Top of Page
Musicians Spotlight - Jan Rietman
©2011 By Bronson Herrmuth
There are many reasons our great city of Nashville is referred to as Music City, USA, and one of them is the fact that musicians and songwriters from all over the world travel here to record. This month's spotlight is on world renowned pianist, Jan Rietman, who has played a key role in the music scene in Belgium and all over the Netherlands, from the late 60's to present day. As a musician and artist, he's released 7 albums, scores of hit singles, and produced some great award winning music. Born in Holland, Jan has also worked in Radio, Film, TV, and he's a songwriter who's toured all over Europe. Classically trained and given piano lessons from his mother, starting at 6 years old, by the age of 12, Jan crossed over to Rock & Roll. This interview was recorded on April 10th, 2011, while Jan was working on his new album here in Nashville with producer/engineer, Bil VornDick. Meet Jan Rietman:
You can listen to this entire interview: Pt. 1 of 3 (2.1 MB) mp3 Pt. 2 of 3 (2.2 MB) mp3 Pt. 3 of 3 (2.4 MB) mp3
Bronson: Jan, thank you so much for doing this.
Jan: It's an honor and it's a pleasure to be here. I'm actually living in Belgium, was born in Holland. Me and my wife are living in Belgium and part time in Sarasota, Florida, and just moved into an apartment to live a little bit more over here in Nashville.
Bronson: You've been doing this your whole life. You started playing music in the 60's?
Jan: That's right. I went to music school when I was 6 years old and my mother was playing piano and she taught me and helped me but of course, I was 6 years old and I liked to play soccer and everything. Then one moment we were studying and doing things and I said, Hey, I don't like to play the piano, and then she says, Okay, go outside and do your soccer thing but then I don't help you anymore. At that point I thought, well I think I like to play. I went on playing music and went to the Conservatory in the Netherlands and got my first band when I was I think,12 years old or something like that, and then got into Rock & Roll. That was a complete different world from where I was studying at the Conservatory, because it was not allowed to play in a band (laughing).
Bronson: I saw at one point you were going to join a psychedelic band and your mom didn't think that you should?
Jan: (laughing) That's right, we had a shop. A small shop where you could buy chocolates and fruit and everything, and on one Saturday afternoon there was a van coming in front of the shop and there were all these people in the shop, and mother saw all these people coming in with long hair. Great guys because one of the guys was called Long Tall Ernie because he was about two meters long, and she ran to the back of the house and she said, "Hey Jan, one thing. You're never going to play with those dirty guys!"
Bronson: That was Long Tall Ernie & The Shakers?
Jan: That was the psychedelic band Moan, and then I wasn't allowed to do that and then they came back I think in 2 months and then she said, "Okay, I don't think I can stop you. Go ahead and play with those guys." and we played for 2 months as a psychedelic band and then we turned into a real old Rock & Roll band, and that was Long Tall Ernie & The Shakers. My first Gold record I got on the birthday of my mother and that was incredible.
Bronson: That had to have been fantastic.
Jan: The 31st of August and she passed away a couple of years ago and she was my everything. She said okay and then after my first Golden record my career took off. Yeah, she was always there.
Bronson: You've made 7 albums haven't you as an artist?
Jan: Yeah and as a producer I have 15 or 20 Golden records producing artists and I did some instrumental stuff. I'm going to do a new instrumental again with Bil VornDick. For the first time after 30 years I think, I made a vocal album again where I was singing again in Dutch. I did a lot of things. I did musicals, I did a lot of television shows, radio shows. We did stadiums, 80,000 seaters, and now I'm getting older and hopefully wiser. Now I thought well hey, let me do the things I really like to do. That's writing songs, making songs writing with some guys and do things together and suddenly I have the same fun in all the things I'm doing musical wise as I had when I was 12 years old with my first band and that feels great.
Bronson: I bet it does.
Jan: So my new start is in Nashville over here and I was so lucky to meet Bil. He believed in me, he listened to everything like you did. He's teaching me a lot so I'm a new born artist again.
Bronson: Now are you still touring over there?
Jan: We are still touring over there. We just did a tour and we just released a single over there, the first release from the songs we are working on here in Nashville.
Bronson: It will be an album before you're done?
Jan: Yeah, this summer we are going to make an album. Especially today we're doing some pre production, listening to songs, seeing which songs we are going to do and which songs we don't like to do. I'm going to do hopefully a duet with Lynn Anderson which is a great honor to me because I think she's one of the leading ladies in Country over here.
Bronson: She's awesome, she's incredible.
Jan: Yeah I met her and she's absolutely Rock & Roll (laughing).
Bronson: You've worked a lot in broadcasting?
Jan: I did I think 500, 700 radio shows and that became a television show called Los Vast . That was with 20 bands at a time in 2 hours. It was the most popular show in the Netherlands, in Belgium. I did that and a lot of things with one of the most famous comedians over there, Andre van Duin, and I was the side kick, like Paul Shaffer over here. I think maybe I did thousands of television shows and radio shows and everything.
Bronson: You still get asked to be a presenter at award shows?
Jan: Yeah, I was a host and now I've stopped doing that. We are talking about a new series of shows about music like Jules Holland does in England but first of all now I like to give all my time to write the right songs and to enjoy the music which is in me I think in the right way. Then you have to meet the right people and that can take a long time Bronson (laughing).
Bronson: I've watched several of your videos on youtube. You're taking full use of the resources of the new technology. I see that.
