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An Interview with

Warhaus -

Maarten Devoldere


-- Love can do small musical wonders --

 

His music can immediately captivate you. Cause everything is about personal experiences. It is a refuge for his soul, which simply cannot be anything else than honest and solid. We got to know his music quality and aesthetics years ago, from Balthazar, when back in 2010 with 'Applause', his wonderful musical journey started. Back then, rock music, youthful eagerness and fantasy were dominant. Today, Maarten Devoldere’s music has matured and the proof of that is the four excellent albums that followed the first work of 2010 but also the dark but full of truths and personal confessions project ‘Warhaus’, which showed up in 2016.

Warhaus doesn’t comply with the format of a usual band where the songs are written together, since the Belgian uses it as a way to externalize what he feels and thinks. If you look closer, his album covers placed in chronological order, have a meaning to deliver: The joys and ups and downs of passionate love will turn into suffering, go through the crash and finally become the reason and the yeast, to create his most personal and true album to date. From mourning to grief: Starting from denial, moving from extreme resistance towards despair and ending in an inevitable humble resignation.

Sicily was the perfect escape to host this story. Irresistible melodies, glorious, non-stop romantic musical themes, sung by Maarten's warm voice. Strings and orchestrations climax with virtuosic piano notes. The contrast between the catchy title of 'Ha Ha Heartbreak' and the sadness of the creator is able to set this scenery of uniqueness.

Maarten, with bright notes, sensual back vocals and a generally smooth sound, did his best to lighten the emotional load. But fortunately, for us listeners, this emotional exploration led him to this little musical wonder.

You can listen to him answering our questions about his new release below. In the recorded interview he gave us, we heard him coming relieved and aware, out of this process of externalization of his feelings.


“Girl, it’s in the future we belong…”


 

The Basement: Hello Maarten. First of all, thank you for talking to us. 3rd forthcoming album 'Ha Ha Heartbreak' on PIAS. Is yet 'Warhaus' a side project for you?

'Warhaus' is really not a side project. It’s a solo project because it's a very personal project. A big advantage of a solo project is that you can dig deeper into yourself. It’s more introspective, not like Balthazar where we make songs together and you sometimes have to compromise with other people and work with talented musicians. With ‘Warhaus’ I can go deeper with who I really am and have to deal with my demons and my angels etc. ‘Balthazar’ is like the mothership, as the media consider it so. I prefer the idea that we, all of us, are our own mothership and sometimes we come together to make a record. It’s kind of an expedition, where I meet with other musicians and together make music. So, ‘Warhaus’ is just really who I am.
 


The Basement: How did you come up with the name Warhaus? 

My first ‘Warhaus’ record in 2016, was created in a little studio I constructed on a boat of a friend of mine in Ghent. While creating the songs, I came up with the name “Warhaus”, as it was written somewhere on a place on the boat with a marker and I thought it was really beautiful how it was written and that name resonated with me and I thought that's a cool band name, I'm gonna go for that and that's the story!
 


The Basement: 'Ha Ha Heartbreak' is out on 11th November. Tell us more about the process of making it. What's the central idea behind it?

The title suggests it’s a breakup album. I was going through a rough break up and songs came pouring out. I've had many ideas already and at a certain point went to a hotel in Palermo for three weeks with the basics (microphone, preamp, laptop, guitar) Wrote all the lyrics, made all the demos very fast. All vocals were recorded there and then came back in Ghent to the production studio for proper recordings, arrangements with musicians. So what we hear on ‘Ha Ha Heartbreak’ is still those vocal takes in the hotel. It was something pure in that moment that if I had to reproduce it later on, it wouldn’t have been the same anymore.

 

The Basement: What has been the impact of Belgian culture on your music all these years?

Belgium has a lively culture, many rock bands. It’s not a big country like Germany or France or the UK. It’s not like a very proud nation, Belgians don’t feel a chauvinism nation, they don’t have much of an idea of national pride. So that's really cool cause they’re very open for other cultures in a way. So we pick a bit from all the cultures around us. We have some of the French, we have some from Brit Pop, we have some from American blues, the middle eastern music. There's not really a Belgian sound but it's like an attitude towards music that it's quite common I think, they make their own mix. So we don’t have our own strong tradition that we have to follow. For example when we grew up in the 90s' and then you have like Deus, which was a famous Belgium band and they were also a good example of how they mix lots of stuff. It's very creative, it showed us that you can do lots of stuff pop music and not just being a guitar band. Yeah, I feel happy to have grown up in Belgium. Also you know, the whole scene and everybody is friendly towards another and helps each other around. It's a cool place. It’s doesn't sound sexy to say you're from Belgium, especially if you go to the UK but it’s a really interesting place to grow up in.

