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Yori Swart is one of the most promising dutch acts of this past years. Winning several awards and compiting in major ones such as the GPVN, this folk soul singer is set to take the world by storm with her upcoming debut album, which is set for release on October. With a similar sound to Annie De Franco meets Brandi Carlile, Yori is already showing a lot of promise with her raspy voice and her cool guitar skills. With only a few songs out, such as "Secretly Sleeping", which she wrote in an hour, this raising star, if not a breakthrough act, answered some questions for me some weeks ago in which we discussed her style, her past and her album. So be sure to read about such an interesting artist!

Interview and videos after the JUMP ...

*How would you define yourself as an artist?
Phew, I think that is probably the hardest question you can ask. Haha. But I’ll try. I am a small blond girl with a huge drive for success and for recognition. Actually that is the least part of which I am doing it for because I started to make music exclusively as a release out of the daily routine. It was my way to deal with emotions and to handle the struggle of growing up. Within the years I have discovered that I actually have something to offer. And have the ability to help other people and enrich them with my music. The songs are universal and everyone can identify themselves in them in a certain way. That awareness has made me realize that not only do I love what I am doing, but that I also have to offer a moment of rest and output for in daily life. That is the most precious thing someone can give to an other person and I am grateful for that. Certainly not everyone likes my music, but I do not mind. You cannot like every food either. I am an honest musician and will not do things to please anyone, this is truly from my heart and from the way I believe in certain things.

*What can you tell me about your style?
My style can be defined in alternative singer/songwriter pop. The music I make is accessible and open for interpretation. I am a rather expressive singer. I express myself with my songs, and try to translate my emotions into music. I am inspired by artists such as Joni Mitchell. My guitar skills are a bit odd. Haha. When I was a kid my dad taught me to play guitar. He is a classical guitarist and taught me those skills at a very young age. A few years later,  when I was a teenager, I started playing jazz. This coincided with jazz singing. Later on I discovered that individual chords can be played in different succession and that you can make your own songs. I started doing this when I was 13 years old. In the last 4 years I have studied old blues and country songs. I created my own guitar style which you can compare a bit to Ani DiFranco, Fink and Nick Drake. My voice is warm and expressive. Some have compared my voice to Eva Cassidy, Melissa Etheridge and Jewel.

*Who would you name as your biggest influence?/What is your dream collaboration?
In my short musical career I have already had a lot of influences and inspirations. Both singers and guitarists have given me inspiration but also hard alternative rock bands who gave me the energy I sometimes needed. To stay in the singer/songwriter scene artists such as Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley, Fink, Bon Iver, Amos Lee, Ben Harper, Damien Rice, Chris Whitley and soulful Tony Joe White gave me a lot of inspiration. My dream collaboration is to write with Ani DiFranco. She can teach me a lot of guitar skills but also will enrich me with her poetic talent.

*How was it to grow with a musicial family? Did it influence in any way your career decision?
Well actually, my mother is not a musician. My father is, he is a guitarist. A really fine one. My mother always sang in the kitchen and played a lot of CD’s. Music as Kate Bush, Dolly Parton, Allison Krause and Crosby Stills Nash and Young are not unfamiliar to me. My father, as I said before, taught me to play the guitar at a very young age. I think that if my dad hadn’t encouraged me I wouldn’t have gotten this far with my music. I am very grateful for that. In order to take the first step you sometimes need someone to give you a push. If you are lucky enough, as I was, to have such a person you can consider yourself fortunate.

*You won the Amsterdamse Popprijs and competed in the Grote Prijs van Nederland 2010, how did all that affect your career?
I actually didn’t compete in the GPVN 2010. Last year I had different priority’s and decided not to take part but this year I am. The quarter finals are June 17 at the Wilhelmina Pakhuis. The Amsterdamse popprijs has opend a lot of doors for me and has helped me to promote myself in a new way. It gave me a new found popularity and has gotten my name in the press on several occasions. I also gained a lot of new contacts which resulted in new gigs. And I have been selected for the Sena Pop NL Award which takes place in the Melkweg on the 27th of August. I will represent Amsterdam against the 12 provinces of Holland.

*Has it made you more confident as an artist? More certain that what you are doing is right?
The recognition I have received from such events as the Amsterdamse Popprijs have given me a lot of confidence. Positive reactions from genuine people have given me good energy. This has really motivated me in continuing with my projects. I have 3 projects in the running and only one of which is my band. I often play solo, just me and my guitar. This is interesting for gigs such as support acts for other singer/songwriters. They prefer their support not to overpower the main act. Furthermore I do living room concerts and for singer/songwriters it’s an advantage to be able to play solo. I also have a Trio with two members of my band.

*How was it to take part in the Popronde 2010? Did you learn anything from the other musicians?
The Popronde was a really great experience. I gained a lot of new contacts which ultimately led to even more gigs. Also I gained more knowledge and skills on the road. It is good to make a lot of steps and do different kind of gigs for the experience and off course the fun.

*Do you enjoy touring to promote your music?
I haven’t actually done a formal tour yet. But by competing in the Popronde I have traveled a lot and have had to improvise on the road. I have done support acts for artist as Anneke van Giersbergen and Agnes Obel. These shows where little tours throughout the country and we played at around 800 seat venues. In the end it’s all about being able to play my own music wherever and whenever. So, yes I love to promote my music by touring.

*You're studying in the Amsterdam Conservatory now?
Actually I just graduated a month ago! I studied vocals for 4 years.

*What can you tell me about the song "Secretly Sleeping"?
Well actually I made the song during the program Xnoise on 3FM a year ago. The task was given to me to write a song in an hour with a title supplied by the listeners. Various ridiculous titles such as ‘Slippery slide family day’ and ‘Even Onions Cry Sometimes’ made it very hard for me. Luckily in the end there was a boy named Joeri who suggested the title ‘Secretly Sleeping’. The title inspired me and made me write about insomnia. A terrible disease that many musicians including myself, suffer  sometimes.

*What about "Weeping Willows"?
Weeping Willows is about nature and humanity’s awareness. When I was a kid there was a big willow close to my house where I would go when I wanted to be alone and think of all the things that where going on. Weeping Willows is written through the eyes of Mother Nature.

*When you write a song, do you try to give it a metaphorical meaning or do you go for a straightforward one?
It depends on the song and especially on my mood. Every song has its specific meaning for me. But as I said earlier they are open for interpretation by anyone and they’re not so straight forward that only one explanation is possible.

*How can we expect the album to be like?
AWESOME!! It is going to be a special piece of work. Together with my band we made the songs come to life. Renown producer Attie Bauw translated the music into art. When you close your eyes you can see all kind of different landscapes. My music can be potential film music. They are still pop songs and some with a bluesy edge because of the Harmonica and Dobro guitar, but you can easily dazzle away in this little fairy tail.

*Is there a release date yet?
No. But I am hoping to drop the album around October.

*Have you been contacted by any label?
Yes I am negotiating with several labels. But I can’t tell you anything as of now. Haha.

*What can we expect from you in the coming months?/What are your plans from now on?
You can expect a great album and you can expect a lot of gigs with me playing solo, in trio and with band. The Sena Pop NL Award is coming and I am competing in the Grote Prijs van Nederland. I hope it will come out good and for you to hear more from me!!

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