One bar and 100 women
Article in Leidsch Dagblad – translated from Dutch to English, interview by Theo de With, picture by Hielco Kuipers.
Read on below my picture 🙂
Singer Vivienne Aerts makes a record with hundreds of other female musicians. In addition to the music, buyers also receive a bar of chocolate.
She lives alternately in New York and Leiden with her partner Ted Steinebach. Due to the corona crisis, they have now been stuck in their cozy house in the center of Leiden for over a year. Still, that doesn’t stop Vivienne Aerts from working on a new musical project: a CD with a hundred other women.
“Last year, everyone learned at breakneck speed to work digitally,” says 34-year-old singer. “So all these women send me their musical contribution digitally and I turn all those puzzle pieces into a beautiful album.”
Vivienne Aerts graduated as a psychologist, but is also trained at the conservatory. A double job turned out not to be ideal and so she chose a career in music. She now teaches herself at the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston.
She collaborates with Kenny Werner, a jazz music celebrity who, as a pianist, played with Toots Thielemans, among others. “He teaches making music without making any effort. The music should come by itself. Werner wrote a book about it that has since been sold 150,000 times. He has his own institute at Berklee, which I built with him. There is a lot of interest in his method. In recent times I have mainly taught online. But I can’t wait to go back to America.
When she sat at her computer for a lesson late at night because of the time difference, she often had the feeling that she wanted to make something herself again. Until now Vivienne has released two albums, but the last CD dates from almost ten years ago. “I worked on other people’s musical projects, and now it was time for something of my own.
Her partner Ted Steinebach works as a pastry chef. He was associated with Huis ter Duin in Noordwijk and michellin starred restaurant Eleven Madison Park in New York. Although that is a different world, they still managed to bring their passions together. They introduced “Chocojazz” as a new concept. While Ted makes a painting with desserts, Vivienne adds a so-called soundscape. She makes music and is inspired by the scents, colors and movements of her husband.
It turned out to be a successful concept, which they have now been offering worldwide for six years. They had shows in Leiden in Scheltema and in Museum De Lakenhal, among others. “Our biggest show was in front of a 1.500 audience in Germany.”
Because there are many abuses in the cocoa industry, Ted Steinebach searched for an honest chocolate producer. “I’ve been working with the Original Beans Chocolate brand for five years now,” he says. “A Dutch company that works with farmers in Africa and South America who grow cocoa beans in a natural way. Their motto is “One bar, one tree”. And, for every chocolate bar sold, they replant a tree.”
In Congo, the company works with a plantation that is entirely owned by women. “Many men died during the bloody conflicts. With the proceeds from the plantation, these women can eat and send their children to school.”
Vivienne Aerts planned to visit this plantation in Congo. “I wanted to record sounds on the spot that I can use for samples. But first came Ebola and then Corona; so that is not possible for the time being. However, the BBC has made a documentary about this plantation. I may be able to use their sounds.”She does see chocolate as a way to sell her CD. “Hardly anyone buys records anymore,” she says. “But if you order the CD, you get a bar of Original Beans. Then it suddenly becomes a tangible product.”
The CD will contain nine songs with soundscapes in between. “I’ve made a list of all the female musicians I know. Because of my work in the US, these women are now all over the world. I asked a hundred of them to contribute to this project.”
So it will be a record on which only women can be heard. “It is extra special that this also supports a plantation exploited by women. Not all women will be featured in all songs. The songs are still being arranged and then the final puzzle is put together.”
There is now a crowdfunding to get the necessary money together. Vivienne has already received half of the money through presale of the CD. In addition, she receives a number of subsidies. “The record will be there anyway,” she says confidently. “It will be a mix of jazz, electro-pop and some more cinematic music.” She herself hopes to be back in their New York apartment by then. “This CD is still a real online project, but after that I hope to teach in real life again and be on stages again.”
Pre-order the albumVivienne Aerts’ album can already be ordered. In this way she gathers the money needed to finance this project. A CD with a chocolate bar costs 20 euros, but there are also other options with more chocolate. The intention is that the CD will be released in the autumn. For more information: www.vivienneaerts.nl