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INTERVIEW: Arena’s a first for sassy singer Caro Emerald

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 30, 2013

  • Caro Emerald

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“MUSIC isn’t just words and a melody – it’s also a feeling.”

Caro Emerald is one of Europe’s shining stars with two UK top five albums under her belt and a sell-out tour which kicks off on Friday.

The UK leg of her European tour has been sold out for months, with 2014 dates already announced for Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham and the National Indoor Arena, Birmingha, in March.

“It’s so weird to talk about the tour extending to next year,” said Emerald.

“It will be the first time in my entire life that I will be playing an arena. We may make the show slightly different for this performance. I always feel that an arena audience is very different from one in a theatre.”

“I enjoy performing all types of venues. My music can fit anywhere. Intimate jazz clubs, festival main stages – it works anywhere.

“What I have to think about is the arrangements of each number for the type of venue I am performing.

“But it is a theatre is where you can really play the ballads and there is more contact with the audience. More room for silence and down moments and to take it up as well. There are so many possibilities when performing in a theatre.”

The epitome of style and panache of an era when women were feminine and men really were men, Emerald was born Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw, in Amsterdam.

The 32-year-old songstress started singing lessons at the age of 12 and after leaving high school trained as a jazz vocalist at the Amsterdam Conservatory, graduating in 2005.

Two years later, Dutch producer Jan van Wieringen invited her to sing the vocal on a demo track he was co-producing with songwriter and producer David Schreurs. Emerald released her debut single, Back It Up which was based on a hip-hop beat and Emerald’s vocal style was a ‘perfect match’.

Although the single didn’t chart, the song was posted on YouTube where it gained popularity with Emerald’s follow up single A Night Like reaching number one in The Netherlands singles chart and receiving airplay from numerous UK radio stations including Radio Two.

In 2009 Emerald debuted her first album, Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor which reached number four in the UK charts and three years later, The Shocking Miss Emerald was released, topping the UK album charts in May this year.

“The UK is a very special story with this album,” said Emerald.

“It did so much better than the first. I tried to treat the second album differently – a bit like the way you treat kids. They need different things and so did my albums. The themes of the albums unfold themselves, writing is a very natural process.

“The Shocking Miss Emerald is about Paris, fashion and style, and this is the main vibe of the album. It was the same as the first – this is how our brains work.”

Influenced by a wide range of music styles which include her first love jazz, Emerald also appreciates rock, country, rhythm and blues, hip hop and rap.

“I love fierce voices. Fierce and soulful female voices. Ones which are immediately recognisable and ones which have multiple layers.

“I don’t like music where someone has tried to make a hit – I don’t feel anything. I like songs with a message, but ones which are fun.

“You should be able to listen to a song and hear something different each time.

The Art Deco-style of Emerald’s music transcends into her own chic panache.

Working alongside a stylist, she has learned a lot about how to dress for every occasion.

“There is a difference of what looks good on film, TV and on stage, and also from one person to another,” she said.

“You know what is fun about clothing? If you think about one thing it leads to another and this is how I think about music. Imagining 1920s Paris and I think about a bar and a woman there wanting some fun. I imagine what she is wearing, and the outfit then supports the whole vibe of the music.

“There are so many ways to dress and it’s a hobby of mine. And what I like about my style is it is romantic and feminine, and compliments my figure. I am having so much fun with the fashion and the music.”

However, it isn’t all work for the sassy singer.

“I like to go out to dinner, to cook, have a good meal, and I don’t really need anything else,” she said.

“I am looking to expand into Japan and Australia and would love to do a good festival season in the UK – including Glastonbury.

“I think it could really be my moment.”

Caro Emerald is the epitome of style, elegance and charm, with a gracefulness of an era which still fascinates many.

Her music may be rooted in the past but her compelling storytelling is timeless.

* The Shocking Miss Emerald is out now on Grand mono/Dramtico label and The Shocking Miss Emerald Tour will perform at Symphony Hall, Birmingham on September 16, returning to Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, on March 17 and the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham on March 22.

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