I first heard Caro Emerald's "A Night Like This" in Victoria's Secret, and my immediate thought was that it must be a remix of a song from the 1950s. The kind of remix that makes you want to buy black lace. After doing some research, though, I can tell Amy Winehouse fans to rejoice: we've found your new muse, and she's coming to America.
Accidental jazz sensation Caro Emerald (born Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw) got her start by singing the demo vocals for "Back It Up." The producers (and the public) liked her sound so much that instead of pitching the song to various stars, they decided to keep Ms. Emerald and record a whole album. She first took the Dutch charts by storm in 2010 with her debut, Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor, and the singles from Deleted Scenes have since gained international renown, playing in Dancing With The Stars, The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, and numerous trailers and commercials. "A Night Like This" was the most-played song in the Netherlands in 2010, and Emerald's album was only dropped from the Dutch charts because of a rule stating it couldn't be listed for more than two years.
Suffice it to say, Ms. Emerald is a pop chanteuse to watch. With her Ella Fitzgerald-style scatting, mambo beats, grungy sax, and vintage soul sound, she's bridging genre gaps and bringing us sexy tunes we didn't know we were missing 'til we heard them. Now Grandmono is finally releasing her album in the US, and we couldn't be more psyched. We had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Emerald about her inspirations, aspirations, and "Caro Fever."
When did you start singing?
I started at a very young age. When I was eleven years old, I got chosen to sing a solo song in the school musical. It was a Dutch lyric on "Dream a Little Dream of Me" by The Mamas and The Papas. This was my moment of truth; I discovered my talent and decided right there and then that I would grow up to be a professional singer.
Your voice has a very classic sound. Who are your vocal inspirations?
Well, over the years there have been many, but to name a few: Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Lily Allen, Stevie Wonder, Rihanna, Nina Simone, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and Amy Winehouse.
Your music seems to mesh nostalgic and modern sounds. What contemporary music do you enjoy?
Oh, a lot. I love artists like M.I.A., Lana Del Rey, The Streets, Rudimental, Amos Lee, Portishead, James Morrison, Jamie Lidell, and many others.
What inspired your hit song, "Back It Up"?
Well, "Back It Up" actually came together as quite a coincidence. I was called by a producer that I'd worked with before to do the demo vocals for this song. He and a couple of other producers and writers had cooperated on the song, and the result was a very fresh sounding, groovy swing pop song. They wanted to create a crossover between 50s Big Band and beats, and I was immediately blown away by this cool genre. I was very lucky that they also liked my voice with it, so we decided to work together and create a whole album around it.
Did you expect your album to top charts the way it did?
No, not like this. But we did take a long time to really develop our own sound, and obviously it meant that we really believed in this kind of music, and we really felt we had something there. But I never dared to dream of such gigantic success.
How do you feel about making your US debut?
Very excited! I'm very curious to see what the American fans will think of my music. Hopefully I can inject them with some Caro Fever. I would love to be able to make a grand tour some day.
What are your aspirations for the future? Do you see yourself releasing another album?
Definitely. We're working on it, and it's almost finished. It's so much fun to be in the studio again. I can't wait to be able to show the result to the world!
You can download a free sampler of Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor on Caro Emerald's website, or buy the album on iTunes.
Get transported to another era with Caro Emerald's funky video for "Back It Up":