As I wait for Chloë Nols, the singer-songwriter from Leonore in the Parc Royal Music Kiosk (her choice) amidst the cawing crows and the freezing un-spring-like temperatures I start wondering what we are doing in this outdoor amphitheatre. And those were my thoughts when she got there and the first thing I asked the lovely ethereal Chloë, whose soft yet piercing voice had been echoing in my mind the whole day, like a velvet loop.
A: Hi Chloë, can you tell me what we’re doing here?
C: well, I thought at the end of March, the weather would be nice. I like some peace and quiet in the city. And I like the music kiosk, I watched gigs here, I’ve been here when it’s empty… I come here often.
There is the Leonore from Greek mythology, meaning light and fire & the Lenore from Edgar Allan Poe, the dead and beautiful woman… does this yin and yang have an echo in the identity of your band?
Yes, every person, every situation, everything in life has light and darkness. The main challenge in our lives is to find some balance. I chose the name Leonore because of its light, but I admit I’m a rather melancholic girl. Even in my love songs, I can’t help but bring in bitterness and sorrow.
Starting your music project somewhat “late” and realising that’s what you wanted to do… what made you click?
I would sing in like my bathroom, at my parents’. My first band was a Led Zeppelin covers song. They were actually looking for a powerful male vocalist but they couldn’t find any, so they asked me. And they would say ‘Hey Chloë, can’t you sing a bit louder? A bit rawer? Like Tom Waits’. So eventually I got my own guitar and quickly discovered I could write songs…
What inspires you to write songs? Are there filmmakers? Other musicians? Literature that spark you to create?
Mostly my life together with universal truths that I find everyone can relate to. I did use to get inspired by films. In my previous album there was a song called Justine and it was inspired by the Lars Von Trier film Melancholia. This last EP is more inspired by a book that I read on mankind’s mysteries.
Tell us about Sub Rosa. From the name, to what it means to you. Everything.
I came across the expression accidentally. It’s latin for “what is hidden”. And I’m very occupied with what is hidden inside of myself. Most people don’t really know themselves. I also think there’s more to life than what meets the eye. The human mind doesn’t grasp the whole reality of the universe. Eternity, for example, humans acknowledge the concept rationally but they can’t really fathom it.
What brought on the writing of ‘Throw Away Gun’?
It’s a break up song. I was lying in my bed paralysed by fear and grief, and I started seeing things on the ceiling and the lyrics just poured out. I was singing flat, as one does when they’re lying down.
You could say that women have an important place in your lyrics, featuring the paragon of the strong woman, the Amazon and at the same time, Jezebel, which has had the connotation of being an immoral woman who deceives people, often with seduction, to get what she wants. So how do you stand in the current feminist debate, a phenomenon quite on the spotlight?
I’m no feminist. Yes, there are imbalances and inequalities in our societies. But I don’t see it as a male vs. female dichotomy. I like the female energy, which is simply different from men’s. Yin and yang.
You said you’d love to do a collab with Max Colombie, from Oscar and the Wolf. Any developments there?
I haven’t asked him yet, maybe I should just go ahead and do it. I really like what he does because in spite of being a huge commercial project, there’s authenticity. He does what he likes. I like his lyrics, the universe, the little winks to hidden truths about life. Some of that is very visible in his video clips. Plus I like the golden shirts he wears.
And other than him, who would you like to write a song with or share the stage?
Perhaps Father John Misty. Or Coeur de Pirate. If she calls, I’d fly to Canada in a hot minute.
What is on your playlist these days?
I don’t listen to a lot of music actually. I would say I discover two or three projects a year and listen to them on loop. Right now it’s Hildegard Von Bingen, a medieval composer (German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath -note of the writer). It’s very peaceful and has beautiful melodies and weird twists and voices.
A guilty pleasure?
I’ve been listening to Keane the whole of last summer. My brother would listen to them when we were kids and I always found them a bit cheesy but then one day I heard them in the supermarket and thought wow, this guy really has something. Yeah actually he can call me too (laughters).
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
To fly. Or learn lucid dreaming. You can have control over the dream (characters, narrative, and environment…). But no, I think I’ll stick to flying.
What stages are you going to climb to these upcoming months?
After our release at the Pianofabriek, we’ll play at Botanique on 17/04 (Brussels), Het Depot on 21/05 (Leuven), Trix on 23/05 (Antwerp)…
Brusselsprouts, how do you have yours?