The fairy tale called Soldier’s Heart has come to an end; frontwoman Sylvie Kreusch has decided to say goodbye and move on by herself. Upon falling in love with Maarten Devoldere, who happened to be her musical soulmate too, the artists recently decided to collaborate for his first solo project, Warhaus. Glamcult discussed past, present and future with the Belgian indie-artist, and how musical teamwork can lead to wanting independence.
You’re leaving Soldier’s Heart, one of our favourite Belgian bands. What was the decisive factor?
Time. I’ve learned a lot on a short notice being part of Soldier’s Heart, but my 25th birthday made me realise that time goes fast too. I’ve been working on a lot of different things lately, and now is the time for me to focus on one project again.
Why not focus on Soldier’s Heart?
I felt that I was moving in another direction, a direction wherein I don’t expect the others to follow me. The most important factor as a band is that every member is going 100% for the same thing.
You’re part of Warhaus, the solo project of Maarten Devoldere (Balthazar). How did that come about?
Maarten is my boyfriend. It all started as a romantic joke, wherein I would be his background singer. But soon after, we noticed that my voice fitted his low Leonard Cohen-like front voice really well: the combination gives the record sort of a Lolita feel. The album is about that one woman, and it’s that presence that I’ve been able to visualise.
How is it to work with the person you’re in a relationship with?
It probably looks more romantic than it is. Now that we stand on stage together, we’re more critical towards each other. When he saw me performing with Soldier’s Heart or I saw him in Balthazar, we looked at each other open-mouthed. In Warhaus that changed; you look at the other in a different way. Yet there’re a lot of magical moments too, and Warhaus is still Maarten’s solo project. He makes the final decisions and I help him as long as he needs me. I think it’s important that a band has someone who’s in charge.
Could the start of Warhaus and the end of Soldier’s Heart be in any way related?
There’s no doubt that Maarten has an influence on me, but I’ve always listened and been interested in the same kind of music. I’ve never really explored electronic music so much, whilst that was what Soldier’s Heart was about.
What kind of music does interest you?
Filmic music, as well as music that goes back to the sixties and seventies. For example Angelo Badalamenti’s work for David Lynch [he made music for the films Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and the Twin Peaks series].
Do you think that relates more to Warhaus than to Soldier’s Heart?
Yes. But Warhaus is very masculine, whereas my own solo project would radiate a lot more girl power. For me, music has to emit sex. Warhaus is of course all about sex, but what I want to make will start from a woman’s perspective.
So, there’s a Sylvie Kreusch solo project in the making?
My plans aren’t concrete yet, but I’ve started writing. And for my own happiness, that has to result in something new in the future.
You have a strong image. Not only as the lead singer of Soldier’s Heart, but also in Warhaus’ video for The Good Lie your presence is undeniable. Do you like playing a role?
When I’m not performing, I’m actually quite boyish and clumsy. But the moment I enter the stage, I switch roles. However, I’m not really aware of the fact that I do. It’s mostly newspapers and magazines that made me aware of my so-called femme fatale style.
Do you think the media have given you this image?
Maybe it works in a two-way direction: I reinforce that role because it is said in the media. But I think I also subconsciously follow examples of other artists or movies. There’s this scene in Lynch’s Lost Highway where a man and a woman are fucking in front of the spotlights of a car, sustained by the song This Mortal Coil. When they’re done, the woman whispers in his ear: “You will never have me”. I’m very inspired by such women. Too often, the woman is a passive, minor character, and it’s the inversion that attracts me.
Which women are special to you?
Beyoncé, Lykki Lee. Lana Del Rey has also made great records. It’s a fact that strong producers and songwriters surround her, but I don’t believe she’s fake, like a lot of people think. If she was, her success would be over by now, but instead she keeps growing. PJ Harvey, Patti Smith and Björk are on another level—these women really beam a lot of power.
Do you think there’s a certain trend in the separation of bands to go for a solo career?
I think many of us eventually feel the need to do something alone. Making music in a band is completely different than solo. Although you can learn a lot from each other, a band tells a shared story. I noticed that in We Fucked a Flame into Being [Warhaus’ debut album] too; compared to what Maarten wrote with Balthazar, his solo songs are much more personal. I also began to feel the need to make something that is completely my own.
What do you consider the best albums of 2016?
Blackstar from David Bowie, Skeleton Tree from Nick Cave, and of course Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker. They’re all about death, which makes you feel so much when listening to these records. If strong things happen, you get strong music as a result. I sometimes think that the happier you are, the less powerful you feel.
How do you see the future?
I’m afraid that very often there’s an expiry date on female artists. You almost have to be Björk to still get accepted on stage if you’re older than 40, while if you see certain male rock bands perform at a certain age, they are still considered cool. Sexism is also part of the music industry. On the other side, it’s that sex factor that I play with at this moment. I can imagine it starting to look ridiculous in a number of years. But I try not to think about the future that much. I’m also certain that I will change, as a person and as an artist. In the end, I just want a house, a garden and children too. [Laughs]