You may remember the golden voice of Marijke Maes aka Audri from a few years ago. Back in 2016, she was selected as one of our ‘Most Promising Artists’ on the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards. But up until this summer, it has been relatively quiet. It’s not that she had fallen off the radar – she did do some shows here and there – but she didn’t really release anything or she refrained from giving any interviews. Until now! With a debut EP and a live show with full band on the horizon, Audri is happy to talk about her music on the record for the very first time. If the ‘Midsummer’ and ‘Bitter’ singles are anything to go by, it seems like we’re in for a treat. In between the thunderous DJ-sets at HORST in early September, we found a quiet corner to have a little chat about what took her so long, what her new show looks like and who the person behind the facade really is.
How come you’ve never given any interviews before this one?
"Because I’m not good with them (laughs). Up until now I was still searching for the direction I wanted to go in, I still hadn’t found a comfortable position. But now I have, now I feel confident enough to go on the record about my music."
So did this moment come because you made more music? Or did you just see everything in front of you more clearly?
"Both. At the moment, I feel like I finally have a (modest) discography that I can be proud of. I learned to stop tweaking my tracks endlessly for no particular reason. At one point I realized that it’s ok that each track operates within its own style. I can understand that for some artists, having tracks with many different genres can be inconvenient, but I learned that this is actually my strength. Now, I just see what each track needs, regardless of preconceptions of categorization."
So now you that you’re out in the open: who are you and what keeps you busy?
"Well, I’m from Eksel, a tiny town in Limburg – but I have started my second year of jazz studies at the KASK Conservatory in Ghent, after I finished a degree in classical piano. Sometimes I also give piano lessons. All in all, music is present throughout my daily life. I consciously try to improve my music production skills every day, learning new techniques regularly."
How does your classical education influence the way you make music?
"The classical background does a whole lot, actually. It really helps me to keep a certain harmony throughout a song. I wouldn’t be able to approach melodies, transitions, chords or progressions in the same way if I hadn’t been schooled in the matter. Now I have the capabilities to keep a ‘naked’ piece standing on its own, without stuffing it with unnecessary additions."
Which themes do you like to write about in your songs?
"I don’t really know where my passion for song lyrics comes from, but to me it’s an essential part of making music. It’s a lot of fun to play around with words and to try to convert your thoughts into workable lyrics. I love poetry, so it’s a challenge for me to write beautiful stories. At the end I’m super happy if a good idea comes to fruition. Unfortunately, it can be a bit disappointing to see that some people don’t really listen to the lyrics. Sometimes, people come to congratulate me after a show and they’ll say something like ‘you have such a beautiful voice’! And then I’m like: ‘then say something about my lyrics please’! (laughs)"
Classic question: where does your inspiration come from?
"From a really diverse set of sources! Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson are my absolute heroes in terms of combining song-writing and performance on the highest level. But then I’m also fan of artists like Kate Bush, Feist, Photay or Jai Paul. As far as classical music goes, I’m a Chopin girl."
If we come to see your live show, what can we expect?
"At first, I used to perform with just my keyboard and some effects. But gradually, the live show started to gather new elements. A guitarist, a bass player, a keyboardist and a drummer who also controls additional mixing and effects have since joined me on stage. The first show with the full band only happened last August. So yes, I’ve definitely levelled up!"
We can imagine it’s quite the different experience: performing your music alone or with 4 other people…
"To be honest, it’s actually a lot easier to perform my music now with this band. During our brainstorm session it has become so much easier to put new ideas into practice on the spot, whereas I wasn’t able to express them when I was still performing solo. Before the first rehearsals we expected that it would take us some time to finalize the live show, but after only two days together we had the whole thing set already."
So where will be able to see you perform?
"I will be performing only one show with my full band in 2018, on December 8. Next week the venue will be released. But I promise there will be a full-on tour in 2019 with them. And in the meanwhile I am playing some shows in a smaller setting too, solo-ish that is."
What about the EP. How long was this one in the making? What’s the idea behind this release?
"There are a lot of tracks that didn’t make the cut, but that will be included in the live show. From the 4 songs on the EP, two have been released already (‘Midsummer’ and ‘Bitter’). The third one, ‘Fool’s Gold’, is a track I’m really proud of. I made the first acoustic version of this one back in my old garden shed in Eksel. All in all, the whole EP is still very much in the singer-songwriter realm, it works as an introduction to ‘me’. It’s a quiet start, a warm-up for what will come after!"
Audri’s new EP will hit the digital shelves next week. She will perform her first live show with full band on December 8. Info and tickets soon available. Follow Audri on Spotify and Facebook to stay up to date.
Other upcoming solo dates: