Saskia Laroo: Lady Miles
SL: Yes, I love to work with foreign musicians, young musicians from the country or city where I perform. It adds something to the band as a whole and because of our cultural differences, interesting things can happen, it is an inspiring experience. Every musician has a certain role to play. We're all equal and valuable, both as soloists and accommodating musicians. Even if I play the lead, I can support another musician in his or her lead too, you can arrange this while on stage together. It's the band as a whole concept. If I were in the audience, listening, I would want to learn about every musician involved, not just the leader of the band. It's about unity; the soloist depends on those surrounding him or her. That's why I am very pleased with Warren because he is such a good accompanist.
AAJ: Let's take a look at your schedule. You went to Taiwan and Bangkok. You went to Indonesia in November last year and headed out to India in December, February is all about Germany, you're off to Singapore in March and in April you're in Brasil. How do you manage, organizing it all?
SL: Most of it is done by myself and I got a lot of paperwork at home to prove it. But I now got someone helping me plan the touring, because with travel schedules and all, it has to be well organized.
AAJ: Tell us something about your own label, Laroo Records.
SL: I had a gig at a party once, for the staff and personnel of a factory that manufactured albums for a record company. They didn't pay me cash, but in 1,000 LP's. All I had to do was to provide the recordings. Another record company offered me a contract after they had heard the music I wanted to release on those 1,000 albums. It was 1992, instead of vinyl it was CD. That record company however was only interested in one composition. They wanted to remix it and release it as a single. So I said no and decided to found my own label. The first 1,000 CD's were sold within a week and in the Netherlands alone, 10,000 have been sold and 25,000 CD's worldwide. That wasn't bad for a relatively unknown musician, because that's what I was then. Because of these CD's more people got to know about my music, but it was mostly in the underground scene. Still, if you see how big the cities in China are, there are 33 million people which means twice the size of the Netherlands in just one town! Interest in my music from abroad grew due to those first CD's.
AAJ: Do you have a wish list of musicians you'd like to perform with?
SL: I could say Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter, or McCoy Tyner and Hargrove or Marsalis because I think they're great. But I would want to play with everyone, really. To share a stage is like a conversation, getting to know each other. I like jamming. Especially those huge festivals, like in Montreux? Afterwards there's often a great after jam. Last time we jammed with the John Legend band, for instance. And in South Africa, that was really cool, insane even. Capetown had a fantastic after jam, you meet so many famous musicians there.
AAJ: How would you describe your chosen profession as a musician, what is your drive?
SL: First, I am grateful I can make music all over the world and that it makes me happy. I enjoy it if people enjoy the music I create and am pleased to be able to share my musical experiences with other musicians. Being older now also makes me realize how fortunate I am to be able to live this life. It's what I've been working for all these years. I still work hard for it. The music is what matters most. I invest in myself by being a performing artist and earn a living by it. And to travel to so many countries as an artist, I can see things from wider perspectives and various points of views. I try to stay objective in my opinions, so it won't influence my music wherever I am. People are free to think or feel whatever they want when they listen to my music. It's important to me to take my audience seriously and treat them with respect.
I hope that when they come to my concerts they can forget about their worries and problems and simply have a good time enjoying themselves, feel revived even. I try to reach within, touch their emotion, that's most essential to me. Like there's some sort of atmosphere between the audience and the musicians, on levels of meditation perhaps. I hope I can stimulate this, so the audience feels understood. Especially if I'm in countries where they don't have democracy like we know in the Netherlands. I'd like to bring people together, that's it. I'm more of a diplomat, a musical diplomat.
Saskia Laroo, Real Jazzy (2008)
Saskia Laroo, It's Like Jazz (2004)
Saskia Laroo, Sunset Eyes (1999)
Saskia Laroo, Jazzkia (1999)
Saskia Laroo, Bodymusic (1998)