 

The Besement: In your latest and my personal favourite single 'Time Bomb', lyrics talk about something that's going to end soon, about a deceit ? What was the inspiration for this wonderful song ?

I am quite proud of “Tim Bomb”! Was kind of cool in the beginning, then anger and then frustration. In the outro I am losing that coolness, I start shouting “how could you baby…”. There are lots of stages if you're going through a heartbreak, anger, frustration in a very cool compost manner. I lose my coolness and composure, I get the feeling that I really love the woman and singing about that and angry about that. This is some kind of evolution throughout the song, different aspects of α heartbreak come together.
 


 


The Basement: I guess you had a great time in Palermo filming the video clip for 'Time Bomb'. Whose idea was to get there and why did you choose to do so? 

As I said before, I created almost the whole album in a hotel room in Palermo. My management was asking: we need pictures, we need videos and all of that and I thought all of that, maybe I should to go back to the place where I created the album. So, I took two friends of mine with me to Palermo, photographer and video maker. We just stayed there and we took pictures and we filmed lots of stuff. It was cool because the first time I was there to make the album I was in such an introspective mood that, I didn’t see the city, I was working in the hotel room so much that I didn’t notice so many things around. It was only when I went back for pictures and I was like "this is such a nice picture". Then I realized in the photos that were taken, a bit of the atmosphere of the record. It has something very romantic, something nostalgic, it's like a very glamorous city at the same time, you know the painters coming loose... Palermo was kind of a coincidence I've been there in the first place, there wasn’t a preplan behind it but it turned out to match the vibe of the record perfectly and aesthetic as well.

 

The Basement: To be honest, I was terrified seeing the piano falling behind you in 'Open Window's' video clip. Though, my question is about the three Balthazar covers we saw thrown out and reaching the ground. Was this something symbolic?

Yes, in a way was symbolic. The song is about denial. There was a break up but I couldn’t accept it yet. So, I want to express that I am eating and everything is falling to pieces and my life as I know it, won't ever be the same again. Just like a new chapter starting, so I wanted to express the idea of like past, which symbolizes some kind of success from the past doesn’t mean anything anymore. Also, you get these things (show case records) from the label but I doesn’t really like it, I think they’re really ugly to have in your house. So, standing here in my way all of the time and then we did the video. I said to the director, “Ah! we can throw the Balthazar golden records, at least they have some kind of purpose, because we could use them !” But the funny thing was that when the records hit the ground didn’t break and after the video shoot, I just had to take them back home once again, just forever I guess. So, this was kind of symbolic, maybe god wanted to teach me something.
 

 


The Basement: What does 'Art' mean to you? 

Such a deep and difficult question to answer! For me personally, it's a creative way of expressing myself, expressing something about the human condition. I like to work with what I feel inside and I try to make it resonate with other people. So, I think if something resonates with you and it's beautiful, ugly or some kind of emotional power, yeah, that’s probably art.

 

The Basement: Watching the 'Spotify' series on Netflix, this question was born inside: Free music for all or everyone somehow should pay to have it? Did such platforms really help artists and their audience? What do you think? 

No, I don't think that music should be free. I think artists are a very necessary and useful job or function in a society. If an artist puts a lot of his time and work creating and this shouldn’t be shared freely. But then again, when we started with Balthazar, I never knew the past golden years of the music industry, so you were never used to earning a lot of money by selling records, so for me is kind of normal and I think it's a good way that with Spotify people around the world, can so easily discover a band or an artist. It’s a really cool thing that artists can earn some money with that. A subscription that a user can make on Spotify, can bring some money but not so much. If I would be older and would have known the golden years of the '90s and then all of a sudden the money stops, that would be more painful that now. I never knew any better, so definitely, I believe that Spotify is better than just piracy.

 

The Basement: Thinking about taking a string quartet with you when you tour? The result will be fantastic! I suppose...

Not really yet. Primarily for economic reasons. We were five in the band and it's already very expensive to tour around Europe. But I have the advantage that I gathered a really nice live band around me with very talented musicians that can play like many many instruments. We use lots of instruments and lots of looping, so we play with loop stations and everything to make a really big sound. There are only five of us on stage but we can make it sound like there are 20 of us…Which is kind of cool. So come check it out and see how we make that work!

 

The Basement: Give us some extra info about your booked European concerts. Where are you gonna play? 

We’ve already planned a whole tour that will take place around Europe. We haven't announced any greek date yet, which may disappoint you but I can assure you that will definitely come to Greece. I love playing there. Will definitely have a show in Athens and we're going to announce it soon. So yeah, just keep an eye on tour dates.

 

The Basement: Thank you so very much Maarten, It was a pleasure having you. Can't wait to see you again in Greece!
 

 

* Listen to the Interview on Mixcloud
 

 

 

Ha Ha Heartbreak - out on 11/11 via PIAS

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