Interview: George Alexandrakis
Beautiful and talented Kathrin deBoer is both a vocalist and a bassist. In 2005, whilst in a pub somewhere in North London, she forms an electronic/soul band called Belleruche, as well as a record label called Hippoflex Recording Industries, along with Ricky Fabulous and DJ Modest. Belleruche has released four studio albums. The band broke up in 2013 and since then, deBoer has been a solo artist, working with great names in the industry such as DJ Vadim, Bonobo and Aaron Jerome, aka SBTRKT.
She is now working with Max Cooper, she writes for a publishing company and is on a big and exciting journey as a solo artist. Still she finds time to regenerate rainforests in Australia.
What made you work in the music industry?
Years ago I tried to understand my life purpose and all I could come up with was a deep desire to live my life through music and that it was simply the best possible way to understand life itself, there was no argument from anyone so the rest is history.
We got to know you as a member of Belleruche, a group that had been constantly risen and stopped all of a sudden. What led to the group’s break-up?
Yeah that was abrupt, we probably should have managed that better! We all needed a break for different reasons. We self managed and that became a huge job as the band grew and alongside producing music, other parts of our lives were being pretty much neglected, so we needed to re align the priorities.
Some positive and less positive things about being a solo artist?
The best part of being a solo artist is that it is creatively liberating, whereas the less positive is not having a big chat or sharing your excitement about it at the pub afterwards.
Is there anything you keep thinking about when onstage?
Not much really, being in the moment is the only thing- gotta be in the moment to be standing up there!
So do you forget about everything else?
Ι wouldn’t say everything, but I’ve been known to make up new lyrics on the spot when the real ones were nowhere to be found…
What is your biggest fear as a musician?
I have two…
a. My biggest fear concerns the breaking down of live music. In London we are losing live music venues all the time, they can’t sustain themselves; developers are awaiting like vultures for music venues to lose their license, so they can swoop in to build gyms, chain coffee shops and luxury apartments. The land that these iconic venues sit upon worth so much since the housing boom, that we keep losing them, we are losing the bedrock for live music and the places where musicians can cut their teeth in the industry. That’s such a shame with a huge impact on innovative and interesting music.
b. Having to listen to top 40 music on repeat forever… actually that would be a nightmare!
What are the main parameters that can play a role for an artist to be recognized, is it circumstances, luck or something else?
I’ve discovered 3 factors that are pretty much equal in importance- Luck, talent, hard work i think covers it.
We met you as a member of Belleruche. How hard it is to introduce yourself again as a solo artist?
It is so different being a solo artist, everything is up to one person rather than three or more. It’s harder work in some aspects, such as the fact that you don’t have your mates there to share the load, or talk things out. It’s liberating in many ways, though you are pushed to take responsibility for the end product with a more intensity. I’m not sure, I can’t say I’ve really found my stride as yet- I’ve had some family obligations that I need to attend to which right now is a priority. And after one of my solo band members passed away suddenly -I’m not sure I have recovered from this- I’m taking time to rebuild.
What are your impressions of the Greek audience?
My first show in Athens was with Bonobo. People were so friendly and really into the music. Music lovers! My second show again in Athens was with Belleruche- actually it was the first time we played with RSN and it was so good, DJ NOIZ hosted the event and people were really listening, they were attentive and again so positive and friendly, you can’t ask for more.
Can things like love, disappointment etc affect the way you perform?
I wouldn’t say the actual performance would be different in regards to a love, heartbreak, disappointment, but what is written is most definitely influenced by what is happening in life, mine or my family or friends. For example, ‘Rollerchain’ was written after a deep heartbreak, along with working with Ableton and the new sounds we could generate, I feel it had a huge impact on the music we made together.
What are the ideal conditions for a live performance?
Oh that’s a tough one, one could say things like the best sound system/best soundcheck and sound engineer/ the best venue etc. But live gigs are so unpredictable, there are the hard to describe and the multitude of random factors that can make real magic onstage.
I remember playing in a small French town, it was a Tuesday night, we’d waited 3 hours outside the venue for soundcheck, we had good engineer doing his best with an average sound system, our backstage was a rather full storage room, our stage consisted of forklift crates and plywood- so I was thinking things might not go so well. But by stage time it turned out the place was heaving- everything worked- the set was full of energy, there were people rotating to let others who were waiting outside the venue in, the energy was so high, and you know it’s just that being present in the moment and an appreciative crowd- that element of luck too that creates something you can’t bottle, buy, manufacture etc.
I guess everyone’s ideal conditions depends on themselves, why you are on the stage in the first place, I’ve been chasing that buzz and euphoria you get when that synergic connection with the band and crowd occurs, man if one could explain that thing i’d like to hear about it. I’ve not tried to break it down in analysis, i suppose my answer would be that the best live performances happen randomly, things don’t have to be perfect, but for me its ultimately its staying in the moment, trusting the music and connecting with the whole room.
We hosted RSN in our previous issue in which he talked about the ‘Analog Memories’ album. He said knew from the beginning who he wanted to work with. You were one of them and together you performed ‘Lucky Old You’. What connects you to RSN?
Love and respect! Aren’t we all lucky! Friends in music are wonderful, we are great friends outside of it too.
How do you feel that such a successful creator believes so much in you?
It is a great compliment, and I’m happy we are able to make music despite the distance of living in London and in Australia.. You know I wrote ‘Lucky Old You’ in a rainforest in Australia. I recorded the vocals in a cupboard of a little cottage…
Is he your connection to the Greek scene?
You have worked with many great artists and musicians. Could you describe each cooperation in a word?
Dj Vadim: fun
Hugo Kant: ‘lovelyman’
Max Cooper: genius!
What are your future plans?
Οoh there are so many, I’d like to continue working with the great people I work with in composing and recording. There are some exciting collaborations in the pipeline, having enough time to explore in more collaborations. And apart from music, I’m regenerating a rainforest in Australia, getting pretty deep into ecology and living simple. More time with family and friends- that’s the important stuff…