Interview with Tom de Wit of TDW

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Tom! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.

Tom de Wit: Likewise my friend! It's always nice when people want to know more about the music that I do, so it's an honor.

CV: Is emotionally driven content, especially with regards to songwriting, the strongest means of captivating a listening audience in your opinion?
TDW: I think the most important factor we have when making art is indeed emotion and experience. It is our emotional responses to what happens in life that create stories that can connect to others.
Also, next to the emotional side of it, being honest and real is very important as well, I reckon. In a world of fakery…in business, in every day conversation, in how the world sometimes seems to work,
art is one of the few bastions where you can be 100% honest and actually be applauded for it. I can say things in my music and lyrics that would not be considered "normal" in everyday conversation,
but these are my real thoughts and emotions when stripped of the societal varnish, so to speak. I think people latch on to that…real emotions, real experiences. You can write about something fictional,
like I did in the past many times, and also be able to reach people because the core emotions and thoughts should be real. If you are not honest with yourself in your art, the audience knows and they will tell you/make you feel that.

CV: "The Days the Clock Stopped" tells the autobiographical tale of a particular time in your life that was anything but pleasant.
What prompted you to tell your story in an album format? Was the project and process a way for you to come to terms with what happened? Did you find it therapeutic?

TDW: I think this album was something that I had to make, but I just wasn't ready for it for many years. This whole process of hospital admissions, getting sick, almost dying etc ended 11 years ago. But I just couldn't face it directly from the start.
So I released 4 solo albums and multiple records with bands before this one in which I mostly tried to process what I felt and went through in fictional stories. But it was when the band Dreamwalkers Inc was planning to play a special live show in 2017 where we composed new material for, when something clicked inside my head. I wrote a batch of new songs specifically for that show and that material stuck with me. It unlocked something in my head, so to speak. Originally it had lyrics about a fictional character going through the motions and feeling trapped inside his body. But after we played the show and I was listening to the recordings of it...

I realized that that person I was singing about wasn't was me. And after finishing the album First Re-Draft for the band Dreamwalkers Inc in 2019, I started composing new songs and compiled the older material that made sense for this album
into one big project. So basically, halfway through 2019 I really sat down and created the album as it is now. I guess after all those years it was time for me to confront this.

I think the actual coming to terms with it has not entirely been done though. Not going to lie. I still have a hard time with dealing with my high sensitivity and my broken body that doesn't work the way I would want it to.

But I do think the album has been a good way to discover that part of my brain that I tried to push away for a long time and being able to say "You know what... Okay what did happen back then?" and that always is a good thing to do.

I knew this moment of confrontation would come for years and I knew that it would be good for me, but it was a big step to take. And I think that now, from the moment this is out there, I can start healing it better perhaps.

I think I will never truly be at peace about all this, but I think I am already better at dealing with it, then I ever have been and this album and documentary helped with that a lot. :)

CV: While telling one's story of sorrow and woe can be a freeing experience, were there times though when you felt it was too difficult to relive and relay such memories and feelings to, in a sense, total strangers? Or was it more so a self proclamation of your triumph and survival?
TDW: Weirdly enough, I am able to detach that personal fear element from my music in a way. For example, I am actually a rather introverted man who likes being alone or in small groups surrounded by loved ones, but I don't like big crowds or social gatherings much.
Yet I can be on stage and be performing in front of crowds and then I can actually love those same crowds, but that's because my mindset is different then. Then I am performing and I want to be connected to these people as much as I can. But when I am in private alone, I don't.

And that is perfectly fine, but also a pretty big contrast. I tend to think that the same applies when writing music. When I write music, I primarily write about what I want to express verbally and musically and do what excites me and what I love to play and sing.

Then once you start releasing that music to an audience, like I am doing now, the other part comes in and then I start realizing: "Oh wow, yeah, maybe I am sharing a lot of personal stuff here..."
but it's my life philosophy that nothing that is ever truly worth doing is not at least a bit scary. So yes, there is a definite element of fear / hesitation to share myself which can be difficult at times.

