Breath of the Forest – new track out now!

TLDR: New track! Out now! Get it on your favorite streaming platform here.

The backstory

After releasing my debut track, Back To Zero, I quickly started on the next one. What was simple jamming at first, quickly became a struggle – I ended up trashing half a dozen tracks because they were all just not up to snuff (and believe me, this is not just some crazy perfectionism!). I wanted to do better than the last release, but kept failing at it, and it was becoming increasingly frustrating. There were moments when I just wanted to give it all up… it simply wasn’t working out. All in all, it took me several months and a ton of willpower to break through that imaginary wall.

Breath of the Forest started as a completely different song. I started from scratch several times, leaving only some of the synths and other instruments intact. Up until the last moment the song was not quite there – it simply lacked energy and something special, even though I liked the basic ethereal arpeggios and the vibe of the song. So at the very end of the process, I added the big drum kit that smashed everything into place. Finally it had the energy and the epic feeling I was going for.

Breathe!

The track takes inspiration from something called “breathwork”. There are many types of breathwork, the most famous one being the Wim Hof method. The breath is an incredibly powerful tool to achieve altered states of consciousness, and breathwork sessions helped me to go deep inside to explore the inner world. This is a tool to deal with difficult moments – literally breathing through them. I also love the deep relaxation and peace that washes over you after an hour of intense breathing.

In the sessions I attended, the music was a powerful driving force behind the practice. In some cases the tracks have been created specifically for breathwork (for example by the awesome Dutch producer Joep Mencke) and in other cases they simply match very well to the experience (one of my all-time favorites is the song “Says” by Nils Frahm – I’m sure you’ll hear the inspiration for this track). In all cases, there is a certain energetic quality to the songs that take you higher – they send shivers up your spine, and it is that feeling that I wanted to capture with Breath of the Forest.

Forest bathing

Apart from breathwork, I also aimed to capture the sense of awe that I feel on my adventures out in nature. Especially after meditation or breathwork sessions, when you pay attention, the forest is clearly alive and breathing ever so subtly. The leaves rustling in the wind, the gently moving branches of the trees – present and unmoving, yet flowing with subtle energies all the way down into the earth, where they literally connect with each other to form the ancient entity we call the forest.

These experiences leave me in awe of nature and being alive. It is this awe, this deep appreciation of the whole, that I hope to convey in the song – even if it’s just capturing a tiny fragment of it, and just a humble attempt at that.

I hope the song serves you well – it is best enjoyed when you’re relaxed, and in a perceptive state. Turn up the volume, perhaps take some deep breaths throughout the track – you never know what realms might open up for you!

Listen to Breath of the Forest here.

Enjoy 🙂

-Derk

First steps on a new journey – Back To Zero

Today marks the release of “Back To Zero“, my debut track:

(Shameless plug: It’s out on Spotify and other platforms!)

I’ve been making electronic music since I was 9 years old, and it helped me through the tough times in my life. Starting with ModEdit, then Scream Tracker, then Impulse Tracker, then Reason – these tools enabled me to lose myself in music and rhythms.

Back in the days, I would make hip hop beats and rap and sing. After a while, life happened and I ended up choosing a different path: Games. When I started Paladin, my game studio, I had a big vision of building an awesome game studio and working on great projects. This vision took a decade to materialize, and as I was bootstrapping it was a rough ride to get there. Throughout these years I poured my heart and soul into this company, and I am proud and honored to see what the studio is today.

As the studio grew and grew, peaking at close to 60 people last year, my role as a founder changed quite drastically. Being the CEO of a 7 people team is one thing, being the CEO of a 60 people team is quite another. The people were great, the games were great – I loved this company and still do. However, I started resenting the excel sheets and meetings – the endless array of management stuff. And when things seemed to be looking up up up, I realized that the thought of “more of the same” was terrifying. I was heading for a burn-out.

After some serious introspection, I decided I needed to make a sharp turn and hand the reigns over to someone else. I needed to break free from the cage that I’ve built around myself, the cage in which I was complying with my own standards and beliefs about how to do things. So I fired myself, hired a CEO, and went off the radar.

I finally had time for more reflection and introspection. But before the magic started to happen, first I got in the way of things.

The first thing I was drawn to was music. I would make tracks for two weeks in a row, and I couldn’t be happier. However, something was nagging – the tracks were not up to my quality standards and I got very frustrated very fast.

So I dropped music again, saying “this is not for me – I just had to get it out of my system, now it’s time for something else”. This time, I was going to make a game. I really like programming, and this time I kept it up for several months, tinkering away at a little game.

However, not all was right in the realm. I was quite happy, but slowly the doubts started to creep in. Did I really leave my game studio to fend for itself, only to make games by myself? Was that truly my calling? Furthermore, the studio needed me. Not in my old way of working where I would be managing day-to-day stuff, but in a new way. They didn’t need me as a King Arthur, but they did need me as a sort of Merlin the Wizard.

So I went back to support the executive team. There was trouble brewing and we needed to put in a lot of effort to set things straight in order to survive. But after a few months, when the dust settled, we got to a point where things were on track and we found a great “triforce” with the executive team. My role: To safeguard and nurture the vision, the “soul” and the magic of the company.

With that clearly defined role, I had time again to do… something else. And with my “game making fix” covered with my involvement in the studio, I realized that music was the thing. No matter my skills, no matter all the doubts, no matter my limiting beliefs – I felt very clearly this calling to make music, to use it as a catalyst for lighting a fire in the world. I don’t know what that fire is yet, but I know it has to do with my creative journey.

So to make a long story short: It started with confusion. Only when I looked into the darkness, into the empty void of pure creative potential, I could feel that I was approaching my deeper purpose.

To illustrate this, I’d like to share an experience when scuba diving in Bali. We dove across an underwater cliff edge. The darkness that was looming in the deep ocean was terrifyingly beautiful. The void of creative potentiality evoked a similar feeling in me. It’s pure potential and pure terror.

There is no tool, no trick, no gadget, no shortcut that can avoid it. The only way is INTO IT. But once there, the Great Force is with me. I played with it, learned to let it work through me. My music improved as a result.

My music battle station right now.

There’s much more to share with you, so I’ll post more of these stories along the way. For now you’re invited to have a listen to my track on your favorite platform here!

Enjoy, and see you around 🙂

-Derk