Tamoil Cultuurprijs

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Yesterday I had the honor of receiving the Tamoil Culture Award for Art & Literature. It was a glorious day. I have of course thought about what all of this means to me. With a big award like this expectations automatically appear; maybe you wish me fame & fortune or that the sun will always shine for me from now on.

The internal pressure does arise when receiving an award like this but… I understand that I receive it for all the things I have already created thus far. With this award and all the things that have happened to me this year I can, without a doubt, say that 2019 is the year of beautiful opportunities! From out of nowhere I suddenly feel seen and heard and this is a very, very welcome feeling. Thank you ♥

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Photo by Ronald Rietman

With the award I also got to take sea knight home with me, a brave warrior with a big heart. That suits me well because I happened to be on the look out for a fine man! It is a bonus that he is also the keeper of secrets, stories and discoveries.  Myself, I am not a keeper of secrets, more likely a whistle blower. Or to put it differently: I sometimes feel like the canary in the coalmine. When the canary stops singing it’s a warning to the miners that there was a gas leak. My antenna is sensitive, my body responds swiftly and my belly is wise like a guru. If only I listened to it sooner, more often.

As a child I had my own story that I needed to tell and this is how the need to create drawings and songs came about. Luckily my mother gave me a voice that people love to listen to, I am really thankful for that gift. I think it is really special I can reach people with my words and melodies and that it brings something different to each individual.

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Photo by Ronald Rietman

To all those who have been there from the start… to the people who understand that I use my life and my art to process things, to examine and improve myself and thus make life more bearable… YOU are my tribe and everybody needs a tribe. Thank you for being here.

Music and creativity has been the common thread throughout my life. Even if I sometimes lose the plot, I am very happy with where it has brought me. I am going to try continuing on this path to see where it will lead me.

Thank you so much,

Elly Kellner ♥

 

People adapt

Zwitserland 1People adapt. On my way back to the Luzern train station, the first part of my journey back home, I looked at the gorgeous mountains again and all the houses people built on them. Maybe it started out in caves, where we ate, slept, sang and played our drum. Further along the line someone invented the wheel, electricity and chocolate. How inventive are we as people, there is just no end to our creativity and drive to move forward and adapt; it comes natural.

We build, we break down and start all over again in the best ways we can. There are people moving house, finding new jobs and having babies, whilst their country is in war. Rocket attacks and sirens don’t phase them, they adapt and continue with life. All of this went through my head whilst I looked at the mountains, the bridges we’ve built and the sky that is so endless.

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I love mankind with all its dark and all its light. All of the world outside also exists inside of me and I know where we started out roughly 350,000 years ago. We’ve come a long way and I have as well. Despite all the bad, we are all doing pretty well at this ‘living’ thing.

My song ‘Mountains of men’ very much represents this feeling I have right now. I am in a train from Switzerland back to the Netherlands. A train, a wondrous invention that allows you to see your surroundings whilst traveling and I am taking in all the views. The surreal mountains are still real now and soon I will be in my flat country again. The highs and lows I experience inside are now visible for me to observe.

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Thank you Switzerland, it was delightful and you are a beautiful part of the world and our planet 🧡

Erlenbach Vlog

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On the 15th November I traveled to Erlenbach, near Zurich in Switzerland with composer and producer Sasha Shlain, to perform my songs at Seeschau – House of Sacred Arts. We had a very warm welcome by all the kind people there, such an heartwarming atmosphere and were reunited with more Beyond Music family. In the afternoon we connected through some music improvisation. 

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To all those who were there: it was so good to see you at the concert, thank you for your time and your warm, inviting energy and thank you Regula Curti, for having us.

And for those who couldn’t make it, here’s a small video of our day. You can find it on my YouTube Channel or by clicking on the photo below:

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Beyond Music – Album & Vlogs

 

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At the end of April I spent two glorious weeks at Studios La Fabrique (France) for the BEYOND Music Project under guidance of Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein (USA). BEYOND unites professional musicians, composers, singers and songwriters on a single online platform to connect and collaborate. After I was signed up for the Beyond Music network the lovely Heather Bond from Nashville (USA) contacted me for a collaboration and together with 20 other musicians from all over the world we were selected to participate on the album recordings.

