An interview with Hante.! Hélène de Thoury, an original talent in music and an artist evolving and establishing her name, in synthwave, starting with Phosphor, then Minuit Machine and now as a solo artist. Having gained a cold, synthetic and melancholic music, mixing nagging cold wave and striking electronics, has offered the audiences edgy musings out of 3 releases in only 2 years so far (‘Her Fall And Rise’, ‘This Fog That Never Ends’, ‘No Hard Feelings’)! Running Synth Religion, production studio and label, as well as performing live and “messing” with the art she is dedicated to, make her a busy person in a very creative time in her life. Please read and enjoy the interview!
A musician, a singer, and a sound engineer too! How did you get involved in all of this work?
H: Everything started when I moved to London in 2011 and met Nathalie and Jake who had just created Phosphor.
I was in an electro dark band in Paris before but thanks to Phosphor, I discovered a totally different level of great DIY music. Learning about the whole post-punk scene was a revelation, a life-changing discovery.
My passion grew bigger and bigger. I started composing songs myself, mixing, later mastering and producing my own music and others through my studio / label Synth Religion.
Correct me if I’m wrong, first it was with Phosphor, then Minuit Machine and since 2014, Hante. Listening to your music and following your course, I realized that it was obvious that this musician would become a solo artist or an one-woman-band. What led you to that? Are there any plans on listening to Hante. collaborating again, or are you settled in your star?
H: For the chronology, you’re right! But I never thought I would end up as a solo act.
When I started Hante. in 2014, it was a side project. I needed a project where I wouldn’t have to make compromises, where I could also sing and write lyrics to fully express myself. But I really love being in a band, sharing emotions and experiences. I miss that!
I don’t know if I will be part of a band again but I will continue to make collaborations for sure! For example, three months ago Massimo from CONFRONTATIONAL asked me to sing with him on a beautiful song called ‘Keep Faith’. It has just been released. I really liked this experience and I will do it again!
Almost 2 years, 2 l.p.’s and 1 EP, running a studio and performing live in dedicated festivals and venues. How do you manage in keeping high quality in your art, regarding a full schedule and liabilities?
H: I am very lucky to be able to make music a living. I work very hard to always have actualities. I alternate between composition, visuals, promotion, tour, sound engineer work, now label work etc. I’m never bored, I always have something to do, something in mind. I’m a work addict, but it’s called passion.
Hante., along with other artists, is on the top rank in cold wave/synth wave international, an attractive and very well produced project, combining retro cold wave with modern ideas on synths, using melancholy on the chords and in the arrangements, as well as making songs to dance to. Where does all that music, emerge from?
H: First of all, thanks a lot! It’s really nice to read that! To be honest, I don’t know where it comes from lol I guess it’s a mix of every kind of music I love: 80’s new wave, 90’s electro, independent rock, minimal wave, synth pop… I don’t really think about the style. What is really important to me is the emotions. I can’t like music that makes me feel nothing.
What does really inspire you in composing?
H: My emotions lol! My relation with the world, with the people, my fears, my past, beautiful stories in movies, it can be anything but it’s often sad or melancholic. It must be my «dark side»… I tried a few times but I really can’t write «happy songs» haha. I think the most positive one I composed was ‘One More Dance’ from my first album. It’s a self encouraging song. I’m talking to myself, telling me that I can do it, I can be who I want!
The lyrics in your songs are fitting well with the music. Sometimes are poetic or angry, and sometimes are like statements or descriptive of life’s situations. What drives you in writing these specific lyrics for each song? Does the first root of an idea come out of a melody or out of the lyrics?
H: I always start composing the music, then the lyrics. The music inspires me the words, the theme. Sometimes in English, sometimes in French. Sometimes it doesn’t need a lot of lyrics, sometimes I feel I need to tell a story and describe more things.
Synth Religion: The studio and the label since January 2016. Please share with our readers few things about that, and about how you decided to launch both of them.
H: I first started with the studio during the summer of 2015. I had just taken some mixing and mastering courses and I thought I could help other bands to get the sound they would love to have. I especially love the mastering process!
And then, in January I started the label to self-release my second Hante. album. Last week, I released a new Hante. EP. It’s really hard to find a label that takes the time to promote your work, be very implicated and signing with a label just to have a few free copies didn’t seem interesting to me. Now, I would really like to develop the label part and help other artists. In less than two months, I will release along with the french label Manic Depression the debut album of a German band called Box And The Twins.
I mixed and mastered the entire album in my studio and I loved their music so much that it seemed the next logical step to ask them to be part of the label. I will share some details about this release very soon!!
As an artist involved in the genre, I would ask you to share your opinion on this: During the last years cold and synth wave music have made a blast, and many musicians have got involved in them, as long as many people became fans of the genres, supporting the scene, and others setting up dedicated labels. Why do you think, that genre is so “magnetic” in the underground fanbase?
H: I really can’t explain why this scene exploded over the last few years but I won’t complain ahah! I guess it’s because this music is dark but accessible. So it pleases a lot of different people, not only underground music fans. Also, lots of people are nostalgic of the 80’s. I hope it’s not just a trend, that we are building something that will last and keep evolving.
Hante. is a dark, maybe gothic name for an artist, why did you choose that name?
H: It means «haunt» in French. It’s a really poetic word because you can be haunted by a lot of things, memories, ideas, even songs! It means stay forever» or can describe an obsession. I was looking for one French word starting with a H like Hélène and I saw this tag on a wall near my home. It was written «Ant.» and when you read it in French, it sounds like the word «Hante» and I thought it was perfect. I also kept the dot because it reinforces the idea of not having choices, there are no other possibilities.
Please mention other artists in the genre (cold/synth/ dark wave) you listen to, and comfort you.
H: There are so many! Xeno & Oaklander, H ø r d, Sanne de Neige, Gold Zebra, Nouvelle Phénomène, Empathy Test, Ash Code, Selofan, The Frozen Autumn, Xarah Dion, Void Vision, Roladex, Computer Magic, Opale, Lebanon Hanover, Peine Perdue, Geometric Vision, Dark Door, Sixth June, Monowelt, Kælan Mikla… The scene is really rich and I’m always eager to discover new projects!
Thank you very much for the interview. Add anything you like!
H: Thank you so much for this interview! And I will never say enough to all the people who support me everyday, how grateful I am. I just started to work on a new album to release in 2017, so stay tuned!!