Nathalie Schaap is a Zwolle native

'Zwolle has so many cool places'

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"This is kind of my second home...," smiles Nathalie Schaap as she looks down over the railing from the Reading Heaven at Van der Velde in de Broeren. She sees Zwolle residents browsing among tens of thousands of books. Exactly what she herself likes to do after a busy week. In recent years, the winner of the Cultuur Talentprijs Overijssel 2022 played in Douwe Bob and Bertolf's bands and made music with her own Cousin Hatfield and NATHALÍE. She also organized the innovative Common Ground Festival together with Tibor Elferink. This month she will present a new EP in Odeon.

Photographer: Dirk Schreuders

"Van der Velde in de Broeren was kind of the office of Common Ground. I walked around here almost every day for a year. With the festival we wanted to introduce Zwolle to world-famous musicians that not everyone knows yet. What's unique is that you buy a ticket, but you don't know in advance which musicians you're going to see. However, you will certainly come into contact with the genres of jazz, classical and roots. And you experience those performances in special locations, such as among the books of Van der Velde or the wine of Henri Bloem. That makes for a unique concert experience.

Outside the mainstream

In organizing, I noticed that you can get something really cool off the ground in Zwolle with smaller entrepreneurs. Larger institutions tend to look for the safe way and prefer not to take risks. That is an obstacle for artists and musicians who want to operate outside the mainstream. I'd rather work with several 'little ones' on something big. That's why it was super cool that the first edition of Common Ground was completely sold out. In October, the second festival is on the calendar.


Then we will move from the Thorbeckegracht a little more towards the rest of the city center. Zwolle has so many cool places where you can experience music in a special way: het Beugeltje, Cultuurschip Thor, de Verhalenboot, Atelier 19, you name it.

Energy of music

I am extremely proud of what we have put up, but am now retiring to focus more on my musical career. Putting on a festival like this is hard work. Especially if you are also a musician. Before dawn I was setting up chairs at the Thorbeckegracht and in the evening I put up posters in the city. And in between organizing I was on tour with Bertolf, went into the studio with NATHALÍE and played with Douwe. That festival was a great adventure, but I also discovered that I get the most energy from making music. I was born for the stage.

In love with the double bass

At the conservatory I first studied singing, but after a spontaneous lesson in double bass I fell in love instantly. As one of the few apparently, because very few students choose that instrument. As a result, doors sometimes opened easily for me. I was asked to play in a big band even though I felt I could only play Father Jacob. At the conservatory I learned a lot from teacher Henk de Ligt. He taught me whenever I wanted.

Bluefinger with Bertolf

In recent years I played with Tangerine, Douwe Bob and Bertolf, among others. I have always been a fan of the latter. When I was still at the Van der Capellen, he once gave a guest lesson. It's funny to join his band later on. The upcoming tour is called Bluefinger. I feel more or less a Zwolle native myself, although I only moved to Zwolle in 8th grade. Before that I lived in a number of polder villages. Then Zwolle really is the big city. I remember well that traffic lights felt like the big city to me.

Cultural capital

Zwolle is a fine city where a lot is possible culturally. The ambition is to be the cultural capital of the Netherlands in 2033. Then there should be even more opportunities for young and innovative artists, I think. In that respect, the development of the Spoorzone is a nice step in the right direction. There we also organize concerts with the Common Ground organization. That place should grow into a meeting place and breeding ground for the creative sector. For the cultural sector and the city, it is important that people who are not commercially active also feel at home here.

Dreaming of a world tour

During the corona pandemic, the feeling to move sometimes itched. But that was mainly because I had little work and everything was locked up. In the end, Zwolle still feels like my home. Also because we have a very nice house in Zwolle-Zuid. Close to the city and close to nature. With the living room as a rehearsal space. Currently we are preparing the presentation, on March 25 in Odeon, of the first EP of my band NATHALÍE. Next year there will be a debut album. Until then, we play a lot at festivals and venues throughout the Netherlands. And after that? If it's up to me, we'll go on a world tour, haha...It's my dream to travel the world with my own music and make a living out of it."

The Top 3 of Nathalie Schaap

  • "If you love walking, you're in the right place in Zwolle. From my home I regularly walk to the dike along the IJssel. That is a beautiful spot. Especially in the morning when the fog is still hanging over the land and you can hear the birds singing."
  • "I can't avoid Van der Velde in de Broeren. On Saturdays after a busy week, I love to browse among all the books in that beautiful building. That really gives me the weekend feeling."
  • "The Spoorzone is going to become a very innovative and vibrant place where people meet. Whether they come for a theater performance or a nice catering establishment. Such an industrial location fits very well with the development of the city."

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