Official Biography (courtesy of Dox Records)
"While I'm awake... I realised that I have two lives: a night one and a day one. The resulting fatigue goes deep down in my head and my heart. It gives me an insomniac's view of the world-and that forms the inspiration for this album."
Giovanca's first album focussed on subway travel. The singer travelled with a notebook to write down all the images that she was confronted with, which was then the basis for Subway Silence. For her second album, she travelled more within herself. Her notebook was placed beside her bed since inspiration seemed to come mostly at night when she couldn't sleep. ‘Until around 3AM it's okay to be awake but then after four it really isn't fun anymore. At night, you're supposed to sleep so you try everything to fall asleep. But of course that doesn't work. For a while I thought it as a problem but then I decided if I can't sleep I should just be productive. ‘While I'm awake, I might as well..." do laundry, do my nails, clean my inbox, clean the house, spin some records, write some songs...'
A lot of the songs on While I'm Awake found their seed in the night. Refrains arose above through the tiredness. Certain dark states of mind gave rise to song texts. That's how ‘Simply Mad' happened: a beautiful delicate song about definitive farewells that Giovanca wrote the basis for and then finished it with Han Kooreneef. ‘With my last album I would have never made an album about death. It was simply not in me. But at night you can surrender to all kinds of thoughts and emotions that just don't happen in the day. Sometimes you lie there and one moment you are thinking about life and love, and in the other moment you are thinking about death.'
Insomnia brought Giovanca many different moods and they've all been brought together on this album. ‘While I'm Awake ... I am sometimes sad, or puzzled or perky. Sometimes it's peaceful and other times a big rush of adrenaline is released.'
While I'm Awake offers yet another dimension of Giovanca as both singer and lyric writer. As with Subway Silence, Giovanca wrote most of the lyrics herself while enjoying collaborating with producer Benny Sings. ‘Like no one else he can translate my texts and melodies into one clear sound. Benny, the band, the engineer Huub Rijnders and I all take turns inspiring each other. We were a true collective that blasted out this album in a few days.'
For Giovanca, song texts don't always have to be poetry ‘as long as they touch you, that you feel them.' Again on this album, she succeeded in capturing both small and big emotions within a ‘catchy' melody. A good example is the album's first single, ‘Drop It', an up-tempo song that mirrors a tumultuous relationship. ‘Here we are again, it's like Groundhog Day again'. In the end she concludes that these relationships, or ego clashes, just don't deliver. ‘So drop it, drop the gun...'
A mirror is also held up in the more soulful ‘Everything'. ‘We've got all this and heaven too, we've got everything.' As Giovanca says, ‘with this song I reassure myself by remembering how good I have it.' She's also reassuring herself with ‘Little Flower'. ‘I can be impatient and want things without having to go through the whole natural process first. With this song I tell myself to take it easy because it will all work out in the end anyway.'
After a wakeful night comes a dizzy day. And one day while producer Benny Sings worked, Giovanca stretched out like a cat to greet the sun coming through the window. ‘I'm flirting with the sun again,' she twittered. When singer/guitarist Tjeerd Bomhof read it later while on the tour bus, he responded: ‘What a great line. I just made a refrain of it. We'll work it through when I come back.' And so the track ‘Flirting With The Sun' was born.
Not everything Giovanca wrote in the dead of the night made it to the album. ‘At night things can seem heavier and bigger than they are. Some of the stuff I wrote by night that I read later by day, made me think "oh my God, how tragic and pathetic." Only emotions that I could still recognise by day made it to the album.' For example, there's the ode to the insecure woman, ‘She Just Wants to Know', with its sense of impatience (‘are we going to settle down or what?'). And then there are the songs ‘Time is Ticking' and ‘Can Somebody Tell Me' which were written while Giovanca overdosed on late night televisions documenting all the suffering in the world.
Every night album needs a dream-and one that actually comes true. The song ‘Where Love Lives' features Giovanca dueting with her personal idol Leon Ware. ‘Leon Ware! He produced Marvin Gaye's album I Want You and wrote one of my all time favourite songs: "Wannabe Where You Are" by Michael Jackson! He's also worked with Ike & Tina Turner and Minnie Ripperton!" Giovanca got to know this soul singer/songwriter in the 1990s when she was in the Amsterdam band The Juize and developed a kind of grandfather/granddaughter relationship with him. For this album, Ware offered a song he had originally written for El DeBarge but that had never been released. ‘When I heard it, I immediately called Leon and said that I really wanted it for my album but then with you singing it with me. And he said yes. I sing a duet with Leon Ware!'
In 2008 Giovanca made her name with her debut Subway Silence. She enticed both pop and jazz fans with her voice, charisma and singular style. The reviews were very positive. Nu.nl described it as ‘...a debut you can only dream of.' OOR wrote:
‘It's time for the rest of the world to get to know one of the Netherlands' biggest musical talents.' And that is exactly what happened when Giovanca went on tour and played such places as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and various stages in Europe and Japan (a country where her album sold particularly well). ‘Top artist Giovanca plays soft and hard-and pulls the stars from the sky,' reported GPD. The website 3v12 described her live show as: ‘Super pure, full of soul, with effortless changes and an enormous amount control of her voice. Giovanca got everyone swinging.'
Giovanca received an Edison Award nomination, and won both the Laren Jazz Award and the 3FM Serious Talent Award. On 3 March 2010, she received a Silver Harp that awards young artists who ‘have already made a significant contribution to Dutch music while still having a huge future ahead of them.'