Last updated: 03/04/2011 10:00:00 AM
It's a well-known fact that life can pass you by quickly, but Anouk's is whizzing by at warp speed. Since the release of her debut album, Together Alone from 1997, she's been able to cover her wall with the amount of gold and platinum records she's received, as well as having an international hit on her hands with the track Nobody's Wife.
Add to that a couple of Edison awards, Dutch magazine and television awards (Hitkrant/TMF), and throw in some appearances at major festivals in Europe such as Pinkpop and Parkpop, oh, and she also found time to get herself signed to the Columbia label in the States. Not bad going so far for a 25 year-old tomboy from The Hague.
But, on the other hand, we are dealing with the kind of rock singer that Holland hasn't produced for a long time, or possibly even never. Raw and pure, oozing passion and possessed with an outstanding voice, that can combine the earthy emotions within the blues with straight up rock and flowing funky rhythms, but also incorporates such diverse influences such as hip-hop and ska.
Anouk doesn't like to be repetitive, as demonstrated on her second album Urban Solitude, a mixed bag of styles, which this ambitious young singer released at the end of 1999, but she already had one eye on the 21st century that lay ahead, which was to prove the right time for an independent girl who knows what she wants and won't be categorised.
Anouk, who was born on April 8th, 1975 in The Hague, inherits her love for the blues from her mother, a singer in a blues band. As a child she makes up and sings her own songs, but in puberty, singing is to become an important emotional outlet for her, where she is able to express her frustration if things turn out badly.
In 1993, she joins a soul-rhythm band called Shot Gun Wedding, but her ambition, which is already abundant, causes her to outgrow the band, and head towards the Rotterdam Music Academy, to which she is accepted in 1994. A year later she starts up her own band.
Anouk's career goes into orbit when she sings a few songs onstage at a festival with Barry Hay, frontman of the legendary Dutch rock group Golden Earring, who is hugely impressed with her talent, and writes a song for her with fellow Golden Earring member George Kooymans called Mood Indigo. The song is proof enough for record label Dino Music to offer Anouk a record deal. Mood Indigo is released in September 1996, and generates plenty of interest as well as airplay. A convincing support slot on the Golden Earring tour later on that year increases the attention paid to Anouk, who by this time is determined to pursue what she sees as her calling.
The crowd pleaser Nobody's Wife is released as a single ahead of Anouk's debut album in August '97. The track works its way through various international charts, and even goes platinum in the Netherlands, which is a real boost for the upcoming release of Anouk's first album Together Alone, that comes out a few months later. This impressive piece of work mainly contains songs that Anouk herself wrote, aided by her good friend Bart van Veen. Together Alone achieves international success, partly due to the hit Nobody's Wife, and goes to number one in the Dutch album charts (where it has now reached quadruple platinum), and spends long periods of time in the Swedish, Belgian, Danish and Italian charts.
When the singles It's So Hard and Sacrifice also turn out to be chart winners, it's obvious that Anouk is here to stay. A fact which is emphasized by the two prizes she gets at Dutch music channel TMF's Awards in 1998, as well as three prestigious Edison Music Awards, including 'Best Dutch Female Vocalist'. The high expectations generated by her trophies are fulfilled in the same year by her Bennie and Ballie Tour, where she proves herself to be a true stage animal.
In January 1999, Anouk and her band head into the NOB studio in Hilversum to record the second album, Urban Solitude. The songs are primarily written during a few writing sessions in Portugal by the singer and Bart van Veen, but the recording is supervised by Anouk herself this time, and is mixed over in Los Angeles by Erwin Musper (David Bowie, Van Halen). The end result sounds superb. Modern yet timeless, heavy yet subtle, and dynamic in the extreme, Urban Solitude has both the makings of a classic rock album and the progressive spirit of the new century.
It is a varied and extremely personal album that reflects Anouk's feelings as well as her love for various types of music. U Being U is a rock monster, My Best Wasn't Good Enough is a blistering duet with Dinand Woesthoff (from Dutch band Kane), the catchy first single R U Kiddin' Me lapses into fits of ska, Michel is a delicate acoustic ballad, and rock, funk and hip-hop blend effortlessly in her second single The Dark.
The Dark is accompanied by a spectacular promo video, like nothing ever made before in Holland. Made with the aid of Amsterdam designer/director Rosto AD, live action and animation are interwoven in a staggering spectacle. Anouk appears in a surrealistic landscape in various guises, which illustrate perfectly the versatility and tension within The Dark. But above all, the video is the ideal platform upon which Anouk can present herself to the international market.
Because although Urban Solitude has already passed the platinum mark, in Holland, having notched up another 100.000 copies, this driven singer realises she has to fix her gaze over the borders. "It's important for us to go international. I want to spend 2000 doing a lot of touring in Europe." America's next after that. But no matter how this fairy-tale ends, Anouk can already look back with a grin. When asked what the highlight of her career has been so far, she flashes her gold teeth and says: " I think the last two years have been one massive highlight for me!"