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Picture Rita Hayworth and Julie London’s love child with Marge Simpson’s hair. When it comes to Dutch chanteuse Lilian Hak, big names appear on the bill almost immediately. Her song I Never Speak to Strangers is the ‘soundtrack to an unmade James Bond movie, while her album Old Powder, New Guns has a ‘Miles Davis-in-Paris-cool’ feel to it. The comparisons may seem extreme, but that’s what happens when you immerse yourself in the atmosphere of famous flicks from the 1950s and 1960s, and come up with a record that’s heavily influenced by scenes from Bacall and Bogart movies. We’ll get to the hairdo later.Read More...
With her big sea green eyes and petite figure, it’s no wonder that Lilian Hak makes smoky, sensual music. Although she’s conservatory trained, acoustic instruments were not her first choice. Her first albums are beat driven, heavy on the electronics and samples, and sparse on the vocals. And she wasn’t making brainless, pounding techno, either. “When I write music, it has a very visual place in my mind. It has a place full of characters, colours and landscapes,” Lilian explains. She worked with famous electronic artists like Scanner and T. Raumschmiere, played venues in Europe and the United States, and supported bands like M83, The Kills and Kashmir.
She then diverted course to the theatre, writing and producing two shows for travelling theatre festival, De Parade. In these shows, she sang the first version of Lonesome People, a torch song that makes listeners want to get up and stand heavy-hearted, watching raindrops drip down from their 1930’s style apartment building. The song was made using movie soundtrack samples and people responded very well to it. They wanted, no, they needed this song, and they needed it now!
Over the next few years, this response and her own renewed interest in old soundtracks lead to a trip to a skyscraper in Bangkok. There, on the 22rd floor, in the apartment of a friend and with a big suitcase full of DVDs like The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) and Dark Passage (1947), she found the time and the right place to put all the sketches, ideas and atmospheres together. The samples and images gave her a sense of direction, she wrote all the lyrics herself, and arranged the strings, horns and rhythm sections. Old Powder, New Guns was about reshaping the past into something that was as timeless as the movies and pictures that inspired her.
The album hit like a glimpse of stocking from a beautiful woman. “Old Powder, New Guns is burlesque, theatrical and with the grand gesture,” wrote top Dutch music magazine, OOR. Daily newspaper De Volkskrant said, “It doesn’t poke at cheap nostalgia in any way. The songs are too good, too original in a modern way, produced with the latest technology." Music blog FileUnder.nl simply stated, “God damn it, what a voice!” Venues were filled, TV shows were booked and plans to take this show on the road outside the Netherlands were made. A short trip to New York had her doing a session for WMFU radio. They were shocked that she didn’t have her canonised hairdo there. Lilian smiles when remembering that day.
She released two albums before: Silence Feels Safe and Love's Victory March. The first one is a limited edition and has been released on her own label Sirenmusic. Her second album has been released on the Steamin' Soundworks label. This album has been preceded by the single Faces, along with remixes by Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud (UK) and Vector Lovers (UK), and KaH.
In 2009 she worked together with T.Raumschmiere, a multi-talented artist from Berlin. She did the vocals and lyrics for two tracks which has been released on his last album I TANK U, which is also available on vinyl.
Lilian performed with her band and also as a solo artist on different festivals and venues: Parade Festival, Paradiso, 't Paard, Melkweg, Ekko, Festival de Beschaving, Robodock, Festival a/d Werf, Studio-80, Volksbuhne, Petrol, etc.
She did the support for The Kills (GB), Kashmir (DK), Anna Clarke (GB), M83 (FR) and Vive La Fête (B).
Some other details:
In 2005, Ann Demeulemeester, a fashion designer from Antwerp, used one track from Lilian's debut CD during her fashion show in Paris for the men's spring wear collection 2006.
Lilian has also been creating various instrumental tracks under the alias of KaH, of which the first was included on the recent Kink FM compilation album 'X- Rated: The DARK Files', which was released in April 2006 and is distributed by Clearspot (for the Netherlands) and Soleilmoon (international).
During the summer of 2006 Lilian appeared on the main stage at the annual Parade Festival (Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht & Amsterdam), Festival Etcetera and Montreux Festival. On stage Lilian is joined by Michel Scholten (drums) and Frank Burks (guitar/synths). Their live performance is full of energy with a clever use of electronic and organic sounds.
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