If you've yet to listen to WWWater, the alter-ego of Belgian-Carribean artist Charlotte Adigéry, put on 'Screen' and it won't take long to experience the rush of unadulterated energy that characterises her sound and that has no doubt pushed her into focus this year. Splitting her musical output between the kind of minimal, personal and cold sound as WWWater and a more polished, collaborative electronica project under her own name, a strong rhythmic current and honest lyricism weaves both forms together.
Ahead of a summer of European festival appearances, we caught up with the young artist to discuss the backdrop that formed WWWater and the forces that keep it flowing.
You produce music under your own name Charlotte Adigéry and under the moniker WWWater. Perhaps we could start by discussing where you draw the line between both projects – how did this differentiation begin?
There’s a chronological difference, but there’s also a big difference in sound. With WWWater I started when I was still in school. It was something I did by myself; completely unintentional, like a very naive exploration of what I could do and how I could tell a story.
So that started off as being a solo project, and then in school I ended up meeting someone called Frederich who works for 2manydjs, and he contacted me because Stephan and David were looking for someone to sing on the soundtrack for the movie Belgica, directed by Felix Van Groeningen, and after that collaboration they were super excited about what I did, and saw a lot of potential in me before I could see it myself. They asked if I would like to write music on their label, but from the start it was clear that WWWater was another story, and not something I would meld with the Deewee label. I started making music at Deewee on my own but I felt really uninspired and a little intimidated because of people like that asking to make music, and to hear the other releases on the label was definitely intimidating.
I think they felt it – they feel a lot of things – so they introduced me to Boris [Pupul, producer], who makes music on their label, and we started making music together with no intentions but surrounded by completely different instrument so that’s what we do now as Charlotte Adigéry. It’s a completely different universe for me but they're complementary; I wouldn’t want to choose between one or the other because it wouldn’t make sense to me, and I wouldn’t want to blend them either because they sound so different.
WWWater is more raw, and there’s a punk philosophy to it. We like to keep it raw and naked, not overproduced or make it too classy, and with Charlotte Adigéry it’s classy in a good way – it’s not too kitsch or too plastic. But we think by being surrounded by Boris, Stephan and David they add their own expertise, and on the other hand with WWWater we like to keep it a little more naive.
How did you get into producing music in the first place? Your family were quite encouraging right? What do you think you took from them?
I live with my mum and she’s also a musician and open-minded in all kinds of ways. She was like ‘whatever you do, as long as it feels right, do it’. Like staying true to my own truth and convictions without being stubborn, you know? We always sang at home and I just took over the virus. It wasn’t intentional until I started studying it. Singing to me is the easiest part, it’s just telling a story, and then producing I felt like I needed to expand or have as many tools as possible to tell my story.
Belgium seems to be a meeting point and melting pot of a lot of different cultures – is that fair to say? How important do you think it’s been as your home growing up as an artist?
From my point of view I don’t really see it as a melting pot, I think there could be a lot more melting to be done. I often feel like the only black person. When I’m in London I feel like "wow, my background doesn’t matter." I think we’re a little behind, and that Belgium still hasn’t apologised for the horrors of Leopold II in the Congo says a lot about the climate and shows a lot of… what’s the word… ignorance? Yes, ignorance. I feel like I have to prove myself more in Flanders than in Wallonia.
I had to explore my different backgrounds of culture more than was out there in Belgium. That’s something I started embracing later on, something I did myself after feeling alienated and different for a long time.
Where do you take influence from sonically? With WWWater there’s quite a lot of abstract and raw sounds going on, but they're always kept together with this reliable rhythm...
I take influence from artists that make music from the gut. I always look for sincerity and the urge to tell a story, and artists being fearless, uncompromising and not imitating or copying. You can take your inspiration from someone but your story, your personal story is way more important. I love Dean Blunt – for WWWater that was a big influence – I love Yves Tumor, I love Nina Hagen, I love Bad Brainz.
I saw that 3voor12 session you did – the live execution was perfect. Has the musical direction of the live setup changed much?
Thank you! No, not at all, it’s the same because it works well I think. Boris does an amazing job on the synthesizers, the way Steve plays, no one plays like him. He’s a big part of the identity of WWWater now. Maybe when the album is written and we have a new story to tell we will change it, but it has worked perfectly till now.
2019 has already been pretty exciting for you, with your first London headline show last month. Does it feel like you’re at a turning point at all?
I don’t want to call it that, or think about it too much because maybe I’m a little superstitious, but yeah, it feels like a lot of things I’ve dreamt about or wished for are happening, and that’s fucking amazing. It’s the best feeling in the world. On the other hand, I can’t really grasp it always; it’s a little surreal at some points. I wouldn’t call it a turning point because you never know with music, it’s all so brittle; you can disappear so easily. I can see more followers, more people at the show, more people singing along, so yeah, that’s happening! [laughs]
You’ve got a busy schedule this summer, are there any particular moments you’re especially looking forward to?
Yeah, I think we’re going to Japan as well. You never know, sometimes when you least expect it you can have this beautiful gig because of the people. But looking at it now, there's Printemps de Bourges, We Out Here, Field Day, plus Ypsigrock in beautiful Sicily. I’m looking forward to summer in general, it’s been such a treat.
What is the benchmark you set your goals against? Where do you want/see either of your projects heading?
Writing two albums that really reflect what we have in our heads and having the inspiration of creating two universes and telling a complete story that’s really free as possible of boundaries. Connecting with people who love our music, and seeing them come to our shows. So everything that’s happening now, as long as it keeps going I’m really happy. I’m at this place I’ve looked forward to for so long. Travelling with music was my dream, so maybe I need to set another goal! But the first thing is the album.