Maxim Meyer-Horn

5 Jun 2020

Blanche: “I Had A Hard Time Accepting My Deep Voice”

After a three-year-long process, Ellie Delvaux aka Blanche is finally putting out her first album. Her phenomenal performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2017, impressed Europe and her album ‘Empire’ will move even more people. With the help of Rich Cooper (BANKS and Lucy Rose) and François Gustin (Girls In Hawaii), Blanche made an intriguing body of work with 13 cinematic and contemporary pop songs. While having a walk in the city, the singer talked to us about the meaning of her debut and being a young artist in the industry.

Let’s talk about your new album Empire, which is finally coming out after three years. What’s the biggest life lesson you learned in those years?

I can’t really say one exact thing. I definitely learned about life, though. The more music you make and the more songs you write, the more you understand who you are and what you want to do in life.

You made the album in London and Brussels. Did that help you get different perspectives on the songs?

It definitely influenced things a lot. A song can be influenced by many factors like your current mood, the people in the room, and their moods, but also the space you’re in. Being in London, another city with another mood and other cultures, inspired me in another way. When I’m in Brussels, I wake up in my own place, go to the studio, and go back to my place. In London, I’m living somewhere else. I’m interacting with different people. It was very interesting to get to experiment with people from different cultures and experiences.

Empire is such a mesmerizing contemporary pop album. How would you describe the concept of the album?

I never really think about what kind of album I’m going to make. In the beginning, I just wanted to write the songs that I wanted to write and that I feel good with. I would only block myself if I limited myself to a single concept. The kind of album I was making and the kind of songs that would fit inside of it were decisions for later.

Of course, now that I look back at it, I can look at the songs I made and link them all together. I think the true concept of the album is life. It’s about honesty and sincerity with yourself and with others. Life can be full of doubts, but the main thing that you can be sure of is how you choose to live your own life.

The album is a mixture of melancholic songs, but the total picture comes across as very hopeful. Why do you think that feeling of hope stays with you after the album?

I made the album with the idea that people can bring their own meaning into it. So, if you felt hopeful, that’s because you wanted to feel hopeful. People can make it into whatever they want. I leave the message open for people to give them space to feel things. If I fill it up with details about my own life, it may be harder to relate. Sometimes though, I make songs that are very specific to my own life. In “Lonely” I do try to bring that message of hope.

One of our favorites on the album is “Want To Miss You”. What’s the story behind that song?

It sounds really stupid, but at the beginning of my relationship, when I couldn’t see my boyfriend, I would just cry all day. I didn’t know how I could spend even a minute without him. The song is about that feeling of being incredibly in love. When you’re a couple in love, you think you’re the most in love you could ever be. You think your connection is stronger than any other couple. You can’t imagine anybody ever feeling that same kind of love towards someone because it’s just so strong. It’s a song about how special that is and how much you want to keep that feeling.

“Summer Nights” is about the pressure artists go through. When did you feel pressure as an artist, and how did that inspire you to write this song?

As I said, a lot of songs are open to interpretation, but this is one of those very specific songs. I feel that pressure every single day. For me, the fun part of being an artist is being in the studio and writing songs. But that’s just a small part of the job. You have to promote things, do so many concerts, manage your social media, and look cool while doing it. It can all be very stressful. You may spend months writing but sharing that music is scary. You just hope that people will like it.

When I was a child and I had a scary dream or something, they would tell me to close my eyes and imagine being at Disneyland. I love that idea of imagining a place and just getting away from all the negative stuff. In this song, I’m trying to tell people that if things are difficult, just close your eyes and it will be okay. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Apart from the wonderful melodies in the album, your special voice acts as the most important instrument. When did you realize you had such a talent?

Well, I didn’t always have a deep voice. When I was younger, I had a little girl’s voice. But when I became a teenager, I had a voice drop like guys would normally have. Back then, I had a hard time accepting my deep voice. At 11 or 12 years old, I started listening to Miley Cyrus. Around that time, she started separating herself from Hannah Montana by making some darker stuff and using her voice in a deeper and darker way. I identified myself with that.

When I got older, I discovered artists like Adele, London Grammar, and Lorde. They all had deeper voices like me, and it helped me realize that a deep voice can be something really beautiful. When I sang their songs, it made me feel less complex about my own voice. The more I sang those songs, the more I could work on my voice and how I could develop my story as a singer.

Let’s talk about the music videos for the album because they seem like paintings come to life. What was the idea behind these visuals?

Our artistic director showed me this painter, Gertrude Abercrombie, and we felt a strong connection to her work. Surrealistic paintings are also open to interpretation, which was also the vibe of the album. So, I thought it was super interesting to bring that artistic movement into my music. It goes hand in hand with the idea I had. I, myself, know the links I’m making to the paintings and my life with the outfits and visuals, but I’m not explaining that to my audience.

Do you think making music videos is still important because they aren’t being broadcasted on television anymore?

The music video I made for “Empire” isn’t just for one song. I wanted to create a whole universe for the album. That’s why we have visuals for each song on social media. It’s all happening in the same universe so, I wanted to make links to all the songs with these visuals.

How are you going to translate the magic of these videos into the live shows?

I have no idea yet. When we started working on those concepts, everything started getting canceled because of the lockdown. We have ideas and concepts, but for right now, that’s what they’ll remain to be. It’s very hard to plan things without having an idea of which venue or place you’ll be performing in, so it’s definitely a bit frustrating. I guess we’ll see.

Empire’ is out Friday  May 29th on all platforms.

Photos by Marie Wynants

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