Nele Needs a Holiday
HER name suggests someone who needs to take a break…
and have a recharge. I speak to Nele Needs a Holiday about the origin of the name – and why, having worked tirelessly recently, the singer-songwriter is ready for some downtime. She talks to me about her new single, We’ll See, and growing up in Belgium. I ask what the music scene is like there and how it differs to London (where she lives now) – and which artists inspire her.
The songwriter discusses her next moves and touring; how she manages to detach and relax away from music; why this week has been a rather productive and busy one; a new(ish) artist we should all get our ears around – Nele Needs Holiday provides some useful advice to songwriters emerging on the scene.
Hi, Nele Needs a Holiday. How are you? How has your week been?
I'm good, thanks! I'm working on a musical right now - which is the loneliest thing I've ever done. Staying in with only my piano to talk to, laughing at my own jokes. Can't wait to go gigging again!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I write hyper-realistic Pop songs about stuff nobody dares to talk about - songs like I Love You But I Google Other People. Some might call it funny: I call it the truth.
Can I ask where that name came from? Is there a reason for the moniker?
Don't tell anyone...but my real name is Nele Van den Broeck. Catchy, right? Sounds like I'm some kind of German princess, but it's actually a really common name in Belgium. I like the sound of Nele Needs a Holiday because it's both happy and sad…like my music. Also, cause it's true.
That name is starting to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’ll See is your new single. What is the origin of the track and story behind it?
I've been in so many relationships already where one or both parties are simply unable to commit. The song is about three romantic word that are all-too-often said in the relationships: not ‘I love you', but ‘we will see’ - words that signalise how hard it is to stay with one person, cause you still have the feeling there might be someone else; someone better, just around the corner. You just have to pick up your phone and swipe a few fellows on Tinder. How on earth can you connect to one person if it’s that easy to find the next one?!
I still don’t know...
I like the video! You have a Madonna-cum-Marilyn Monroe look. Do you take inspiration from icons like that? Was it fun shooting the video?!
Thanks! For once in my life, I wanted to know what it feels like to be a blonde bombshell. Quite frankly; it feels exactly the same as being myself. Whatever wig you're wearing, underneath it, it's just the same old brain driving you crazy.
Shooting videos is my favourite thing in the world. There's this whole team working for days on three minutes of beauty. Makes me feel like a princess.
I love it.
It seems you are in great form right now. Will we see some more material later this year?
I'm working on Nele Needs a Holiday: The Musical. It's the story of me moving to London and the many unfortunate encounters I had with the music industry; dating in a big city and austerity - making it impossible to live a life that is more or less that of a grown-up. It will play at Latitude and will have a run in Edinburgh under Big in Belgium. I know I'm not supposed to say I'm nervous: so I'm just saying I'm excited.
Belgium is where you hail from. Is the nation quite a productive one for new music? Was it easy getting your music heard there?
There's some fantastic music happening in Belgium but it never crossed the Channel, because of a little thing called Anglo-Saxon cultural hegemony. I knew that if I wanted to conquer the world, I had to move out of Belgium at a certain point. I think a lot of Belgian artists are too modest. Luckily, I don't have that problem.
Are you based in London full-time? What are the main differences between the music of Belgium and Britain?
I live in a flat share in Greenwich together with Bob - the mushroom in the shower. Totally glamorous. I take the Eurostar (about) every other week to play concerts in Belgium and the Netherlands - and, sometimes, I'm there for longer periods. The concept of ‘home’ is a tough one for me...anywhere I lay my head, I guess...
The music is not that different, I would say. Maybe in Belgium, it's a little bit more built around beats: whereas in Britain it's still cool to play the guitar.
Over a beat, that is.
You have elements of Paloma Faith and Björk in your work. Is there something about these artists that compels you? Which musicians did you grow up listening to?
Thanks! I like those comparisons, they are cool.
I don't know how I would have gotten puberty without music Eels - all the times I've sung Beautiful Freak for myself, alone in my bedroom (I can't count them).
I like music by beautiful freaks.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
There is a seventies songwriter called Dory Previn. Hardly anyone has ever heard of her and I wonder why: she's fantastic. To me, she's right up there with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. She's one of the best lyricists I've ever heard.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
Come to Latitude! It will be ace!
What do you hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
I hope I don't get pregnant...
Apart from that: I hope I write the best musical I've got in me.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Work on your banter. Honestly...so many musicians are so bad at it. If you're half-decent, you'll stick out.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I'm a bit of a science nerd. I love to watch documentaries about the universe, black holes and stuff. Helps me to put everything in perspective.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, please.
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