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BLENDING Jazz, Soul and Pop together: the incredible sounds of…

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Hyleen are much-demanded right now Her previous album was 2014’s U&I. I ask about that record and how it differs to the forthcoming album, B-Side. She discusses the origins and inspiration for that album and what we can expect. Hailing from Cannes (France); I ask about the music scene there and whether it is vibrant and productive.

Hyleen attended the National Conservatory and has been honing her skills as a vocalist and musician. I was curious to learn about her upbringing and education – how important it is and where she goes next. The French artist talks about working with her brother on the video for latest single, Looking At. It is a fascinating song and one Hyleen explores and explains in more depth. She provides me with artists we should be seeking out and the albums that are most important to her.


Hi, Hyleen. How are you? How has your week been?

I’m really fine, thank you! My week was pretty incredible because we’ve just released my new single, Looking At – with our new video clip,(and in the same) my new album, B-Side. It has been released in Japan trough Sweet Soul Records! So, so far it’s been the best week ever!

For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?

So, my name is Hyleen. I’m French and I’m a singer, guitarist; author and composer. I’m in love with music in general but the lil (sic.) thing in music that touches me is The Groove. I started music by myself ‘til the age of twenty-one; then, I moved to Paris to perfect my knowledge, harmony and technique at the Conservatory

You are from Cannes (France). What is the music scene like there in terms of new artists and sounds favoured?

Hum…unfortunately there is not a real musical scene over there. It’s a beautiful place and I love this city but I’ve quickly realised that I had to move to Paris to explore, improve and enlarge my vision of what I wanted to be: a musician

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U&I was released in 2014 and was your debut album. What does it feel like looking back? How you think your new material differs from U&I?

U&I was like a first experience, you know – like a first love. You’re in a bubble; you want to go fast; you want to do everything as soon as possible, and in the same time, you’re not too sure about what you’re feeling.

So, that’s how I see things with a step-back. With my new album, B-Side, it’s a completely different approach. I’ve composed and arranged everything by myself with the influence of the live session – with the incredible musicians I’m surrounded by. We recorded this album as a live performance: just the three of us. That was an incredible experience as a singer because you can’t think too much: you just have to be real and play everything like if it was in front of the audience. It took around two years to work on it – from the writing progress to the final mastering – even if we recorded everything just in three days.

Looking At is your latest single. What can you tell me about its origins and the reason you wrote it?

Looking At is the first song that I wrote for this new album. The year before that, I went through a real difficult period in my life and this song was the first I wrote since all this episode. It’s a song about the power of our look: the power of the eyes that can replace (so well the) speech. The new album, (B-Side) is a concept about the different facets of our personality. So, I’ve tried to put those facets into music and, as you can hear on Looking At, you can find a B-Side part at the end of the song.

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The video for the track was directed by yourself and your brother, Hadrien Besse. What was it like collaborating with him? Who came up with the concept for the video?

It was such a pleasure. That’s exactly what I wanted since a very long time but I wasn’t the only decision-maker for my previous project. But now it’s completely different.

Hadrien has been working with me since writing B-Side – so he knows everything about me.

More than that, it’s a real chance to work with him because he is a real movie-maker and working in the publicity area, too – not from the music scene; so it’s really interesting to mix his world with mine.

I believe the album, B-Side, will follow. Can you tell us about the kind of songs and themes you explore on the record?

After the different experiences I’ve been through, I wanted to remove the veil that I had on myself: B-Side is an opening door on my personality. In this record I’ve made my first declaration of love; I’ve made my first intimate song (just me and my guitar). I’ve explored the Funk, the Soul and the Pop that I have into myself.

As a youngster, you played in your brother’s band and taught yourself to play. How important wee those early days and his influence? What kind of music did you grow up with around that time?

I think it’s because I’ve learnt immediately in a band and (because) I’ve learnt music as a game – as a way to share with people that which I love playing live. More than that; in my brother’s band, it was only original songs. So, I’ve started to think like a composer because of him.

Later, you studied at the National Conservatory in Paris. Was it quite an enriching experience and how important was that time?

Of course, it was a beautiful experience. I had the chance to study a lot of different aspects of music (harmony, ear-training; live-playing, recording; composition, etc.). It was really intense because, usually, you had to have a Conservatory background to be in this program but I had the chance to be accepted (just) with the audition.

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After studying, you travelled and played a series of shows around the world – Japan, India and U.S.A. among them. You also supported Jarrod Lawson and Anthony David. What is your favourite memory from that time?

Hard question! I think I’ve always the same best memory about all those events: having the chance to play my original music in a different country; in front of different people from different areas. It’s such an incredible feeling. You can share a moment of life and meet people (just) through your music.

Feeling that they appreciate, they’re touched and they wanna know more and more about you is just unbelievable.

What does the rest of this year hold for you? Any tour dates coming up?

We have a lot of dates in France during summer and we’re working on an Australian and Japanese tour for the end of the year – then, India too! My album, B-Side, is already available in Japan (through Sweet Soul Records) and it will be released around October in Europe. But, some surprises are coming too. Stay tuned!

Can we in the U.K. expect to see you anytime soon?

Yes, we’re working on it too! I’m looking forward to coming back to the U.K. to introduce my music! The few times I came was just for hanging around catching the British vibe! I loved it!

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If you had to select the three albums that have meant most to you which would they be and why?

Another hard question! (L.o.L.). So, three important albums for me:

Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at Velfarre – because it’s my favourite band and because, when I listen to that live, I just want to be on stage. That makes me stop thinking too much.

D’Angelo: Live at the Jazz Café – I’ve discovered the Neo-Soul music with him and Erykah Badu. This live album has such an intense and modern way of thinking (groove).

Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience – this album change my mind: the more you listen to it, the more you discover riff, colours; harmony and texture. The songs are powerful, complex and simple at the same time – that’s all I like in music.

Are there any new/upcoming artists you advise we keep an eye out for this year at all?

I think you already know them.

I’m listening to Aaron Abernathy, James Tillman; Anderson .Paak and Hiatus Kaiyote.

What advice would you give to any new artists coming through right now?

Be brave and passionate because the music world is becoming harder and harder.

But, if you just focus on what you wanna (sic.) express, you’ll be the happiest.

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Of Course!

Shangri LaJames Tillman


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