Dutch born Casper Tromp is a keyboard player and music producer based in Sydney, Australia. We spoke with him about his career, move to Australia and the music industry in Australia.
You first studied Industrial Design receiving a masters. Where did you study industrial design? and how come you changed direction to study jazz piano at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam?
I studied Industrial Design in Enschede at University of Twente – I remember I wanted to study music at the time but only started playing jazz just before I finished high school. I thought I’d give Industrial Design a go!
I played classical music all my life, but fell in love with jazz, improvising and writing music. I wasn’t quite ready to make the jump to a professional career yet but kept practicing. By the end of my design studies, I was playing music with conservatorium students in Amsterdam every weekend. So, I decided to get into music then. I did work a bit as freelance designer, but eventually let it go.
After you finalised your studies in the Netherlands did you work there? and when did you move to Sydney Australia? And why did you move to Australia?
I moved to Sydney almost straight after my graduation from the Conservatorium of Amsterdam in 2012. I met my (now) wife Emily in Verona, Italy and I moved out to live with her in Sydney.
In the Netherlands I was doing lots of local gigs, teaching piano in a music school and had a regular job as a musical theatre accompanist, so I was quite busy during my studies!
It took some time to set myself up here – now I live fully of my music in Sydney.
You create, perform and release music under the name ‘Black Tulip.’ Can you tell us a bit more about the Black Tulip and is there a link with the Netherlands?
I do! Although it’s not my only project and I’ve recently been more focussed on others. Black Tulip is my piano trio with Max Alduca on bass and Cameron Reid on drums. We’ve been playing together since 2015 and done quite a few gigs. At the moment, I’m finishing off an EP which will be released next year! We’ve also started a concert program with Teije Hylkema on Cello this year – very exciting!
I’ve always been interested in electronic music and had several #1 ARIA Club Chart tracks with a project I joined: Colour Castle. Very far away from jazz, and a very refreshing scene to work in! It inspired me to explore different avenues and to setup a studio at home.
Recently I started my solo electronic music project Kats. The 3rd release, Rain Walk, was out in September. I record, produce, and mix everything in my home studio: lo-fi grooves with a mix of analog synthesisers, Rhodes & piano.
Other electronic projects I’m part of and write for are Nightset and Misingo. I also write, perform, record, and mix as freelancer.
How was it to work with the famous Petula Clark? Do you have any other stories about working with great musicians?
It was a very positive experience! I was part of a 4-piece Australian band that accompanied her on tour through the major cities and a few of the regions. She travels with her accompanist on piano – I was booked as keyboardist playing all other parts. When Clive Lendich (guitarist and band leader) called me I actually had to google her – to realise she was indeed a big star!
Petula is still a force on stage (she was 86 when we were on tour), captivating the audiences. She was personally extremely nice too (I’m about her grandson’s age!).
Also, it was nice to see a lot of Australia this way.
Is it getting tougher to be a jazz musician and especially now with the performing and visual arts struggling due to COVID-19?
It has been challenging and stressful at times, especially the unpredictability of it. The government support has been sufficient for me and as an outcome it’s enabled me to be more at home with our 6-month-old son Leo.
My private teaching and studio work has been mostly uninterrupted, and I’ve had time to get better at mixing and producing.
Do you think Australia is losing its soundtrack? And how proactive have you got to be in getting out there and making things happen?
I think the epidemic has shown a hunger for music we weren’t aware off before. Audiences are very keen to see live music again! I’m enjoying being part of the music scene here and think the reopening of the state will give it a big boost.
Lockdowns across the country are continuing to cripple live music, what were your main projects before that time and what are you planning and currently involved in? Where can we enjoy a performance of the Black Tulip as soon as Sydney opens up?
We had a few concerts with Black Tulip and (fellow Dutch) cellist Teije Hylkema cancelled in the lockdown period – we’re awaiting confirmation for new dates, I’m really looking forward to that.
When things are opened up, I’ll be planning shows with my new band Nightset and perhaps Colour Castle live shows. Misingo is an international project between UK/USA/Australia – it’d be amazing to see the guys involved in person again!