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The Jacquelines is a retro-swing band based in Belgium. They gained fame via their debut album, entitled “Gee Oh Gee”, which was released in January 2013. Iris Berardocco -the front-woman of the band- have stated in the past that “all the band members studied jazz at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp”. The Jacquelines are consisted of Iris Berardocco, Sara Raes, Eva Tulkens, Stijn Wauters, Frederik Madou and Jelle Van Giel.

On 9th of October, The Jacquelines released their new album, “Leaving the Circus”, and after that we found a great opportunity to talk to Iris Berardocco about their inspirations and their feelings while they presented it in “De Roma”. The story behind their name “The Jacquelines” is interesting and their desired future collaborations unpredictable.

So we talked with Iris Berardocco, the front-woman of the six-piece new swing ensemble The Jacquelines and you can read the whole interview below!

to purchase “Leaving the Circus” on iTunes click on the photo above.

photo: athos burez

Iris, we welcome you at! Recently, you released your album, “Leaving the Circus” as The Jacquelines. What inspires you the most to create this project?

I really LOVE vocal harmonies, so any music that has that aspect, from classical choir music to pop bands such as Destiny’s Child or Queen, is inspiring. The five other people who are in the band inspired me a lot too.

You presented it first in ‘De Roma’. What are your feelings and how the audience interacted?

We released at a beautifully restored venue called ‘De Roma’ in Antwerp, Belgium. My niece from Italy (I’m half Italian) saw this on Facebook and assumed that we were releasing in Rome! The place was full and people were very enthusiastic. They even sang along with us on the song ‘Leaving The Circus’. And we also sold a lot of CDs afterwards.

Tell us a few words about the people with whom you collaborated in the album.

Like myself, all the band members studied jazz at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. Singer Sara Raes was in the band from the beginning, she is this person full of positive energy. Singer Eva Tulkens joined us 3 years ago. She was always a part of the band since she did replacements when our previous singer was abroad. Both of them have a wonderful voice and a refined musical ear.
Stijn Wauters (a.k.a. Seasick Stino from the song on our album, true story!) is a phenomenal pianist and a very down – to – earth person. Frederik Madou swings the double bass like no-one else, and he is also my husband. He introduced me to the folk music of Barbados since he used to live there. And finally our drummer Jelle Van Giel is also very talented and is also known as a composer with his own jazz group.

What are the musical genres that we can meet in “Leaving the Circus”?

While the inspiration to our previous record ‘Gee Oh Gee’ strictly was the retro-swing of the 40’s, this time I let in different influences from all kinds of styles such as blues (How Grandpa Luigi Sold His Soul To The Devil), gospel (Dear James), reggae (Jacqueline’s Ragga), 60’s music (I Am Good (At Stuff That Sucks), contemporary pop (Morrissey, John Lennon, Vaya Con Dios) or even folk music from Barbados (Bizzniss). One song’s musical groove in particular was inspired by G-Love & The Special Sauce (Beach Boy/ Gentleman).

What was the toughest moment in the whole procedure of recording and what was your favorite one?

Being the lyricist, composer, arranger, bandleader, singer and also the band’s manager, finding time to get things done is always the biggest challenge. Especially because I am a perfectionist who can get lost in details, so the work is never finished. So my favorite moment is now, because I finally succeeded in finishing the album, and I had the chance to share it with the audience.

“The Jacquelines”: What’s the story behind the band’s name?

I was looking for a name with timeless elegance and class, and Jacqueline covered that for me.

Under what circumstances did you end up in the form you are today?

We experimented with a saxophone and a trumpet, which was also very nice, but it made us too expensive as a band.

According to your retro-swing sound, what are your musical influences?

First of all, the Andrews Sisters. They were actually Greek, right? Their surname was Andreos actually. The Boswell Sisters, Trio Lescano, Quartetto Cetra. Also, Louis Prima, especially for the instrumental part of our band. And all the great jazz vocalists in general: Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Keely Smith, Anita O’ Day, Frank Sinatra.

If you had the chance to collaborate with one of your favorite artists, who would you choose and why?

There are so many great artists on this planet! “Dear James” was written for James Taylor, so that would be a nice one. Or maybe, Paul Simon? The Jacquelines’ song Beach Boy/ Gentleman reminds me of G-Love & Special Sauce which would also be great.

Talking about other artists, in your album we heard three covers from Morrissey, John Lennon and Vaya Con Dios. Why did you choose those songs?

Because I really like these artists and I had an idea of how their songs could work for The Jacquelines. In the case of Vaya Con Dios, the request came from them, which was a wonderful compliment.

If someone told you to sing a song in Italian through an album, would you do it and if so, would you prefer to sing something of your own or to cover a famous song?

Of course I would! I love singing in Italian, especially traditional folk songs in the dialect of Abruzzo (where my father was born). And I also composed a song in Italian once, it was called ‘Luna Piena’, for a movie called ‘Nono The Zigzag Kid’

While you are live on stage, what’s your favorite moment and why?

Being on stage in general is the best part. Also: when you finish a show and people keep clapping for more.

What’s Iris Berardocco’s and her band’s biggest dream?

It would be lovely to have our music be known all over the world and at the same time to have a ‘normal’ personal life.

After the release of your album, what are your future professional plans?

We would love to play a lot of concerts and reach more people with our music.

Which quote inspires the band the most? What’s your motto?

Keep going! Always look forward and never stop growing.

Interview: Elektra Limnios

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