There are many sides to Charlotte Adigéry. First, you’ve WWWater, her electro-punk alter-ego under which she released one of the most striking songs of last year, ‘Screen’. It’s a bruising take on the treatment of women online, and was based on a particularly harrowing personal incident.
The other side to Charlotte Adigéry is just as impactful and immediate. Her self-titled debut EP, released on Soulwax’s DEEWEE label in 2017, was full of brooding and uneasy R&B and she’s followed that up in grand style. New EP, ‘Zandoli’, out February 8, sees the Belgian-Caribbean artist move into exciting new territory. There’s a shuffling breakbeat on the twinkling ‘Cursed and Cussed’, while ‘Patenpiat’ embraces her heritage in the funkiest of ways.
‘High Lights’, co-produced with Soulwax, is a similarly off-kilter club hit that sees her embrace the transformative power of weaves: “I know I shouldn’t do it but / I love synthetic wigs a lot.”
To trail the EP, we’re unveiling the ‘High Lights’ video today, with an exclusive track-by-track by Adigéry and writing partner Bolis Pupul.
Charlotte: “‘Si ou ka sentiou toudi, fo ou kontié tou ni’ suggests that when you’re dancing and you’re feeling dizzy, you have to throw off your clothes and keep on going. From a more global perspective, what I’m saying: if in life you feel tired and hopeless, throw off all the ballast, all the stuff that in the end don’t matter and continue being your naked and uncompromising self…
“The rhythmic pattern that is formed when singing ‘Zandoli Paténipat’ (meaning ‘the Gecko didn’t have any legs) is an old Caribbean mnemonic that depicts the rhythm of the traditional Guadeloupean and Martiniquan traditional music and dance called GWO KA.”
Boris: “In the studio this was the last song we wrote. We already had enough tracks that could fit the EP and with the mastering planned the next day Stephen and David (aka Soulwax) suggested we should make a very simple dance track, 110 bpm without any synths just drums and vocals. So I started off using these very old 80’s Simmons drum pads and arranging a simple pattern while programming a very big powerful kickdrum to keep everything together. Charlotte added her vocals to it and by singing in creole she added more exoticism to the programmed beats. I’m kinda proud we made this in a few hours, it was the quickest track we ever made.”
- Cursed & Cussed
Charlotte: “This song is the most unintentional song of the whole EP. The lyrics don’t have any deeper meaning nor does the song necessarily contribute lyrically to the bigger picture of our music. We just had fun with it. I laughed a lot while coming up with these lyrics.
“Boris started to make the music and suddenly the image of a very handsome, muscular gay man in a latex cowboy outfit occurred in my mind. I could imagine this song blasting through the Berghain sound system at a mens only party. And I just started describing the men at the party. Dresscode: Cowboys, cursing and cussing.”
Boris: “I remember the first demo was very different production wise but Steph and Dave had a problem with the rhythm pattern so they suggested to try something with breakbeats. In my head I thought of something like Paul’s Boutique from the Beastie Boys meets DJ Shadow…”
Charlotte: “Someone whom I worked with musically for a couple of years used to tell me off a lot about my looks. She told me I didn’t have my own style and that people wouldn’t recognize me and that if I wanted to be somebody that I’d have to chose one particular style.
“I felt so insecure at a certain point and it took me a while (and a passionate pep-talk from my mom) to learn to celebrate the fact that I love to change how I look a lot. And that as an artist, I shouldn’t compromise that for anyone.
“So this song is a polite middle finger to all the people who minimize others because of their own insecurities. Hair is such a powerful organ. And it’s a very powerful way to express yourself. Black women have been playing with their appearance and hair for decades. I want to honour that culture.”
Boris: “I remember we started off with Charlotte playing some bass on a beat and using that to build up the whole song. The cool thing with Charlotte is that she always comes up with vocal ideas very fast so it’s nice to work around her vocals when adding sounds to the track. “
Charlotte: “B B C can stand for two things…
“This song is about middle-aged women and sex-tourism.
“The song describes both worlds, the world of the woman and the world of the men at their service.”
Boris: “We took some time finding the right drum machine for this one. At DEEWEE studios they have so many old drum machines, but we wanted to find the right rhythm. I wanted it to feel like a sexy Caribbean dance in a Berlin nightclub.”
Charlotte: “Okashi is a Japanese bean candy, and since this sound really Kawaii and sweet, the lyrics were built around that atmosphere. ‘Okashi] advertises a product that would bring you back to that childlike feeling of sense-perceptions. The way we used to enjoy candy so much more, or how the best place in the world was in our mother’s arms. This ‘product’ promises you to bring you back those feelings. But the song also has a threatening feel in the chorus because, naturally nothing can bring you back to those experiences. The line ‘a single drop’ confesses that it’s a drug like any other.”
Boris: “For this one we were working on a 40 year old Jupiter 4 synthesizer running through a very nice Dynacord analogue delay effect, the combination of these 2 old souls created a very nice almost nurturing feel which gave us the inspiration to sing about the comfort of your mother’s arms.”
Listen to Charlotte Adigery in our NME 100 playlist below