Interview with Hyleen
The next big soul talent comes from France! The 27-year-old singer-songwriter Hyleen combines neo-soul, jazz, funk and pop into a seductive and unique mix on her second album "B-Side". Late Night Dream talked to her about her new album and the power of groove.
You named your new album “B-Side”. The classic vinyl A-sides were reserved for the hits, B-Sides for the less commercial and experimental songs. Is that the reason for your name choice?
It’s one of the reasons. I’ve always been interested by those B-Sides on vinyls; it was like knowing better the artist you were listening to, with his intimate and more experimental songs and sometimes there was the best part of the album!! I wanted to make the parallel with our personality. Work on the sides we hide sometimes, the sides we want to keep secret and that make us so unique and special.
In 2014, after many experiences in New York, you released your first album “U & I” supported by famous musicians like Omar, Frank McComb and Chris Dave. But you consider your new album "B-Side" as your real debut. Why?
Because « B-Side » is a concept, a real album with a story. I wrote everything myself (music and lyrics) and it was an important period of my life. We’ve recorded everything live in Trio to keep this vibe on. I wanted something organic and electric too, but more than that, I wanted to have the same feeling we can have on stage, so we’ve work like a same block just the three of us to play and record everything live.
You recorded your new album with drummer Nicolas Viccaro and keyboarder Julien Boursin live in the studio. Was it your aim to capture the honest, vital sound of your live experiences?
We’ve recorded everything before going on tour, but yes, the idea was to keep the vibe of the live playing on the album because I’m a singer and a guitar player and even if I can do the part separately this is not the same feeling for me. So I wanted to be comfortable and really connected with those two incredible musicians.
You've done everything from composing, recording to mixing on this album by yourself. Was it important for you to have the control about the whole process in contrast to your first album?
I think it’s just because when you write everything and you have everything in your mind, it’s from the first idea you have in mind till the mixing. And it’s really interesting too, as an artist, to find words to express yourself and communicate with people around you to give life to your project.
The songs on the album deal with the big themes of life – from love to death. Was working on this album a way to discover your personal B-sides?
Exactly. It was really interesting cause during this period I’ve been through different hard times and it was like a therapy and a real process to work on this album, exploring all those feelings and trust myself.
You also directed the video for your first single “Looking At”, supported by your brother Hadrien Besse. What was it like to work with him?
It was a real pleasure… Work with one of my brothers is a real gift because he is so involved in my project and it’s so interesting to exchange ideas and make them alive together. He is a real talent on his own and I like the way he thinks, his honesty, his eye, his taste…
You and drummer Nicolas Viccaro are also a couple privately. Is it difficult to find the balance between a personal relationship and the role of a band leader – especially on tour?
Everybody says that, but at last it is just magic to live everything together… Sharing this vibe on stage and playing together is something special that no words can describe.
Will there be a Europe tour for the new album this year?
Yes, we’ll be on tour in Germany in May and September; Stay tuned!!
As a musician, you quickly get a label. Your music is a rich mix of jazz, funk, soul and pop. The common of all these genres is the groove. How important is groove and rhythm for your understanding of music?
The groove is the most important thing for me, on an up tempo song as on a ballad. I’m listening to a lot of different kind of music and the common link has always been the groove for me. This is one of the basic things for the audience too, when they’re all moving their heads together.
A last question: You grew up in Cannes, where you started your music career in your Brother's band. Later on, you studied musicology in Paris. Is there still a Southern French influence in your understanding of music and your life as an artist?
Maybe :-) I would say the main Southern France influence is the way I’m connected with the people I work with. I wanna feel like family with them, and I think this is a typical Southern « Touch ». Working with people I trust and who believe in me and my projects doesn’t seem like you’re working, you’re just having fun around great music with great people. I feel very lucky for this and I think it sweats in my music on the record as on stage… always with a SMILE! So yes, maybe this is my Mediterranean style ! :D