The Dutch Songstress, Caro Emerald Chats About How She Has Transformed Through the Years and What Lies Ahead For Her
Posted On 06 Oct 2014
The Dutch singer-songwriter, Caro Emerald, released her debut album, Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor back in 2009. It set new an all-time Dutch chart record in August 2010, spending its 30th week at number one on the country’s albums chart, beating the previous record set by Michael Jackson’s Thriller by one week. Since then, Caro has gone on to release a second album, The Shocking Miss Emerald. She is currently on her first ever arena tour in the UK and busy at work on a third studio album.
At 10:00 at night her time in her home in Amsterdam, Caro Emerald took some time to talk with me about when she first realized she should be a singer, how her summer touring has been going and what’s next up next for her.
Growing up, were you always interested in the retro/vintage style and music?
To be honest, not really. Because I didn’t really grow up with jazz for instance. My parents would just play classical music. I guess later on, I started listening to pop music like any other kid would do, like top 40 music and stuff like that. But I remember the first time I sang a solo, that was in school and it was a jazz song. And it kind of suited me and I remember that my teacher would tell me go to study jazz and that’s where my interest started. But it mainly focused on singing in the beginning. It wasn’t until I started studying jazz when I was around 19 that I actually started listening to it in a different way if you get what I mean. So I guess that’s when it really started. My interest for that kind of music. Although I’ve always fancied other kinds of music between jazz and other styles.
Now, I know that you started taking singing lessons early on. Can you remember the exact moment that you wanted to be a performer?
I was 12. That was actually the earliest that we could get singing lessons. It’s not like in the US where they can start super early. During that solo in school that I mentioned before is when I realized I wanted to be a performer. It went so well. I realized that I had a big talent for it. People were so overwhelmingly enthusiastic about it and I just realized that it was something for me. That’s when I thought I should become a singer and then I started the singing lessons, and pretty soon, it was pretty obvious, it was a real big hobby of mine.
It’s pretty alive I think. It’s small. I’m not sure if you know but Holland is a very small country and we musicians know where to find each other and that is the case in Holland as well. We do have an underground scene and also a commercial music scene like the more successful artists. Musicians will play in both scenes. They will play in bars for almost nothing with their own little bands because there is not a lot of money for music and a lot of musicians so this is what they do. They usually kind of make a mix of the two. There is a lot of different styles most musicians play and there’s lots of places to go to find live music. You’ve got to come visit if you haven’t already! It’s so different then the rest of Europe!
Why do you think this lifestyle is the one for you right now?
I think it always was. Although the most obvious thing to say is that I couldn’t imagine leading a life where I would go to an office like each morning or work for a boss but it’s probably also because I never did. I’ve always known that I would become a musician and I love the freedom of this life. I love the traveling. You know, there’s just something about being a musician, being around happy people all the time and its just so different then another kind of life. It just really suits me well. I love my freedom and I’ve always been very independent so that just works really well for me.
How do you think becoming a mother earlier this year has influenced you as a musician?
Oh wow, I think it’s really too soon to tell. I just finished my maternity leave. I was out for about 3 and a half months and I just started playing again. I am not really busy right now because we don’t have a new album out right now. So that will probably be really busy when that happens.
For now, I am taking it one step at a time so it’s really hard to see but first conclusions are that it’s actually probably in some ways easier for me to be a mom then women who work in the office. They have to go to the office and they can’t bring their child or work work from home and I can. A lot of the things I do, I can actually have meetings at my place and I can have people over, I can make music at my place and I rehearse at my place so I’m way more flexible. It’s very convenient. So that’s a good thing. And I can bring my kid to tour with me so that really makes it, the possibilities are endless. But of course, it’s also a little harder because I have to work at night, and for myself, it can be pretty exhausting. My baby can be up really early so it’s not always easy but I definitely don’t think it’s harder for me then any other mother.
Tell me about your acoustic album, The Shocking Miss Emerald. What made you want to put out that kind of record?
I don’t even remember… I think it just started out as something fun. It just made sense because we do have to play a lot of those songs. When you promote your music, you have to travel a lot. I go to radio stations, TV stations and they sometimes just specifically ask if we can play the music acoustically because they don’t have any other production possibilities. So I’m used to playing the songs acoustically and sometimes, it can be refreshing and different. So I think that’s where the idea came from to just record some of the songs in the studio and I think it was also because we wanted to offer the fans something special. This came out at the moment when we thought, this is the moment we should do something special for the fans. And we actually gave it away as a free download and then later on, we actually offered that for Record Store Day and we actually pressed it on vinyl because it’s such a special product. I’m actually really proud of it. It’s a really nice product. I’ve got it on my really cool retro vinyl player in my office and I do play it. It has such a special sound. It’s really for the real fans. It’s a real present.
