header photography by Sophie Paris
“There is beauty in forgiveness.”
“Skipping stone stands symbolic for the relationship I had with someone. As you can see the video is being played backwards. So actually, I am running away from him.” Singer and songwriter Neomi Speelman alias néomí outlines the idea behind today’s video premiere of her intriguing song “skipping stone”; a suspended mixture of vulnerability, power and passion. The single is out of her upcoming second EP ‘after’, which conludes that running away from someone can also mean getting closer down the road.
Her first steps into the musical world when she was a youngster, didn’t quite fan the flame for her future path; after playing the piano for five years she quit and only four years later and hugely inspired by Ben Howard did she pick up a guitar and began teaching herself how to play from online tutorials. She later applied for music schools and despite being to young to apply, by chance and her talent she was offered a place that opened up new perspectives for a path that at one point in her life appeared to be the end of line. Life often gifts you these unpredictable moments of coincidences.
We talk with néomí about her childhood memories, creating little poems, the beauty in forgiveness and what makes love last.
néomí, I read that when you were younger, your father used to throw stones into the river when you were on vacation. That’s also a bit of the story behind the song skipping stone. “When I wrote that song, I kind of imagined myself as the stone, gracefully being thrown away, but lonely at the same time.” Did you have a happy childhood?
Yes. (laughs) I actually did! Of course there were some bits and pieces that weren’t ‘happy’ but I guess that is just growing up. My childhood was normal I think. I maybe was a bit of an outsider with some certain friends, but I’ve never felt sad about it. Sometimes I might worry that I would lose friends but over time you get older and find people who are the same outsider as you. Makes me think of the movie “Perks of Being a Wallflower”, love that movie.
The video for skipping stone is pretty minimalistic and yet it gets under my skin incredibly. I interpret it as sometimes wanting to turn back time. What is the story behind the video?
Well, it stands symbolic for the relationship I had with someone. Actually if I am really honest…the person…my past love..is in the video. That is what made it extra intense for us to make. I really wanted that though because it feels like the song needed that intensity. As you can see the video is being played backwards. So actually, I am running away from him. What I wanted to show was that even sometimes when you are running away from someone it can feel like you are getting closer to them, because you finally put yourself in a healthy environment. Might sound weird but I hope for everyone they will understand one day. This is not me telling you, you should be best friends with your ex! I am saying that there is beauty in forgiveness (if needed). Sometimes love is letting go. (smiles)
“Even sometimes when you are running away from someone it can feel like you are getting closer to them, because you finally put yourself in a healthy environment.”
Your music is incredibly soulful and often revolves around hope and love. Arguably the most important things in life. What makes love last?
Communication, trust. Being with someone who respects you and you respect. Wanting to work for each other, as well physically as mentally. Freedom.
You want to make “little poems” instead of songs. Where does your love for writing come from?
I don’t really know. I just loved it since I was younger which doesn’t mean I wrote back then. But I always had these little stories made up in my head. I think writing words/writing songs are the same thing. The stories/feelings are in your head but now you are allowed to take people with you. Which feels nice.
Patience is no longer a value in our time. Everything becomes instant, and everything is available at any time. How patient or impatient are you?
I really try to live in abundance. (laughs) This might come across as if I am a hippy which I believe I am not, but I do still believe that there is something for everyone. And everything comes when it comes. What is meant to be will be and what is about to end will end. Just trust the process and be grateful for everything that comes. Pain means growth. Success means you’ve worked hard so celebrate. Don’t try to do everything at the same time, take your time to be present. But when I need to wait on a bus or a train or in a line for like more than 5 minutes, I’ll go crazy. So, in that way, no man. I am terrible at waiting for an order in a restaurant to get my order…ulgh I’m a terrible person. (laughs)
“What makes love last? Communication, trust. Being with someone who respects you and you respect. Freedom.”
You are headlining your own show at Paradiso this year. How are you getting ready for it? And what are you looking forward to the most?
Getting ready by making sure there is a nice set of course. I am not the nervous type, so I’ll just do the same thing I do with all my shows. But this time make it totally a néomí show. I am most looking forward to that I think. Also playing new songs live and making songs people already know ‘bigger’ when me and my band play them live. Just dive into the music more and taking some time for songs that can last a bit longer now for example.
How important is success for you, and how do you define success?
Success is being happy. Success has nothing to do with money or fame. It is happiness. If you are not happy, and not ok with yourself then nothing else matters at all. So success means happy. Happy means surrounding myself with good friends, my animals, love, and an overdose of music. This is what success is to me. (oh and win a Grammy. Like life is not a game but it’s nice to still win something, right?)
“Success is being happy. Success has nothing to do with money or fame.”
What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
Getting a dog and going to therapy.
And what are you most grateful for in your life?
My dog and my therapy.
OK and the fact that I was born in the west of Europe and I am immensely white privileged. I am grateful for always having a roof above my head and going to bed in a cosy room. I am grateful that my family is still with me healthy and alive. I am grateful that I don’t live in an environment where there is constant war etc. I think you get me by now. I stand with the ones reading this who are not.
Thanks so much for your time!
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