Interviews with Hans van Hemert: "Eurovision Legends" and "Lunchtime"
Recently, Hans van Hemert gave two interviews: one for the "Eurovision Legends" podcast and another one on the radio show "Lunchtime" on Omroep Vlaardingen.
On the April 21st episode of "Eurovision Legends" podcast, Luv's father discussed in English his contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest with Swedish host Emil Löfström. Frank Reemer, brother of Sandra Reemer, Astrid Colle, daughter of Sandra's duet partner Andres, and a whistling parrot in Hans' living room joined the conversation.
Click here to listen to the podcast.
Hans wrote three songs that represented the Netherlands at the European music competition: "Als het om de liefde gaat" by Sandra & Andres (#4 in 1972), "I See A Star (Ik Zie Een Ster)" by Mouth & MacNeal (#3 in 1974, the year ABBA won it) and "The Party's Over" by Sandra Reemer (#9 in 1976).
When asked which Eurovision songs he preferred, Hans chose two ESC winning songs which represented Sweden: "Heroes" by Måns Zelmerlöw (2015) and "Euphoria" by Loreen (2012) as well as "Think About Things" by Daði Freyr, which was supposed to represent Iceland in 2020 (the year the contest was cancelled due to Covid-19)
When Emil asked Hans to pick two Dutch ESC tracks beside his compositions, the legendary record producer chose the winning songs whose lyrics were written by his father, Willy van Hemert: "Net als toen" by Corry Brokken (1957) and "Een beetje" by Teddy Scholten (1959).
Hans considered the 2021 song "Birth of a New Age" by Jeangu Macrooy the "worst Dutch entry for the ESC ever". The talented songwriter didn't like the "wokist" aspect of this song.
He discussed his fantastic career. "Love in Copenhagen" by Studio-Orkest O.l.v. Tony Vos, the theme song from his father's TV series "De glazen stad", was his breakthrough in 1968. Hans and Trea Dobbs recorded the vocals of this song.
The first time Hans took part in the ESC happened in 1969. He co-wrote a song entitled "Heartbeat" with his father. This track was performed by Anneke Grönloh and competed for the Dutch preselection "Nationaal Songfestival". It finished seventh out of 10. "De Troubadour" by Lenny Kuhr won the competition and eventually became an ESC winning song.
During the 1972 Nationaal Songfestival, Sandra & Andres sang three songs written and produced by Hans: "Als het om de liefde gaat", "Oude zigeuner" and "Lang Zo Fijn Niet". The duo eventually finished fourth at the ESC with "Als het om de liefde gaat". Hans confirmed the fact that Sandra didn't like these songs and added that the same story happened when Luv' had to perform their international breakthrough hit "You're the Greatest Lover". "I always received complaints from the artists who didn't like some of my songs. Luv' hated "You're the Greatest Lover" which sold a few millions copies. I didn't care," he said. "Als het om het liefde gaat" became a hit in Benelux and Germany. "In these days, even if you didn't win the Eurovision Song Contest and finished fourth, your song could be a hit abroad. Nowadays, no-one remembers the songs which ended up at the second or third position," Hans explained.
Sandra & Andres
The Music Maestro recalled "Auntie", a song which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the BBC that he recorded with Hildegard Knef, Enrico Macias, Alice Babs, Sandra & Andres, Demis Roussos and Vicky Leandros in 1972. "It was the most difficult project I ever did. In the beginning, I thought I would work with international artists like Paul McCartney on this record, but these kinds of artists were not waiting for things I produced. So we chose singers whose records were released by the label I worked for at the time, Phonogram. I could not get all the singers together in the studio simultaneously. I recorded them seperately. I remember working with Hildegard Knef. Back then, she was a real star and was engaged to David Cameron. She asked me for instructions on how to sing. I spoke German to her. My German was better than my English. That doesn't surprise you. Ha, ha. So first, I sang the song for her and then she performed it an octave lower than expected. I thought her rendition was interesting. During the session, David came back and forth in the studio to translate my words into English for her. I was so irritated. When I spoke English, he translated my words in German to her. Suddenly, she said "David, fuck off!" to him with her strong German accent. Then everybody warned me about the collaboration with Vicky Leandros. They said: "her father is a producer. It's gonna be a hell". But it was heaven working with her. These things happen with great artists. You don't have problems with them," Hans told. These 1970s music superstars all met in the studio, except one of them. "Demis Roussos was too late. So I had to replace him, and initially, I recorded his vocals. I admired him so much. He finally recorded his part after we shot the music video for "Auntie". Hildegarde sang it an octave lower and Demis an octave higher. The result was amazing," Hans added.
In 1973, Ben Cramer represented the Netherlands at the ESC with "De oude muzikant" ("The Old Musician"). Hans didn't like his voice and thus didn't write a Eurovision song for him. In 1974, ABBA won the contest for Sweden with "Waterloo", and all eyes were on them. Hans' protégés, Mouth & MacNeal, competed the same year with "I See A Star". Before the ESC, this duo had big international hits, including "How do you do?" (1971) and "Hello-A" (1972). "How do you do?" sold six million copies worldwide, including one million in the United States alone. It was covered three, four or five hundred times. I receive one cover of this song at least once a month, " the proud composer asserted. Hans made a fool of himself during the pre-ESC party and told a funny anecdote: "In the 1970s, a Swedish band covered a lot of my songs. In my mind, I remember it was a group with two girls. In Brighton, there was a party with all the Eurovision contestants. I met two Swedish female singers and told them: "Hey, I'm Hans van Hemert and you recorded my songs!". So I sang "How do you do?" and "Als het om de liefde gaat" accapella to convince them. The ladies looked at me, embarrassed and left the room. It turned out that these ladies were Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA and that the Glenmarks were the actual group which covered my songs. I was such a loser that night!". Mouth & MacNeal represented the Netherlands at the 1974 ESC due to their international prestige.
