Has A Message For You
On May 26th Dutch household name Within Temptation released a video clip for their new single ,,Entertain You’’, that went straight to number one in the Billboard Rock indicator Radio Charts and debuted in the Top 50 of the Mainstream Rock Charts in America. The song, that has a very strong message, is actually the first new tune since the release of their latest, seventh, studio album `Resist’ [early 2019]. Within Temptation has never been reluctant to think outside the box, to experiment with sound and production or to speak their mind for that matter. Considering the current worldwide situation ,,Entertain You’’ couldn’t be more relevant. HeadBangers LifeStyle’s Lilo contacted singer Sharon den Adel to talk about the idea behind this song and video clip, future plans and things that matter in life.
Sharon sounds delighted and starts off by saying it’s very common for DJ’s and for instance the Urban music scene, to release new songs all the time, while in the rock and metal scene it is mostly about first writing an entire album. In 2020 Within Temptation again stepped outside the box with this new single release and is experiencing a whole different level of releasing new music with that.
,,It feels so nice to share a new song right away with the people that like our music. It’s also very inspiring because we now get feedback almost immediately after we made this song, instead of waiting for another two years when it ends up on an album. We produced and mixed the song last February and we had just finished the biggest part of the video recordings in March when all of a sudden in the middle of everything we had to go in lockdown.’’
Within Temptation presents a rawer, heavy sound and when I ask if the band was ready for a new musical direction perhaps, Sharon explains it is not something the band is aiming for. She compares it with painting, not knowing what you eventually will paint and adds to it with a laugh:
,,Or like Forrest Gump said: “My mama always said, `Life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get’.” We never know what kind of flavour eventually comes out, because we get inspired by many things. One day it results in a song like ,,Entertain You’’ and the next day, or even maybe a few hours later, it can be something completely different. So it’s not like we have a plan, just what comes out is like magic more or less. ,,Entertain You’’ is in the line of our last album `Resist’ but we are playing around a little bit again with all kinds of new flavours. Production wise it sounds more raw, the guitars are more sleazy and the lyrics are more direct and I think that will give a different vibe to how you experience the music. The way we write lyrics nowadays is more direct, compared to a few albums back, when they were more epic and in a way trying to have a more poetic flavour to it.’’
Photo by Conny van den Heuvel of DCH Photography
,,Entertain You’’ is about a serious subject that hopefully give people food for thought. As Sharon puts it:
,,The message of this song is very clear and something that we support, want to support and want to talk about. It’s about respect or the lack of respect and the lack of tolerance for certain people in our society. It’s not just racism, it is in the whole line of respect. A year ago I saw a travesty that was dressed up, walking in London and was harassed by a group of people while another person was filming it. Eventually he got really angry, telling them to back off. The group was surprised because they didn’t think he would fight back. But the fact this was shared on the Internet made me feel sad for him because he was alone. Anyone in any case, it doesn’t feel good and it feels unjustified. It is so easy to corner someone and that makes me always very angry, to see videos like that. Also with everything that happened recently in America, you can also see people are ready for change. Also a lot of people are still not ready for it though, but in a way maybe people are slowly waking up realizing they are not as open-minded as they thought they were. It is a very difficult transition and it will take time for people to admit that a change is needed, and that is actually what this song is about. It is about enough is enough, but like I said in the whole line of respect. It is time to take a look in the mirror: What are we doing and in what world do we want to live in?’’
The timing is coincidently perfect, releasing such a statement. And although the band couldn’t foresee the current situation and you can simply mark it as a coincidence, Sharon points out there are many things you can see in today’s society, which makes this issue always relevant. But for the front lady the most important thing is to always address issues, to keep talking about it and hopefully more people will be aware of certain situations.
,,For instance if you learned through religion that somebody is bad because he is different, in what way it doesn’t matter, I think you will see it back in society and that is also a thing we should be aware of. We should learn in school at least that everybody is equal and that there isn’t a group that is less or good or inferior. People are different and that’s okay. Nobody is someone else’s entertainment. It is certainly not okay filming someone who is being harassed to have a laugh afterwards, instead of helping. It’s not like I am sitting at home thinking what shall I talk about, it’s more like what makes me angry, what makes me sad, etc. and as an artist you need these kind of emotions to write music. Seeing a video like that touches me deeply, it gives me the ideas for the lyrics and it will help me to write a more true song in which I stay close to emotions and it will come across hopefully. That is what I always aim for. On the other hand music also should be there to enjoy and to listen to. Not everybody will get the message and will have their own ideas behind it and their own emotion to it and that is good because that’s what music should be about.’’
Photos by Conny van den Heuvel of DCH Photography
And then there is the fantastic video clip that visualizes it all, on which the singer comments:
,,First of all everybody who is in this video are not actors actually. The only one who is acting is me of course, in the role of a semi joker [laughing] and the two boys with the skull mask on their face, they are the only ones who are not really truly like this in real life. All the others are more or less the way you see them in the video also in real life. So they are not people who are dressing up or being an actor. The story of the video is these two kids are being put in for a fight and there’s a crowd watching it, people are betting on it and there’s camera’s filming it. The boys are fighting each other but eventually they will fight the people who put them in that cage and they go back upstairs together, recognizing each other. And you know what, they are an actual twin in real life. But you can also see this video in different ways, like an inner battle between two people or somebody who is battling with himself inside.’’
