November Ultra im Interview über „bedroom walls“, Overthinking und Perfektionismus
November Ultra hat vor zwei Wochen ihr Debütalbum „bedroom walls“ veröffentlicht. Bereits mit ihrer ersten EP „honey please be soft & tender“ spielte sie sich in der Herz der internationalen Bedroom-Pop Szene. Mit „bedroom walls“ veröffentlicht sie nun ein weiteres Werk, dass uns einen tiefen Einblick in die Psyche der Französin schenkt. Unser Redakteur Basti hat sich mit ihr via Zoom getroffen und ein sehr intensives Gespräch über das Album, Gedakenspiralen und Perfektionismus geführt.
Your debut album „bedroom walls“ will be released soon. How do you feel about it?
I feel so excited! I really can’t wait. I feel like I was pregnant for too long, I want to meet my child at this point. And I want people to meet them. I’ve been living with this album for two years. I really want it to be out in the world. It’s been a beautiful journey.
You wrote your album in your own bedroom. What does your bedroom mean to you? Why do you feel most comfortable there?
Don’t you feel comfortable in your bedroom? I think it’s a general feeling, it’s the only place where you can put your mask off. If you’re really sad, you can feel your sadness. If you’re really angry, you can feel your anger. I think just to be able to compose there, that’s what made me able to get in touch with so much stuff, that I maybe would’nt have faced in the studio. I always tend to compose very quickly. I compose lyrics and melodies and instrumentals at the same time, so it just kinda makes sense to record there at the same time, in that same gesture. I was like: I like it that way, I tink I’m gonna keep it that way. I don’t wanna go to a studio and re-record this. soft & tender was recorded and made in my bedroom over a weekend and then I realized – once I had soft & tender – that I really just enjoyed myself doing it this way and it made so much sense and I felt so honest and so real; at the same time feeling so much joy doing it. There’s something there I really want to explore and that just ended up being the rest of the album. Some songs were literally made in my bedroom, but I think symbolicly every song was made in my bedroom state of mind.
What do you think would be different if you hadn’t written the album in your own bedroom?
I think the feeling of it. I think you can sense that there is a lot of organic feels to the recordings. You can hear the cracks of the bed, you can hear birds… On the first Song of the album, it’s a voice note on my iPhone and my neighbor was acutally constructing something and so you can hear the hammer beating against the wall. What I liked about it and why I kept that recording as it is, is: it kinda illustrated my state of my mind so well. I felt like I was in shambles personally, physically and psychologically and I love the idea that I didn’t go against it. I wasn’t like: I’ll wait for my neighbor to stop and then record, I was like: okey the noise is there, which was also the noise that was going to my head. I thought: I’m going to to go with it, I’m going to embrace it and I think also that this is what the album is in a way. It’s how you embrace all what could feel like imperfections, but I think imperfections bring the life to music, bring life to everything. That’s really what I wanted to keep in the album. I went to the studio to reproduce some stuff, but it was always about keeping the reality and the realness of my feelings and of my vocals. Sometimes I’ve chosen vocal picks that were technically very wrong or not very well recorded, but had the magic, the feeling of what is was saying, what I was going through. Everything was choice of how much life I want to keep in the album.
What do your bedroom walls look like?
My bedroom has a lot of things written on the walls and there’s a list of concerts that I’ve seen. Everytime my friends came to my place, they would write on the wall and draw on the wall and there are pictures and posters… There’s a lot of stuff and lot of books there and a lot of objects. Everywhere you look there’s something that links me to something that I love. The walls of my bedrooms always have been a way for me to feel less lonely and very much confident and remind of my family, friends and all the people that I love. It’s a very intimate place, because it’s the only place, where I am by myself. I always feel very hugged by my bedroom.
Emotions play a big role in your record. Love is a very present topic, especially the hurtful part of it – would you say that this is a heartbreak album?
No. When I started making this album, I realized that it’s a lot about I. This is what I feel, what I go through, this how I relate to people. I was about learning my quirks in a way, like how nostalgic I am… nostalgia / ultra is really about the fact that I have a very good memory. I tend to have a very hard time forgetting and not remembering, so I kinda go through life with all this memories and souvenirs and so it is about the questions: how do you live in the present and how do you envision your future, when you’re stuck in the past so much. nostalgia / ultra was about me figuring that out. When you have the first Song, which is me literally saying “I’m losing my mind” and then you have the last Song, which is… I felt so at peace when I wrote it. When I wrote open arms I felt like I understood so much about how you can love people. You have to love them with open arms and you have to let them go, because you can’t possess people. So it was really more of a journey through all the knots that I had never entied. I think it has heartache, I think it also has happiness. There are songs that I don’t find sad and then people listen to it and they feel a bit sad when they are listening to it.
