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Belgium: The Vinyl Frontier

Charlotte and the DEEWEE factory

In a way, WWWater feels more my own than the DEEWEE EP, as Stephen and David have had a lot more influence there.

Interview Diederik Decroix
Photographs Dinaya Waeyaert

You know how people go ‘yes, I used to work the cloak room of that basement club with George Michael back before he was famous’? Ok, maybe you don’t, but nevermind, for I’m telling you I once worked in the same building as Charlotte Adigéry, and you’re going to want to have my number once this lady hits it big. For she will.

When I met Charlotte Adigéry a few years back, she was a student, always quietly performing any assigned task. No one had an inkling this girl was simultaneously laying out master plans involving darn good music. She graduated from PXL Rock School and sang many a backing vocal for Arsenal and a bunch of other bands before stepping out of the shadows with tunes very much her own. Then again, when the Elektropedia Awards nominate someone for Most Promising Artist (2016), you know something yummy is bound to be coming to you real f*cking soon, don’t you?

Charlotte’s golden voice first entered your head (and ours) on the soundtrack of Belgica. She’s heard on three tracks, but The Best Thing is the one that really captures her talents. Charlotte: “At first, I was only going to playback one song, for which the vocals had already been recorded. But director Felix Van Groeningen moved around a few scenes and wanted to end the film on a more quiet note. Since I was already meant to playback one song, I could also just sing it for real. That’s how I got in touch with Soulwax. The rest is history.”

Being picked up by Soulwax sounds like a cunning career move and a golden ticket to stardom. Charlotte keeps both feet on the ground, though. Her first album is ready and recorded, with a single waiting to be airborne before the record is released come autumn. Unless some golden offer comes falling out of the sky, the record will be digital-only release, though. Meanwhile, the only thing on Charlotte’s mind is play, play, play.

“I like to do things at my own pace. For me, music is the primary focus. That’s why I’ve got Jarri Van der Haegen (Disco Naïveté) taking care of all the business shizzle for me: he and I are on the same page. I’d very much prefer not to be a pawn of the music industry. Festivals who ask for exclusivity are not on my wish list just yet. I’m young and unknown and I mostly want to play here and abroad. It’s only logical to me that that means I’ll end up in smaller clubs. I don’t want to aim for just one or two bigger shows. Not now. Maybe not ever.”

IT’S PRONOUNCED ‘WATER’

“WWWater, my solo project, has to sound danceable and a tad dirty. It needs to kick you right in the heart and head. I write most of the music for WWWater by myself. Next to this, I enjoy the liberty to battle my own musical limits on the DEEWEE label. No moniker there, just my own name and the DEEWEE language. It’s hard to explain, but working in that studio, surrounded by all those records, all those different types of music, Stephen and David who are always ushering me on yet critical at the same time… All of this has shaped the sound of that EP. The only adjective that seems to fit, is ‘DEEWEE’.”

With this DEEWEE project, Charlotte has a live setup that includes Bolis Pupul on synths. “We’ve mostly performed as a prequel to Soulwax’s live sets”, Charlotte says. “In a way, WWWater feels more my own than the DEEWEE EP, as Stephen and David have had a lot more influence there. But both projects explore facets of who I am and the musical ways I still have left to explore.”

INSTRUMENTS, SHMINSTRUMENTS

“To be honest, I can’t really play any instrument. I play keys and bass by ear, but let’s just say it’s a good thing one can cut and paste, these days. It’s an impediment that’s a curse as much as it is a blessing. I often think it forces me to be more creative, which in turn makes me achieve things I never thought possible. On the other hand, I sometimes feel I’m stuck with ideas I don’t know how to execute. That way, making music is an eternal quest for me. It’s a learning curve and I think it will always be one. I praise myself lucky to have enough notions of music as tot clearly explain to my musicians what I want and what I don’t want.”

Those musicians aren’t exactly nobody, either. On drums, Steve Slingeneyer (Tracy Bonham, Waldorf, Soulwax) hits it hard, while Boris Zeebroek aka Bolis Pupul (Deewee, Hong Kong Dong, The Germans) is master of synths. “We speak the same language. Professionally, but also in our way of looking at life. Steve has a real punk attitude, having lived through that period, which I find intriguing. Albeit all those years of experience, he’s very down to earth, which is exactly how I would like to come across as well.”

CREDITS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

Where Charlotte’s thanks list is concerned, this list tends to get long. “At school, I became aware of so many genres and influences”, Charlotte recalls. It boosted her self-confidence and stimulated her to take her experiments to a larger scale, a quest she now pursues under the auspices of the Dewaele brothers. “I’m a perfectionist, meaning I torture myself over the journey toward a certain result. Steph and Dave often point out the things I’ve missed or point in other directions for me to look. Thanks to them, I become aware of many things I’d never considered.”

Of course, even music needs a look, which in this case is provided both by friends and high-ranking professionals. “Nicole Twister aka Sofie Velghe made my first video. With some help of her boyfriend Amenra’s Mathieu Vandekerckhove, who’s also a good friend of mine, Nicole Twister made a stunning video. I’m very proud of the result.”

As with all the records on the DEEWEE label, the sleeve for number 21 of the series was designed by ILL Studio in Paris, who worked on it with the famous Maxime Guyon. “They listen to the music and then come up with an idea. I immediately liked it. The gold suits me well and as fate will have it, I had to buy a jerry can that week because I was running short on cash and had run out of gas. Oh, the irony!”

DEEWEE.021 FACE A - 1

Next to WWWater and Charlotte Adigéry, Charlotte is a regular on stage with The Whodads and will be seen on stage alongside her mother, singing with rocksteady band Chris & Charlie. To end things, Charlotte has a little confession to make, though. “My vinyl collection consists of two records. Plus my pick-up has broken down and I just don’t have the money to get it fixed right now.” Someone please help a sister out!