VOTI - voices of the industry






Aerts is ethically grounded, and aesthetically off the wall.


– Jazzwise


Originally from the Netherlands, vocalist, and songstress, Vivienne Aerts is barely categorizable in genre or style. She plays in band formation, duo, solo, supplemented with synthesizer, loop station, and effects. Vivienne surprises challenges and tells stories. Her lyrics travel to the core of recognition; talk to the soul and open a barrel of emotions. Heartbreaking, singing of happiness, sometimes humorous, she tells about the things that make life beautiful.


“The staggeringly versatile skill-set of NYC-based Dutch Singer, Educator, Psychologist and Artist-preneur Vivienne Aerts busts myths around the ‘Jill of all trades’ paradigm with a nonchalance that leaves even the most skeptical purist taking a bow. A practicing clinical psychologist and choir conductor in Europe before she went on to be a Fulbright scholar and Suma Cum Laude Berklee graduate, her collaborators since have included some of the most iconic names in the world of jazz. Her eclectic ‘experience’ events in collaboration with her husband, renowned pastry chef Ted Steinebach was the root of her multi-disciplinary approach to the making of her new album, ‘Typuhthâng’, which not just features a 100 female musicians from around the globe, but also comes with a bar of bean-to-bar chocolate from Original Beans Chocolate, a company that pro-actively empowers female cacao farmers of Virunga State Park in Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Besides this, she is a faculty member at Berklee College of music where she has been instrumental in building a new generation of performers who are not only skilled musicians but also mentally and physically healthy individuals. The Fulbright scholar is known for addressing core issues artists and educators alike have been grappling with unnoticed for generations: mental health, well-being, and the hamster-wheel effect the neglect of the same threatens to have on the arts eco-system. With side-notes of entrepreneurship for the artist, disparities between European and North American attitudes towards education, and chocolate.”


We caught up with Vivienne to talk about her recently released album ‘Typuhthâng’ as well as her other future plans!


Hi Vivienne, so nice catching up with you! We’d love to hear more about your newly released album ‘Typuhthâng’. Do tell us how it all came about.


My new album Typuhthâng came out on March 3rd 2023 and features 6 original songs and three soundscapes. I wanted to highlight all the amazing female musicians that I have met over the years since my previous album and so on the album you can hear over 100 female musicians from over 40 countries that recording all the parts remotely in a two-year process. The artwork, the engineering and all that you can think of is done by female professionals. It was an amazing process of working with the different arrangers on my songs, and then assigning all the parts to be recorded in everybody’s space, and then doing the production.


But it even gets better…. Because of my pastry chef husband Ted Steinebach I learned about Original Beans Femmes de Virunga chocolate, which is made by 1500 female cocoa farmers ​ in Virunga State Park, DRC. The chocolate brand pays the farmers a stable, livable wage that is 2.5 higher than fair trade. For every bar they plant a tree and everything in the production process is documented so it’s a fully transparent chain. Therefore, I can say that for every bar (70 grams) you break down 250 grams of CO2, so it’s climate positive chocolate! Being very inspired by their story, I wanted to support the Femmes de Virunga, so with my new album comes a bar of chocolate.


It was an amazing process of working with the different arrangers on my songs, and then assigning all the parts to be recorded in everybody’s space, and then putting everything together and working on the production of the songs and adding my voice. I even got sounds from the jungle, that I mixed into the album. They came from interviews with the farmers that were done by Pennie Taylor from the BBC radio. So much to talk about I guess… anyway, although it’s an independent release, I never cut corners and worked very hard for two years to pay everyone and highlight everybody’s talent and skill and so to make a beautiful piece of music that is timeless and gives hope and positivity to all listeners.



As an eclectic musician, it’s almost impossible to pin you down to a single style or genre. But, if pushed to, how would you define your music in ‘Typuhthâng’?


First and foremost, I have a very strong background in jazz, but indeed this album has been called many things.. This is actually where the title comes from: Typuhthâng is actually made-up slang for ‘Type of Thing’ and it comes from the idea that the music on this album is lot of things: a string orchestra type of thing, a choir thing, or a Cuban bolero type of thing.. I think my music floats somewhere between singer songwriter and jazz: it’s easy on the ears, but still with a lot of complexity when you listen to it from a musical perspective. That said, I think music should be about the experience, and about the message: It’s about hope and being yourself.