Hans van Hemert, Mouth & MacNeal and Harry van Hoof receiving the Dutch music award "Gouden Harp" in 1972
Here's how Hans explained the reason for the success of his tracks: "I write catchy and childish songs with a dance beat. So everybody can sing along to them and can't get them out of their head". He confirmed the story of Mouth & MacNeal fighting backstage in Brighton. BBC host Graham Norton praised "I See A Star" in an interview and considered it "the best Eurovision Song ever". Soon after the ESC, Mouth & MacNeal broke up. Little Eve replaced Maggie MacNeal, and Hans launched another duo called "Big Mouth & Little Eve" which scored a Dutch and Flemish Top 5 hit entitled "Uncle".
The ABBA sound inspired Hans. Emil underlined this strong influence on some of his songs for Luv', Babe, Champagne and Vulcano.
1976 saw Hans' comeback at the ESC with "The Party's Over" by Sandra Reemer, who finished ninth, while "Save Your Kisses for Me" by Brotherhood of Man won the competition.
In 1983, Hans took part in the Dutch preselection with "Een beetje van dit" by Vulcano and finished second. Instead, the Piet Souer penned track "Sing me a song" by Bernadette was the Dutch entry. Souer previously worked with Hans, especially on Luv's greatest hits (1977-1980). Vulcano's song was more successful on the Dutch and Flemish charts than Bernadette's single. "Vulcano was a follow-up to another group called Luv' that I formed a few years before," Hans said. Emil played excerpts from "Trojan Horse", "Eeny Meeny Miny Moe", "You're the Greatest Lover" by Luv'. Vulcano released English and German versions of "Een beetje van dit", but these translations were not hits abroad.
Hans competed for the last time at the Nationaal Songfestival with "Dat liefde zo moet zijn" by Mrs. Einstein in 1997 and ended in the third position.
The iconic record producer and Emil made the podcast listeners a gift. They played the demo of the EDM song Hans submitted to the ESC preselection. Unfortunately, this track was rejected. Instead, "De diepte" by S10 is scheduled to represent the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. The song already peaked at number two on the Dutch singles chart in the Netherlands. It is the first time since 2010 that a track sung entirely in Dutch will represent the country at Eurovision.
Hans van Hemert on Lunchtime - Photos by Elly Domenie
Henk Koudijzer interviewed Hans about the highlights of his career during the April 28th broadcast of his radio show "Lunchtime" on Omroep Vlaardingen.
Hans talked about his classic hits: "Wij Houden van Oranje" by André van Duin (the song he recorded for the 1988 UEFA European Football Championship won by the Netherlands' team), "The Elephant Song" by Kamahl (performed for a prestigious WWF Gala in 1975 and supposed to be sung initially by Frank Sinatra), "Mijn gebed" by D.C. Lewis, "Als het om de liefde gaat" by Sandra & Andres, "The Party's Over" by Sandra Reemer, "How do you do" and "Ik Zie een Ster" by Mouth &MacNeal, and "Een beetje van dit" by Vulcano.
Hans mentioned his rivalry with the legendary record producer Peter Koelewijn: "He was so jealous of my success with Luv'. He thought: "Well, if Hans can do it, I can do it too". So he launched another female group called "Babe" with three girls. At the time, both of us were in the same record company, Phonogram. He knew I would be opposed to his project. He also knew I didn't like him as a producer. He played me a song and asked what I thought about it one day. I didn't appreciate it. Then he asked me if it sounded like Luv'. I answered: "No!". He later got in touch with the label manager and told him he was allowed to release it as it was different from Luv'".
Hans put the record straight about the Dolly Dots often considered "Holland's greatest girl group" by the Dutch media: "That's nonsense! They were, of course, very popular. But when Luv' reached the number-one spot a couple of times, they sold each time 200.000 copies in the Netherlands instead of 100.000. And then Luv' also sold 600.000 copies of their number-one hits in Germany alone. They were also successful in Scandinavia, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium and other countries. With all due respect, the Dolly Dots never reached this level of success".
Hans told Luv's formation. "We were looking for a blonde singer. We already had a dark-haired girl and a red-haired girl. José was a fantastic singer. I asked her to dye her hair blonde. She refused. It already took a long time to find the perfect trio. The ladies had to be good-looking and accessible. I wanted them to be role models so family mothers could say: "When my daughter is older, I want her to look like José, Marga or Patty". After months of searching for the perfect members, I needed a good singer for the group. I asked Piet Souer to call her friend José back. That's how Luv' was formed".
Hans recalled Luv's breakthrough: "A triumvirate (Wim van der Linden, Wim Schippers, and Gied Jaspars) were filming a series for VPRO channel. They needed a theme song for their show. I was surprised that a leftist network like VPRO wanted to collaborate with me. I let the "chicks" (that's what we called ladies at the time) record the song. Wim van der Linden immediately believed in the hit potential of "U.O.Me (You Owe Me)".
"You're the Greatest Lover" and "U.O.Me" by Luv' were part of Lunchtime's playlist.
Luv' at the "Lots Of Luv'" album release party at the Lido in Amsterdam on May 15th, 1979
Hans ended the interview by telling his future expectations: "I wish a famous DJ remixed one of my songs. I have tracks with potential".
First hour of the interview: click here to listen to it.
Second hour: click here to listen to it.
Source: Facebook (Eurovision Legends, Henk Koudijzer, Elly Domenie)