Noémie Wolfs – Hooverphonic

Interview by Salvatore P.

Belgian Hooverphonic are not your average pop band and their 19-years long career had taught them to never give up in front of the adversities (take Geike Arnaert‘s departure in 2008). After the 2012 successful live album “With Orchestra”, the trio is back with a brand new album called “Reflection” and for this reason we’ve asked to the singer Noémie more insights about it.
 
Hi Noémie, we’re all very pleased to have you here, thank you very much. Let’s break the ice: how’s the promotion of your new effort “Reflection” going so far?

It’s going great thank you! It’s always a stressful time, releasing a new album. It’s like letting one of your children to explore the world: you’re not always in control and you can’t predict what is going to happen. But in fact, that’s something I actually like about the musician way of life to: you don’t know how a story will end and sometimes you have to let go to see the brighter picture. But in general I’m feeling excited! Reviews of the album are great and the fans really dig it!

Noémie, your entrance in Hooverphonic earned you a disc of platinum with more than twenty-thousand copies (“Night Before”, 2011, ndr). Apart from coincidences, how do you feel about it and how dit it affect you artistically?

It’s a nice idea, knowing that you were able to convince so many people. People who follow the band since the beginning, people who have seen and experience the constant evolution of the band and still understand and feel the message of their music. We lost some hardcore Geike (Arnaert, ndr) fans I’m sure and I can understand that, but we gained so many new fans who like what Hooverphonic is doing nowadays. I couldn’t be more happier with how I was embraced.

I always try to sing/perform in a very natural kind of way. I don’t ‘over think’ or do a performance because I want to stay true to myself as a performer and to what I want to say in a song or a story. I feel people respect me for that, so I want to keep singing, performing, writing songs that way.

I had the chance to listen to the record and it’s purely beautiful; what brought you to decide to get back to a more natural sound and how much authenticity and clarity means in this phase of your career?

It feels like a natural wave for us. After an album and a tour with orchestra, for us it was a needed step to go ‘back to basics’: guitar, piano, bass, drums and vocals. We wanted our adventure with the orchestra to stay magical. It would be logical that we would make a new album with orchestra: it was a successful album and tour and we would know that it would become a hit again. But that’s not the most interesting path to choose, not for us and not for our fans. Always evolving, something Hooverphonic did during their entire career. Without the orchestra there is more room for myself to explore different sides and colors in my voice and to grow as a singer and an artist. “Reflection” is based on vocals, close harmony, so for me it is an album where I again can learn new things.

Hooverphonic recently launched the “Hooverdomestic” concept. Can you tell me more about it?

One of Alex‘s (Callier, ndr.) crazy idea’s! It’s so much fun to work with someone who has a vision, who has ideas that stand out and that can make an entire group of people excited and motivated to be part of that idea. With “Hooverdomestic” we were looking for a unique sound and atmosphere. In a world where everything is heavily processed, where people can use photoshop, auto tune, etc to make everything perfect. They use the same filters, the same plug-ins, … when you record an album in a studio, you capture the vibe, the atmosphere of that studio inside your record. And if many bands and musicians record in that studio, you get the same vibe captured on many different albums… We wanted to get away from that, we wanted to record an album at places that are not technically equipped for the recordings of an album. So we decided to launch an application on our website where people could post some pictures of their homes and some motivated words why they wanted to participate. And because of the experience Alex has as a technician working in several studios, he could already see on a picture if a house or a room suited or not. We chose 4 homes and a Church (The House of God is domestic too) and recorded at these places! A true adventure!

The new single “Amalfi” is very cheerful but still very evocative, somehow cinemathic; how much do you feel and need a connection between sounds and images and, in your opinion, how a video clip can enhance and exalt the concepts behind the song itself?

As a singer it’s a gift to sing songs who are very visual. It’s always a challenge to find my own story in songs that Alex or Raymond wrote. I never ask them what a particular song is about but instead I try to write and create my own story inside my head. And that’s what our fans do to. People sometimes tell me what a certain song is about for them and that’s cool! They try to make a connection with their own life how a song can help them in a certain situation in their life. While brainstorming for and idea for a new video, it stays the same. For me our video for “Amalfi” means something different then for someone else. There is no clear and strict story, there is an atmosphere and you are free to decide what it means to you, in what way it moves you.

How much your musical research is related to your inner research? Does a connection exist between your personal growth and sound’s evolution?

I think that there is a certain connection yes. I always compare it with a chain reaction: if something happens, something else is going to come from that and so on. After three years of experience on and of stage, working in the music industry, I feel more secure, more aware of what I am doing and what I feel. That literally ‘reflects’ on the new album. If you compare all the Hooverphonic albums with me as lead singer, it sounds like they are all different singers. That is a true result of the growth someone experiences during life and how it results soundwise.

Noèmie, it’s pleasent to hear about your passion for Italy. Apparently, as you often mark in interviews, your previous record “The Night Before” has been influenced by Morricone: What’s the connection between Hooverphonic‘s alternative mould and the classical suggestions of Morricone‘s production? Are there other italian artist you’d like to collaborate with?

I always had a connection with Italy, mainly because my father worked there a lot when I was little and always brought home the most beautiful stories. As Alex always says: we are retrofuturists. We think that it’s interesting to combine interesting stuff from the past with new sounds and techniques. It’s not as interesting to stay in-between a certain decade, not making fascinating combinations, then to think outside the box. I already had the honor of working with Eros Ramazzotti for his last album and that was so much fun.! Maybe in the future another Italian artist who knows! 😉

The noisy advent of the modern hipster culture has completely shaked up the idea of “alternative” and “pop”. Nowdays, what “pop” and “alternative” means to you and why people are getting more and more interested in it? Would you say this comeback to the “vintage” is someway “strategic” or “commercial”?

Vintage, in my opinion, has never really been away. It’s normal that people find inspiration in things from the past. I think it depends on your art forms subject whether it’s used in a strategic or commercial kind of way. In our case I don’t think it’s a strategy, it’s just an aspect we love. In life, in music.

Color, essence, lightness: that’s what I got from your record. I’m a diehard fan, and I honestly think you’re definitely able to rewrite a page of alternative pop music’s history: what’s in the future of Hooverphonic? Please be blurry since I love surprises!

We never know what the future will bring for us and that’s an aspect we really like about being a musician. it’s a rollercoaster ride, once you’re on it you just go where the ride takes you.

As a woman, what’s your role in the band apart from singing? You’re very young but extraordinary wise, do you feel like a leading figure for your bandmates? What’s the experience that definitely declared you “friends”?

That’s a difficult question. I think we all learn from each other. Because there is an age difference, we can teach each other certain things. We definitely became friends during these three years. Being on tour can be quit intense, so you get to know each other very quick. It’s like Alex always says: being in a band together is like being married 🙂

How about live gigs in Italy? You know, I’ll need to pop a sick call at work!

We are arranging everything as we speak. There are no specific tour dates settled at the moment. Just follow our Facebook page and you will learn 🙂

Noémie, thank you so freaking much for your patience and kindess. I do hope the train you got will lead you to the goal you’re fighting for. Would you please leave a message for our readers, followers and diehard fans?

Hopefully you guys will be as inspired by our record as we were recording it! I hope to see you all at one of our concerts in Italy!

 

Photo Credits

Photos by Lalo Gonzales

 

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