We had the good fortune of connecting with Aswintha Vermeulen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aswintha, what inspires you?
There are so many things that inspire me. Every day. But if I have to pick one thing, I am inspired by my loved ones and the spontaneous meetings I have with people while on the road. Nearly everything I have ever written has something to do with an actual encounter or person I have met. People have extraordinary abilities to overcome incredible hardships, create beautiful things, to surprise you. A stranger can show you such beauty if you truly look and your best friend that you have known all your life can still surprise you when you are open to being surprised. I hope I’ll never stop to wonder.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Becoming an artist and a creative was the natural choice from early on. My mum was a ballet dancer (and now my brother is a dancer as well). When we were little, my mum would play ballets for us on videotapes. My brother would try to dance along and I would put myself on a box and try to conduct it (not that I knew that it was called conducting at that time). My mum put me in ballet classes when I was five, and my brother always tried to copy my steps. I was always singing at home. When I was nine, a local church choir tested my vocal abilities and asked if I could join. My mum said, “please take her; she’s humming all the time!.” I had the privilege to join the boys’ choir to perform the Matthew Passion and my career path was decided then and there.
I heard and saw the soloist in a red dress singing (probably “Erbarme dich”) and I just knew that this was what I wanted to do. That has never changed.
There was also a significant positive social aspect to singing and performing for me. I was severely bullied as a child and adolescent making me withdraw. But when I sang, people gave me positive attention and enjoyed it.
I still feel like I can communicate better through song, performance, writing and composing than through anything else.
What sets me apart and helps me succeed is always being well-prepared, being persistent, tuning out the “no-sayers” who think your dreams are “too” big, and surrounding myself with loving, caring and inspiring people.
Staying fit and working out regularly, reading, meditating, positive affirmations and taking courses regularly to continue developing have also been a great motivation for me.
When it comes to my (song)writing I think there is also something else that sets me apart. A lot of songs are written about romantic love, that is understandable as it is a very inspirational topic that all of us encounter in live. Though you could argue that every song is a love song I seldom write about romantic love. On my album that is coming out soon there is only one song about romantic love, other song topics are discrimination, identity, standing up for oneself, loss, suicide, embracing the unfamiliar, friendship and family.
I wouldn’t say that my journey to where I am now was easy, but it was beautiful.
I had to overcome challenges of major health issues, poverty, discrimination, unexpected loss and a lot of bullying.
But despite it all on stage (or while creating) is the only place where I succeed being fully present in the moment and entirely focussed on what I am doing.
I am working on bringing that more into all the other aspects of my life.
My signature style is a blend of many styles, I don’t adhere to any one style and let myself be inspired and influenced by many different things. That makes it difficult to give an exact definition for my style, but also makes me different and exciting I think.
I asked several people how they would describe the style from the songs on my upcoming album and they all said something totally different. As I recorded in a very minimal setting with only a few instruments I do think this album has an acoustic and very intimate feel. I guess you just have to let yourself be surprised!
What I would like the world to take from my experiences and art is that you don’t have to be defined negatively by the trauma’s you experience, you can change them into something positive and beneficial. Sometimes that is extremely challenging, but the best “revenge” after people treated you badly or after traumatic things happen to you is to create a good life for yourself that you live to the fullest!
There were multiple moments in my life I did not believe that was possible anymore, but eventually I always found a way.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a city with a rich history and a center where a lot of old architecture is still in tact. Therefor a walk through the city center and a visit to the beautiful st. Johns church are a must! It is also the birth place of famous artist Jheronimus bosch, so a visit to the Jheronimus Bosch art centre I would recommend. I would hope my best friend would come in summer as we are a festival city with amongst others a big jazz festival called Jazz in Juketown and festival Boulevard, a big location theatre festival that basically turns the entire city into one big stage.
For lunch and a coffee break I would take us to “Crème Coffee and Pastry,” my favourite coffee place where I am writing this text right now :). For a nice delicacy in between we would get “Bossche Bollen” at Jan de Groot, a big chocolate ball with a delicious cream filling that we are famous for.
At night I would take us to the “church street”, a street famous in the Netherlands for it’s restaurants, to have a delicious dinner.
On a hot summers day it would also be fun to take a boat trip on the “Dieze”, little canals that partly run under the city similar to the ones in Venice”.
For the lovers of shopping there are also enough big brand stores as well as cute little one of a kind boutiques.
In other words; there is no need to be bored here!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My album “Keep on Singing” will be released on the 20th of August 2021.