The following interview is with Flemish composer Kevin Imbrechts (Illuminine) who recently released his third album, #3. In conversation with Illuminine we discuss collaborations on #3, mental health in the music industry and much more.
Hi Kevin, how are you doing? Thank you for your time and for this interview.
Nice to meet you, I’m doing very well at the moment, thanks.
Congratulations on the release of your new album, #3. How does it feel to have the whole album out in the world?
I’m relieved I can finally show it to the world and finish this dark chapter. #3 is a very personal album, maybe the most personal of all my released works. It’s always a weird feeling, the songs on this record are more than a year old while to the audience they are brand new. But in the end, it’s well worth the waiting. I’m also honored that my new label, ferryhouse, wants to release the album outside of Belgium. That’s an exciting new step for me!
You collaborated with a number of people on this album. Hannah Boswell who sings on ‘Fright’ and ‘Dying Flame’ and Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie who orchestrated ‘Dear, Utopia’. Did you collaborate with any other people? And how important were these collaborations to the making of #3?
Yes, I had the great pleasure and honor to collaborate with Hannah and Adam. Of course they were super important for the songs which they were involved in. I wrote two instrumental tracks, ‘Fright’ and ‘Dying Flame’, for which I always imagined a soft “brown-yellow-ish” female voice. It was via my manager, Melina Rathjen, that I discovered Hannah’s work. I was blown away by her voice and couldn’t understand why she was not more well known. So I was very happy that she also wanted to collaborate. About Adam, it was a very nice and warm collaboration. He recorded the song we wrote together with the Budapest String Orchestra. It was a dream coming true. To be honest, the collaboration tracks are my favourite tracks on the record. These people inspire me and make my music better.
Last year you were diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and Asperger, is this correct? Is #3 a reflection of your experience so far with mental health? In other words, in there a meaning behind #3?
I’m diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Asperger. GAD can best be described as constantly thinking and worrying about everything, the whole day and night. It feels like I am living in another parallel world or universe, I sometimes dissociate from the real world and start to see or feel things that aren’t present in the ‘real’ life. It’s exhaustive. Moreover, I’m also diagnosed with Asperger or Autism Spectrum Disorder. In a way it causes my anxieties. So, it’s complicated 🙂
Yes, there’s a meaning behind #3.The album is about this darker chapter, 2017-2018. I really felt – even more than before – the need and urge to be creative and to write new music. It was my drug and addiction. It helped me to go through this dark period, the music you’ll hear was journey or travel through this period. Without the diseases the record would sound totally different. I hope I can transfer my emotions and feelings to the listener. I would be proud if I can put their lives on hold for 45 minutes and they’ll have the chance to think about the meaning of life. Making this album was the best possible therapy for me!
Do you think mental health is discussed enough within the music industry? What can we do to make it more of a discussion point?
No it’s still something people don’t want to talk about, at least that’s my impression. Talking helps and is the best way to feel better (next to making music – another form of communication). It doesn’t matter if you express yourself with or without words. As long as you externalize your thoughts and feelings. I made that mistake my whole life to keep everything inside, and since last year I realise that talking about these things are crucial. I can only encourage people to talk about their feelings, problems or worries with their friends and family.
What’s your favourite track on the album?
How would you describe #3 to someone who has never heard your music before?
Mmh, it’s hard for me to explain. I write my music in solitude, in my tiny messy music room. Usually ideas or songs come spontaneously, without thinking about “consequences”. After writing I feel better and relieved. So that’s why I would describe my music as ‘therapy’, but that of course doesn’t describe the sound if it.
People describe it as a cinematic mix between neo-classical music, post-rock and ambient. That’s maybe the best description if you think of genres. But I also think that this music can sound very different to each person, especially as instrumental music can be reflected by the listener in a much more flexible way than lyrical music.
I think that the listener has to take time to listen to my music to get deeper into it, rather than listening on the side or as background music.
What are you up to at the moment? Do you have any gigs coming up, or anything that we should be looking out for?
At this moment we’re busy preparing the release of #3. We’ll have our Belgian release shows at the end of November and December. We’ll perform together with Bruno Vanden Broecke, he’s a very well-known actor in Belgium. I wanted to do something different and am really looking forward to these shows. After that we hope to cross the border and play shows abroad. There are also plans to write a soundtrack for a new Belgian TV series. And I’m also working on a lot of new songs.
Finally, what is the meaning of music for you?
Music is my life. Without music, it would be very hard to cope with my diseases and to embrace my limitations. When I’m writing music, I feel relieved, and, most important, I stop thinking and worrying about everything. It puts my busy mind on hold. When I finished a song, I feel better. My batteries are recharged. Music is like an addiction to me, but a healthy one.
Also when I’m listening to other artists, it feels good to enter their little universe and to forget all my worries and anxieties. I need it, I can’t live without it. Before I got my diagnoses I didn’t realize the value of creating and listening to music. But now, I see it, and doing so is probably the most important gift of everything.