Küchensession #122 | Intergalactic Lovers

INTERGALACTIC LOVERS ON THE WEB: www.intergalacticlovers.com

Intergalactic Lovers. Such a gorgeous name for this adventure series. Episode #1 goes as follows: Four childhood friends record the purest kind of pop album. Their songs get plenty of airplay, after which the band even travels all the way to Texas and Toronto to play. Their debut is certified gold and they sell out their favourite concert venues. To be continued.

Intergalactic Lovers are a band of friends. ‘These guys are like my brothers, my best pals’, says Lara (Chedraoui, vocals). ‘It’s like I’ve joined a family. But I guess you can see that for yourself whenever we’re on stage. Our greatest feat is definitely the fact that we also meet up outside the band context.’

The 2011 Dour Festival gig was a turning point. ‘Our booking agent had told us: ‘Don’t worry. Intergalactic Lovers are no festival band, you do better in regular venues.’ But it turned out that the festival tent was packed. Was it raining? Nope. 5,000 people had shown up just for us. Raf (De Mey, bass) made this slight movement with his hand and the entire tent started to roar. ‘During ‘Shewolf’ and ‘Delay’ I felt like Lord Sauron and his army. I got so emotional I started to cry.’ ‘Greetings & Salutations’ (2011), the debut album, received rave reviews and went gold in Belgium. ‘The nicest compliment came from a critic who said our sound was ‚timeless.‘ He even reanimated this timeworn word just for us’, says Raf.

The official gold-record ceremony took place during a gig in the sold-out Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, Belgium, on December 2. ‘Whenever I see those images again – you know – we were so moved’, says Lara. ‘The four of us just stood there, thinking ‚gosh, this the Ancienne Belgique we’re playing.’ If it had been me in the audience, I would just have shouted: ‘Guys, come on, just relax! Everything is fine.’’

Success came with a bit of a cost, though. ‘2011 was a terrific year. But it was also tough,’ says Lara. ‘We hadn’t actually understood what was coming our way. We were no youngsters either. We had jobs, families… And then all of a sudden our record company said: what about Holland? You know, you can’t agree on that kind of stuff when you form a band, and it’s pretty damn hard to try and combine these things. But we’ve learned from it, so, yes, we are definitely prepared now!’

The good news is: the turmoil also yielded an album. ‘I had a writer’s block for a frighteningly long time. And then all of a sudden, there was a kind of verbal diarrhoea, an avalanche of words that had been waiting to be set free. It was the outcome of everything that had happened to the band and to myself in the past three years.’

This is what is so remarkable about ‘Little Heavy Burdens’ (2014): it constitutes a whole, as it is a constructed story. ‘The first album was the result of unrelated sessions’, says Raf. ‘There was no real vision. This album has been thought out. It is more consistent.’

Another remarkable fact is the album’s finesse. ‘I just love sounds and this record is brimming with little details’, says Lara. ‘The synths at the beginning of ‘Obstinate Heart’, for instance, sound like a ship on the ocean to me. Every track has its own décor and timbre. We have also made more use of our musical knowledge. Maarten is a walking catalogue of sounds. A Bulgarian cowbell anyone? No problem!’

Intergalactic Lovers have, once again, teamed up with German producer Thomas Harsem. ‘We have no band leader. Therefore, the role of the producer is all the more important’, says Maarten (Huygens, guitar). ‘We need him to make the tough decisions.’ Writing songs is such an intensive process you know. Things aren’t ready until everybody says they are. ‘Whenever I sing a new lyric, I really don’t want to see their faces’, says Lara, ‘So they have to go and hide somewhere in our rehearsal space. That’s so cute, isn’t it?’

Harsem has really thought things through, way into the decimals. ‘It all had to be technically perfect, yet not without feel’, says Raf. ‘So he kept twisting and turning. ‘I’m going to keep pushing you guys, because I know it’s in there,’ he used to say. It turned out to be an expensive kind of team building (laughs).’ One can barely understand that the album was recorded in Tuscany. ‘Only the cicadas at the beginning of ‘The Fall Pt. 1’ are Italian.’

The early scenes of episode #2 are outstanding. Intergalactic Lovers have once again sold out the Ancienne Belgique, a fact that is simply based on the announcement that a new album was due. According to the band, ‘Little Heavy Burdens’ is both ‘atmospheric, catchy, melancholic and therapeutic.’ Or in one word: ‘timeless’. The future will be long.

Intergalactic Lovers. Little Heavy Burdens. Warner Music Benelux. Grand Hotel van Cleef Germany/Austria/Switzerland. 2014.

Lara Chedraoui (vocals)
Brendan Corbey (drums)
Maarten Huygens (guitars)
Raf De Mey (bass)

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