During my time there I filmed parts of my experience and there are now six vlogs you can watch via Youtube. Click on the above photo to go to the playlist. Please note I filmed all this from my point of view, so the people I spent the most time with will be most visible in these videos. But let’s not forget we were with many and it felt like one big family! More information about all artists involved can be found via the links below.

2019 Album cover and all our faces KLEINERThe album that we recorded in the studio is called ‘Same Sky’ and it was released in August of this year. The song Heather and I wrote ‘Different, you and I’ is also on it and you can listen to and buy it via the Spotify and many other music platforms.

Larry Klein also invited these awesome musicians to be the house band: Dean Parks on guitars (Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Elton John etc), Dan Lutz on bass (Lizz Wright, Melody Gardot, Thomas Dybdahl), Adrian Utley on guitars (Portishead), Clive Deamer on drums (Radiohead), Manu Katché on drums (Sting, Peter Gabriel, Jeff Beck, Dire Straits etc) and Ed Harcourt on keyboards (Patti Smith, Marianne Faithfull). Engineers in the studio were: Maxime Le Guil and Steph Marziano. There was a constant flow of creativity, love and humbleness and it felt like a welcome, warm bath.

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I’d like to especially thank Larry Klein for believing in my voice and empowering me.

Regula Curti & Beat Curti thank you so much for shining your light on this dream that you have made possible for all of us and Konstanze Wiedemann for planting the seed that grew into something so strong and beautiful. I will cherish this flower, water it and try my best to keep it growing.

I want to say a big merci to Studios La Fabrique for the welcoming vibe that they offer. Also Glen Dumbell, Doug Eglin and Jules, thank you so much for the amazing dinners, flavors and sweetness! It all felt like home and I hope to return to it one day. 

Lastly, Beyond Music are organizing the opportunity to collaborate again this year following through to next year with a new theme and new producer. If you’d like to know more about this click here.

Kind awareness

Being aware of what is happening inside of you and around you is a start. When we see our own behavior and patterns and we know how we could better ourselves; that’s a good start. Never put yourself down for being in this phase.

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After acceptance comes this moment in time when you can see there are different new ways to respond, act, think and live and as these new possibilities show themselves to you more and more you will slowly try walking the new path. Then taking three steps back before you continue forward again. Even when we can’t change certain things straight away, kind awareness of what IS, is a good place to be.

Dare to be in that spot of awareness and being present… and the longing for change will arrive soon enough.

*Photo Linda Leyba

Huggable

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Yesterday my friend told me ‘Als er iemand is die aaibaar en knuffelbaar is, dan ben jij het wel’ in Dutch meaning -there’s nobody who’s more huggable then you-. And she is right, with certain people I choose, I love a good snuggle up, even with just a friend.

This past week I played a song from my new album to another friend and it made her cry. I snuggled up to her and we both cried with the music and held each other. No words, just feeling and connection. These moments bring a certain shine to life and a sense of purpose; of why I am here. If we don’t really connect than what is the point, honestly.

If you hide the true you that you are; your feelings, worries, thoughts and silliness… than what are we getting from you? A mirage? It creates distance and it will only work for those who need it. Some feel safe in the distance they create, unknowingly. But the distance someone else creates (by being there physically but not really being present) can create a feeling of disconnect. And that just breaks my heart because I am here to fully connect with my friends, my loved ones. I am here.

So, “there’s nobody more huggable and lovable than you”, she said. I feel it is true. I’m just hanging around on earth to see if ‘love’ will finally realize it and come embrace me for real. I am so ready, my arms are open wide.

*Photo by Heather Bond

223/ I love cats

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All my life I have felt immense love for cats, like I want to worship them. Whenever I meet a cat in the street I always say hi and a lot of the time they say hi back and/or they come to me for a quick cuddle. As a child I loved making drawings of cats and as a teenager I had posters on my walls of cats, exercise books with cats on the covers and so on. I really cherish these creatures. Want to know why? Head on over to this blogpost ♥

222/ Kittens

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*WARNING* Might be a trigger /animal abuse/child abuse*

I love cats. I share my house with a 11 year old cat and we absolutely adore each other. It has been healing to have seen him grow up from a tiny kitten into a strong grown-up cat. Still this couldn’t fix my trauma I have related to kittens. Whenever I saw kittens in the past it would trigger nausea, make me feel like I was choking and cause immense feelings of guilt.

