Noé Solange on new single, Bloom: “I wrote this song when I felt quite lost”

Noé Solange’s new single, Bloom, is a curious mix of inspirations from hustling as an electronic musician and freelance photographer in the non-stop city of London, but also from her time finding peace in the Indonesian countryside earlier this year. Perhaps this is why it creates such a stunning sound palette like no other. Solange opens up about creating the song, how she moves between seeking balance in life but then going into tunnel-vision mode when creating, and tells us about her home studio in East London.

Solange’s music is a stunning example of music coming out of London that also reflects the rich background of the artist creating it. And few artists can make this claim as strongly as Solange; besides her multidisciplinary skillset as a freelance photographer, she is one of the most truly international people you’re likely to come across.

“Where do I begin? I’m Dutch, Indonesian, Surinamese, Czech, and I’ve lived in nine different countries,” she says, with a speed that suggests she has reeled this off to people plenty of times. 

“I’ve always done music – it feels like the one thing I could bring with me everywhere I went. I played violin, piano, and would sing in bands and choirs, and around the age of 15 I started wanting to learn production.”

Solange’s move to London, and her realisation that she wanted to pursue the dream of music, were fairly simultaneous. 

“I became a vocalist and lyricist for other artists during my studies in the UK, and I purposefully moved to London to pursue my own music. Nocturnal Lady was the first song I released, which I co-produced with my friend Jose.”

I’ve always done music – it feels like the one thing I could bring with me everywhere I went.

It’s deeply impressive to learn Nocturnal Lady is one of Solange’s first self-produced releases. While some self-produced debut tracks have the rough and ready charm of bedroom pop, this is a very slick-sounding track – clean production with just the right amount of edge to it. Arpegiattors, hypnotic sub-bass, pads and understated drums provide the perfect bedding for the song’s excellently layered vocals and lyrics. It has already clocked in 1.5 million streams on Spotify alone.

Headliner then points out to Solange how fascinating it is that her 2020 EP is titled Bound, while her new single is titled Bloom, suggesting a journey from feeling constricted to blossoming.

“I never thought about it that way, I’m definitely going to use that,” she says with a laugh. “Bloom is such an uplifting track, which is so different to that whole EP, which was very melancholic. Bound was about loss and restrictions and I really wanted to delve into more melancholic electronica. 

"Bloom is very much about the past few years, and I wanted to create this piece as a reminder to myself and others to take a step back and look at your accomplishments and how far you've come.”

Bloom achieves that self-empowerment spectacularly with a myriad of electronic sounds, plus Solange’s stunning main vocal and choir of backing vocals. It’s simultaneously uplifting, while still carrying the hints of past melancholia, in a gorgeous kind of way. And the fact it was produced between her time in London and visiting Indonesia can only have influenced its unique sound.

“I wrote this song when I felt quite lost. I was quite burnt out last year. I was suffering from chronic health issues. A lot of last year was just me trying to recover. I wanted to use the word ‘bloom’ to convey how we are just like plants and flowers. 

"We have our own individual journeys of growth, and we take our own time to blossom into our unique selves. It's also a tribute to strong women out there and their own journeys, which is why I use the word ‘she’ throughout the song. I wanted to convey community.”

Bloom is such an uplifting track, which is so different to that whole EP, which was very melancholic.

Headliner then asks Solange about how this creative process begins in her London home studio. 

“There's a lot of vocal harmonies in my music, so for those I love using SoundToys’ Echoboy. I think I use that in almost every song! And then the Valhalla VintageVerb is my main reverb – that brings such warmth to a vocal, which I love. And then Arturia has great synths. Unfortunately, I don't have an analogue synth at the moment, so I use the Arturia plugins for my synths. The drums will be played live by my friend, Jose, who is also a sound engineer.

“For my sound card I’m using a Focusrite Scarlett. When I moved to London, I actually worked on a photoshoot for Focusrite. Just being in those surroundings and seeing all the gear there, I was like, ‘I want this interface!’ 

"It's cost-effective; I bring it literally everywhere. It's really easy to use and it was so popular at the time when I got it. That was when I thought, ‘It’s time for me to really get into producing’, so I bought one of those.”

In terms of the future, there’s a nice air of mystery as to where Solange goes next. 

“I haven’t set a date for the next EP yet,” she says. “I’m just trying to finish everything off at the moment. And who knows, maybe I’ll add a few more songs and it becomes an album! But at the moment I have five new songs coming out.”