An affair to remember // Curated: Closer to music
The first time I met Joep van Leijsen, he told me he always asked people the following question: ‘What makes you happy?’. Now, I know that this question illustrates precisely how Joep lives his life: he’s genuinely interested in the people around him. Plus: he asks himself the same question: it has become the guiding light in making his dream come true. The saying goes: “Do more of what makes you happy” and that’s exactly the driving force behind Joep’s Curated (and also the reason why people welcome this concept with open hearts). Because when you work with passion and energy, you always receive them back in equal measure (karma?); it’s inspiring and it connects people.
But what is this Curated , exactly? Chanou wrote about it before; “Curated is a initiative by Joep (van Leijsen), which gives up-and-coming artists a platform and brings music lovers together. He organizes inspiring musical evenings in cool locations, where you can discover new musical talent in an intimate setting. ”
I attended two Curated gigs late August/beginning of September – one with Chanou! – and also, my very own home became the home base for Joep, his team and the artists during their two concerts in Amsterdam. That week was magical, which is why I want to share my experiences with you – and also to spark your enthusiasm for the next Curated tour!
The British Nathan Ball and his band had come to Holland especially for the Curated tour and just when Joep thought that things couldn’t get any better, the Australian Ziggy Alberts appeared to be in The Netherlands for the very same period of time… And yes, Ziggy joined the tour! Nathan, Cat (cello), Will (drums), Max (guitar) en Ziggy were like family in no time; their respect for each other’s music, as well as their shared passion for surfing, created an instant chemistry.
My first gig was in Scheveningen, at DownUnderBeach; I especially enjoyed Ziggy’s set, because he seemed to be in his element at the beach. His energy and enthusiasm were infectious, I think he played for almost 3 hours in a row! His lyrics about first dates and falling in love (Warm Coffee, The Pocahontas Song) were charming, but a love for nature and the environment also plays a big part in his songs (The Ocean Song, Days in the Sun) – something that will melt every modern hippie’s heart!
I love Nathans voice (also the voice of cello player Cat, by the way), but his music is darker and more melancholy than Ziggy’s, something which (for me) didn’t quite translate to sunny Scheveningen. Therefore, I really looked forward to seeing him play at De Groene Bocht, a beautiful and intimate location at the Keizersgracht. It was an unforgettable evening; the music held me tight and didn’t let go. Just like the rest of the audience, I was filled with admiration and listened avidly, sometimes with my eyes closed. This illustrates the special, safe and harmonious vibe of the evening perfectly: you could safely surrender to the music and connect and share with others afterward. The melodies and the recognizable lyrics touched me deeply, like Nathans words about the inevitable changes in relationships (Right Place) or the vulnerability of falling in love (Fall Backwards, my personal favorite).
When the tour was over, I asked Nathan some questions:
Looking back, what are your personal highlights?
“It was an incredible trip for us! We couldn’t believe how many people turned out to see us at every show, it was a real honour. I think the Amsterdam show was a particular highlight for me; I have visited the city a few times before and never imagined we would be playing in such a beautiful venue with a sold out crowd!”
How was it, touring through the NL with Ziggy?
“It was perfect! I mentioned at a few of the shows it can be pretty exhausting touring with a group of people as you spend 24 hours a day with everyone so it can get pretty tough, but the whole crew was perfect and Ziggy is an absolute legend. We watched him play every single night and it was a pleasure every time!”
What makes initiatives like Curated important for artists?
“The whole idea behind Curated and what Joep has created is amazing. It’s putting the artist in front of new crowds in an intimate setting, without any of the industry complications. It’s about stripping live music down to its rawest form and creating the perfect atmosphere. For the crowd it’s amazing, as they can watch up-and-coming artists up close in a very intimate setting, and for the artist: it allows you to play to a crowd that really listens and doesn’t play on their phone for the whole gig!”
What gives you the most joy as a singer-songwriter, what drives you?
“I think being able to travel and play gigs around the world and meet so many people. For me, we’re still at the stage where we’re surprised that people actually know the words to my songs, so when people are singing along at gigs, that’s a really incredible feeling. Also, when you have people coming up to you and telling you how much a song means to them and has helped them through something…. that’s really touching!”
What are the biggest struggles? How do you cope?
“It’s a pretty strange life as a musician starting out! You live out of a bag and travel around playing gigs and don’t really make any money out of it, so although it may seem glamorous when you’re playing sold out gigs, behind the scenes it’s pretty exhausting. Playing the gigs is what gets me through it, though; I love the live shows, they’re the best!”
I also asked Joep how he feels about the tour, looking back at it. Like Nathan, his highlight of the tour is the evening at De Groene Bocht: “That’s what I pictured when I first thought of Curated, 4 years ago. A wonderful location, great atmosphere, a quiet crowd and kick-ass artists!” The biggest challenge remains to get people to watch an (as yet) unknown artist, but every gig but one was sols out, so Joep is ‘super excited!’ – and with good reason.
Would you like to attend a Curated gig or even host a living room concert? Leave me a message, I’m looking forward to it!