I might be an introverted guy, but I do like people and want to make people happy, so when I think about what people's opinions might be and such, it can sometimes be a bit scary to think about people judging those things I am making which mean so much to me.
Yet my own urge to express myself is far more important than those fears. So I will never NOT release music or NOT do something because of that. Fear is often an illogical emotion, so I acknowledge its existence, but don't let it rule me.

And I think the second point you make is a good one as well. The main reason why I am releasing this album and documentary really is that I want to share my story with the hope that it might help others.

Yes, I am a musician. Yes I like it when people buy my album, of course. But every album I made always had deeper layers to it and certain messages that those who were open to it, could take with them in life.

This album basically shows what I went through and how I survived all that. If this album can be a source of inspiration or power to some, then I am very happy indeed.

CV: Does living through such experiences give you, especially as an artist, a unique perspective on life in general? Did you find it changed you as a person? Are you more self aware?
TDW: To be fair, I think myself awareness was already through the roof because of my high sensitivity, haha! Like, the first 19 years of my life have basically been a struggle inside my head fighting my own emotions. So in a way, I always felt like I was the weird outcast that felt things others didn't.

I often suffered in silence, trying to pretend I was happy, while I felt like dying inside in a way due to my brain giving me a hard time. So in a way, the physical illness and all the hospital experiences were more like a second chapter of sorts.
After I got out of that phase and got my ostomy, I needed five years just to get back on my feet again. There was too much that had happened inside my head but also on my whole body.

I think in those 5 years, I actually was able to build my life back up again…with help of local government funding, therapy etc, and I learned that the way things go, cannot be controlled.
It really was a lesson in letting go of the illusion of control in a way. I did not deserve my mental struggles, I did not deserve these physical illnesses, I did not deserve this. But this was my reality now.

But, I do think that my confrontations with death, gave me a perspective on how finite things are. Life can and will end at a certain point. So you might as well try to leave your mark on whatever this world really is.

The period in the hospitals awakened my work ethic substantially. So that is why I built my own studio in which I make audio, video and web design work. I set up my own label…I started producing my own music and videos etc.

I feel that this drive really originated from that time. As a kid I was always making things already…drawing, writing little poems and lyrics etc, but it became clear after those days the clock stopped,
that creation is the thing that had always kept me alive and going. The fact that I survived underlined that.

CV: Do you feel music therapy is an untapped resource, which many seem to overlook, for anyone who might be dealing with trying circumstances and still harboring emotional scars?
TDW: Absolutely. Though it doesn't have to be music per se I think. But creative expression in any form is valuable and needed for human beings to feel balanced. Drawing, painting, sculpting, working with clay, making music, whatever.

If you can find that thing that genuinely opens your mind and gives you those short genuine moments of bliss and accomplishment, then THAT is what you at least should try to pursue in life.

Yes, we all need to work for money to pay for our food, our house etc and I will never say those things don't matter. I mean, I am an entrepreneur myself after all and I know that life will keep going no matter what.

But if I see people who are stuck in their lives, inside their minds or in their routines, my instinctive answer is to ask them if they have a creative outlet? And if not, if they perhaps should not try to find one.
Because for me, making music/videos/websites/artwork/whatever is just as important as breathing, food and water. I need it to stay balanced as a person. I need it to counter the negativity in my head and body.

If I cannot find positive energy inside my head, I can at least try to use the negative energy in a way that makes me happy and that can be of use to others as well. That way I spread something positive, which will bring me positive energy in return.

CV: Tell us a little about the meaning behind the album's title, "The Days the Clock Stopped." What significance does it have to your story?
TDW: Basically the title describes what it felt like when I was in that situation in the hospital. When you are as sick and weakened as I was, it feels like the whole world is going faster and faster while you are going slower and slower, until the point that it literally feels like you are stuck in a certain moment in time. Like the clocks have stopped and you there waiting for... whatever will happen next. That was a very disillusioning experience for me.

I always want to make things and feel like I need to use my time constructively. So when you are forced to do nothing because your body just fails on you, it just feels like you are both trapped in your body and in time.

