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Hante.’s music is a paragon of melancholy and cool heaviness. Some call it Dark Wave or Synth Wave. Others prefer the even older name Cold Wave, which originates in the periphery of the French label New Rose Records. Hélène de Thoury was not yet born when the label began its work, but since 2013, the Parisian has produced melancholic, mostly minimal electronic music with a brilliance that far outshines that of many of her predecessors of the early 1980s. A title like Fierce may not quite fit into the image of hers so far. However, Hélène had good reasons to name her fourth album exactly so and not otherwise.

That’s quite a strong name for an album. What was the idea behind this title?
Before even starting to compose for the new album, I had the idea to call it Tomorrow Is A New Day. I thought it was a nice evolution after This Fog That Never Ends and Between Hope & Danger. This time, I knew I wanted to add a few more optimistic lyrics. Then I composed the introduction of the album and had these words in my mind that were fitting perfectly. I could have kept the same title for this song and the album but after all those months working on the songs, an idea was missing. The idea of strength.
More than something optimistic, I wanted to show that there is no resignation, no self-pity. We can be sad, we can feel down, but deep inside there’s this light that keeps us going, a form of survival, something animalistic, instinctive. And I thought that the word Fierce was the perfect word to describe this.

What is the album about, generally speaking?
It’s a mixture of obsessions, passion, toxic relationships, wild drives, self-destruction, with a hint of hope and recovery.

How do you work? How does an album evolve usually?
I work all by myself, mostly in my bedroom with my computer, my headphones and a little master keyboard. I compose, I record my vocals, I mix, I master the song. But more recently, some of my friends are getting more involved in the label and it helps me a lot! I’m realising that it’s starting to be really hard to handle everything by myself, I’m very often overwhelmed and I try to delegate more and more.

“Deep inside there’s something animalistic, instinctive. Fierce was the perfect word to describe this.“

For Unknown you collaborated with Sólveig Matthildur of Kælan Mikla. How did that collaboration come into being? And, since she lives in Iceland, how did you work?
We met in September 2017 in Paris, we shared the same stage with Kælan Mikla that night. It was surreal because I was a bit impressed to meet her as I really liked Kælan Mikla’s music and Sólveig’s solo project but it was the same for her! She told me that she was a big fan of my work and when I left after the show, I said “we should do a song together”.
A few months later, I sent her a song without vocals and asked her if she was inspired. She added a synth line and sent me some vocals a few days later and it was absolutely perfect. We decided that I should sing the backing vocals and I really love how our voices sound together. This is one of my favourite songs of the album. Sólveig really put some magic into it.

And for Nobody’s Watching you collaborated with Fragrance. and Marble Slave.
Marble Slave and Fragrance. are two solo projects and two of my best friends! They are living in Paris, so for this collaboration, we’ve been able to see each other to work on the song. Even if most of it has been composed separately and sent via internet. I think the song is a perfect mix between all our styles, you can hear all the characteristic sounds of Marble Slave, Fragrance. and Hante. in it.
About these projects: anybody who doesn’t know them should really have a listen and I don’t say that just because they’re my friend [laughs]. These guys are so talented! I’ve released the last Marble Slave EP Surveillance on my label Synth Religion last year and I’m about to release Fragrance.’s debut album Now That I’m Real on February 22.

This is the first time for Hante. that there are male voices to be heard; on Nobody’s Watching and on No Tenderness as well – on the latter, Ætervader is singing almost solo. Were you surprised by the acoustic outcome?
On Nobody’s Watching you can hear our three voices. Marble Slave has a deep voice, Fragrance. a more soft and dreamy one, and I’m doing the backing vocals. On “No Tenderness” my voice is doubling Ætervade’s vocals in the chorus. In fact, I sing on all the collaborations, but it’s only backing vocals.
I didn’t choose to work with male vocals or female vocals on purpose. I mean, I wanted to work with these artists because I admire them and love their work and it happens that three of them are men [laughs]. I didn’t think it was really different to mix male vocals. I used the same kind of effects and it sounded nice right away.

In total, there are strikingly many guests featured on Fierce, which wasn’t the case on your previous releases. Why so?
After the tour I did in Autumn 2017, it was time to work on a new album and I have to say that I was feeling very lonely at this time. I couldn’t stand doing everything alone anymore and I thought it would be nice to do an album with lots of collaborations for once. To feel less alone, to work with amazing artists, to share my passion. I really missed that since Minuit Machine; my other project, which was over back in spring 2016.

“I thought it was important to write a song for those people who suffer everyday.”

What’s the state of affairs regarding Minuit Machine right now? How do you proceed with the album?
We are finishing the new album at the moment! We are super excited about it and we can’t wait to reveal a new single! The album will be released this spring. We are also gonna play some shows after the release, including a few festivals this summer.

Respect is quiet the – relatively – happy dancefloor killer, without the melancholic touch to it people know and love from Hante.. In fact, the song wouldn’t stand out if it was featured on a new Minuit Machine album …
This is the very first song I wrote for the album and I struggled a bit with this one. There are maybe eight versions of it, so some of them must be more melancholic. But it wasn’t really working. What is really important for me in this song are the lyrics. They are inspired by the struggle of a non-binary person from Los Angeles I follow on social media. The song is about how people can make you feel miserable because they don’t respect your difference.
I know it sounds silly, but I really can’t stand people who are not open-minded, who are constantly judging and make people whom they consider different feel miserable. I thought it was important to write a song for those people who suffer everyday. This is just a song but I hope it will give them some strength to face those looks on them.

The video for Wild Animal was directed by Berlin-based Ouroboros Studios. How did that come along? A Paris-based studio would’ve been closer …
They created my very first music video for The Storm. The boss of Stellar Kinematics, my label at that time, told me that some directors from London were working on a video for me but I had no more information and one day he sent me a link and said “this is your video”. It was really weird, since I’m kinda control freak, to not have been involved in the creation. But I loved the video! It was like “wow”!
Five years after, I needed a new music video and I thought about them. I was following their work since then and everything was killer. So I asked them if they could work on Wild Animal like they did on The Storm. I trusted them, I didn’t see any pictures of the shooting, any footage until the very end. I knew it would be beautiful! And since they are based in Berlin now, they shot everything there.

You’re going to play at Wave Gotik Treffen again this year. What do you expect from it?
I am so looking forward to playing at WGT again! I feel like I’ve grown up a lot since the last time I played there. I was younger and impressed. I want to show that I’m fierce now! [laughs]

And, since you’ve played there in the past, is WGT different compared to other festivals/gigs?
WGT is one of the biggest venues I played but what makes it really different is the audience. You can play big festivals and half of the people – or more – are looking at you like an alien because they are waiting for another band that is not exactly the same style as you, but when you play at a WGT venue, you know that you’re gonna meet your audience and that’s what makes the experience so amazing.

What else is planned for Hante. for the coming months?
I will be touring the US at the end of April, beginning of May with my great friends Box.And.The.Twins, it’s gonna be a blast! I also just signed with Artery Global, they're gonna handle my booking now for Europe. I will be playing a few gigs and festivals in the next months, supporting Lebanon Hanover on a few shows this Autumn and I will be touring in November with a very special guest – soon to be announced!

hante. fears album cover artwork
The album Fierce was released on January 29th via Synth Religion and Metropolis Records.

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