On a windy-rainy Sunday afternoon, so typical in the Dutch city of Groningen, music amateurs gathered in the Brouwerij Martinus to listen to the jazz duo composed by Hiske Oosterwijk (vocals) and Esat Ekincioğlu (double bass) while enjoying the craft beers of the house.
Hiske grew up in Friesland (Northern part of the Netherlands). Esat grew up in Istanbul (Turkey). They met at the Prince Claus Conservatoire in Groningen (The Netherlands) where they were studying jazz.
“We are both accomplished musicians and close friends, who have been playing for a long time together” explains Esat. Even though the duo was created especially for this concert, one of the first thing you notice is that they seem to have a good time together, both on stage and during the break.
For the 26-year-old singer, this show was also the occasion to use her loop station again which had been taking the dust in her closet for a while. But she didn’t forget how to use it, as the following video shows.
This video shows as well the singular use Esat, 25, can do of his instrument, even if, most of the time he was playing it in a more conventional style.
Hiske’s path is pretty singular. She grew up in the theatre world, and finally started “singing seriously” when she turned 18, but still without the expectation of becoming a professional musician. In 2008, she entered the Conservatoire in the teaching department. Later on, she heard of the jazz department, and directly thought “Ah! That sounds quite nice!”. She auditioned again but for the jazz degree and eventually switched in 2010, before graduating four years later.
“I like how deep you go into the harmony, the improvisation part, the fact of really using the voice as an instrument and … the vibes” analyzes Hiske when asked about what seduced her in jazz. Her approach to jazz is interesting as she didn’t grow up with it: she actually didn’t know much about it. She learnt most of it by studying at the conservatoire, and really enjoyed “digging into this genre”.
Her theatre background influences deeply her approach to music: for her, everything is about “telling the story […] and also about playing with the audience”. The way she addressed the audience, with confidence and generosity, was a good demonstration of her ability to do so.
“You need to know what you’re saying, and put the emotion in it” she insists; explaining that one of the singer who influences her a lot is Billie Holiday for her storytelling ability.
Hiske is influenced as well by singers like Ella Fitzgerald, for her voice, but also by instrumentalists. She particularly appreciates Chet Baker whose phrasing with his trumpet inspires her as a singer… “The focus for me is to use my voice as an instrument and do whatever I want with it”
Another interesting feature of the show was that Hiske often sings in French. The set was cleverly organized, alternating between French and English songs. The Dutch singer Wende Snijders was her source of inspiration for that. Listening to her music, she liked the “melodic way of the [French] language, the sounds”. Thus, when she had the possibility to develop her own project, she didn’t want to do it “in the traditional way” and naturally started singing in French. She achieved it thanks to Eva, band in which Esat is playing as well.
Esat considers the language choice satisfying, and sees it as an opportunity to distinguish themselves from the rest of the people, to the extent that “there are many bands doing what [they] do in English, but not many in French”.
Both musicians have quite a lot of projects, distinct from their band Eva. Esat is quite busy with his Psychedelic Jazz band, Kuhn Fu, and his Ethnic Jazz trio, AVA. As for Hiske, she is performing with the New Path Quintet, lead by the Russian-American trumpet player Alex Sipiagin; and with a Neo Soul band, The Mind Readers.
Hiske is currently trying to go to NYC for her master, but she encounters problems obtaining her visa.
So, we wish them, a lot of gigs, new albums released and, a VISA to study in the US for Hiske… Even if Esat hopes she doesn’t go so they “can play more!”.