The Heroine’s Journey of Petra de Winter

What is the best thing what I love about my work?

I feel happiness when I am creating new music. That’s in the rehearsal room or in the studio.

What’s my idea of perfect happiness?

For me it’s not travelling, dancing, going out or things like that. I feel the happiest while I am writing, recording or otherwise creating music and words. Alone or together with other people.

What’s my greatest fear?

Like most parents; that something would happen with my children.

What’s the trait that I most deplore in myself?

Vanity.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

That question was difficult, I just found out that many people that I admire are already gone. But the next persons are still alive, as far as I know: Ennio Morricone, Angelo Badalamenti, Laurie Anderson, Melanie Safka, Nina Hagen, Ute Lemper, Diamanda Galas, Brian Eno, John Cale, Nick Cave, Van Dyke Parks, Zbigniew Preisner, Marie Fisker, Greetje Bijma, Patty Trossèl, Kate Bush, Lydia lunch, Keith Jarrett, Benjamin Clementine, Sia, Michael Nyman, Barbara Hannigan.

What is my greatest extravagance?

I usually put that into my music and sometimes in my way of singing.

On what occasion would I lie?

I hate it to do that, but I can imagine that there could be circumstances in life when it’s better to lie. Usually the truth is stronger.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

Where shall I start? Being a musician is not a nice, happy live. If you can’t stand trouble, then don’t become a musician. In Holland musicians are treated like second-rate citizens. They are the most underpaid workers of the whole country. You have to work extremely hard to achieve a tiny little bit of success. The best musicians are the poorest, while a-musical rapproducers, schlagersingers and DJ’s earn loads of money. The worser the music, the better the appreciation over here. And the other way around. On top of that is the position of women in the music industry deplorable, we have to work twice as hard and be twice as good as male musicians to achieve 50% of their achievements. Black musicians have the same problem as women. The biggest part of all this discrimination is subconscious: bookers and other decisionmakers don’t discriminate us on purpose, it’s just a part of our (music) culture, they are often not even conscious of it. Now the first steps are taken to diminish this in the future, there is a new awareness now, the next step is to give us fair chance.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

It’s quite funny, I remember two moments, but they were both quite short, seconds perhaps.

Shortly after those moments something happened that disturbed this happiness. Perhaps that’s the essence of it, it never stays long. The first moment was backstage, during my first successful concert in The Hague. It was at a beautiful location, we had a fantastic program with great music, a marvellous team of 25 creative people, there was a big audience and I was backstage halfway the concert. We were in the middle of Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 and it was about thirty seconds before I had to appear on stage and sing. I was preparing and enjoying the beautiful music. And then suddenly a girl from the audience that I barely knew disturbed us, she lost her umbrella or such, she was searching for it and asked me if I had seen it. She didn’t seem to care that we were in the middle of a concert and that she was backstage where she shouldn’t be at that moment.

The other moment was in a beautiful theatre in Bucharest, with a lovely audience. I was singing our favourite Nightporter song, and was very happy for a moment, everything came together. But moments after that the drums collapsed (the drummer had to play on a very old, nearly broken drumkit), the drummer cursed and the atmosphere was gone. We managed to finish the song and the concert with half a drumkit.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

Over the years I made many mistakes and sometimes I wish that I could do some things again with the things I know now. I learned a lot by just starting and doing it, making mistakes, falling down and try it again. What would I change about myself right now? Perhaps a little bit more sports and less sugar. As a teenager I wanted to study history, which I never did. Sometimes I still think about that and dream of that. Perhaps in another life. Now we sometimes make songs about historic persons and events.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

In the end that are the songs and albums that we and I make and made. And also the good reviews that they got.

Where would I most like to live?

For our children this place (Holland) is the best place to live. But for musicians like me its one of the worst places to work. But the children are my first priority in life. I once lived in London, I loved that. But it was hard to live there too. Sometimes we go to a small house at the edge of a forest, I think that’s the best place to live in the end.

What’s my most treasured possession?

I have a small brooch that was once property of Mata Hari, it doesn’t have much value in money, but it has a historic value for me. I love the idea that she wore it first. It gives me a historic sensation when I wear it.

What is my most marked characteristic?

That I sing in four octaves, and that I use several vocal styles in one song.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

I think it is our art museum (Gemeentemuseum) in The Hague. Or otherwise the wood, we once lived on the edge of it. That was fantastic. With my band Chabliz we wrote a song (Blue Strike) about one of the most inspirational buildings of our town, but the council tore it down to widen a road for cars. To tourists I would recommend Hofwijck (Christiaan Huygens lived there) and museum de Gevangenenpoort.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

I don’t know, there is not one special place where I eat and drink. In The Hague you had Het Syndicaat and De Pater, that were both bars/café’s where lots of artists came to drink and play. And there is De Regentenkamer, they organize jazzconcerts.

What books influenced my life and how?

I went to a catholic school with nuns when I was a child, so of course I was influenced by the bible. My favourite book is “De Donkere Kamer van Damokles” a novel by W.F. Hermans. But Camille Paglia influenced me too with her “Sexual Personae” book. Actually it’s not very strange that both books influenced me, there’s a link between them. Both Hermans and Paglia understood the essence of being human in connection to the essence of art. Other books that influenced me are a few books about the first world war, from French, German and Flemish writers.

