There aren’t many people in the music industry who can lay claim to beating a record set by Michael Jackson. But that’s exactly what Dutch jazz singer Caro Emerald managed to achieve with her debut album in 2010. The album, Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor, became the biggest selling album of 2010 in the Netherlands and has sold over 300,000 copies so far.
“It all started in my living room.” she says. “Actually, it probably started way before that. I had decided that I was going to become a singer at the age of 11. The only thing I didn’t know what how I was going achieve it.”
Caro Emerald was born in Amsterdam in 1981, to a Dutch father and an Aruban mother. Following high school, she trained as a jazz vocalist at the Amsterdam Conservatory, graduating in 2005.
“My mum played the piano to a very high standard. She always wanted to become a concert pianist. In fact, all of my family played one musical instrument or another. Being around music all the time definitely helped shape my career choice.”
It wasn’t until 2007 though, that things really began to pick up for Caro. Dutch producer Jan van Wieringen invited her to sing the vocal on a demo track that he was co-producing with songwriter and producer David Schreurs. The song, ‘Back It Up’, had been written by Schreurs together with Canadian songwriter Vince Degiorgio. Caro’s jazzy vocal style was considered a perfect match for the new song.
“That’s what I mean by everything started in my living room.” she says “We did it at home. We had no record deal. No budget. No fanbase. We recorded the song in my living room and once it was ready, we plugged it everywhere. We’d posted it on YouTube and soon everyone started talking about it. People loved it and the more popular it got, the more we realised that we might have to create an album around it. So that’s what we did. We even set up our own record company! We had pitched the song to various publishers and labels. They liked it but for one reason or another, decided not to go with it. In the end, we decided to everything ourselves and to this day, that’s what we still do.”
Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor was released on 29 January 2010 and immediately occupied the number 1 position of the Dutch Album Top 100 charts. It sat on top spot for 27 weeks, beating Michael Jackson’s 1983 album Thriller by one week. It eventually went platinum six times, spending 104 weeks in the official album charts. The only reason it didn’t stay any longer was because of a new law that ruled that no album could spend more than two years in the charts. It later returned and climbed as high as No. 8 after albums could re-enter the album charts if they were sold at full price.
All Caro’s success has come about thanks to hard work and a real team effort.
“There are pros and cons to running our own record label. Because we do everything ourselves, we have little time for the creative side of things, which may sound a bit odd. We’re on the road all the time and we are always busy. The payoff is that we earn more money and we have more control over our careers. We make all the decisions and that brings us closer together. I was lucky enough to have my first child last year. At the moment, I’m managing ok but I’m off to Japan and Korea later in the year so I’ll find out then how difficult it is to manage a work/family balance.”
“Playing with Jools Holland at the Royal Albert Hall was definitely one of my highlights! As was playing Glastonbury and at the O2 Arena in London. I would really love to conquer some new territories. France is a big one for me. I’ve love to tour there. America would also be another place I’d love to crack but it’s such a big place.”
Caro visits Wales in December as part of her tour. “I played in Llangollen last year.” she says, pronouncing it in perfect Welsh. “In fact, I also played the Motorpoint Arena which is where we will be again this year. I have a very good friend who’s half-Welsh!
“Hopefully by the time I come to Cardiff, my new album will be out. It will be a fun blend of acoustic and electronics. There will be lots of chances for a sing-along – it’ll be one big party!”
Caro signs off in true popstar style.
“I’ve got to go now. I’ve got a show to do in Germany.”