Inhale. Exhale. This one is as fucking unbelievable for me as it probably might be for you. Here is the A to the Z story – with LOTS of pictures. While going home by train, I was checking Twitter on my Iphone when I noticed this Tweet directed at me:
Honestly? I raised my eyebrows and replied:
So he replied:
He had a point. It ìs Nalden. Ok, for the ones who don’t know NALDEN, let me give you a quick introduction. Nalden simply is thé Blog-Gurru and Web-Entrepreneur in the world today. Starting out blogging about the simple things he liked in life, Nalden proved the world that ‘blogging’ does matter and that ‘contextual value’ is key. Nalden’s blog became bigger than life with brands like NIKE, VODAPHONE, APPLE eagerly standing in line to advertise on his blog, what eventually led to Nalden transforming into a brand instead of ‘just another blogger’. Besides that, he is the inventer of WETRANSFER, the online transfer system to send large files to one another. You can compare it with yousendit.com but then tastefull, extremely simple to use and very easy on the eye. Short version: Nalden is MASTER in the 2.0 hemisphere. I thought I had nothing to lose but a Tweet so I decided to send him the following:
In the meantime another Amsterdam trooper/reader and editor in chief of STATE MAGAZINE (online Dutch hiphop magazine) sent this little tweet in the back.
Which ultimately resulted to my total unbelief yet heavy excitement in this remarkable Tweet:
WTF. I still could not believe this. After àll the madness and trouble I went through trying to get a Polaroid picture I was now invited to come and listen to the new N.E.R.D. album NOTHING with some cookies and tea while they pushed play? What are the odds??! I started out this little blog after I experienced for myself how hard it was to take these pictures after tons of people telling me this was a mission impossible right from the start, for even dreaming of wanting an upclose and personal Polaroid picture of N.E.R.D.
Well, guess I proved them all wrong, right…? Now, after experiencing how difficult it is to take that Polaroid picture (read story here), I decided to dedicate a whole blog around hunting for an instant musical moment, dedicating it to two of the things I really love in life – amongst others – MUSIC and POLAROIDS with the hidden philosophy that nothing is impossible, the sky is the limit and you can achieve anything you want, as long as you are ready to go all the way for it. Since that very first moment I tried to re-do a NERD Polaroid – by the rules that is – so, against a nice wall, voluntary posing for my camera, and the chance of explaining my blog to the artist. No blurry on stage first-timer pictures. As you all probably know by now, this resulted in not 1, not 2 but 3 complete disaster stories.
We tried to persuade with chocolate, monkey’s and Belgian top-notch beer
We voluntarily waited hours frontline with a DIY (insane) cardboard while being sandwiched by 1000 hardcore fans.
We exposed ourselves on national TV while wearing oversized XXL BBC/ICECREAM hoodies looking like Hooligans.
And I personally got jumped by four security dudes treating me like I was an insane terrorist stalker
with explosives and got attacked and chased by fanatic fans trying to get in a venue first. All that for NOTHING.
Then again, nothing you do is for nothing, it always leads to something. An invitation from Nalden to an exclusive NERD listening session for their new album NOTHING is not something you decline, so last sunday – as in yesterday – I travelled, still not believing this was actually happening to Amsterdam with my P.I.C. Jules. Important detail. Jules was not invited. Since the invitation was only for me, I was not allowed to take anyone with me. An understandable decision, however, that sucked big time. Jules was there from the very beginning and it just did not feel right that she could not come along. After I told her that devastating news, I said: “Look, just come along. We are used to going to places you are not supposed to be anyway. What’s the difference now? Just come with me, try to get in, and who knows. What’s the worst that could happen? If you end up getting refused, take a walk in Amsterdam, have a latte”. Jules looked very concerned, hesitated for a moment and said: “Fuck this, you are right. I hate Sundays anyway. I’ll just come with you.” And so it was. When we arrived in Amsterdam the whole city was breathing World Cup fever.
When we arrived at the PARADISO venue, an old church at 16h00 where N.E.R.D was scheduled to perform a sold out concert at 20h00 that night, we quickly had the company of the two first N.E.R.D. fans waiting to get in and be the first doing that.
After ten minutes waiting, Nalden finally arrived with a small group of other guests and Jules and I carefully tagged along. Once at the door, everyone was checked name by name on the guest list leaving Jules all alone outside. Nalden and the woman who handled the guest list looked at her and then at me and I said: “She’s my assistant, and she drove me all the way from Belgium to Amsterdam (NOT=no license=train) and she is helping me from day one with my blog”. The woman looked at a goofy eyed Jules, ready to start pouting her lip, and said: “Ok then….you can come in”. That’s what you get from just doing something and just bother trying it. You might get what you want. So we went in waiting in a little ballroom for Pharrell and Shae. The room was filled with approximately fifteen to twenty people and I am so proud to say that I was the only Belgian that got in, besides Jules of course. We were told to take it easy with taking pictures, that recording audio was strictly prohibited and that Pharrell Williams and Shae would introduce seven songs of the Nothing album in person. Shit doesn’t get more exclusive than this me thinks…
After fifteen minutes Shae and Pharrell walked in the room and the private listen session was a fact. They were very relaxed and they tried to break the semi-tensed, over-polite-reception vibe that was hanging in the room. I saw some familiar faces in the back of the room. Pharrell Williams’ personal assistant Mick (let’s say we met a couple of times) and back-up on stage Fam-Lay.
And when I looked behind me I could see bodyguard Big Ben protecting the N.E.R.D. perimeter
while killing time with the much wanted iPad.
I noticed FULL CREATE, one of The Netherlands’ finest music producers amongst the other people Nalden invited.
