Andreas Miranda est musicien et animateur d’ateliers musicaux pour enfants. Quand il a commencé à perdre du poids et qu’un nodule est apparu sous son cou, il ne s’est pas inquiété outre mesure. C’est son entourage qui l’a poussé à aller chez le médecin. C’est également son entourage, notamment ses amis musiciens, qui l’ont aidé à faire du verdict – lymphome de Hodgkin – le point de départ d’une aventure musicale.
A l’annonce du cancer, Andreas a dû annuler l’enregistrement d’un E.P avec son groupe Azana ainsi que les concerts prévus. Mais le cancer n’a pas réussi à chasser la musique de son quotidien pour autant. Pendant les trois premiers mois de chimiothérapie, il a écrit et composé une série de chansons, inspirées de son combat. Des chansons qui traitent « des peurs, mais aussi des espoirs qui naissent quand on est face au cancer ». Ces morceaux portent des titres tels que « El Paso », « Aguirre » ou « Sorcerers of Fatal Laughter » et reflètent l’univers des films western dans lequel Andreas a trouvé refuge pendant la maladie. « Dès le début [de la thérapie] j’avais l’impression d’avoir été lâché dans un dangereux désert où il fallait que je reste calme et alerte comme un cowboy » explique-t-il. (voir interview ci-dessous) A l’horizon de ce désert, se dessinent, aujourd’hui, les contours d’un nouveau projet : l’enregistrement de l’album « Beyond the Breath of Grace » – bande-son de son combat rassemblant les morceaux écrits pendant son traitement. Et si sa musique a été pour lui un rempart, elle va maintenant servir à venir en aide à d’autres patients : tous les bénéfices de l’album seront reversés à des associations d’aide aux personnes atteintes de cancer. C’est aussi ça, être un cowboy !
Pour ceux et celles qui veulent soutenir Andreas, vous pouvez sortir vos bourses et participer à la collecte de fonds la collecte de fonds pour l’enregistrement de l’album !
Andreas Miranda is a Belgian musician living and playing in Berlin. The twenty-seven year old Sitar-player was about to record an E.P with his band Azana, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma stage 2B in September 2015. Cancer forced him to call off the recording session and the scheduled gigs, but it couldn’t stop him from playing. On the contrary, his struggle against “the shy enemy” made him write and compose a series of songs, dealing with “fears but also hopes that dwell when faced with cancer”. These songs, inspired by western soundtracks, are being compiled in an album called “Beyond the Breath of Grace”. The songs he wrote “to support [him]self” will now help support other patients. He started a fundraising campaign for the recording of the album and the proceeds will entirely be donated to cancer relief associations.
For “les cellules créatives” he talks about his project and his journey.
Which cancer were you suffering from? And how are you now?
I have (hopefully had) Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at stage 2b. I still have some tests ahead of me but my latest scans were very promising. Basically it’s a cancer that manifests itself in the lymph nodes. Some of the symptoms include night sweats, weight loss and fatigue. I had all of these in addition to a small lump that appeared just under my neck. I would really like to add that these symptoms come in very subtlety and at first I really was not alarmed at all but I was so lucky that some people around me noticed that something was wrong. I know this is often repeated but it can’t be repeated enough: get tested early if you notice slight unusual changes, a simple blood test is a good start. I currently feel revitalized. I have recently finished both chemo and radiotherapy and my body as I used to know it is slowly coming back to me with newly acquired energy.
What role did music play during your illness?
Music gave me an unprecedented sense of joy and vitality during my treatment. It filled the void and soothed the sadness caused by cancer. I played music every single day during my treatment and about once a week some friends would stop by at my place and we would play my songs together. It was important activity for me and it truly did help to cope with the nausea and fatigue. Sadly I was not able to perform and I was forced to cancel all the gigs I had booked before my diagnosis. However now that my treatment is done I greatly look forward to perform Beyond The Breath Of Grace in the near future.
“Beyond the Breath of Grace“ is a band album. What role did the band members play during your illness?
It is indeed a band project consisting mostly of old friends of mine, many of which are members of a great band called The Serious Beans Project. The whole album, including the band was formed only after the cancer. We did have a jam history together but this is the first time that we collaborate to make something concrete. I wrote all the songs and lyrics for this album during the first 3 months of chemotherapy. The band contributed to the overall evolution of the tracks in terms of structure, ambiance etc. There is no doubt that the collective aspect of the album gave me a lot of energy and motivation. It gave me something to look forward to everyday, which I think is vital during chemotherapy.
Your album is inspired by spaghettiwestern and it comes with a short story about a cowboy called Noah.
The overall Western theme made sense to me as it reflected my personal setting during my treatment. From the beginning it felt like I was being dumped in a dangerous desert where I ought to stay calm yet alert just like a cowboy.
Noah is the protagonist of the story and his destiny unfolds throughout the album. Even though the music is a narrative in itself, for this project I wanted to go deeper and create a setting where the situations and encounters can come to life beyond the music. This is why I decided to write a small fable to accompany and compliment and music in an abstract form.
Which character would cancer play in a spaghetti western?
I call it a shy enemy. It is a threat alright, but it’s not clear whether it’s something you necessarily fight. In fact I’m still not sure what “fighting cancer” really means or what it really involves. I’m more at ease with the act of radically confronting cancer in whatever way you think is best. In my particular situation it’s not a clear-cut fight. If it doesn’t get the best of me and if I manage to live on normally, then it would have been a hidden gift wrapped in poison. Because I feel that I now hold a stronger grip on life with a clearer view and a clearer position on the things that truly matter. So in the end my experience with cancer has provided me with a lot of positive change.
The benefits of your album will be used to support additional care like the one you got at the Saint Luc Hospital in Brussels. In what way did they help, and what kind of additional support you’d like to see developed more in hospitals?
I was particularly intrigued by the shiatsu massage sessions offered by the hospital and I now fully recommend it to everyone. Without wanting to sound all “new age” I do want to admit that it helped to establish a sense of harmony with my mind and body. This helped me confront the cancer-induced fear of death with a greater sense of calm and rationality. I think it is very responsible and “human” effort to provide cancer patients with a practice that can tame the mind and it’s anxieties in a pleasurable form.
In terms of additional therapy, I would personally like to see sound therapy emerge in hospitals as an option. This surely is my musician bias speaking out here but I believe that sound and music are life affirming and vitalizing forces.
What are your next projects?
I just want to perform as much as possible, play in different countries and go back to my old job doing music workshops for kids.
Thank you Andreas, I hope you’ll come back to us soon, to announce the dates of a “Beyond the Breath of Grace”-tour! In the meantime, we’ll check out the Beyond The Breath of Grace facebook page