‘I’m so grateful for the people I’ve worked with, they have made my musical desires a reality.’
Describe your music style in no more than 5 words: Soul with jazz influences.
What is your first musical based memory? I played the violin for 6 years – until I was 13 – but didn’t like the classical parts I had to play as they were too regulated. I wanted to give up, but my mum approved but under one condition: I had to trade violin for another instrument. I’m so grateful for that moment as it was the start of my musical life. I started to teach myself how to play the piano so I could accompany myself. I would mark the different chords with coloured stickers on the piano keys and every day after school I would practice for hours. I wanted to prove that I didn’t need lessons to play an instrument and being able to accompany myself on the piano was the start of my number one passion: singing and composing music.
What influences the music you create? My grandfather used to play a lot of jazz on the piano and I would sit by the fireplace and just listen to him for hours. My father made me listen to women like Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and later on to Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse. My family has been a big influence on how I create my music. My family and friends are a big inspiration when it comes to writing lyrics as listening to stories – and what people are facing in life – gives me so much to write about.
You recently finished studying at BIMM, how has studying music at that level helped your musical development? Being surrounded by very talented musicians every day made me improve my musical hearing, my songwriting and my performing. My teacher used to tell us that you should take advantage of this talented environment: ‘Find your own voice, however, it’s fine to collect bits and pieces from the styles of other students.’ Every two weeks, we would learn about different music genres and we had to perform a song in each style. It forced you to step out of your comfort zone. We were taught to sing and write our own songs by the most talented musicians. BIMM really helped me find my musical direction, as well as teach me which path I need to walk in order to reach my goals.
Your debut release ‘Makes Me Feel’ has an amazingly polished sound to it, especially for a first release. What was the process of writing the track? I wrote the lyrics – which are about decisions in life, love, career, friendship and destination – when I had just moved to London and I then wrote some simple piano chords to go with them. At BIMM, I became friends with a very talented Italian guitarist and he made something magical out of these simple chords. In less than two hours, we created the basis of the song. After composing the chords, we showed it to my band and explained to the drummer, saxophonist, guitarists, bassist and BV’s how I wanted each part to sound. I did give them freedom to explore each musical part on their own though. I wanted to hear all their ideas so combined them together into one piece. I’m so grateful for all their effort and input as they made my musical desires a reality.
Who else is involved in your tracks and what do they each bring to the sound? My producers are two friends of mine who currently live in London. Before recording, I showed them live versions of the track, we discussed the ‘feel’ of the song and I gave them examples of different sounds for it. We work really well as a team as we compliment each other really well. I can’t thank them enough for giving me all the space and time needed.
‘Sometimes the industry can be tough, but it’s more than worth it.’
Both of your tracks to date have an incredibly different atmosphere to each other. How important is it for new artists to show everything they have to offer? I think it’s important to show what you can do and how versatile you are as a musician. On the other hand, I always love to hear the characteristics of an artist in their music. It’s beautiful to hear the footprint of a musician in their work. I think the first draft of ‘Makes Me Feel’ – which was on piano – was more in the style of ‘One Woman Show.’ When we added all the other parts to the song, it suddenly turned ‘Makes Me Feel’ into a whole different song. I’m happy with the outcome, but if you look at my other songs you can hear a more common thread. I want my music to be soulful, a bit bluesy and with a touch of jazz. A mixture of my favourite styles.
What is the story behind your new track ‘One Woman Show’? I really believe that you need to love yourself before you can give that love to someone else. The sentence ‘become your own best friend at first, get to know your highs and lows’ explains that. I also feel that you are the main character of your own play. Of course, people around you can give you directions, but they shouldn’t tell you exactly what to do or where to go. Love yourself before you can share love and don’t let people’s advice or opinions make you forget where you want to go.
When did you first realise music would be an important part of your life? I finished my BA Law degree in Amsterdam before I went to London for a year. After graduation, the urge to find out more about a musical career increased. I never wanted to think later on ‘what if I had given music an honest chance?’ The moment I set foot in that London school, I knew for sure ‘music is my life’. Making music or listening to music helps me in every way. When I’m happy, I sing. When I feel sad, I sing even more. And when I feel bad about something, I start to write down my thoughts to clear my mind. It’s my meditation and cure.
What is the most memorable gig you’ve performed and what was the best part about it? I performed in the former house of Winston Churchill! I met the lady who lives there by coincidence and she happens to be Dutch as well. One time, I had a gig there and afterwards she showed me the old study of Churchill’s. On the wooden cupboards and on the walls you could still see some of his words engraved. I could hardly believe that I was singing in this beautiful home while the audience consisted of people from all over the world. At the end of the night, I sat down in front of the fireplace with the ambassador of Georgia, Egypt, Hungary and others. People smoked cigars, people told me stories from the past and listened to me singing. And all in the old house of Sir Winston Churchill. It felt like I was time travelling to the smokey jazzy past.
Do you prefer performing live or recording and why? I prefer performing live as the reactions of people in the audience give me so much energy. I love giving my own twist to songs to surprise the crowd and you have less space for that in a studio. On the other hand, I do really enjoy the process of working together with a producer. Composing something together is so special and being proud of the same thing creates a band. In the end, I’m a feeling person so being on stage and creating a certain atmosphere is the most wonderful thing.
What’s more important about being a songwriter: creating a hit song or having a chance to express yourself? For me that goes hand in hand. It’s very important to express yourself and to listen to how you feel about a song. If you get the chance to express yourself, I think you’re more likely to create a hit song. A hit song is nice, but that won’t make you happy when you don’t agree with what you’ve delivered.
Do you have any releases or performances coming up soon? I have three more songs that I want to release and hopefully all will be 2020.
What do you listen to when you’re not writing, recording or performing? I listen to music with vocals that move me. A few of these vocalists are Amy Winehouse, Ella Fitzgerald, Lianne la Havas, Erykah Badu, Joss Stone and Jessie Reyez.
And finally, what has been the biggest surprise about getting started in the music industry? Working in the music industry asks for a lot of discipline and perseverance. You are your own ‘product’ and nothing will just come your way. Get yourself in front of audiences, work with people who share the same passion and always look for new ideas in music. The industry will definitely make you stronger as a person; sometimes it can be tough but it’s more than worth it.