Who are my favourite writers?

Hermans, Coetzee, Houellebecq, Bordewijk, De Beauvoir, Paglia, Fallaci, Poe, The Brontë Sisters, Woolf, Kafka, Giroud, Zahl, Tartt, Mulisch, Winterson, Camus, Genet, Fox, Lindgren, Schmidt. Ten men, eleven women.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

Im Abendrot by Richard Strauss. Because that song is all about surrendering to Death. It’s about the acceptation of Death. When you hear that song, you’ll be ready for the last trip.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Coop in Twin Peaks. Inspector Columbo. Pippi, Zora, Ronja and other heroines from Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books. There are not enough female role models in fiction, and when I read I prefer biographies and other non-fiction books.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

Nina Hagen, Nico, Greetje Bijma, Yma Sumac, Ian Curtis, Diamanda Galas, Betty Carter, Maria Callas, J.S. Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich, Henryk Górecki, Richard Wagner, Hannie Schaft, Alma Mahler, Truus Menger, Melanie Safka, Marlene Dietrich, Friedrich Nietzsche, Francis Bacon, Ennio Morricone, Zbigniew Preisner, Marina Abramovic, Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Emma Gonzalez, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Roman Polański, Kate Bush, Béla Bartók, Ina Brouwer, Keith Jarrett, Lydia Lunch, Brian Eno, Benjamin Clementine, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, David Bowie, John Cale, Jeff Buckley, David Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti, Emma Goldman, Sia, G. Puccini, Laurie Anderson, Carole King, Fay Lovsky, Lou Reed, Elsa von Freytag, Daniel Johnston, Ute Lemper, Carl Anderson, Esbjörn Svensson, Cathy Berberian, Winnie Mandela, Nina Simone, Michel van der Aa, Van Dyke Parks, and many others.

Which movie should I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

The first movies that impressed me very much were Novecento (by Bertolucci), Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci again) and “Once upon a time in the West” (Sergio Leone). But later on I was also quite impressed by “Julian Donkey Boy” (Harmony Korine), “The Nightporter” (Liliana Cavani), “Five Girls and a Rope” (Hung-Wei Yey), “Paradise Now” (Hany Abu- Assad) and “Last Days” (Gus van Sant). Most of these movies are quite disturbing.

What role plays art in my life and work?

The visual arts inspire me a lot for my music. I don’t know exactly how it works, but while visiting exhibitions I usually get quite inspired to compose new music. Especially from artists like Anselm Kiefer, Sophie Calle, Miro, Hirst and Abramovic. In The Hague there was and still is a great alternative gallery, Galerie Maldoror, they always had the most adventurous, inspiring alternative visual art exhibitions.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My husband, parents and my friends and colleagues are my greatest fans and “sponsors” (not literally). My partners in crime are my bandmembers, my husband and my friends. Most of my friends are artists themselves. They understand most of the struggles we as musicians and writers go through.

Whom would I like to work with in 2019 or later?

I would like to work sometime with Jasper le Clerq, Jan Wouter Oostenrijk, Konrad Kosellek, Juraj Stanik, Van Dyke Parks, Ayreon, Wibi Soerjadi, Michel van der Aa, Eric Vloeimans, Colin Benders, Pink Floyd and many others. And of course with the same people I already work with.

What project, in 2019, am I looking forward to work on?

In recording our next EP, as a part of the new, next Chabliz album. We already started with the recordings. I am also working on a solo album and a novel, but it will take at least five years before that novel will be ready, because I do that in my spare time. Hopefully the solo album will be released at the end of this year. The Chabliz-EP will be released in 2019. We also have plans to work on two videoclips, at least one of them should be ready this year.

Where can you see me or my work?

You’re able to find us on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6mVhjJ4AhoeLsrUMBI7jdP?si=GHl0XofDTXmNAYaPLOqOyg

This is our website: www.chabliz.com

My personal website is not ready yet, but will be soon: www.petradewinter.nl

You’re able to find one of my other projects here: https://soundcloud.com/de-winter-2/we-failed

What do the words: “Pasion Never Retires” mean to me?

Many real artists never stop making their art. They just go on until they die or are too old and sick to go on. Usually they’re in their eighties by then. I expect that of myself too. I won’t be interested in nice trips to fancy countries or just consuming art when I get old, I just won’t get happy from that.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

Catself, she’s on facebook too with her page, and she has her own website www.catself.com

She’s a friend and a good singer-songwriter from Finland. Or Kalipluche, she’s a singer-producer and a very creative person, she’s on Spotify, Facebook and Twitter, and she has her own website www.karianne.nl

How can you contact me?

Our website is www.chabliz.com

I am on Facebook: www.facebook.com/petradewinter1

This is our Twitterpage: www.twitter.com/chablizpopnoir

And we’re also on Instagram: www.instagram.com/chablizpopnoir

My own website will be ready soon, but not yet: www.petradewinter.com

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