European values in a musical revival attempt

UNFUCK THE EU (PT. 03): LUWTEN

While European values are at their lowest, musicians are increasingly trying to speak up and turn the ship around. More and more anthems accompany the demonstrations demanding human dignity, freedom and equality – values that were once agreed upon. In this new series, Kaput meets European artists and talks to them about attitude in music, European values and activism. This time it will be Luwten from the Netherlands. Text and interview: Rosalie Ernst / Foto: Eddo Hartmann

Foto: Eddo Hartmann

She is soft, introverted and describes herself as a loner. Luwten is probably not the artist waving a huge flag declaring a fight for human rights and European values. But with her considered and open mind, she is clearly stating her point of view. We talked about the election in the Netherlands and the rise of the right wing movements in Europe and even-though Lewten is always searching for new perspectives, circles the subjects and is constantly thinking out loud, she has her clear moral compass set in stone for good.

In your podcast and your music you come across some huge sociological topics and even though you are always very considerate and prudent, you always have a clear opinion of right and wrong. Do you consider yourself an activist?
LUWTEN Actually, I’ve been talking about that with a couple of my friends lately. My friends are very activistic and I always feel left out. There wasn’t really a place for me inside an activist movement. But over the past couple of months I also started to realize that maybe my way of contributing to a movement would be to acknowledge the human side in all of these experiences. That would be my strong suit. I feel more at ease in the mental world because I’m more of an introspective and considerate human being, so it takes quite some time until I really speak out loud about issues. I think I’m still looking for my place, actually. Can you understand my doubts? Are you like a proper activist?

I’ve been trying to find a certain movement or group for quite some time now. But the problem is that there are always details that I don’t agree with, like a lack of intersectionality… So I join demonstrations and love that, but I am no part of a certain movement.
Yes… I think in general it is hard to be part of a group because it is not possible to acknowledge all the fine nuances. I come from a Christian family and in the church people are connected over this underlying belief, but only as long as you fit into the bigger picture. And that is so weird because all these human aspects are the biggest part of religion, but these groups cannot get over traditions which are less important than acceptance, respect and love. That’s why I started talking about the human side of things: because as soon as you have to have some sort of clear belief, it also rolls out a certain insecurity, especially in a bigger group. Suddenly, one’s own acceptance and identity is linked to something that is anchored in the collective.

It’s kind of an issue when it comes to activism: You have to have some slogans, some lines you can chant and sometimes that is too short and important information goes missing on the way.
But that’s what makes it so hard, because at the same time you need those people. We need people who are able to make up one sentence we can agree on and that makes everyone shout it to the roofs. It is good that there are people who are outspoken and who share their thoughts loudly without being afraid of being misunderstood.

In your song „Control“ you talk about losing control and the abuse of power. How do you feel about this song in a world that has been turned upside down since you wrote it? Is control or losing control still a big topic for you?
I think it always is. Everybody wants to control the things you can’t let go of and looking towards society there are these huge questions of power we have to deal with on a daily basis. At the recent elections in the Netherlands a couple of really, really right wing parties got a lot of votes and that was a disappointment for me. But I don’t know anybody who voted for those parties, which shows a certain kind of xenophobia. And a lot of people who voted for those right wing parties live in the countryside, having only a limited experience about multiculturalism which can easily become a threat and a deep fear with the wrong or only certain information.

This has been shown again and again in the past election campaigns. It has become quite easy to spread insecurity, even though we are living in quite stable times – with the exception of Corona.
And it calls for a different approach: We should take more control, create possibilities to engage intersectional interaction. There are a lot of people who feel left out, and I think we have to take action on a much deeper human level of interaction and communication. I feel like sometimes when things are going in a direction that is just not great for the world then we, the people, from a cashier to an artist, should take more control. And as long as we don’t give everyone the same chances, there is a need to remind yourself constantly that power lies within every interaction.

And do you think that music can have such an impact or influence on society?
I definitely think so because politics is not just what happens in the government, it is what’s happening in the streets and is hidden in every interaction. But looking at it from all perspectives, I feel like a lot of outspoken artists are preaching to the choir. I mean the people who listen to my music probably vote for the same party. So it’s actually about how to reach the people that think differently, and I think music is a good medium for that because you can touch the people, not only with words. You can have them engage with your work despite the messages and probably they will open up again step by step – it’s like arms unfolding, you know?

 

Yes, I guess it is not that easy, especially if you have to make these decisions publicly. In „sleeveless“ you are talking about your own exposition. Do you often reflect on what to share when it comes to your personal opinions?
Yes, I do think about that quite a lot. I think I’m a really self-conscious person, maybe a bit too much sometimes. But I think it’s important that especially as a public person it’s important to think about it first and not be a Donald Trump. It isn’t making me a very happy person because I am always having endless circles of overthinking. I’m looking forward being 50 and having enough experience and knowledge to have a public opinion.

Exactly, everybody labels the twenties as the time of their lives, but if I’m honest it is mainly insecurities, learning, shifting and questioning myself. I am so looking forward to a time where I have enough experience to have some established views and understandings on the world.
Yeah, that’s why I admire Greta Thunberg so much. Because she’s so young,  she has a goal, she strictly commits to it and that is the only thing she does. And that’s why I take her seriously as well because it’s someone who really studies the things she’s speaking up about. I love following her because I just love people who have a passion for speaking out and then making a study of it and then doing it. It underlines also that knowledge is the most important key to a democratic world. Knowledge and communication… And so much more, actually the most important thing is to be a human being, I think this is the only proper answer I can agree on at the moment.

Interview: Rosalie Ernst

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