Interview with luminous songwriter HEBE


Image credits: Chloé Leenheer

HEBE writes music in the crawling space between hope and despair. Her views on life and the current state of the world are a strong influence on her music, which can be described as a stark juxtaposition between a soft voice and a hard topic. In other words, this musical humanist does not shy away from bracing difficult subjects but instead bares her spirit to the public, writing songs that meander along rivulets of rhyme and rivers of poetry. 

While discussing her music, HEBE describes her love of the piano, the vulnerability of being human, the dichotomy of existence, and many more interesting tidbits. In our time together, we discovered a lovable, warm-hearted individual with much to share with the world. Without further delay, here is HEBE:

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

I guess I’d say Empowering Alternative-folk, combining personal lyrics with many layers of harmonies and an organic, warming and gentle sound.

Which three albums have influenced you the most creatively?

Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago The Weepies – Say I am You.

Tell us about the key pieces of equipment that you use to define your sound?

Vocal layers, as many as possible to create some stunning harmonies! The Piano has always been my foundation. A song gets created, for me, around the piano, and in every song I feel I need the sound of a piano somewhere. I have always loved the combination of the organic sound of a piano in contrast with an electronic kick or synth bass. These elements complement each other so well.

Is there any “non-musical” ingredient that is essential to crafting your sound?

As a young girl, I felt life was pretty frightening and for a large part I am still that same girl. Through songwriting and singing, I can express myself and feel less alone. In a time when the world is in crisis – a heavy mixture of chaos, unjustness, sadness – it is very comforting to listen to and exchange, share and create stories. I love to search for those in music. Above everything else I feel human, dealing with this crazy thing called life. Some days I laugh out loud when I think of this insanely beautiful universe, other days I get so frustrated that we’re misusing it to so many extents. I guess these two sides get reflected in my music and the music I listen to. I love to feel hope and empowerment in music, without losing the depth and versatility of life and its dark side.

Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

I love working in the studio: creating a song and playing around with all kinds of layers. However, performing my music live and getting a response to new songs I just created is insane and something I would never want to miss.

What has been your most memorable performance so far?

My release concert at Bitterzoet in November 2022 in Amsterdam! Finally singing again with a full band, and almost all my friends, family, and music colleagues were there, which made this concert special to begin with. I’ve had a rough year and the music on this album has been written during this year. I felt I could talk openly and share my experiences, without getting overly earnest or sounding too depressed. At the end of my new song ‘Drink on My Own’ the whole crowd was singing along; I’ll never forget that.

And which performance would you prefer to forget?

Luckily a long time ago, so let’s not bring it up again 😉

Any new or emerging artists on your radar?

Beryl Anne is releasing a lovely record soon <3

If you could collaborate with, or perform alongside any artist, who would it be? And why?

Bon Iver – to me he is inspiring in so many ways. He’s an amazing musician, creator, and producer. You can feel how much he loves music. I think it’s very impressive how he fluently keeps searching and takes adventures using different genres and instrumentation on his musical path.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be?

Besides making music I also love spending time creating videos and designing artwork that suits the music and acting. If music would not have been my path (which is hard to imagine I have to say), I guess I would have loved to direct videos, documentaries, and theatre plays.

Tell us about any upcoming shows or releases you have in the pipeline.

I’m releasing my final single ‘Make it go quiet’ in August before the complete album drops in October. I’ll celebrate the album release with a concert at Studio 150 in Amsterdam.

Watch the official video for ‘Drink on My Own’ below:

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