Within Temptation has become a super professional and spectacular live band already years ago and whatever they do it is always top-notch. Last year they did a “good round”, as Sharon describes it, to support and promote their latest album `Resist’, by playing big venues, many festivals and doing numerous interviews, also with a lot of news papers. The album was received really well and Within Temptation can consider it as a new milestone. Right now there is a tour scheduled with Evanescence in September under the banner `Worlds Collide Tour’, which is something to look forward to for the fans. Though the question is if it will actually happen?
,,Honestly, I think it is going to be difficult, but that is something the government have to make a decision about. Until the end of August there won’t be any gatherings above 100 people in a club or venue so until then nothing is going to happen. I think there is a big change we have to reschedule this tour, it is a logical step we have to keep in mind. And actually we are looking for new dates in September 2021 at the moment.’’
Like every other band, also Within Temptation has to figure out how to handle live shows in the new social distancing society. Sharon admits that it is a huge change but she also sees the bright side of it all.
,,I think it is also a nice change because you have to be creative again and look at everything in a different way. Just go with the flow, after all everybody is in the same boat [laughing]. During the first weeks of the lockdown we have done the Stay At Home concerts and we’ve broadcasted old shows for our fans, like The Black Symphony, Wacken Open Air 2019 and Graspop Metal Meeting 2019, that we all could watch at the same time, sitting on the couch, eating popcorn. That was a lot of fun for sure. But when it was time to release the single we wanted to be more focused on that. Right now bands are figuring out new ways of doing a concert but I think as a band you have to stick to your guns in a way, so we are still thinking about what fits us best. We are not sure about it yet. We want to have a follow up on ,,Entertain You’’ and we are writing new music as we speak so that will take time and playing live right now would take us away from the writing process. It is also a luxurious position we are in. We are just checking our options and let’s see what we are going to do, we haven’t decided yet.’’
Sharon and her life partner Robert [Westerholt] formed Within Temptation in 1996 but both have been in music since 1992. I wonder what keeps Sharon motivated and driven as an artist throughout the years?
,,I still hope that I haven’t written the best song that I, or the band, can write yet. As long as you have that passion of trying to reinvent yourself a little bit but also still stay true to your identity, that’s a reason for me to still make music. I also still enjoy it very much. There is no better high than writing a nice new song and be completely crazy about it yourself. As long as I have that I’ll continue, maybe be like an old rocker, like The Rolling Stones eventually, I don’t know [laughing]. It’s in my blood, I can’t take it away and the same goes for Robert and the other guys in the band.’’
Sharon is not only famous for her high-pitched vocals but she is also like a chameleon, appearing with different hair looks, make-up and outfits on every new album artwork or live show. We remember her wearing pompous dresses and gothic styled corsets in the early days but along the way it got more sophisticated and haute couture. Also the ,,Entertain You’’ release shows a transformed Sharon.
,,If you reinvent yourself you also want to reinvent the way you look, like a different version of yourself every time [laughing], but it always has to go along with the music more or less. When Tori Amos released her album `Strange Little Girls’, presenting herself in the booklet with 12 different looks (one for each song), I thought it was such a cool idea and it was the best album artwork I’ve ever seen. Actually, I was really sorry that I didn’t think of that one myself, because as an artist you’re also a storyteller [laughing]. I’d like to tell a story based partly on my private life and partly how I see the world and people around me. Before Within Temptation happened and we could do this on a daily basis, I was working in the fashion industry. Fashion has also been a passion for me and I can put my love for fashion into my music somehow and combine both. I am working with a lot of designers, like Jan Boelo for instance whom I admire very much. Robert loves to come up with a new stage design and ideas for videos and works with his own team, like I have my own team. It is really nice to have all these kind of layers of expressing ourselves and not only write and make music.’’
And what is it that Sharon does when she is not working on new music or being on the road. Here answer is quite surprising.
,,In my private time I play tennis. Yes, I am a very passionate tennis player. I do sports a lot and I walk a lot through the forest nearby where I live. I also have a family, so I have to take care of them as well, which takes a lot of time also. But I work for Within Temptation always on a daily basis actually. Because there are always interviews I need to do as well as so many other things I need to take care of or to organize. You know I am a busy bee, always, if not Within Temptation or my Indigo, it is my private life, playing tennis, gardening, painting. Oh, and I actually made a workout playlist on Apple Music called The Corona Quarantine-Sweat It Out Workout. It features my current favourite bands and I choose these songs especially for their high intensity. If you like to do a work out with speed you need up tempo music for it, like punk rock, post punk kind of music. That really works. I think it is a great playlist and I can really recommend it.’’
Photo by Conny van den Heuvel of DCH Photography
And for those who think her perfect day off would look completely different, well it’s not…..
,,It is definitely a combination of all these things I just mentioned before; family, tennis and of course writing new music. If you ask me what I love to do the most professionally, it is writing new music. I love playing live but it is always secondary for me. Writing music is always number one.’’
Sharon and her band reached a great level of success, enough to make a living out of it for years now. Within Temptation received many awards and nominations, they have several hit singles and their albums hit the charts, they got a loyal, still growing world wide fan base and many artists are waiting in line to collaborate. But what is it that really does matter at the end of the day? Sharon doesn’t have to think twice.
,,My worry number one is that everybody that I love is safe and healthy. If something goes wrong with my family or my friends it will get me distracted from everything else. It is the hardest thing in life and it is my main concern.’’
Header photo by SetVexy
Within Temptation is a Dutch symphonic metal band founded in April 1996 by vocalist Sharon den Adel and guitarist Robert Westerholt.
Symphonic, rock, metal, modern metal