INTERVIEW: Caro Emerald

Ahead of her appearance at Symphony Hall this October, Dutch mega star Caro Emerald talks about her new show, becoming a judge on a TV talent show and performing with Quincy Jones.

On June 27th 2018, as part of a celebration of legendary producer Quincy Jones’ 85th Birthday, Dutch born singer Caro Emerald took to the O2, London to perform Honey Suckle Rose and smoky jazz standard ‘Misty’. Originally made famous by Sarah Vaughan back in 1964, it was a
testament to the vocal abilities and prowess of Miss Emerald. “It was such an amazing experience,” remembers the audibly excited singer over the phone on an early summer morning.

“I’m trying to find words to describe it. I felt completely honoured to be part of such a high level event. Quincy is an amazing and fantastic guy and such a legend. The songs were really difficult and challenged me. It took me back to the roots of why I became a singer and sent me back to my studying days. When I returned home after the show in London I felt my blood course through my veins as I found this new inspiration.”

For Caro, those studying days were spent at the Amsterdam Jazz Conservatory, the largest music academy in the Netherlands. But the jazz production of Quincy Jones or sultry vocals of Sarah Vaughan weren’t
her earliest musical inspirations. For Caro it was the one and only Madonna. “I was 5 or 6 years old when I got my first album on cassette and I would listen to it over and over again and practise in front of the mirror and dress up like her. I think every other girl did that in school but she really was a big influence on me.” Little did a 5 year old Caro know that she would go on to top the Dutch charts herself with her debut album ‘Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor’. Not only smashing any record Madonna had set, the album broke the record for most weeks consecutively at number one (27 weeks to be precise) beating the previous record of 26 weeks set by Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Almost 10 years on, Caro is still as blown away by this fact as she was back then. “I still feel the same,” she laughs. “There was so much happening, I came out of nowhere. I never had made music before and then I was on top of every chart! I didn’t really know anything about numbers and statistics, I didn’t really know how to actually recognise my success!” Talking about breaking Michael Jackson’s record, you can still hear the surprise in her voice. “This is when I realised how phenomenally big it was. It doesn’t make sense, it still doesn’t for me! It’s Michael Jackson. It shows what a big influence this has had on the Dutch music industry. But Michael Jackson is bigger than anyone on the planet, it doesn’t feel like I beat him.”

It wasn’t just in the Netherlands where Caro made a name for herself. Over in the UK ‘Deleted Scenes…’ went to number 4 in the UK charts, where it is certified gold, and her second album ‘The Shocking Miss Emerald’ topped the charts with her signature vintagepop sound and Caro’s name was on the lips of the nation, with numerous national TV and radio appearances. Having released a handful of EPs since then Caro has continued to tour the country, selling out venues that homegrown artists would dream of. “I feel completely blessed to be one of those artists that can continue touring. I have a very loyal audience in the UK and I’m very happy of that. I think the way that we make the show is a full package that apparently my UK audience love.”

Can returning fans expect any surprises on this brand new tour? “Definitely as we are always adding some surprise and some new material and arrangements. I do this with my fantastic (musical) team; David Schreurs and Jan van Wieringen. We all work together when we talk about visuals and creating the right and final set list. Our musical director and band leader Stephen Large is also a big part of this. We really work as a collective. We keep sending each other ideas and talk about these ideas and possibilities which, in the end, creates a beautiful show of the highest quality. What fans can expect is a fresh new look. It’s definitely going to be a dreamy atmosphere,” she says excitably. “We want to give a full experience to each person in the room, both visual and musical. Like you’re inside a movie and you get to dream away about stories that aren’t yours.” Caro gives off the aura of a confident artist, who over years of
touring and performing has perfected her craft. But when pressed about new music, she keeps her cards a little closer to her chest. “There will be definitely some stuff people haven’t heard before, I don’t know if they’ll be covers or actual new music. The other thing I can say is we ARE working on new music…” she tails off. Will that be released this year? “I can’t say when that will be. I’m not trying to be a tease,” she laughs, “but I can say we will release the music when it’s ready!”

Away from her own career, Caro has also recently announced she will be a judge on a new televised Dutch talent competition called ‘The Talent Project’. “It’s very exciting! I haven’t done much TV apart from promoting my own music. I’ve been asked to be on other celebrity typed shows and I always decline because I feel like it’s not where I want to go. But this really suits me.” Before becoming a global music star, Caro worked as a singing teaching, and with her own experience is keen to “pass it on and work with new talent. It’s a new chapter in my life and career.” Caro doesn’t come across as the brutal Simon Cowell type but tells me the acts’ standards of musicality has to be exceptionally high. “The other big thing
that is very important is to see the drive in their eyes. I want to see that they actually live for the music.”

With Caro’s nonstop writing and increasingly ambitious and well received
live shows, she’s clearly an artist herself who still has that desire and drive in her eyes.

Caro Emerald will be at Birmingham Symphony Hall on the 30th October.
Tickets at www.caroemerald.com