Dutch jazz-pop chanteuse Caro Emerald might still be an unfamiliar name to Aussie music fans, but in her native country, she’s bigger than Michael Jackson. Caro’s 2010 debut, the slyly addictive Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor, overtook Jackson’s Thriller to become the longest-running number one album in the country’s history. So is the 32-year-old classically trained jazz singer a bona fide pop superstar in the Netherlands?
“In Amsterdam it is not seen to be cool to be starstruck, so I am able to walk down the street and go to the supermarket without people constantly coming up me,” Emerald told the Star Observer.
Her success isn’t limited to her home country, though – Emerald recently scored a surprise UK number one with her sophomore album, The Shocking Miss Emerald.
“When it happened it was incredible, I had to pinch myself all the time. I decided to celebrate the whole of that week and consumed champagne every night – it was a lot of fun!”
It may seem a meteoric rise for Emerald, but life wasn’t always so easy. A few years ago, armed with what was to become her debut single Back It Up, the singer found record labels just weren’t interested in her beguiling mix of jazz, pop and cabaret sounds.
“Our plan A was to get signed, but none of the record companies were coming back to us so we just reverted to plan B, which was to release it ourselves! It was tough at times but compared to other artists who have toured non-stop for years and years, I was lucky.”
Emerald originally trained as a more ‘traditional’ jazz vocalist at the Amsterdam Conservatory. When it came to making her own music, did she always know she wanted to make jazz with a more modern, pop-friendly twist?
“When I went to the Amsterdam Conservatory there were only two choices of music: jazz and classical,” she explained.
“Jazz appealed to me especially old school jazz, but I always had it in me that I wanted to be a pop singer so seemed to always be attracted to the more commercial side of the jazz spectrum. Then Amy Winehouse came along and paved the way for this to happen.
“She was the first singer I felt that made the fusion really work… she was a great inspiration to me.”
The Shocking Miss Emerald is stuffed full of songs just as catchy as what’s become her trademark hit, Back It Up. We’re particularly partial to the gender-bending anthem Coming Back as a Man, and it made us wonder – just what would Emerald do if she were a man for a day?
“I would definitely go shopping for men’s clothes and try on loads to find out what would suit me as a man. I’d go to a bar to see it from a different perspective, flirt with some girls and generally have a good time…”
The Shocking Miss Emerald (Warner) is out now.