Recently, my friend jazz pianist John Dip Silas told me about Henk Kraaijeveld, a wonderful jazz vocalist who is currently on tour here in Malaysia. They have A LOT of shows lined up and I decided to feature him today for our latest #AzCreativeFridays interview so more people can find out about his music and the upcoming shows. Let’s learn more about him!
A versatile jazz vocalist and songwriter from The Netherlands, Henk Kraaijeveld brings together compelling music with strong lyrics, storytelling and surprising improvisations. Playful and light-footed elements alternate with intense and vivacious grooves and harmonies. Crossovers are made between old and new styles of jazz, including elements from classical and popular music. His music is influenced by instrumentalist such as Pat Metheny, John Coltrane, Avishai Cohen(b), and singers like Sting, Bobby McFerrin and Kurt Elling, just to name a few.
Kraaijeveld won both jury- and audience award at the 10th edition of the Dutch Vocal jazz competition (Nederlands Jazz Vocalisten Concours) in 2013. The jury praised his ‘relaxed performance in which he connects very well with the audience, blends his warm and beautiful voice perfectly with the sound of the band, while showing an impressive vocal range’.
Kraaijeveld graduated cum laude from Utrecht Conservatory in 2012 and studied at Manhattan School of Music, New York with renowned songwriter, composer and arranger Peter Eldridge.
Besides his solo career, Henk is co-founder of Dutch a cappella group The Junction, with which he toured several Asian and European countries. Henk also holds a teaching position at ArtEZ conservatory in Arnhem and is a guest teacher at Utrecht Conservatory.
And now, on to the interview!
1. What’s your latest project?
Promoting my debut album Passengers by touring in Malaysia, Singapore and Seoul! Right in the middle of it. I’m doing a bunch of concerts in KL, set up by my friend: pianist & composer John Dip Silas. The album has officially been released in February. Since then I have had the privilege to travel to Asia twice. You can imagine that I’m super exited about it!
2. What inspires your music?
Oh, so many things inspire me, as long as I can connect to it in a certain way. Obviously it’s the people I meet, my own experiences and emotions, the up and downsides of life. The song Drowning is based on the loneliness I felt while living in New York for a while. Another song I wrote is called The imagination of a painter, which was inspired by Dutch painter Mondriaan. I am also inspired by world religions, philosophies and poetry. For example, Perhaps is a spiritual love poem by Pablo Neruda that I wrote the music to. And of course the title song of the album: I am intrigued by the fact we live together with so many people in this world, each one having his or her own experiences and perspectives. Isn’t it amazing!?
3. What’s your 5 Desert Island Albums?
HK: That’s a tough one… Ok: in no particular order:
Bobby McFerrin – Spirityouall / VOCAbuLarieS
Avishai Cohen – Gently Disturbed
Faure – Requiem
John Coltrane – Coltrane’s sound
Sting – Live in Berlin (too hard to select one album!!)
4. Who’s one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don’t know of?
In general you could say that there are not so many male jazz vocalists out there. I mean those who improvise as well. So, if I am allowed to name two, I think of two singers I’d like to mention because of their genuine approach to (jazz)music: Theo Bleckmann and David Linx.
5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
Hmm… I don’t know. There is beauty in learning by experimenting. Most artists follow more or less the same path and it naturally goes with falling and getting up on your feet again. Well, maybe that would be the advice: be productive and dare to fail. I’m quite a perfectionist, so I find that hard to do myself…
Actually I started pursuing a career in music after finishing my law studies, which gave me some life experience. However ‘get a decent day job’ would not be my advice haha! Go for it!
6. As a jazz vocalist and songwriter, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?
Dealing with perfectionism and procrastination. To get my album out, I needed my ass kicked. Take the leap and stop thinking about the thousands of possibilities in writing a song. The saying Ora et labora works for me as well. Praying and working go hand in hand, they can’t live without each other. Either you’ll end up in the emptiness of dreamland or you end up in a fruitless burnout.
I constantly tell myself to stop thinking about possible rejection by others. Just love others and love what you do.
7. How do we reach you?
Thanks Henk for being a part of #AzCreativeFridays!