Your album, but especially the song monomania, is pretty much about loving someone in an obsessive and hurtful way. In the end of the song, you can free yourself from that feeling by letting go of the other person. What would you recommend to people who are going through this hurtful process right now?
monomania was actually about my depression. It’s the same sentence you say over and over again when you’re in a depressive episode. That’s how you feel, stuck in a maze. But le manège is about you being so obsessive and so monomaniac. I don’t think that I have a solution for it, because I’m still very much into it. I think it’s a way for me to love and to crush on someone. I feel like I’m very obsessive with people and films and books and everything around. You have to be obsessive and monomaniac to finish an album. But I think at the point where it gets hurtful we have to something with it. Maybe verbalize it, maybe talk about it with friends, family, write it down… Sometimes when I’m obsessing over someone, I’m obsessing over the idea of a person and not who they are in real life and sometime just talking or saying “I really, really like you” that can actually help I think. Like deescalating the process of being really obsessed with someone. But I don’t really have a solution. I’m a scorpio, a very deep person. I’m a obsessive bitch! *laughs*
November Ultra – le manège
„November Ultra“ is not only a reference to your birth month, but also to Frank Ocean’s mixtape „Nostalgia Ultra“. What inspires you about Frank Ocean? Do you have a favorite Frank Ocean song that you would recommend?
His way of making music! There was a sense of how much fun can I have making music. How many rules can I break? Why are rules made? We say “play music”, so it has to be playful. Every time I was doing a song I don’t wanted it to finish where I thought it would finish. I wanted it to be a journey. I think Frank Ocean… with his album he is breaking the rules. When you come back after Nostalgia Ultra, which is a mixtape. He released this for free where I he reworks Songs, like very rule was broken with that mixtape in a way. And then he comes back with a single, that is seven minutes long, that is called Pyramids. What makes music so beautiful is the palette of how many Songs and feelings you gonna have, from the most simple thing to the most complex one. I think Frank Ocean has that stuff that I love: he’s an amazing vocalist, an amazing songwriter, an amazing producer. It’s also the independence he has with his music. He makes the music, he is the music. He is in every sound chosen and every word and every lyric and every vocal. I think I don’t make the same kind of music that Frank Ocean makes, but I hope I make it in the same way, in the same intensity and care for details and love. That’s what really inspires me, but I love so much about him.
Voice and language in general seem to be very important to you. There are three different languages on the album: French, Spanish and English. What do the three different languages mean to you?
I was born and raised in a house where I spoke three languages. Every language is a way of me of relating to someone in my life. Spanish is linked to my family, to my mum and my dad, to Spain and my grandparents, so every language has that kind of weight in way of comfort linked to people I love in my life. At the same time I didn’t want my mum to understand what I’m saying when I was singing, because I was very shy and I wasn’t talking about my feelings like teenagers do. So the only language she didn’t understand was English. That’s why I started to write in English. It kind of became my safe space and I just love writing in English more than anything. It got kind of interesting to go into Spanish and French, because then again… I was talking how playful you can be with creating an album, how much you can explore with sound, with vocals. You can also explore through different languages that you use. And I’m really lucky that I speak a lot of languages. I realized that that acutally opened different parts of my personality. When I wrote and sang in Spanish, I didn’t do it in the same was I do it in English or French. Suddenly I became very Diva. Even when I’m singing in Spanish on stage I kind of become another part of my personality. It feels so nice, because it’s never ending. That means that I can do a hundred albums and it’s never going to be over in a sense of fun I get from it. I also think that I served to enlighten some words. When you have a whole Song in one language and there are two sentences in another language, there’s a care of what that means, because these are the only words in a different languages.
You gotta play some shows in France this year. What makes you excited about being on tour with your album?
Meeting people. I always felt love during concerts, it’s my favourite place. Singing for people, singing is my favourite thing in the world. Singing in front of people is part of it. I started doing concepts in July last year and it was beyond expactations of being beyond of people and connecting with them. Kate Tempest, they are a spoken words artist from England, they wrote that book about connection trough creations, so for example concerts and how that links to people, that sometimes for example on paper we wouldn’t link, because we’re not from the same background, the same country, the same beliefs or whatever. And how in concerts there’s that thing like magic and they were saying how the sang in front of people in prison and like the next day they were singing in front of very privileged people in a high-end museum in London and how every night the connection was actually there and how they were able to connect with the people. I think that’s why I like doing the concerts. I don’t know the people and they don’t know me, but after 40 minutes or an hour, we feel so connected. I always get out of there so energized, so full of love. If you can even only connect to one person, that’s crazy. And honestly singing Songs live to people and also meeting the people that actually listen to my songs when we were unable to perform. Everything truly feels magical. It’s also the second part of releasing an album I think. Songs are meant to be sang, it’s an act of sharing. It’s not a book, you can read by yourself. Songs I a part of making songs, why you do songs. Because I didn’t have concerts I made so many videos on Social Media. Because I needed that moment of sharing with people. Now I get to do that in real life. It’s crazy and beautiful.
November Ultra – open arms
Will there also be any shows for your german fans soon?
I think it’s in the work, because I really want to come! Some people have expressed, that they really want me to come, so I do think… I hope, if life is nice with us and when the things going on in the world are allowing it to happen… for sure, I want to come to Germany.
Final Question: You say listening to the album again and again means listening to it each time with a new perspective and more experience. What would the latest version of yourself tell the one that listens to the album for the first time?
I think I would tell myself: Let go of that perfectionism. I had an idea what I wanted the album to be, when I started it and then it up being whatever it wanted to be. That was the best lesson that I learned from my album; that it just made itself. I was just going along with the ride. It was made with so many people from the beginning to the end, so it’s just… work your ass off, go the details, because love is in the details. It’s going to be fine. I would tell myself: Keep working, but don’t worry; it’s going to be what you wanted. Not like you expected it, but it’s going to be what you hoped it would be.
Foto: Pauline Darley