Interestingly, when a listener buys your album, they also get a bar of chocolate – we love it! What’s the idea and/or connection between your music and delicious chocolate?


Thank you! My pastry chef husband and I have been working together for a while as ‘Vervool’ a bespoke multi-sensory experience. When working on the album and finding the 100 women that are playing on it, Teddy – being an ambassador for the Dutch chocolate brand Original Beans – got me in touch with the CEO Philipp Kauffmann. One of the projects they have buys the highest quality cocoa from the first female cocoa farmer collective on earth: The Femmes de Virunga in Virunga State Park, DRC. I wanted to make the connection between the women on my album and the Femmes in the jungle of Virunga. Where these women live and farm is one of the most dangerous places on earth, and the women are usually left on their own, as the men are often traumatized or unable to work because of years of civil wars.


When I heard that Original Beans was supporting the local initiative IDAD teaching them how to read and write, how to properly farm cocoa, planting trees for every chocolate bar sold and Original Beans buying the cocoa for a stable, livable wage, I thought: Wow! I want be a part of this! Why don’t I give a bar of the Femmes de Virunga chocolate with my music, and that way support the Femmes? I wanted to use my music, not to inspire but to match the Femmes de Virunga entrepreneurial spirit and generate business. It’s really a win-win for everybody!



Around ‘ 100 next-generation female musicians’ collaborated on this inspiring project of yours – it’s great to see you supporting women both in the cocoa farming and music industry. What are your thoughts on feminism/femininity, and why do you believe it matters now more than ever?


The initial idea came of getting more women in the spotlight came from a sentence I have heard over and over in my jazz scene/bubble: “I would love to hire a female drummer/bassplayer/piano player/master engineer/mixing engineer, but I don’t know any.” Well, now you do, haha! You got a whole rolodex of the most amazing people that you can choose from. There certainly is an imbalance in the music industry when it comes to women, and I want to move to a world were women get hired because they’re great musicians. So we need to work on visibility and balance. Until that’s the case, feminism stays as relevant as it’s always been.


All 100 female musicians are from different parts of the world – they are artists from over 40 countries! What does diversity mean to you and to this project? What did each country bring to this album?


A lot of these amazing musicians I met when I studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. It’s such an amazing melting pot of cultures and approaches to music that it changes you forever. When making this album and searching for arrangers, I asked my friends to arrange the songs so that it highlighted their qualities and personalities. Obviously, when allowing for this freedom you get this beautiful kaleidoscope of styles. In the different soundscapes you over 100 soundsbites combined, examples are the pygmies singing in Zwahili, then you hear a Microtonal Koto by Hidemi Akaiwa from Japan, a Lithuanian Harp called Kanklès played by Simona Smirnova, and then there is a phrase sung by Rose Tang in Mandarin from a well- known old folk song from Yunnan China, together they are a mixed into a little journey between the songs.


Because of my friends who turned my songs into their version of it, you can hear a Cuban bolero version of my song by Zahili Gonzalez Zamora, a Nordic flavored choir by Linnea Lundgren from Sweden. Same for the line-up, for example, the song ‘You’re my morning’ was arranged by Camila Meza from Chile, and it features Armenian duduk played by Inna Dudukina (Russia) and Harmonica by Hermine Deurloo (Netherlands), Harp by Margaret Davis (Usa), bass Adinda Meertins (Netherlands), cajon Ivanna Cuesta Gonzalez (Dominican Republic), and on vibraphone by Yuhan Su (Taiwan). Everybody added their thing to it and I feel so proud to hear my songs through the lens of so many different people.


p.s. On my website I’ve made an interactive world map where you can see and read about everyone:




The album has 6 original songs with arrangements by you and other artists (Zahili Gonzalez Zamora, Ines Velasco, Ga Young Bae, Linnea Lundgren, Camila Meza and​ Mariel Roberts). Do tell us what was it like working on the project with so many skilled artists.