Catch Henk next during his Malaysia/Singapore/South Korea tour at:
Dec 1: BoboKL presents: John Dip Silas, Henk Kraaijeveld & Daniel Chia
Dec 5/6: No Black Tie (KL) – Passengers album release
Echo in The Night 2 (Dec 5)
Henk Kraaijeveld Quintet (Dec 6)
Dec 7: Russell’s (KL) – Sting Tribute
Dec 8: The Saxophone Store (KL) – Passengers album release
Dec 11: ISKL – master class
Dec 12 : WhupWhup (KL) – duo w/ John Dip Silas
Dec 14 : Blu Jazz (Singapore) – Passengers album release
Dec 17: Geographer Cafe (Malacca) – Passengers album release
Dec 19: Russell’s (KL) – Jazzy gentlemen
Dec 21/22: No Black Tie (KL) – A timeless Christmas
Dec 27: Chunnyun, Seoul – Passengers album release
Dec 28: Rubik, Seoul – Passengers album release
Dec 29: Nami Island
Dec 29: Positive Zero, Seoul – Passengers album release
Thank you for reading this week’s instalment of #AzCreativeFridays. Please do check out the past interviews (32 so far, including this one) and come back for the next one. Stay tuned! 🙂
Read the recent [Creative Fridays] interview:
[Creative Fridays] #14 : Taylor Roberts
7-String Solo Guitarist
[Creative Fridays] #15: Dylan Lee
[Creative Fridays] #16: Scott Murphy
Saxophonist and Composer
[Creative Fridays] #17: Nisa Addina
[Creative Fridays] #18: Jake Shimabukuro
[Creative Fridays] #19: Jared Sims
[Creative Fridays] #20: Gabriel Lynch
[Creative Fridays] #21: Rizal Tony
Jazz Guitarist and Educator
[Creative Fridays] #22: Raja Farouk
Multi-Instrumentalist and Sessionist
[Creative Fridays] #23: Kho Chia Wen Sharon
[Creative Fridays] #24: Josh Maxey
Jazz Guitarist & Educator
[Creative Fridays] #25: Toru Watanabe
[Creative Fridays] #26: Jordan Klemons
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator
[Creative Fridays] #27: Armen Movsesyan
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator
[Creative Fridays] #28: Gwen Guo
[Creative Fridays] #29: Sean McGowan
[Creative Fridays] #30: Rendra Zawawi
Film Music Composer
[Creative Fridays] #31 : Norihiro Kikuta
Guitarist and Composer
[About Creative Fridays]
The original Creative Fridays was an interview series I did back in 2012. Published on my website, www.azsamad.com, it explored the musical influences of various musicians from all over the world. Relaunching this now in 2018, there are some cool add-ons. For a super obvious one, we’ve now added Spotify and YouTube links whenever possible for the Desert Island Albums list.
This to me is amazing because you can actually immediately listen to the recommended albums. Coming from a generation that used to make trips to the record store to check out new music, it still boggles my mind that we can immediately listen to the records that is recommended here. Imagine if you listened to the 5 suggested albums – how much could you learn from it?
Also, in addition to the original questions from the series, I’ve added a new question into the mix asking about the biggest challenge each individual has faced in their work. I’ve found that we all can benefit by learning from one another. Let’s share and grow together!
If you know a musician who you think could be a good fit to be featured in Creative Fridays, please contact me with your ideas. The focus is in diversity for music, cultural background, geography, age and experience. It doesn’t matter where you are around the world, if you’re a creative making interesting music on an interesting journey and have something to share, please reach out to me. Please do note, due to this being a weekly series, the interview may be featured later in the year depending scheduling.
Thank you! 🙂
[The Original Series]
Season 1: Every week for 13 weeks, published from Feb 2012 to April 2012.
[Creative Fridays] #1 : Kevin Broken Scar
(Melbourne Singer-Songwriter/Sound Engineer)
[Creative Fridays] #2 : Deborah Crooks
(SF Bay Area Singer-Songwriter)
[Creative Fridays] #3 : Dylan Kay
(UK/Auckland Jazz Guitarist)
[Creative Fridays] #4 : Azmyl Yunor
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/College Lecturer)
[Creative Fridays] #5 : Gustavo Assis-Brasil
(Boston Jazz Guitarist/Educator)
[Creative Fridays] #6 : TragiComedy
[Creative Fridays] #7 : Candelaria
(Oakland Cumbia-Dub Band)
[Creative Fridays] #8 : Pete Teo
[Creative Fridays] #9 : Lori McKinney
(West Virginia Bandleader/Festival Organizer)
[Creative Fridays] #10: Helen Sherrah-Davies
(UK/Boston Violinist-Composer & Berklee faculty)
[Creative Fridays] #11: Adam Everett
(SF Bay Area Drummer-Composer)
[Creative Fridays] #12: Julian Chan
(Malaysian Jazz Saxophonist)
[Creative Fridays] #13: Sharon Chong
(Malaysian Keyboardist and Vocalist]
[More about Az Samad]
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