Those 1 day old kittens and that brick wall. As a child I lived with my brother, mother and her new partner, I’ll call him Joe for now. Our cat kept getting pregnant and it was always such a joy. Whenever she had given birth to another litter I was asked to create a big drawing of cats with letters that said “Little kittens, free to pick up”. We would put the drawing up in the window and people would come around to have a look. After we’d taken care of them for 8 weeks each kitten would always find a new, loving home and it was just a beautiful experience for me. I just adored those little babies.

I can’t remember exactly what age I was but in that period between my 6th and 12th year Joe and I didn’t really get along naturally. He made me feel like I was never enough and every time I started developing more into the person I was at the core he smashed my confidence and put me down. It wasn’t a healthy environment to grow up in. (I finally ran away from home at age 12.)

Joe chose not to sterilize the cat which seems a bit lazy to me now, looking back at it. How hard can it be? At some point Joe must have gotten annoyed with the cat getting all these kittens all the time and he had another plan. No need for me to make a drawing or let anyone know that we had kittens again.
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As is common with traumas the description that follows feels to me like a dream, like I was standing in a mist as the scene evolved. I am not sure what age I was but I would guess somewhere around 8 or 9 y/o. Joe carried the litter of kittens outside and I followed him to the back of our garage. I didn’t have a father figure and badly wanted him to like me, to be proud of me. I had also toughened myself up as a coping mechanism by that time and when I saw things that hurt me I would force myself to be strong and keep looking. Maybe I asked what he was doing. Maybe he answered that he was getting rid of the kittens. I don’t know.

The kittens were meowing with their high shrill voices, calling out for their mum who was still inside the house. I stood nailed to the ground as Joe threw each kitten against the brick garage wall. I tried to look casual, to not show my fear and to be strong but inside I was frozen and in shock. He threw the kittens with force but not all were dead instantly. He would pick up the ones that were still alive and threw them again until the meowing stopped altogether. I stood and watched. He let me stand there and watch. To me, in that moment, it was as much child abuse as animal abuse. 

I don’t recall exactly, as it gets even more vague in my memory from that point on, but then there is me picking up a dead kitten and throwing it against the wall as well. I don’t know why I did that. I was already broken at such a young age and I think I wanted Joe’s approval or to show him I could be tough and maybe then he would like me.

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It is a sad, sad tale and it happened. I could choose not to talk about it but it is still there. The guilt I have felt since then, towards all cats and animals in general, is very heavy on my shoulders. I am very aware of what we are all doing to our animals, bossing them around, using, caging, killing and eating them. I have a heightened awareness about the extreme suffering they go through and still I eat meat. This dualistic viewpoint tears me apart as I know I am hypocrite. Whenever I am confronted with stories, images or sounds of animals being tortured, slaughtered or animals who have survived an ordeal like this it is a massive trigger for me, and there’s a chance it would bring me straight back to my own trauma. In the past there was one occasion where I’ve had to be seen by an emergency psychiatrist as I was unable to get out of this trauma loop inside my head after I heard sounds of animal abuse on a radio show. Of course it also reminds me harshly of the fact that I am a victim of child abuse and all of this rolled into one sometimes makes the world feel like a very unsafe place for kind fragile creatures.

Recently I have started EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and the scenario above is one of the traumas that I am working on. The therapy works well for me, even if it can’t take away the memory or suddenly turn it into a happy view but the feelings of guilt have lessened and I am now more aware of the fact that I was only a child. A young child that should have been protected from seeing what I saw. Someone should have cared enough for me to make sure I wasn’t around when Joe decided he spend the afternoon killing kittens. I created this drawing in order to deal with what happened even more. It was hard drawing dead kittens as it makes it more visible. But it helps my brain to be kinder to the child that I was then. Cause that is all I was: a child.