Well, each song has it’s own story, but like I said before, I just wanted to give the arrangers total freedom and see what they came up with. For some it was exciting, or scary maybe, to have no limitations, but I trusted the skills and experience of the artists. And it’s so funny: I think they all figured it out perfectly! I can really hear their personality shining through in their work and that’s something very valuable. Some other anecdotes worth mentioning was that they all had their own approach: Ga Young Bae remembered the song ‘Concept of Falling’ from our student days at Berklee and told me: “I wanna do that song, I love it!’ and Linnea Lundgren had this superchoir idea in her head for my song ‘Just Go’ and decided to record every voice by herself first, then transcribe it into a the score, that we could send out to the 26 vocalists. Mariel Roberts did ‘The way you touched my hand’ and pulled the original song inside out, twisted and turned it and put it back together. When I send the sheet music to the string players I did get some calls back: “uhm, is this right??” haha, Mariel is in a whole other universe, but it was all right!



Your album was released on March 3rd, 2023 in conjunction with International Women’s Day. What feedback have you received regarding your album since then?


The album has received and countless of reviews and I have to say: they all have been amazing! People seem to be pleasantly surprised that this is an independent release, maybe because of the sheer size of the project. There was a big feature in the Women in Jazz Magazine, and I’ve been featured in a bunch of podcasts, journals, magazines and blogs. One of the quotes was “New York-based Dutch singer Aerts’ third album exists in a parallel dimension to most releases, exploding with extra-musical ambition.” Thank you Nick Hasted from Jazzwise, I take that as a compliment, haha! I figure this is something more than just an album but really a statement of who I am as a musician and what I believe matters in this world.


Simon Defty from Simply Jazz Talk agrees: This is not a jazz album, in fact I would say that in many ways it defies genre definition and I like that about it. This is a project album filled with wonderful sounds, tones, vocals and instrumentation. The ‘Soundscapes’, short as they are, are as fascinating as they are beautiful. Throughout we hear Vivienne Aerts’ vocals and they are delivered with strength, belief, and terrific phrasing.” Chris May from All About Jazz wrote “Typuhthâng is a luminous, exquisitely crafted suite of music and an album on a mission.”George Harris from Jazzweekly writes: “The album comes across like a musical mosaic, juxtaposing four “Soundscapes” with actual songs. Songs of a walk in the museum of modern art.” Apart from that, I also want to mention that it’s not just the music that is getting positive feedback. For instance: my music video for ‘You’re My Morning’ in collaboration with ‘Pajarones’ from Pataka Studio Chile recently won the first price as ‘Best animated music video Latin America’ and the artwork of the album by Natalia Olbinski is longlisted for the ‘World Illustration Awards’ (as of writing).


Many congrats on your new album once again! What are your future plans with this project or other projects in the pipeline later this year?


Thank you!! We are working on a podcast that features interviews with all the women involved and I expect another music video to be released in the Fall. This Summer I’m doing some things in New York, then traveling to SF for a week of Circle Singing with Bobby McFerrin and co resulting in a 24 hour vocal improv. Then I am very excited to travel to South Korea this August and perform concerts in Seoul! I got invited by Ga Young Bae, so we’re going to have a blast playing together. Mid October I’ll be visiting Mexico City for an interactive multi-media performance. So, lots of traveling, its best keep an eye on my Instagram or newsletter.


Where can people come to hear you perform ‘Typuhth â ng’ live? Also, where can people buy your album in both physical and digital formats?


If you wanna learn more, I love to connect through Instagram (@vieffertje) and that’s also a great way to stay updated on the upcoming dates. If you want to get a copy of Typuhthâng, find me on Bandcamp! You can get the album with the chocolate (regular version or the limited-edition CD with screen-printed artwork) and you can even get it on vinyl. As said, the psychical editions all come with a bar of the Femmes de Virunga chocolate and feature a special song by Pygmy children who live near the Femmes de Virunga. I guess, that alone is worth buying the physical album! Obviously, you can also find me on all streaming platforms and the music videos on YouTube.





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