Laura Jansen makes a play for the states

The singer-songwriter is attempting to match Dutch fame in America.

By Robert Langellier | Feb. 18, 2011

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Laura Jansen’s affectionate pop music has just gone platinum in Holland. In America, she’s still squeezing onto the opening bill.

“In the states I feel like I’m going to war,” Jansen said. “(Everywhere I go) I have to go convince two more people that I’m awesome.”

Jansen is bringing her piano-rock to The Blue Note next Friday, opening for Joshua Radin and Cary Brothers.

Despite her popularity in Holland, Jansen is actually based in Los Angeles. But her father is Dutch, and she spent much of her childhood in both Holland and America, before finally moving to Boston in 2000 to attend the Berklee College of Music.

Eventually, after moving from Boston to Nashville and then to Los Angeles, a friend from Holland invited her to start playing overseas.

Jansen’s decision to take that step seems to have been the right one — she’s sold over 50,000 copies of her debut album Bells in Holland alone.

“It’s been insane,” Jansen said. “It’s kind of like being really successful in one giant city."

Now she’s trying to tackle audiences in America, an intimidating task in comparison to the less-than-burgeoning population she’s won in Holland. Her bubbly personality bristles with determination, though.

“If I play in a bar with 10 people, I want 12 people to go home with my album,” Jansen said. “I’m trying to get everyone in the room to come to my side.”

And she’s doing that. Jansen might be playing to smaller crowds, but her intimate songwriting or her adorable, bright-eyed presentation is just as enjoyable for the audience.

“In terms of who’s in the crowd, music lovers are music lovers,” Jansen said. “I play in so many countries, and I think I’m learning that fans are fans all around the world, and my goal is to find them.”

Fortunately for Jansen, it’s 2011. The magical frontier of cyberspace has certainly done its part to spread her music to new ears. Bells reached No. 2 on the iTunes pop charts in Holland. She has also joined the worldwide army of musicians who tweet regularly. Jansen has noticed the effects of her Internet presence.

“Yesterday I found a video of a girl from India who must have been around 11, singing ‘Single Girls,'” she said.

Jansen has her work cut out for her. She’s swimming in a sea overflowing with pretty faces and soft voices with keyboards. Although her sound isn’t necessarily inventive or genre-defining, it isn’t trying to be. It more than supports itself with its endearing nature and Jansen’s sincere delivery — that is, if sincerity hasn’t become too cliché a quality to aspire to these days.

“I know that when you listen to my music, I’m doing a very honest version of my life,” she said. “I’m a poppy alternative piano player, and there are a lot of us, but we’re each telling our own story.”

Tickets for the show are $15 and can be purchased at The Blue Note.

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