Caro Emerald is the latest European superstar to have her way with the American songbook, giving 1920’s – 40’s salsa, jazz and mambo a sparkling dance floor makeover. The end result is the Holland native’s absolutely gorgeous debut, Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor. The album has already racked up more than a million in sales, topping charts across Europe and Asia.
While plenty of albums pad a few solid singles with filler, Deleted Scenes is spellbinding from start to finish. Every track could be a hit single, yet when woven together, they sweep you away on a journey across continents and through generations. Imagine if Woody Allen’s heroines Vicky and Christina continued their romantic adventures from Barcelona to Greece, Milan, Amsterdam, New York and Paris, stepping through decades with each new dancefloor and balcony party — this would be the perfect soundtrack. If you’re hosting a soiree anytime soon, this is the best album to set the mood since Brazilian Girls self-titled debut.
The secret here is Caro’s heavenly vocals atop a bed of roses: loops created from piano, horns, stand up bass and percussion. Combined with a band in top form, the result is a decidedly modern sound rooted deep in yesteryear. Among my other favorites (in addition to the singles we’ll talk about below), there is the sweeping (almost James Bond-ish) “The Other Woman” and the deliciously brassy European hit single “Stuck.”
On the eve of her U.S. live debut in Los Angeles and New York, POPDOSE caught up with Emerald via e-mail to talk time travel, touring, vintage movies and timeless fashion.
For a Dutch artist, your sound is very steeped in American culture — from the roaring 20’s to the swinging 60’s — have you visited here often?
Sadly I haven’t had many chances to come to the States yet! I’ve traveled to Ohio once when I was a teenager to visit a Showchoir Summer Camp. I vacationed in New York with some friends once and I’ve recently visited Los Angeles for the first time to do a couple of showcases. So the only cities I can really compare are LA and New York, and I’ve only been to either one a couple of days. I loved them both and can’t wait to see more!
You play Los Angeles (
November 13th at the El Rey Theater) and New York ( November 15th at Drom in the East Village). Will you be bringing a full band with you?
I will be playing with full band, that includes a horn section, guitar, double and electric bass, keys (authentic and electronic), drums and a DJ. The music will be a mix of authentic big band sound mixed with electronics and beats. Fans are in for a high energy show with a jazz club vibe.
Editor’s Update: Due to recent storms in the Northeast, the US tour has been postponed. Updates will be provided on her website.
Are your gorgeous dresses and costumes culled from thrift stores and vintage collections, or do you have them custom made?
A little of everything! I shop a lot myself, either at vintage shops or big label webshops. I also own beautiful custom made designs. I work a lot with young Dutch talent and have a fabulous stylist, Renske, who I discuss every single detail with.
I first heard “A Night Like This” while I was touring Chiang Mai, Thailand last year, where it was on constant radio rotation. How did this album turn into a global phenomenon?
We work with label partners all over the world, choosing the perfect partner for each territory. But I have to say word of mouth has also worked pretty strong for us!
Since you were likely a very little girl in the 1990’s, was it that era’s swing revival (Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Brian Setzer Orchestra, the movie Swingers, etc.) that inspired your musical path? Or did your parents have vintage records in their collections?
Neither. I decided at a very early age I wanted to be a singer and back then I already possessed this natural jazz sound, although nobody knew where it came from! It wasn’t until I started to study jazz singing in the year 2000 that I became very familiar with and fascinated by the genre.
How did the songs come together? Did you start with modern songs and arrangements and infuse vintage musical elements or vice versa?
Well, I work together with a writing team existing of two Dutch producers, Jan van Wieringen and David Schreurs; a fabulous songwriter from Canada, Vince Degiorgio; and a couple of great musicians. We base each song on beats made of samples and loops, and then we write the melody and lyrics. Vince does all the lyrics, sometimes together with me or David. After that the arranging and final production is done by Jan and David.[youtube id=”74LXx0wSqMI” width=”600″ height=”350″]
The video for “A Night Like This” almost takes place entirely during the day — is this a metaphor for the party that never dies?
“A Night Like This” can be interpreted in any way you want, but don’t the best parties last longer than just a part of the night?
Was that a cameo by the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In The World” when the limo rolls up?
As far as I know, the Dos Equis man has never featured in one of my videos. We don’t see him around much in Europe :<).[youtube id=”jo1cyl0QbWo” width=”600″ height=”350″]
“That Man” and “Back it Up” are spot-on homages to 60’s cinematic style — were they based upon your favorite movies of the day?
During the songwriting process we would inspire ourselves by watching either scenes from old movies or old videos of big bands.[youtube id=”CFA6dEwWOb4″ width=”600″ height=”350″]
What would be the ideal Hollywood debut for Caro Emerald? Perhaps a mysterious woman on Mad Men? A Bond Girl? Austin Powers’s new fembot? Dr. Evil’s new frau?
Eh, wow never really thought about that! I don’t really see myself acting, but who knows….
Will the next album stay rooted in the past or are you going to time travel to a different era?
It will stay rooted in the past, but just like the first one, also very much in the present! I guess we’re looking for a deeper sound, finding inspiration in more than one era.
For a very limited time, Caro is giving POPDOSE readers a free download of her hit single “Back it Up.”
(PC: Right Click/Save As “¢ MAC: Option Click)
If you miss it, never fear, this single and the stellar album Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor are available on Amazon.
Be sure to sign up for Caro Emerald’s mailing list for rescheduled tour dates, news and giveaways.