That sense of being trapped and learning to accept that is what this album is all about in the end.

CV: What are you hoping people come away with after hearing "The Days the Clock Stopped?"
TDW: I hope that people can listen to this and read the lyrics and see that even the darkest moments in life will pass. Yes, this has really happened. And yes, I have to accept that for what it is.

But I am now making this album as I am building my life with a lot of creative energy and dedication. And I hope that it can show people that even if you go through the darkest of times and your body fails on you, there is a way out and upward again.

The final song on the album 'A String of Repeats' actually talks about this as well. We all fall down and we try to get back up. And it's good to realize that when you feel horrible.

Sometimes it just takes a lot of time, effort and perseverance to get back on your feet. If I can inspire anyone with this record and documentary, then I will be a very happy man.

CV: Did the COVID pandemic cause any production issues for the album's completion?
TDW: I am lucky that my studio is in my house and that the internet exists now. Also, I was lucky that I had all parts recorded that I needed to get other people in the studio for just before the pandemic broke out. So in that sense, the pandemic did not hinder the production process.

However, I did lose quite a lot of work in March and April because of this as The Netherlands went in semi-lockdown then, so that impacted me in that sense that I had a lot less money and was a bit scared of how things would turn out, and if I could even make the album at all!)

But I have been able to work through the hurdles and was able to make good arrangements with all parties involved. And thanks to the pre-order campaign and people supporting the record through that, I have been able to solve the financial problems I bumped into.
Now basically with the pre-order campaign it would be nice if we made the final stretch goal to make vinyl, but even if that doesn't happen, I am still a grateful man for just being able to make this album at all…because in March, I wasn't so sure IF it would happen.

CV: Where do you see the music industry heading in 2021? Do you feel big changes are in store for artists as many are still scrambling for a way to find their place and navigate through to the "new norm?"
TDW: Honestly, I don't know right now. One thing that’s become clear the last 7 months is that nobody really knows what will happen with the current enemy we are facing. I just hope we can get to vaccines ASAP that are also properly tested and such.

I might be a highly sensitive and emotional type by nature, but I do trust medical science and logic and I have been in touch with many people working hospitals and also in labs. That part of the world is really working their butts off to get a good vaccine out there and I want to be there to enourage/cheer for them if I can.

With TDW I have played live in the past and formed the band Dreamwalkers Inc, with which we performed TDW songs live from 2016 till 2019. Dreamwalkers Inc is now actually going to be playing its own band-written material from 2021 onwards.

So I think around the time we are actually ready to play live again, I will just have to see what the world is like then. We can speculate all we want, but if the last 7 crazy months have proven us, speculation doesn't bring us anyway.

I just hope that all musicians and people working in the entertainment sector can adapt and find ways to keep going. I am lucky that my studio work is also done for none musical clients and that there is always work for me somewhere, but my heart truly bleeds for those who have seen their complete income disappear in the last months.

CV: What's next? In addition to the new album what can fans expect to see coming as the New Year approaches?
TDW: Right now obviously we are promoting the album with two music videos…second one coming soon, and the pre-order campaign is still going until the 4th of December 2020 where people can buy the album in advance and get all sorts of cool perks with the biggest perk being that I will write a personal song based on someone’s preference!

A lot of fun stuff is coming from that and a lot of people have already backed this pre-sale, so that feels really good. We still have a way to go to reach the final stretch goal in which we can make a vinyl record of this album, but I am just happy that people wanted to already pre-order this record on the strength of one song…the first single 'Death and Her Brother Greg,' alone!

Basically the promo for this album will last until January 2021-ish and then I will start working on the next TDW record which will feature the songs that were suggested by the pre-sale people, so basically the audience made me write a new album, haha!

And 2021 will also be spent on the new Dreamwalkers Inc record which will probably be released in late 2021/early 2022, so there is more than enough to do!

CV: Thank you again Tom for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
TDW: The pleasure was all mine and thank you all for your time and attention!

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, show host, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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