Tout va Bien. Stage name for Jan Wouter van Gestel. 22 years old and already a timeless voice. His take of Ne me quitte pas by Brel is quite something. His single “This Fight” sets the tone of a great debut opus: Kepler Star. An Atmospheric, cinematographic and powerful album recorded in the legendary Wax-Studio in Los Angeles. The resemblance with Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons) is more than striking.
Kepler Star was produced by Arne Van Petegem a.k.a Styrofoam (who has also produced bands like Death Cab For Cutie and Das Pop) and mixed by Wally Gagel (who has worked with giants like the Rolling Stones, Rihanna, Bon Iver or Lykke Li).
I met Jan at Botanique and asked him a couple of questions before his magic concert. I was rather surprised at first. His boys-band hot looks don’t give away the depth of his melancholy voice. I recommend you check this kid out.
You started this music project out of heartbreak… Seeing your band’s name… I wonder: are you a cynic or an optimist?
I am both, actually. At the beginning, I may have come up with “Tout va bien” with a hint of irony. But it has become a genuine feeling. Like a positive cynism.
Are you grateful for the heartache?
Oh yeah, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me!
The image of the Kepler Star is very poetic and powerful. Tell us what it represents to you.
I was in the States to record the album and I listened to NASA soundcloud. Declassified beeps and blaps. From missions that were over but we could somehow still hear every sound. Kepler’s Star is a supernova, a star that burst over 5 centuries ago and outshone the whole galaxy. On earth, we still perceive some of its signs today. And I like that image. Things that are gone but are somehow still here. It happens to all of us. Stories from the past, people we’ve lost but are so present in our lives.
What memories did you take with you from LA?
Well, we didn’t do that much apart from recording. It was pretty much a series of nights at shady motels watching HBO series followed by recording days. But I did meet a couple of amazing people. One of them told me my music was “out of space organic”. I thought it fit.
What do you wish for yourself in the future as an artist?
I’d love to go abroad. Learn from other countries where artists are sometimes more confident. Exchange with them. Collaborate with artists like Bon Iver, Alexi Murdoch…
So….Brusselsprouts…. How do you have yours?
I don’t. Ever. So I would make a brusselsprouts’ smoothie and write a STOP sign with it. Don’t – Eat – Them!
You can catch Tout va Bien at Rock Werchter, the Pukkelpop or AB!