing: time to breathe after all these years of studying, and time for my big passion: music!I decided to give up my job and home to leave to Ireland with only a backpack and a guitar.

I have worked as a singer/composer, recording artist, guitar/vocal coach, tour organiser and promotor of events since. I am lucky to have shared the stage with national and international artists like Tim Akkerman, Perry Blake and The Dubliners. I have supported my music with several PA/PR/teaching positions in international environments. It’s been an exciting ride over the years, back to the essentials of it all having lived on a farm in the ‘middle of nowhere’, and overcoming health struggles en route. A crazy adventure!

Besides giving concerts I love inspiring people in their own careers, having a diverse experience in two different worlds. I offer coaching sessions and vocal workshops to spark your inner voice.

So tell me, what’s your story?

www.hannekelaura.com

Idols and inspirations

Chatting with some friends in a café yesterday brought us to the topic of bands and musicians we adored in our teens…And it turned out we still got the butterfly feeling when speaking about some of them ha! It got me thinking about fandom and what it means to me as a musician. I was a big fan of some bands in my teens and I have been so lucky to finally meet some of them backstage at festivals in real life: From Paddy Kelly (Kelly Family) to Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and everything in between: Josh Ritter, Rufus Wainwright, Beth Hart and many many more…

As a kid I spent all my pocket money collecting CD’s and VHS videos, to go to concerts and festivals all over the country, spent hours and hours in queues before concert halls and at backstage entrances of stadiums. It brought me to many many places and it was always a good reason for travelling in The Netherlands and abroad. My parents allowed me to travel to a concert at the other side of the country by train on my own at the age of 15!! An exciting first solo journey! I met so many friends through this hobby.

Also it served as a purpose for travelling. I don’t like random travels so much. I prefer to visit places with a special meaning: historically, genealogically, movie set scenes (Star Wars!) or places with a link to music. It gives a whole new dimension to visiting a place. Looking up to idols always inspired me in the music I make myself. I had never imagined I would actually end up meeting some of these people in real life or even sharing the stage or the festival bill with some of them!

Do you guys have certain bands, movies or inspirations that you would travel the world for or that inspire you in your career or otherwise? What does it mean to you? And do you still get as excited about them these days?