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18th of December 2017 – Dirge – A director/writer’s confession

“Why would you make a video like this?”

Well, that isn’t an easy question to answer, so my apologies if this description is going to be wordy as fuck.

The most vital matter that instigated the making of this video, came to me when the news reached me of the suicides of both Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell in the first half of 2017. It’s not that I was a mega fan of both singers or that I was particularly moved by the situations in itself (although I think that every loss of life is one too many and deserves to be recognized and mourned for.), but it was a strange underlining to a thought I had more and more in the last couple of years… A thought that was sparked the first time in 2014 when the great comedian and one of my all-time heroes Robin Williams committed suicide as well…

Depression has become a “common illness” among people of all generations these days. In my direct life alone, I know multiple individuals that either have suffered or are suffering through a state of depression at this moment. I don’t know if the numbers actually increased or that depression in this day and age of open communication is more visible, but it has become a more prominent subject in my life lately with more occurrences popping up.

I myself have been hit by the beast known as depression as well, so the topic in itself and the byproduct of it growing so big that thinking about ending life just to “not feel pain anymore” or “not to be in people’s way anymore”, has been one that has been on my shoulders figuratively for many years. Yet, I never felt that I had the right to say anything about it or do something with it, because …

Why would anyone listen? What’s the point? Who do I think I am, to say anything about this subject? …

These questions symbolize one of the prime problems with depression and low self esteem: Feeling worthless and feeling like a waste of space and oxygen, therefore not telling anyone that you are feeling the way you do…

I never made a secret out of being a highly sensitive person (or HSP for short.) and the struggles that came along with that in my life. (I dedicated my first album “The Haunts” to that integrally for example.) Living without an emotional filter and constantly having to translate impulses and situations in your brain while they seem to be projected at you with warpspeed and through a megaphone, definitely isn’t a prospect you would want to wish on anyone. But this darker side of it, was something I didn’t feel like elaborating on too much.

‘Till something changed for me, by pure luck…

If we rewind to 2015 when I started writing the last TDW album, the song Dirge was something that kind of came into its own by pure luck. I was in a sad mindset and started playing guitar to perhaps unwind some of my thoughts. The main guitar riff and the chords for the chorus, came out in about 5 minutes and I knew that I had to record it not to forget it. I recorded it and the words wrote themselves as I was singing to it. I knew the song “worked” and I felt better after creating it, because it felt like I had let go of something. Something that apparently was much bigger than I thought it was. The song became a part of the new album and that was that.

People however kept asking me what the song was really about and why the funeral imagery of a dirge was implemented so clearly… I couldn’t answer the question fully, but could only say that it “felt right” as sometimes is the case when making art. Also I felt that I did not want to over-explain the song and just let it be what it is.

However, when the news of the earlier mentioned suicides hit me, something clicked in my head… I knew what Dirge was about suddenly… It was about my struggle with depression and feeling worthless and non-contributing to either society or anyone else’s life whatsoever… It didn’t matter if that was the actual reality or not. This was what I felt and what apparently had to get out of my system to heal. That was a rude wake up call, but a much needed one.

The deaths of these well known and loved characters and also the experiences I have been through with the people around me for the last couple of years, have proven a few solid facts to me regarding depression:

– It doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to EVERYONE, no matter how successful, rich or perfect your life seems to be.
– It’s vicious and will attack when you are most vulnerable and alone.
– It’s not always visible to the outside world and for a depressed person, seeking help is one of the hardest things ever.
– There is not always rhyme or reason to it. Things can seem to go right, yet you can still feel completely hopeless and useless, because this phenomenon makes you feel like that…

If you suffer, you suffer and it should be taken seriously, because it truly is the loneliest feeling in the world to suffer through periods like these on your own. The resulting stream of thoughts that came from this “epiphany”, shaped the video that you can watch now.

The video in this case represents the final phase in which the main character has given up, is not able to fight his emotions anymore and thus chooses the most horrible way out… This doesn’t happen because he wants to, but because his desperation and loneliness have gotten the better of him. Depression clouds your judgment and truly makes you see the world in a very endless grey haze indeed.

“But what about the ghosts then?” Someone asked me after watching the videos first cut.

The ghosts you see in the video are not just ‘dead people for a shock effect’, but they are actually the loved ones standing on the sidelines seeing someone they love dearly destroy himself, unable to do anything. It’s like wanting to help, but being a ghost and thus not being ‘really there’ to physically make a change to someone’s life…

Depression does not just hurt the ones going through it. It also hurts those around them because they often feel like they can’t get to the core of the depressed person and provide the help needed. It’s this situation that makes depression a very sickening reality indeed. Someone else cannot take the steps to help and/or counseling for you when you are depressed… But the thought of not being good enough, important enough and/or relevant to anyone to even be worthy of help, will block that help initiative for the one suffering from it…

So…Why did I make this video?

The simple answer could be “naïve idealism” combined with an urge to let go of this subject and do something constructive with it.

If this video perhaps sparks some conversation or maybe even makes someone wake up and think “Maybe I should search for help to not end up like this”, it would make me a very grateful person. However, visual media and music are all multi interpretable so perhaps someone else sees something radically different in this video. And that is fine too. Everyone should be able to relate to art in their own way without being obstructed by the creators’ view. Which is why I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this piece in the first place… However, perhaps the video plus these words, might make you think about things you didn’t consider before and if that is the case: I am happy to have contributed something.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and even though the subject matter and execution turned out as dark and intense as it was, I still hope you will be able to experience the video for what it is.

Love and best wishes for all of you,
Tom (TDW)

TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc - Progressive, Symphonic Metal from the Netherlands