Introducing the Belgian-Caribbean artist making wonky DIY alt-pop.

Charlotte Adigéry t-shirt
Charlotte Adigéry t-shirt

In an industry when censorship, uniformity and mainstream are so widely celebrated, it’s ice-pool refreshing to be met with an artist who is so steel-mindedly set on doing things on her own terms.

Berghain cowboys. ASMR videos. Synthetic wigs. Enter the wonky and glorious world of Charlotte Adigéry.

A mish-mash melting pot of experimental DIY sounds infused into alt-pop, the music of the Belgian-Carribean artist is characterised by absolutely nothing at all, because with each release, you genuinely don’t know what you’re going to get. One thing’s for certain though: you are guaranteed a body-shaking propulsive beat and a rollicking good time.

Lyrics come out like a stream of consciousness with everything from: “I love synthetic wigs a lot” to “Squeaking leather / skin on skin”, and often sees her performing in Creole in a proud nod to her Martinique heritage. Signed to Soulwax’s DEEWEE label, she’s also toured with Neneh Cherry, with her EP “Zandoli” (a ref to the local name for a Caribbean lizard) dropping earlier this year.

It’s only up from here. We caught up with the singer ahead of her set at Lincolnshire’s Lost Village festival…

How did you first get into music?
My mum is a singer as well, so we always sang at home. I have a memory of singing when I was five – actually, it’s on the EP, you can hear it on the vinyl in the locked groove, a little recording of me when on this Fisher-Price thing. In my family, music was something we listened to to celebrate ourselves, to celebrate being together. I still use that when making music. I decided to make music with bands when I was 17, doing backing vocals, and when I was 20, I started my first band with some friends – my first time with lead vocals and as a front-performer. Professionally, I think when I was 21, I started getting paid, and then I started (my solo) music at that same age.

How much does your Belgian-Martinique heritage influence your music?
Martinique and Belgium are two important aspects of my identity. I’m incorporating both in them in my music because they are simply that: two aspects of my identity. By getting older and especially by making my own music, that Martinique side has gotten more intense and something I wanted to incorporate in my music, something that came naturally and also felt natural when creating music.

You often perform under the moniker WWWater – why? Who is Charlotte and who is WWWater?

WWWater is my first musical project in which I really explore my musical identity and needed to tell my own story, and not have any intention sound-wise. I knew I wanted something raw and organic, not too glossy. I didn’t want to overthink things. For me, it was just like this child exploring new toys. Writing for WWWater is somewhat therapeutic: following my own gut feeling and emotions, sharing my pain and anger.

Charlotte is the observer who tells stories about things she saw, a little more glossy compared to WWWater. All of the Charlotte stuff is embedded in the DEEWEE world, written and recorded in their studios along with Bolis Pupul and the Soulwax brothers, so that kind of gives it a specific taste and universe  The ideas often come from the demos that Bolis comes up with: the colours, the genre and the sounds then inspire me to write something. Sometimes that’s something I have noticed or experienced (like in ‘High Lights’). I’m not schizophrenic, I love both projects because I can channel other parts of myself in them.

“Cursed and Cussed” explores kink with masochistic mentions – what was this inspired by? What made you want to sing a whole song about this?
Bolis 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. I’ve never experienced it myself but it was something I was curious about and really fun to write. 

Charlotte Adigéry hand on mouth
Charlotte Adigéry hand on mouth

Your music videos are all so different, some kitsch and colourful, others dark and hypnotic, and one even ASMR – what would you like to try next?
Everything that’s fun! You don’t have any boundaries in the universe you create, so why limit yourself? I want to go as crazy as possible, because anything is possible really? I want to try to create an absurd universe… but with depth, obviously. That’s my goal.

Do you think people are shocked by your openness and boldness, especially at a time when music is still dominated by mainstream PC themes like lost love etc?
Thank you for noticing! I don’t think people are necessarily shocked, I hope they feel some type of confirmation that being honest and being yourself suffices. Without wanting to be arrogant or pretentious, I think openness and truthfulness is the future in art. I think people are sick of trying to measure themselves up to an unrealistic “pop star” view. The Kardashian-era feels over, and I would like to be part in that movement.

How do you want people to feel when they come away from your music?
Liberated, confirmed in who they are. As I said earlier, realising how good you are right now. Openness, truthfulnes and  sincerity always pay off, it’s that that makes you different. You don’t have to look to be unique, you are unique. I hope I can liberate some people with my music. Sometimes at shows I love to look into the audience and see people dancing, really lose themselves, free from labels and live in the moment.

Much of your music is tongue-in-cheek and you seem to not take yourself too seriously – has this always been important to you? Especially at a time when artists seem to take themselves so seriously?
That’s true. It’s something I started to explore more and more, asking myself these questions: “do I need an alter ego?”, “what do I need to look like?” “What should I need to say?” and then I realised it’s just so liberating to just be me. I try not to make myself too seriously, even though everybody has an ego of course. Humour is a good tool of talking about more heavy subjects but with in a confronting but loving way. 

You’ve collaborated with Macau-born producer Bolis Pupul and Soulwax – how do you go about choosing your collaborators?

Up until now it’s something that happened organically. I got to know Bolis through Stephen and David from Soulwax, and I met them through mutual friends when they were looking for someone to sing in the Belgica movie they soundtracked. All of it went through friendships and family, that’s quite important to me actually. You have this click and you just go for it. If I had to choose other collaborators it would be people that I feel attracted to spiritually and the way they make music, I think I always look for something sincere, something that goes beyond ego.

You’re doing Lost Village this year – what do you love about the festival and the freedom of a festival format?
I haven’t been to Lost Village yet so I’m looking forward to it! It’s an amazing thing to be playing abroad, especially in the UK coming from Belgium. Not a lot of Belgian bands play abroad a lot, so any chance we’re given is something I’m very thankful for. 

What’s next for you/what are you excited about?
We’re working on an album! We’re in the process of writing and recording it right now, I’m very excited about everything we’ve done so far. Once the music is done I can’t wait to start working on everything else, put my crazy mind free and create videos, pictures, merch, etc. It will be interesting and exciting to see how people will react to it, we’ll also be playing some new songs at our upcoming tour in October and November. I’m also excited about flying business class one day!

Maybelle Morgan

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