Jan: Exactly, that's what Nance (Jan's wife) is doing, she's doing of all the IT things, but that's incredible. Through Facebook for example, I met a guy, a Dutch guy who's living in Nashville and he introduced me to Bil. Then there's a guy in Sarasota, Larry Crane, who played with John Cougar Mellencamp and John Fogerty and Bonnie Raitt, and someone says hey maybe you can meet because you both live in Sarasota, Florida, and it happens to be that he's living 1 mile from my house so we take our bikes and guitars and he's coming to my piano place and we wrote a couple of great songs. It's like a new career to make music the way they are doing here and it's so funny because I'm 58 now and I'm learning every minute that hey, you can do it that way also. Because I've been there. With all the bands and all the productions I saw it all and it's completely different from what we are doing it in Europe. Not everyone, but guys like Bil VornDick I think yeah. That's the top of the world. I was making a lot of noise and doing things and now I'm back to earth and really enjoy making music together with all the guys. We did the first session with Steve Brewster, a couple of guys over here, and I was thinking, hey, this is a way you can do it also. That's strange when you see that happening because in Europe if you don't arrange food for everyone, the whole band is gone, and over here it was at 6 o'clock, okay we have to stop. We are going on at 7 and I thought, oh, I forgot to arrange for the food and then everyone was leaving the studio, and we also, and we all met at the same McDonalds, one mile from the studio (laughing) and I think hey, that's what I like. Just be a normal guy, down to earth, and when you are in the studio and making music, listen to each other and try to make the best out of the song and they are doing that over here. When we came home, my wife and I, I said, "Hey, this is the way it has to be." So that's the point where I made the decision, okay, I did it all over there, let's give it a try over here and just have fun. Just let all your emotions do the way music has to be and I enjoy it. I'm learning everyday.
Bronson: Any advice for young artists starting out? With all your experience and all the things you've seen, any advise for them on how they might have success with their career?
Jan: Yeah I did a lot of shows over there like American Idol, they have that over there in Europe as well, and I think the biggest problem is not the artist who thinks he can be big but there are the parents who want their kids to be a great star and to earn a lot of money. I think our profession, making music, writing songs, doing television, is a 9 to 5 job but then from 9 to 12 at night, or 2 at night, but do it with confidence and the most important thing is that you have to be patient because it can't happen from one day to another. Maybe Taylor Swift, with all the money behind her, you can do it that way, but I like the way guys like James Taylor did it, the really great singer songwriters. Okay, when you've got talent, give it time and listen to people who know, who've been there, who know what to do, and not yelling and don't believe to early that you could be a star. You have to earn that. Also in Nashville there are more guitars than people in Nashville I think, so for me as a piano man it's very strange to walk on the street (laughing).
Bronson: They say in Nashville, you can throw a rock and you'll hit a songwriter or a musician. Any direction you want to throw it and you'll hit one. Music City USA.
Jan: (laughing) It's incredible, and then you walk into a lobby of a hotel and there are 10 people waiting with their guitar to do their songs, but that can be a way that someone else in the room and says, "Hey, that's a great song. That's a great voice." But young people have to do it all and give it all the time and don't do other things. Just make a goal for yourself and think, "Hey, what do I like? Do I like to play with the Tennessee Titans? Or do I like to be a soccer star or a football star? Where you believe in your self, and you believe in your music, give it the time, give it all your life and it will happen. Absolutely, real talent is coming up.
Bronson: Do you have any shows coming up? Any events you'd like to talk about?
Jan: We are now here for preproduction and making a schedule to record and to write with a few people over here and then we are going back to the Netherlands and Belgium. I did the Netherlands, television wise, to promote the new single and to promote all the things we are doing here. Now we're going back and doing the promotion for Belgium, and then I'm going to write over there with a couple of guys who are famous over there to see if we have good songs. Then I'm going to tour again next year in 2012. Now, first make a record and let it be the best record I've ever made and give that time and throw away songs we don't like. I do some concerts on the fly but a real tour is going to be in 12/12 - 12/30. Then back into the theaters and everything.
Bronson: Your website?
Jan: My website is www.janrietman.com, don't make the mistake that you think about Ivan Reitman, it's r i e t m a n.
Bronson: I'm sorry I mispronounced your name.
Jan: (laughing) No, I do it myself. No one can pronounce that. I am Jan Rietman, i e, not e i.
Bronson: And Facebook too?
Jan: A lot of Facebook and Nance is building a new site now because I think guestbooks and all that kind of thing are old fashioned. You don't need them anymore on the site, everyone goes to Facebook, and I believe in that kind of media, because Facebook brought me Bil VornDick. Facebook brought me everyone in the surrounding Nashville area. So believe in it but use it the right way. Don't use it as a toy. Just use it professional. We are on Facebook, we are on Twitter and they are more than welcome to watch that (laughing).
Bronson: We will recommend that they do. We'll do our best to make sure.
Jan: Okay, thank you Bronson.
Bronson: Thank you so much for doing this, it's been an honor to meet you and welcome to the United States.
Jan: Thank you and as soon as the record is ready, you will be the first here in the moose lodge, to listen to it (laughing).
Bronson: Thank you! Well you're with good folks when you're with Bil VornDick, that's for sure.
Jan: Yeah, the first single is coming out in the United States in two months or something like that.
Bronson: We'll have them go to your site and they can keep track of everything you're doin'.
Bronson: We got 'em set. Thank you very much.
Jan: Thank you Bronson.
Back to My Interviews