All my life I have felt immense love for cats, like I want to worship them. Like I had to ‘apologize’ to every cat I came across. Whenever I meet a cat in the street I always say hi and a lot of the time they say hi back and/or they come to me for a quick cuddle. As a child I loved making drawings of cats and as a teenager I had posters on my walls of cats, exercise books with cats on the covers and so on. I really cherish these creatures. I’ve recently also painted a jeans blouse with a cat and its paws on it and only in the last EMDR session I realized how I’ve always surrounded myself with images of cats, honoring them in that way. I now cherish cats in the way that I should have been cherished as a child. All I can do now is learn to cherish and treasure myself even more. ♥

221/ Eh… NO

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Some theories claim us women should let the men hunt after us. If a man wants a woman he should come after her, wooing her, doing his best to capture her heart. So, as strong independent women, we shouldn’t pursue the man too much. We should wait, hang back, continue with our lives and hope for the best. That is kind of hard for a proactive and enthusiastic woman! But I have been experimenting with this ‘new’ technique. In reality it is an extremely old myth that takes us back to the romanticized image of a caveman dragging a woman by the hair. Here we imagine a powerful and decisive man and now that we have arrived in the year 2019 a lot of ladies want to try out this primal tactic.

Well, my experience after a couple of months is I am still very much single. Hanging back, waiting for the best has given me exactly the same results as when I pursued the man more. I’m starting to believe I’ve just not met many truly respectful or grown-up men and age didn’t even influence this. I’ve met young guys in the past from 26 years upwards and besides a couple of short monthly flings no long-term relationship followed. I thought maybe it was time for me to start dating according to my own age, 42, as that might deliver more serious dates. I have had a couple of dates with men my age and the times that I really liked someone and wanted to get to know them better he must have just not been that into me. Sure, after the first date they would app every now and again but it was almost like now, sending me an app was a chore; a chore they’d rather drop instantly.

But let me make it clear, I’m not a princes, high on my horse, needing protection from the realness that exists in a man’s heart. Maybe some women have ruined it for all the rest of us and men are afraid of just speaking their truth? If someone’s not that into me they can just let me know and I’ll thank them for a lovely date and wish them well.

In this case my great date was a very busy man, working too long hours, trying to meditate after that and spending every weekend with his four children. The date, for me, was really nice and at the end it seemed his cheeks were as red as mine from excitement. We didn’t kiss but stood there 15 minutes talking some more in the pouring rain before he got into his car and left. A week and a half later I was trying to get the app messages going again because he’d not been sending me much of anything. All the joy that seemed to be there before the date had disappeared afterwards. I let him know I’d really like to meet up with him again and he replied saying that he thought the date was really nice and he’d like to meet up again as well. I then put it on the table that I did notice he was very busy with everything else, too busy maybe? I just wanted an open conversation about it. Apparently he didn’t like my honest observation as he then ignored me and blocked me after that.

Any man who is unable or unwilling to look at their own life and have an open conversation about it with a possible date can’t be ready for a relationship. The fact that he was my age, a business owner and took care of four children didn’t suddenly make him more grown-up or respectful towards me. He could have just said ‘No thank you, goodbye’. No problem. But eh… no, he couldn’t say no.

 

220/ No no No no No

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I am baffled by the amount of men I have come across in my dating fairy tale so far that have been unable or unwilling to end communication in a respectful, grown-up and polite way. Let me first point out that I have been longing for a long-term loving relationship for a couple of years now. So my ‘goal’ so to speak is clear. I’m not looking for a one night stand or a friends with benefits situation. My dating attempts linger around that longing for real love, it was my main reason to keep my eye on the look out.

So, say for example you ‘met’ another person via a dating app and you have been talking with each other for two or three days and it has been pleasant. You even agreed to meet for a coffee and on the morning of the coffee date he cancels it. After I express that this has happened to me a couple of times and I get a little insecure about it, he replies saying he will be in touch to agree on a new date. Guess what, the day after he sends me a photo of himself off to work and I replied to it and after that he never contacted me again. So… OK if you changed your mind, OK if you met someone else you’d rather date, OK if you’re poorly and can’t make it, OK if you just don’t feel like talking anymore, but… just let someone know! Why not just let me know.