“Nele Needs A Holiday” is Nele Van den Broeck, a 29 year old hyper realistic pop singer from Belgium. She started her career in 2007 when she got kicked out from her band and from her theatre school.
A: Tell me about the beginning of “Nele Needs A Holiday”.
NNAH: Even though 2007 was the worst year I’ve ever had, that’s when my songs started to come to me. I sang on parties and I realised that people liked my songs. I also realised that I should just write about my own shit and that I should say things exactly how they are. My name got known in Belgium first when I sang the summary of the Channel 1 News every Tuesday.
I moved to London two months ago and I have my first concert September the 26th in the Paper Dress vintage shop. A lot of talented people seem to come to London and it feels like you are playing in another league being here. My current band is a seven girl act but they are still in Belgium. I got my new album “It’s my party” coming out in Holland, Luxemburg and Belgium. There are three big themes on the album; Being drunk then ashamed, Career stress and Love, or rather failure in love.A: How did you come up with the name “Nele Needs A Holiday”?
NNAH: My birth name is a typical Flemish name, it’s impossible to pronounce, but you say it like Naila. I decided to go with “Nele Needs A Holiday” as my artist name because my real name, especially my last name, is too hard to say right. I wanted my artist’ name for both when I’m solo and when I sing with my band. It is a name of the universe that I have created, and she (Nele Needs A Holiday) is my alter ego, a character that I am playing.
A: Can you describe you alter ego and what she does?
NNAH: Well, she likes to drink and take over on social occasions. She is quite tiring actually. When I am alone by myself I am organized and silent but when I am around people something takes over, sometimes to my shame. For example, I recently lost a tooth and I was really sad about it. Last week I was at a premiere and instead of not mentioning it, I told and showed everyone the gap where my tooth used to be. Basically, my character is really, really open. Sometimes when I’m in bed I think “Oh no, what has she done now, what did she say”?
A: In your video “Beyoncé” and also the video to “Drunk song” the character gets drunk and is hung over. How is Nele’s relationship to alcohol, is that where the inspiration comes from?
NNAH: I’m not an alcoholic, but I get drunk very fast. When I drink, or when I’m in trouble, I cry and then I write songs about it. I really like the idea of the Greek ancient mythology when they have something coming over them, like a muse for inspiration. I never search for a song, they always come and fall over me. In a way “Nele Needs A Holiday” is my muse, she is that person coming to me.
A: It’s a lot of acting in your music, does that help you get inspired?
NNAH: I have a theatre degree and I am a trained actress. I used to do a lot of acting in Belgium but as far as inspiration goes, everything I write about is taken from my real life. It’s a vulnerable thing to write about real stuff that has happened. The night (or rather the morning after) I wrote “Beyoncé”, I was singing vocals in a band and we decided to paint a big stripe with blue make up over our eyes. We had a concert and after I got really shit faced. As the chorus go; when I drink, I always think that I’m Beyoncé. I danced violently and I always need a lot of space to do it, but this time I fell and hurt my ankle badly. I cried so much and all of the blue paint in my face was entirely smeared out. I looked like a crying, drunk Smurf. That was a low point and when I woke up the morning after I wrote the song.
A: So “Beyoncé” is a self-experienced song, what about “Drunk song”?
NNAH: I use my songs to deal with shame and failure. I’m just really, really happy when I’m drunk and every morning after I feel so sad. That’s what being drunk is to me, to borrow a little bit of happiness. I’m going to write a song about that too, borrow rhymes with tomorrow and sorrow. “Drunk song” is in a gym class and in the video I’m trying to get over my youth trauma. I used to be the fat kid that was not good at sports at all. I hated gym class and I could never do the cartwheel. I mixed the feeling of being hung over and being a failure in a gym class. When we did the video, as soon as I came in the gym hall, all the feelings of being the fat kid came back to me.
A: Do you see your music as some kind of therapy?
NNAH: In a way it’s certainly is, if something bad happens to me, obviously I’m sad as everyone else but it’s also a little voice in my head saying; you can write a song about this. At least that is something good coming from the bad things. Sometimes I think that I mess up deliberately to write about it but I hope that’s not the actual case. I’ve realised that the more individual and personal I am in my songs, the more people like them.
“Nele Needs A Holiday” has her first live concert in Paper Dress 114 – 116 Curtain Road, Shoreditch at 7.30 pm
You can also see her videos on Youtube @Nele Needs A Holiday