'I've always been a bad sleeper, but now I'm sleeping really bad'

This lockdown is the toughest for DJ St. Paul (Paul Nederveen, 46). The lack of work affects his identity. At the same time, he notices that even with halved income and an empty agenda, he still chooses his great love: music.

How are you?

“I can’t deny that this is the toughest period to date. I once studied psychology, which I didn’t finish because I started DJing, and then I learned about learned helplessness. I see that happening now: we have been unlearned to have hope and learned to wait helplessly. For a moment there was the hope that we could continue and that has been taken away again, without perspective. That’s the hardest blow you can get. Even for the upcoming festival summer, everyone is holding onto their fears.”

What problems do you experience?

“The sector itself has lost the energy to continue planning. Stages, clubs, festivals, they are tired of moving forward again, joining new measures, going online. Many places say: we wait a while. That is very logical, but for me as a maker that is killing. I’m trying to get the motivation out of myself now.”

What are the bright spots?

„With TivoliVredenburg I did online pop quizzes in which hundreds of teams took part. We closed that big in September, as a goodbye to the lockdowns. There’s no point in starting all that up again. I am fortunate that I have always worked closely with TivoliVredenburg, a loyal client even in this day and age. We’re now developing an idea for pop colleges, something I’ve always fantasized about. Pop history is often told so lifelessly, I want to give it my own interpretation.”

What is your biggest concern right now?

„Well, I just came back from Eef, my therapist. My work is also part of my identity and I struggle with it being gone. I’ve never done anything else since I was eighteen. It’s what I’m good at, the language I speak, the people I meet. I’ve always been a bad sleeper and everyone would always say ‘yes, logical with such a bad rhythm’. From Thursday through Saturday I lived on a manic high overnight, and then recovered for the rest of the week. But at least it was a rhythm. Now I sleep really badly. At the same time it is a nice confirmation to notice how much I love music and DJing. Despite the fact that I earn half and have to improvise constantly, I still choose this work.”

What do you need to make 2022 a better year than 2021?

“Look, there you see the learned helplessness. I don’t know right away. Yes, someone who guarantees that the festival summer will continue. Or a government with empathy for the cultural sector. We actually had a nice social contract: people worked to have money so that they could experience beautiful things in their spare time at festivals, in museums, theaters, clubs. And we made that. But the cultural sector is still seen in politics as a luxury thing that can be the first to go.”

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