How have you grown as a musician since your first album, Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor?
Yeah, well, so much! This is the best education that you can imagine as a musician, as a performer and as an artist. I mean, there is so much that you can learn from actually going to school and getting singing lessons, getting performing lessons but to actually go on stage and have to conquer the crowd and to actually record a video and to record in the studio and to do all those things, photo shoot and everything. These things that I never really would have imagined doing.
I mean, I’ve had this first class education really and there was such a lot of success. I had the opportunity to do that, the money to do that and that feels really luxurious and I’ve come a long way. It’s really even hard to imagine where I came from because I felt like a singer, not an artist. And I really wanted to become one but I didn’t really see it in me. Now I do and along the way, I’ve discovered that it’s not just the music, its also that I couldn’t really believe my influence on the success was really big. That is, until I went to the UK and things started being really successful in the UK and I had to visit all of these radio stations and to play live acoustically. And what I realized, all of my examples, for instance Amy Winehouse or Adele, these really good singers, these really good artists would have done the same thing. I would actually go to these radio stations and they would be impressed with me, really impressed with me, so that really made me realize that there is just more to me that just being a good voice. So that’s when I really started owning it, owning the stage, owning the music and to really develop even further my own sound and my own personality. It does feel like a full transformation. It really was a transformation but it took quite a few years.
What are some of your favorite songs of yours that you like to perform?
Ooooh, it depends so much because sometimes when we have new songs, I like that one and I like that one. And when we have a new arrangement for a song, that’s my new favorite. But on the whole, there are some songs that mean more to me then others, emotionally. When I usually co-write a song, I have more of a connection with it. For instance, “The Other Woman” is a favorite but I also like performing the big hits. Because even though I’ve performed them a lot and sometimes, they start to bore me, they can’t really be boring since the audience really loves them. And whenever we play them, there is so much energy and love around us that they are my favorites to play as well.
You have been touring a bit lately. What’s been a favorite venue or crowd that you have experienced?
Oh, well Glastonbury was amazing. I just did that about two months ago and that was one of the biggest things in my career. It was even more then I expected. I was on the main stage. It was a huge honor to even be there and especially on the main stage. When you get it, when you achieve that, to me, it feels like you’ve arrived. So that was a big thing. They programmed me around noon and I knew that I wasn’t the main artist on the main stage so I didn’t know what to expect, especially on a Sunday morning, people would be hungover and maybe not even show up. When I arrived, there were so many people waiting for me. The crowd was amazing! There were so many people and the energy was really high and it really felt like I belonged there so that’s what made it into a real real big thing for me. It was amazing!
Oh very much, yes! Yeah, that’s a new thing as well, arenas. I haven’t even done those in my own country! Really, my own country is too small for that but yeah, that’s amazing. I’m gonna do one in London.. I am actually in the middle of preparing the show. So I’ve started to get really excited about it.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I always do the same thing basically. I really like my peace and quiet throughout the day and I also really feel like I need to do a sound check just to check the stage and see where I am and maybe even go into the theater from the street just to see the city I am in. To get an idea, you sometimes forget that you are going to be perform, so I need to know what I am going to do that night. I also do a lot of vocal exercises and what I really think is important is to hug the guys in the band right before you go on stage.
Living or dead, what musician would you like to work with and why?
There’s so many people. I guess Amy Winehouse. I mean, everybody would but if I could yeah, that would be lovely. As far as living…it’s hard. I always have a different answer every time I answer this… There’s so many people that I look up to and I love their voices. But you actually have to connect and you don’t know that until you meet someone. I could see maybe a duet with Lana Del Rey. I could see the musical connection there. If we could meet in the middle, that would be really cool. And somebody else… who would be really interesting would be someone like Tony Bennett but I know that he has been working with Lady Gaga so I don’t know if that would make much sense but he’s like this legendary really good singer so I could see that happen. Those are some examples.
Yes, we are working in the studio, trying new stuff and really right in the middle of the creative process, just experimenting and writing new songs and just recording to see if it works or not. But it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun and I really hope that we will be releasing a new album sometime next year.
What would you like new fans to know about you and your music?
Wow. Well, different things. I would like people to know that I don’t work alone. I work together with fellow producers and I work with a great songwriter from Canada. And together, I think we are a star team. So I think that’s a nice thing to know if you listen to the music. This combination works really well and the other thing is that I always like to tell people is that the music is not specifically just retro. We try to put all kinds of musical influences in it. From beats to electronic and there’s a lot of 90’s stuff in there as well. It’s actually very contemporary in that way. So yeah, that’s what I’d like people to know and it’s made with love. Really we are just a bunch of crazy musicians making music that we like.