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whisperingsons2016 02Interview with

Fenne Kuppens (vocals), Sander Hermans (synths) and Sander Pelsmaekers (drums) from Whispering Sons

One of the most promising bands in Europe in the Post Punk genre is clearly WHISPERING SONS. This quintet hails from a small town in Belgium called Houthalen/ Helchteren and their EP ‘Endless Party’ is a masterpiece. They describe their own music as “Belgian post-punk breathing dark and atmospheric sounds”, with a touch of Shoegaze. The singularity of the band comes mainly from the low, dark voice of their (female) singer, Fenne Kuppens, which evokes NICO, LEBANON HANOVER and MRS ARAFNA (NOVEMBER NÖVELET). Our journalist Phil Blackmarquis caught up with the band in Brussels.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Can you introduce yourself? Where do you come from?
Fenne Kuppens [FK]: We’re WHISPERING SONS. We come from Houthalen/ Helchteren, close to Genk, in Belgium.

RoD: How can you describe your music?
Sander Pelsmaekers [SP]: We have a description that says it all: it’s Belgian postpunk breathing dark and atmospheric sounds.
Sander Hermans [SH]: It’s a blond female singer on the stage trying to exorcise her demons, while four musicians are playing dark postpunk.
SP: The easiest term is “Post Punk”. We have influences from Coldwave, Darkwave and a bit of Shoegaze but Post Punk is a good overall term.

Rwhisperingsons endlesspartyoD: Do you agree with the exorcism stuff, Fenne?
FK: I’m afraid I have to agree. It’s very weird for me because I don’t know what’s going on on stage really, but apparently, I…
SH: She’s going crazy on stage. (laughs)

RoD: Can you tell me which band or which song made you realize in the beginning that you wanted to play this music?
SH: For me, it was when I met the other guys three years ago and they asked me whether I wanted to play in a band. They wanted to do a cover of ‘Second Skin’ by THE CHAMELEONS. So I listened to it and for me it was clear that it was the music I wanted to play.
SP: We kept on listening to new bands like THE SOUND, AND ALSO THE TREES etc. and tried to play the songs while at the same time creating our own music. And little by little, we evolved and developed our own style.
FK: For me, I’m not really an expert in the field. The guys introduced me into the genre and I can say that what I’ve heard I really love. I love the feeling, the darkness. I’m really glad I met them!

RoD: Did you sing before or was it the first project in which you were singing?
FK: I had some solo stuff but not very big…

RoD: Was it in the same style of singing?
FK: I was singing higher. I discovered my voice a year ago, in fact.

RoD: Can you explain how it happened?
FK: It happened because I was listening to a lot to female singers who were singing very low like Chinawoman or Xiu Xiu. They are very expressive and low voices. It made me rethink my own vocals, I think.

Rwhisperingsons2016 01oD: And you noticed it resonated inside?
FK: Yes! It was easier as well. Before that, I was stressed about being able to sing the high parts and stuff, while now, I can put my feelings and expression in it and it’s easier for me.

RoD: People also compare your voice to Nico.
FK: Yes.
RoD: I also find comparisons with LEBANON HANOVER…
FK: OK…
RoD: And their predecessors: NOVEMBER NÖVELET.
FK: I’ don’t know this band.
RoD: It’s the side project of HAUS ARAFNA.
SH: Great, we’re discovering new bands! (laughs)

RoD: What is the process when you’re composing? Are you jamming together or is somebody coming with a new song?
SP: I think it’s a combination of both. Kobe or Sander will typically come with an idea on the guitar or the synth and we will all try to get our own involvement in the song.
SH: It can also start with something on the bass or a drum part. It’s a natural process. It’s not like there’s one songwriter with session musicians. I think everyone is pretty much involved.

RoD: And do the vocals come after?
FK: Yeah. When we jam, I sing my melodies using random words and then I write the lyrics.

RoD: How are you going to evolve in the future? You’ve made a very good start up to now: it’s obvious for everybody. You have the EP on cassette and on vinyl. Are you going to evolve towards a more “indie mainstream” like EDITORS, HORRORS, etc.?
SP: I don’t think anyone of us is thinking about such a move. We want to keep on playing our own music without making compromises. We like what we are doing right now and we will see what will happen with it.
SH: Look at THE SOFT MOON: he’s been playing major festivals and he still sticks to his own sound.
SP: If there must be a breakthrough, it will be in the kind of music that we are playing and that we like.

whisperingsons stRoD: If you want to do like THE SOFT MOON, then you have to support DEPECHE MODE in their next tour! (laughs) My last question is: could you select a few songs that you would like to share with us? Maybe first of all an old song? I was thinking about the song that gave you your name: ‘Whispering Sons’?
FK: Yes, it’s a song by a Danish band called MORAL. That’s where our name comes from. It’s the first song we played as a cover in the new band setup, i.e., with me as a singer. So, there’s always been a special feel to it. It was always a special moment during rehearsals. It was the climax…

RoD: Do you play it live?
FK: No.
RoD: I think you should…
SH: Maybe we can play it sometime in the future, as a tribute…

RoD: And a second selection?
SH: The second is ‘Second Skin’ by THE CHAMELEONS. We already talked about it. It was the first song that got us together even before Fenne joined us.

RoD: And a last one?
SP: It will be a song by THE SOFT MOON, ‘Insides’ from the album ‘Zeroes’, which we also covered at the beginning. He (Luis Vasquez) is inspiring us to do what we do. He’s getting a lot of attention while doing his own thing.

RoD: …without making compromises.
SP: Yes: that’s what we like about him. We really like his work…

RoD: OK, thank you very much and good luck for the future!
FK-SH-SP: Thank you!

To order the EP ‘Endless Party’: https://whisperingsons.bandcamp.com/
To listen to the complete WAVES Radio Show click HERE!

(Live photography courtesy of Bram Scheerlinck)



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