Interview with Saskia Laroo for Life Line
Title article: Applause dispels uncertainty
Article in local Dutch newspapers
Noordhollands Dagblad / Haarlems Dagblad / Leidsch Dagblad / IJmuider Courant / De Gooi- en Eemlander
Published: Saturday April 18, 2020 / Author: Jan Vriend / Original language: Dutch
-> download pdf
Don't think you can do it, they rubbed her in. And also: "The world is not waiting for a woman as a trumpet player". Saskia Laroo now performs in every corner of the globe and lives alternately in Amsterdam and America, where they call her 'the female Miles Davis'. In this episode of Life Line she talks about the benchmarks of her existence. "Applause helped me get rid of my insecurity."
An interview in the bedroom. That sounds more exciting than it is, because the conversation is via Facetime. Saskia Laroo tells her story at her home in Connecticut, USA. She is about to pack her bags for the return trip to her Amsterdam. "Now that the whole world is turned upside down, it is best to be in the Netherlands. If you no longer earn a dime, you stick to your old network. ” More about that later in this episode of "Lifeline".
1959 Painting company
Born in the Amsterdam Jordaan. After Saskia, three more daughters followed. Her mother was a beautician, her father owned a painting business. "My parents were very artistic. Free-spirited types. We received a free education where they taught us to follow our own path. Especially not doing what someone else thinks you should do, but making your own choices. ”
The family moves to Den Ilp. "My parents gave us space. In Den Ilp we had a garden and there was enough space for dogs and cats. At the music school in Purmerend I learned to read notes and play the recorder. Someone from fanfare "De Eendracht" in Den Ilp heard that and asked if I wanted to become a member there. At the first rehearsal they gave me a trumpet in my hands. I immediately got a sound and could immediately play a scale. It was as if I had met a new love. After a week of practice at home, I could already play two songs. ”
To the Zaanlands Lyceum. "At first I was in high school, but I was not interested in Greek and Latin. That's why I made the switch to the Atheneum. There I chose the exact subjects, because I liked math. I also got high marks for that. ”
"Because I was good at math and because I scored very high in an intelligence test, I got a bit high in my head. That is why I started studying mathematics at the University of Amsterdam. It seemed easy to me: do not learn lists, but simply solve sums. Yet that failed within a year. That felt like a huge decline. Because I had never had a setback before, it was a dent in my ego. ” “It actually made sense that that study failed, because I was in jazz clubs almost every night. Jamming and improvising with my trumpet. ”
1978 The urge to perform
She goes to the conservatory in Alkmaar. "At that time I learned that you could also earn money with performances. Suddenly I realized that my future lay there. But at first I didn't manage to get bad. I was furious about that, because I saw that old trumpet players who were much less good than I did odd jobs. I thought that was unfair! It was always: you cannot and you will not succeed. It almost made me aggressive, because I had a great urge to perform. ” Fortunately, my parents stayed behind me. They always encouraged me to go my own way. As a detour I then rehearsed on a double bass, because I noticed that there was a need for that. I did get a chance with a double bass. I also think that this has to do with the fact that as a double bass player you are at the back, at concerts. There they dared to use that girl. But preferably not as a trumpet player. Then I would steal the show too much. Fortunately, that changed quickly. When they realized that I was one of the guys, I was also accepted as a trumpet player. ”
She makes the switch to the conservatory in Amsterdam. “The Amsterdam Conservatory also had a separate branch for jazz and improvised music. That was more my thing. In Amsterdam I liked to come to the Bimhuis, where everything happened in that area. One day I saw Willem Breuker and Hans Dulfer sitting there at the bar. Both with open shirts, with big breast hair out. Hans brought a little smart little daughter. That was Candy. I immediately asked them if they had a cut for me. Hans called me the next day and immediately had four jobs for me. ” It is more difficult at the conservatory. "They sent me off after two years. "Due to lack of talent," they said. The truth was, I didn't get along very well with the teachers. I was rebellious. ”
"I was not so keen to quit the conservatory, because I already played in all kinds of bands and I was able to make ends meet. But my mom thought I should get a degree. That is why I went to the conservatory in Hilversum. I graduated there in two years. In the meantime I knew so many people in the world that I could perform with all kinds of bands for years. I did a lot of concerts with Hans Dulfer and Rosa King. ”
She starts her own band, with a commercial Caribbean sound. With that band she performs at a party of the Haarlem company Record Industry. "I was paid in kind. They would press CDs for me if I came with recordings. That album was entitled "It's like jazz". It became a crazy mix of hip hop, rap and house. Actually they are worlds that are far apart, but I liked to bring all those styles together. Record companies didn't like it, but radio stations liked the album. That's why I released it myself. I accidentally had my own record label. ” The album was an international success in fifteen countries. Especially in Japan there was a great demand for it. It led to international tours in all corners of the world. Africa, India, China, America, Russia, you name it. I have now released eight albums and a whole bunch of singles. ”
In America she is now known as "Lady Miles Davis from Europe". At a concert in Connecticut, keyboardist Warren Byrd sits in her backing band behind the grand piano. “He was so convinced that I invited him to come to Europe to perform with my band at festivals. I quickly fell in love. I especially liked him because he is sexy and fun. We never have disagreements. If he starts to argue, I immediately say he is right. That works. Because then he says sorry after five minutes. ”
"Our strength is also that we complement each other. He composes and plays, he is a dreamer. I am, but I also know how to give it a practical interpretation, by arranging performances and recordings. ” From now on she commutes between America and Amsterdam. One month with her boyfriend, there, the other month he comes this way. "We live where we have performances."
Her mother dies from ALS muscle disease. "She deteriorated enormously. A moment came when she longed for the end. She had arranged everything for her euthanasia and insisted that her children be there. But I had all kinds of gigs and I couldn't afford to cancel them. She was angry with me because she had to postpone her death for a week while she had had enough of life. Very surrelistic. Then I also wondered whether this course is worth it. ”
Tours through Africa, China and India. "They mainly ask me because I can play different styles. From jazz to blues, from hip hop to rap. Because I can let people taste each other's world, they ask me everywhere. With music you can take people off their island and taste other flavors. ”
Her agenda includes performances in Moldova, Qatar and Morocco. "Whether that all goes through is of course still the question, because corona is the whole music world in its hole. So we are also without income. To earn some money, we now give house concerts that can be seen on the internet. The nice thing is that Americans simply transfer money to support us. Fans are very generous here. After our house burned down in America, they also transferred ten thousand dollars. That's why I'm optimistic. When that coronage thing is over, the desire for music is greater than ever. ”
What do you do in ten years? “Live in the Netherlands and enjoy performing and composing. I always look at Hans Dulfer. It is eighty and is still great to play. ”
Saskia Laroo in short
Saskia Laroo (1959) was born in Amsterdam and grew up in Den Ilp. She attended high school at the Zaanlands Lyceum in Zaandam and studied mathematics at the UvA for a year. Then she switched to the conservatory in Alkmaar. Later, courses followed at conservatories in Amsterdam and Hilversum. Her big break as a soloist came in 1994 with her album "It's Like Jazz", which heralded an international career. She has performed on all continents and still travels the world for concerts and festivals. In 2017, she married American keyboardist Warren Byrd. They live alternately in Amsterdam and the United States.