posted by Nasko
last month

The Amsterdam-born singer Raquel Kurpershoek was raised between The Netherlands & Spain. With an Andalucian mother who was a flamenco dance teacher & an art historian father who traveled a lot, she fell in love with both the Spanish traditional music & a variety of other world music from the countries he visited, exposing her to the musical wealth of the world & shaping her unique style.

Raquel, who will perform at the International A to JazZ Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria this July, has an album (2022) & an EP (2021) behind her - both heavily flamenco-influenced, and a soul/jazz single in English that she released last year. In this interview, she delves into her heritage, her love for flamenco & the place world music has in the contemporary music scene.

What is your first music-related memory? Have you been singing since you were a little kid?

I have been singing and dancing for as long as I can remember. My mother is a flamenco dancer, and my father is an art historian who has traveled all over the world. With every place he visited, he bought CDs, which he would play non-stop at home. From a young age, I was always surrounded by a rich variety of world music.

How do you feel your Dutch & Spanish roots intertwine in your music?

My Spanish roots come from my mother and her family, who are from the south of Spain. They are vibrant and expressive, qualities that I incorporate into my concerts. As for my Dutch roots, I absolutely adore André Hazes, the most famous singer in the Netherlands. His heartfelt phrasing and singing have greatly inspired my own singing style today.

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How did you fall in love with flamenco - so much that you'd study it in the Rafael Orozco Conservatory?

I always heard flamenco music at home, but unfortunately, my conservatory didn’t offer flamenco singing lessons. So, when I had the opportunity to choose where to go for my Erasmus exchange, I didn’t think twice and decided to study flamenco music for a year at the Rafael Orozco Conservatory in Córdoba, Andalusia. It was the most amazing experience I have ever had. Finally, I was able to learn from great maestros the music that is so dear to my heart.

Who has influenced you most, musically?

Wow, I really can’t name just one influence because there have been so many. It all started with my parents, who introduced me to a wide spectrum of music. During my studies at the conservatory, I was exposed to various genres and artists thanks to teachers and students from all over the world. My influences are incredibly diverse, ranging from Mercedes Sosa, Violeta Parra, Alberto Beltrán, José Antonio Méndez, and Los Panchos to André Hazes, Luis Miguel, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

What are the stories that you feel most compelled to sing about?

Everything I sing, I feel deeply compelled to perform. Otherwise, I don’t sing it. The theme doesn’t always have to be heavy; it can also be something light, like in my song "Café de la Mañana." It’s a funny song with a lot of synonyms. However, I feel just as compelled to sing it as I do when performing songs about loss, heartbreak, and other profound emotions.

Does World Music have a place in the contemporary music scene, in your opinion?

I would say it’s the other way around. I think contemporary music definitely has a place in world music.

Why is World Music important to have its own space in festivals & showcases?

I would say it’s the other way around. Contemporary music definitely has a place in world music because it encompasses so many cultures and diverse ways of using music. World music is such a rich genre without limits, blending traditional sounds with modern influences. It deserves its own space in festivals and showcases to connect with people who appreciate this diversity. By highlighting contemporary music within world music, we celebrate its evolving nature and the shared human experiences it represents.

What would you say changed for you as an artist between your 1st EP Mil Cosas & debut album NIZAMI?

A LOT! Everything changes — life changes, we grow, we evolve as people and as artists. The way we interpret things and the way we express them through music constantly evolves. I believe it’s essential to keep evolving both as an artist and as a person. It’s part of growing. When I listen to my earlier work, like the music I created two years ago, I can see and hear how much I’ve changed. For example, my approach to Nizami now is different from how I approached it back then. A whole world has changed within me. I think it’s beautiful to witness and hear this growth. It’s a testament to the journey of self-discovery and artistic development. Embracing change and evolution allows us to continuously refine our craft and deepen our connection with the music and our audience.

Why did you decide to sing in English in your 2023 single "THE SEA OF LOVE"? There's also a notable soul/jazz touch there, as opposed to your previous Latin-influenced songs.

Haha, this was a song I recorded in 2016. While jogging outside recently, I decided to listen to it again after so many years. It really brought me back to my younger, more innocent self, when I didn’t see music as being as important as I do now. There’s a beautiful side to that simplicity. It’s like a pure version of myself. Last year, I decided to release the song to remind myself why I make music. It's my whole heart and life, but it's also about enjoying it. Releasing the song was a way to reconnect with that initial joy and passion that first inspired me.

What's next for you in 2024?

Exciting news! A new album is on the horizon! I had the pleasure of recording this album in Mexico with some dear friends and talented musicians. The album features poems by the renowned Mexican poet Amado Nervo. Get ready for a captivating mix of boleros, cha-cha, salsa, and plenty of swing to get you on your feet and dancing! It’s been an incredible journey bringing these elements together, and I can’t wait to share this vibrant and rhythmic musical experience with all of you. Stay tuned for updates and release dates!

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