It was a joy to see how Pharrell explains his music with a huge smile, heavy body gestures, and warm enthusiasm. It really feels good to see an artist that still has so much love and passion for what he does. After all, I’m observing a man who’s being titled Producer Of the Decade together with fellow N.E.R.D bandmember Chad Hugo. Now, you are probably very curious about the listening session…
Personally, I felt this album is a bit more relax and smooth and less raw than I’m used to in comparison to the former three albums. Pharrell described the album as : “hippie-esk, Spaghetti-Western inspired, with a more soulful approach with a 70’s vibe with a subtle Jim Morrison touch”. I think he described that just perfectly. However, it felt more mellow and a bit less progressive to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a N.E.R.D day one fan, but I do think the new and young generation fans will love this album more than the first generation. Two songs from the album stood out for me, one called ‘The Man’ with an earthy, jungle vibe to it and ‘Help Me’ with a 70’s tangible flow. For some reason while listening to the songs, it made me think that N.E.R.D members are in a happy time in their lives and that kind of translates in the music. Both Pharrell, Shae and Chad are fathers now and maybe that translates into songs about girls that are picked on in highschool (‘Nothing On You’), the feeling of ‘Victory’ and being at the verge of getting what you worked so hard for : ‘I want it, Victory I can smell it’ – tell me about it!. Pharrell Williams finished: “It’s a socially love orientated album, with a 70’s vibe. But not the hairy armpit hippie 70’s though, I’m talking flowers and Ferrari’s here”. After playing the last track and the first single of the album with Nelly Furtado – Hot’n’Fun – it was announced that Pharrell and Shae were now ready for ‘The Walk Around’. The whut? Jules and I were both very new to this. ‘A Walk Around’ – sounds like a walking device for older people – is the moment were the artist politely shakes hands with the invites and do a little chit-chat. By all means, this was too good to be true. This was my moment to finally explain my blog to the boys and ask them personally – for my Polaroid picture. Not while chasing blinded cars, not while trying to sneak behind a huge bodyguards (Big Ben) neck or convincing a very tough PA (Mick), not while getting elbow kicks in the head from screaming chicks. No. Just calm and simple. On a chair with additional shaking hands. Unbelievable. But true.
Shae was the first to arrive at our little table. I took a deep breath and tried to pitch my blog, the concept and the philosophy as good as possible. He was completely amazed by my story, looked at all the artists I captured so far and said: “Your quest is over girl, you’ll get your picture today”.
And then it was time to do the exact same thing with Pharrell Williams…
While doing my explanation I saw Nalden cheering me from behind, with both his thumbs up. So fun to see that he was as stoked as me! I admit it. Pharrell Williams makes me dead nervous. True, he might not be very tall – but believe me – when he is in front of you, he feels larger than life. I admire the man for his producing skills, his passionate love for music, his business sense, his successful BBC/ICECREAM clothing line and simply for living out all of his ideas. From designing jewelery for Louis Vuitton and designing chairs to launching KIDULT. This man lives his life based on his ideas and he lives it to the fullest. He gave his agreement on me taking a Polaroid picture and said: “Let’s go, let’s do this”, puts his arm around me and said with a boyish voice, “I like your MCM bag” and smiled at me. For a 37 year old man, this one was playing like a 27 year old freshmen and he was killing me softly while doing it – I knèw that vintage bag was money well spent! #Score! I kept myself together, didn’t blink one eye and placed him against a perfect white wall, while cautiously observed by Big Ben. I asked him to give me two different expressions and did my countdown. 3.2.1. Flashing. Lights. Bingo.
And another one
Then it was time to snap Shae on Polaroid. Unfortunately I don’t have any exhibits from that moment, because while I was capturing Shae on Polaroid, Pharrell went straight to my precious Jules, grabbed her by the shoulder, took the camera and said: “Let’s take a picture together!”.
I don’t really have to emphasize how happy Jules was that she made the decision to come with me to Amsterdam? I thanked the boys a million times, gave them my card, shook their hands and off they went, ready to continue their rehearsal for that night’s concert. That left us some time to bond with Big Ben and Mick. Mick was wearing some fly MCM glasses and he liked my MCM bag so I think we are friends now. Things can be very simply in life.
Big Ben told me he read my stories. He even knew I posted the Rotterdam story the day after and that my chocolate and beer was given back to me. I was amazed. He really did read my stories. When I asked him to pose for a picture he insisted on taking one wìth Jules. You don’t say no to Big Ben.
And that was it. End of story. And what a story it was. I thanked my new favorite person in the whole wide world for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to write this story you are all reading today. NALDEN = MY HERO. Obviously we had to exchange kisses.
Realise … all of this would not have happened if it wouldn’t be for Twitter. How crazy is this ? – very 2.0 if you ask me. Don’t ask what you can do for Twitter but what Twitter can do for you! So catch up and follow me people! We finished the day, very appropriate in a hazy coffee shop. After all. We were in Amsterdam.
Moral of the story? Nothing is a waste. Every attempt you make to try to achieve what you want is important. All the times that you fail while pursuing a dream or a goal is another experience you learn and grow from and hopefully look back at it with a smile. If you have an idea, do it. If you want something, go for it. It probably won’t come easily for most of you. The silver platter is only for the happy few. But nothing or nobody should stop you to get that damn silver platter yourself. Don’t listen to people doubting the things you do. If YOU believe in it, that’s all that matters. And work your ass off. You live only once. What’s the harm in trying? I try to avoid What-If’s. All I want to do, is do.
Look, exhale, cause You Can Do It Too. Now glad that we finally got this one covered, so where’s Kanye hanging these days?