A conversation with Charlotte Adigéry.
Unless you’ve been living under a cultural rock, you’ve probably already heard of Charlotte Adigéry. If not, WWWATER might ring a bell? Still nothing? Jeez. We recommend to instantly open your preferred streaming service and type in that name as fast as you can. As the whole Covid story is draining life out of everything music, festival and culture related, we were obviously interested in how one of the most promising artists of 2020 is handling things right now. With cancelled performances all over the world and the release of an album just around the corner, we can only hope for the best. Let’s get straight to it…
First and foremost: how are you?
“Actually pretty good. Zen. I implemented a routine, I meditate and I’m really enjoying being at home and slowing down the pace for the moment. Living the ‘slow life’. Sometimes I do get overwhelmed with the feeling that everything we’ve built up until now will be completely non relevant which isn’t cool, man.”
Describe your first reaction to the news a lockdown would be implemented in Belgium in one word.
“HAHA”, because I thought it was absolutely absurd – in the sense of ‘what is happening?!’”
Did you think we’d still be locked inside our own houses more than six weeks after the announcement?
“Somewhere, somehow, my exhausted self was kinda hoping for it. The longer the better actually, so we can all come out of this fresh and rested. I was worried that if this would be over too quickly and people enjoyed their downtime too much, nobody would have learned anything from this situation. On the other hand, I’m realising more and more that this will have major consequences for artists – among others.”
An obvious question would be: how do you keep yourself busy? Knowing you: probably with music and weird stuff. So I prefer to ask: what are you trying to avoid during this lockdown? Are there things that you consciously ignore?
“Well, indeed: music and weird stuff! (Laughs) Talking to my plants has become a part of my daily routine. But things I actually avoid? I would have to say Instagram. “I actually deleted my account and it feels so liberating. I enjoy focussing on things that ‘actually matter’. You really notice a lot of people that desperately want – or need – to share their thoughts like “Hey I’m still here, please don’t forget about me! Right here!”.
That anxiety is very understandable and, I admit, is also present with me. But I don’t think it’s an actual relevant medium to express your art or creativity. A lot of those live sessions you see nowadays seem very forced, in weird environments like someone’s home office for example. To be clear, I’m absolutely not judging anyone because I do understand why some people feel the need to do so. However, the fear of being forgotten stays present. Will people still know who I am when we get out of this? We were able to build a name for ourselves and create some international awareness with our project, had a lot of cool plans for the summer, so let’s hope things will get picked up where we left.”
There’s a certain pressure that is imposed on social media to “achieve something” during this lockdown. New skill, new language, self-development, … As one of the most opinionated people I know, I don’t see you directly influenced by this. Or … are you?
“We live in a meritocracy I believe. And I think people just always feel the need and pressure to make use of every single second they have in a day. Subconsciously a lot of people (me incl.) believe that we have to earn happiness. And happiness would only be earned by productivity and working towards self-perfection. I think we’d learn WAY more if we’d learn to embrace silence and practice as the Italians put it ‘Il dolce far niente’. There’s so much we’re overlooking because we’re busy all the time. Fuck a new language, how ’bout learning to understand what your body is saying?”
What’s your favorite useless skill?
“I actually have A LOT of useless skills (laughs). But my favourite would be that I can pet a cat REALLY WELL. It doesn’t even matter which or what cat. I’m just like some kind of a ‘cat whisperer’ or professional masseuse to them. They really go nuts when I get a hold of them.”
What are you missing the most in confinement at the moment?
“EVERYTHING! But if I have to choose, probably traveling…”
Who are you missing the most in confinement at the moment?
“I can see my mom, but I can’t hold her. Which sucks… Besides that I obviously miss my friends who I can’t see.”
Do you think there is a future in online platforms for artists? Live stream concerts without physically present people?
“That’s a tough question… I guess there will have to be something like that, but it just won’t be as interesting as the real deal. There’s only one livestream I actually checked, which was by Erykah Badu, but I only saw a fragment of it. I had to leave because I just couldn’t connect with it. I couldn’t feel that energy you normally feel at a performance.”
A wave of abundance is coming our way from artists but also random people who are releasing new material. Is a quality label an option to separate the wheat from the chaff? Or should “consumers” continue to decide for themselves?
“Very good question, but I have no idea! One of the beautiful things about the internet is the freedom the person has who’s uploading, creating or performing. But also, the freedom that the people who are looking for stuff have. Deciding for themselves what’s ‘quality’ or what’s good. I think it’s important to let underground artists/bands/performers keep doing their thing without labeling. Having said that: there will indeed be an abundance, but in my opinion that it’s the artist’s job to differentiate or reinvent themselves.
Speaking for myself, I can tell people sometimes don’t really dig our vibe on recorded media, but then totally understand us when they see us perform live. However, it looks like we won’t be able to perform live any time soon, so we will have to adapt. It would be useless to fight against it. We’ll just have to reinvent ourselves and come up with new ways to entertain our fans. In the end, that’s the beauty of music and art: people adapt to certain restrictions and situations and sometimes the most beautiful pieces are created in the harshest of times.”
You will be appointed as Deputy Minister of Culture (move over Jambon) tomorrow, what would be the first thing you would do?
“I would mainly listen. I would listen to what all of those artists and cultural houses have to say and see if there’s a pattern, or maybe even a collective flaw in the system.”
“It’s hard, because I don’t know what would be possible financially. Because as soon as you actually want to ‘do’ anything, you need money. Maybe a new TV-channel? A channel where literally everything is possible, an actual ‘art-dump’. VICE is actually quite good in achieving that, but it’s still too ‘hipster’ sometimes. I think TV as we know it is way too strict. It takes the opinion of ‘the average Vlaming’ too much into account. TV makers would be surprised how much people would actually love some more ‘edgy’ stuff on their screens. Some ‘real shit’.”
And now… your wishlist of 5 locations you would love to perform. You can choose from absolutely everything, going from restaurants to Sketch’s toilets in London to a suspension bridge in Brazil…”
“Not to be bitter, but we were going to play Glastonbury In June, which would’ve been awesome. So I’d put that on number 1.
I can travel in time for this, right? Then I’d put the very first edition of Burning Man on number 2. Martinique on 3, performing for ‘my people’. Maybe Berghain on 4? I actually almost played a DJ set at Panorama Bar, but I was sick that day…
And last but definitely not least, another impossible one: I would’ve loved to play a private concert for David Bowie and Prince, both in the same room.”
Which question would you like someone to ask you? Feel free to reply.
Cool! OK… “Hi Charlotte Adigéry! Big fan! I notice a similarity in the use of the N-word in American hip hop and the Flemish comedy scene. Philippe Geubels, for instance, isn’t afraid of using it. Guga Baul, Alex Agnew, … What do you think of that?
Well! That’s a good question, Charlotte Adigéry! I think it’s completely absurd and outdated. I also notice that when people are confronted with the use of that word, especially in the Flemish context, they always have an opinion on the matter. “I don’t mean it in THAT way” or “I think that ‘black person’ is worse than that word”… Which makes me think: guys, maybe you should listen to the opinions of the people who it’s about? Because this N-word doesn’t think it’s funny – at all. So let’s just stop already, please?”
Complete the sentence…
THIS YEAR… is surreal, absurd, never thought I’d experience this.
NEXT YEAR… I’ll hopefully be on a stage again!
BUT NOW… I’m going to accept things as they are, meditate, be zen and enjoy the little things in life.