►You are, of course, aware that your particular style is a certain niche and that the mainstream audience might not exactly have been waiting for this type of music?
Well, I think they just don’t know that’s what they’ve been waiting for yet. (laughs) But seriously, I think we have lost ourselves so much in a technology-based form of music – which, of course, can have a beautiful outcome. I just don’t see a lot of current performers who really are passionate about the history of their genre, as well as the stage performance and sonic aspect of it. But I do find a range in many of the pre-1950s artists – one that covers passion in performance and vocals, and admiring instruments as characters – that you don’t see in many artists today. You could probably prove me wrong quite easily because there certainly are talented artists out there. I’m hoping the audience will respect me in the sense that my whole performance is not an act but that it is something that I’ve been infatuated with for years, both on and off stage.
►So you’re saying we won’t see a very clearly ‘vintage’ EP or album as your debut, followed by a release that tones down the vintage elements in favour of more contemporary pop tunes, and by the time album number three comes around you’ll have fully transformed into a regular pop artist? Because that seems to be the way it goes a lot with artists who start out with a very specific style that isn’t exactly mainstream…
I’ve had offers for projects a lot more fabricated than I would like it. In saying no to these opportunities, I am staying true to my desire to keep everything as authentic as possible, rather than change my style for the perks offered. I honestly don’t think I could live with myself as an artist if I evolved tech-reliant, mostly because there aren’t many artists who truly pay homage to the era, which makes me feel like I am almost the last chance for it to live on. On the other hand, I’m open to modern influences, as long as it’s enhancing and not distracting. We do live in 2014 after all.
►Since we are not able to hear any examples yet when this issue is released, how would you describe the sound we can expect?
How do I put a nice bow around something not yet tangible? You’ll definitely hear a lot of woodwinds, taking inspiration from swing and 1950s RnB with the brass. I’m aiming for an almost cinematic feel behind the production. For that, I find a lot of inspiration in the cabaret and cinema-driven stuff. Something like Benny Goodman, Eartha Kitt and LaVern Baker sharing a cup of tea.
►When you mention these names to your friends or other people your age, do they even know what you are talking about or does it result in big question marks?
Oh, I can’t really drop names because they’re unfamiliar. However, it’s interesting how many jazz heads I’ve been making out of my friends, because they are so astonished about what they’ve been missing out on. On that end, I’ve already seen how my career might be going – I might have to break the ice, but they won’t be shy after.
►How do you personally listen to music? It’s difficult to imagine you running around in your vintage clothing, listening to an iPod or iPhone.
Well, I don’t use my iTunes on my phone, mostly because I hate having things in my ears. But for example at work, I have to listen – not that I’m complaining – to swing and delta blues on Spotify.
►There is an interesting duality here. You do listen to old music, but you use Spotify for it. You do use Instagram – a very interesting account, by the way – but while you have a Twitter account you don’t really use it so far. Is that something you plan to change when you have more music out?
I guess you can say that I am a bit reluctant or afraid of technology. (laughs) But I’d say if someone wants to get a hold of me through Twitter, I won’t say no to it. The relationship to the listeners is something I’ll always put above my own wants. So far, I’m better live than electronically. (laughs) Like when you see me perform, I hardly ever don’t talk between songs. That includes covers – I might be telling my Otis Redding story or just talk about the hardships a specific artist has gone through.
►Of course these days social media, while not the only way and not a guarantee for anything, is the best way to get people to find your music and get them to come to live gigs…
Sure, and of course I see other artists, who get a lot of feedback online, milking it. In a positive way. I completely see the pros from it. And maybe I can slap myself on the wrist for not taking as much advantage of it yet as I could. At the same time I see some artists just pumping out the same video of themselves in their room. Even if they have talent, it kind of makes me sad to see because really the only performance part I get from these videos is the audio. They might be doing an awesome job at singing, but I’m missing the performance when it comes to their passion and movement, portraying the song.
►Let’s say for one reason or another the singing career doesn’t take off; from your Instagram account I know that you’re a big fan of the circus and that grandpa was a race car driver – any alternative career paths there?
Hah, nope. I don’t see any career for myself if it’s not performing. I don’t think I’ll ever get into a different line of work. I do see acting going hand in hand with the music, and I am taking acting classes. But I think I would drive myself crazy if I stopped music. So, ideally, the music career goes well, unless people want me to go crazy. (laughs) :x:
This interview first appeared in issue no.1 of XCENTS.
photo credit featured image: Francis Bertrand Photography
Interview by Ewan McGee.