Van Hechter – Artist of the Month (November 2020)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Born French-Georgian, Van Hechter is a Montreal-based pop artist with an edge; he is funny, cutting, at times political, yet his tracks are catchy and always easy to dance to… — He grew up between Canada, France and the U.S.A., studied opera, literature and cinema in college, then dropped everything to become a punk singer, joining a locally successful band which he renamed Audiobing. After disbandment, Van focused on writing and music production, but in 2017, he returned to his first love; singing, releasing ”Van Unlikely”, which reunited him with Montreal/Toronto/Miami crowds…

This year he is back, offering his strongest solo album to date; ”Love Elastic”— a hyper-uplifting collection of songs which all have to do with love in the 21st century… Slogan goes like so; ”Because true love isn’t possessive, it is flexible, it morphs through time and doesn’t break. It is elastic…”

Also on the forefront for 2020/2021— is an association with Stonewall Inn resident DJ Chauncey Dandridge… The pair who already launched an anthem to the mythical venue on NYE 2019 entitled ”53 Christopher Street” is currently working on an EP of anti-homophobia themed duets which are scheduled to come out on June 1st 2021.

In his own words;
”My music is about self-mockery. I believe in the power of humor and dance! I glamorize everything— especially my darker sides, to make them look even more ridiculous. I tell you about my silliness, expose myself for the fool that I am in each song. Hopefully you will relate and laugh!! — That’d be my greatest ambition; to help someone, somewhere take themselves a little less seriously. If I do that just a few times in my life; I’ll die a happy man!”
Last- Van survived testicular cancer and has decided to give the proceeds to his recent single ”Back In Vogue” to the Movember charity. His motto is; ”Guys, check your boys- and if you have a doubt, see a pro— if the pro doesn’t take you seriously, see a second one- I’d be dead if I hadn’t…”

Interview by Tim Brown

When and why did you start playing?

Playing— as soon as I could walk, possibly even before that ahahah! I became a pro musician later though- much later! I was well into my thirties. Everything I did before that was crap!

Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Bowie showed me how to layer an imperfect voice as to make it sound good. Moroder taught me how to put a song together- where to edit, where to extend. Annie Lennox inspired me to write multi-leveled texts. The Supremes made me want to systematically pour hope into songs- even when the topic is dark.

Let’s Talk about your music and your last work…

Well- I do pop. I like my work to be accessible. You’ll never hear me go all the way experimental- it’ll always be easy to listen to my songs while you mop the floor or are having a workout. Also I like to inspire UPWARDS. You won’t hear me complaining about my sad sad life. There’s always humor in tragedy; I try to highlight this.
So— the recent album ”Love Elastic” is exactly about that. It’s really the story of a physical breakup while the love remains— grows even stronger through separation. I truly believe that when you love someone deeply- sometimes you need to let them go as to allow them become the best version of themselves. Possession is not love.

Back In Vogue” is your newest single from the album; what’s it about?

It’s an anti-Tinder/Grindr song. We flip through profiles like sex-partners are a merchandise, rejecting prospects as soon as we see one little unattractive detail. We shop for humans, basically. But everything passes, reverts… One day romance and romanticism will be back in vogue. I hope I’m still alive when it happens. It’ll be refreshing.

You are giving your ”Back In Vogue” proceeds to Movember. Why?

Because I survived testicular cancer. I wouldn’t be here to write songs now, had I not been saved by a doctor who recognized the emergency of my situation. First urologists I saw didn’t take me seriously. We need more awareness. By the way; if you feel a lump– guys– SEE A DOCTOR- and get a second opinion if needed!

What are the plans for the future?

Right after ”Back In Vogue” I want to push 2 more singles from the ”Love Elastic” album.
And on June 1st 2021 I launch an EP of duets with Stonewall Inn resident DJ Chauncey Dandridge. That’ll be fun! I first wrote a song in honor of the mythical venue- 50 years after the famous riots. After that, Chauncey and I were like; ”Why stop here? Let’s do more songs!”
I asked Eryck Wyseman –who is my associate, music partner and good friend if he liked the idea; he was in! So for Pride month 2021 we will have a ”dance-y” yet rather political collection of new songs to present! We will premiere in NYC then– who knows?

Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV

I also perform in private but let’s not go there right now ahahahahahah!
I love to appear as a surprise act in nightclubs. I can’t wait for dancefloors to reopen. God I miss nights out without restrictions! Some of my best performances happened with very little preparation. I just showed up- dressed with my moustache nicely painted on and I sang once the party was really going. There’s magic in spontaneity.
Right now there’s talk about a possible mini-tour in the UK when things get back to a certain normality. That- I’d like to stage as I do in Montreal during my ”Hechter Fever” events– with Vannettes (gorgeous girls in sequins, basically), a clown and a DJ. We’ll see.

What is your goal when onstage?

I want people feel like it’s ultimately advantageous to be an underdog! I want them to go home embracing their own originality. Socially we tend to discourage those who stand out– at least at first. I am a huge believer in the ”Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer” tale.
Also I have this approach; ”If I didn’t make you smile or laugh- then I didn’t do my job right that night”…

Could you briefly describe the music-making process?

Eryck Wyseman and I work as a band. I believe in teams. All is really organic between us. I usually come up with an artistic direction, song themes, lyric drafts and we go from there. He knows how to pick up on the vibe I want- but then he brings my ideas further. I let him push me. Later during production I like to think that I push him in turn. I was looking for an Eryck a really long time before I found him hahahahahah!

3 things that make you happy?

1- My musical dream- no matter where it brings me- makes me happy. The actual journey– with its ups and downs– brings me so much joy. It’s hard to imagine for some but even suffering and struggling in music is better than doing a job I don’t like- at least for me.

2- My friendships, my chosen family which is extended around the world now—- keeps me believing that humanity can be good, decent and generous.

3- Last- random conversations or outbursts of laughter with perfect strangers will always warm my heart. I love that stuff!

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