Tileyard Education is an exuberant hub of artistry, entrepreneurs and hit-makers exuding with talent, with students and alumni turning out new music every week.
But most recently there has been a name buzzing on everyone’s lips, Belgian-born singer-songwriter and boss-lady with a generous helping of new-age realness, Flore.
I fell in love with her music in an instant. Her bouncy, dream-pop alt vibes, upbeat happy synths had me hooked immediately, but her lyrics and messages are so deep, meaningful and raw that you just remain enchanted floating between her princessy coloured world and her struggle with mental health.
Flore moved to London to sharpen her skills as an artist and songwriter, graduating from Popular Music Performance and Recording at UWL, she is currently undertaking her Masters in Music Business at Tileyard Education.
This 21-year-old singer-songwriter autonomously and independently releases her music on all platforms, both in French and English. Her songwriting skills have attracted the attention of music legends such as Nile Rodgers and Bruno Major when she landed her place as a finalist in The Other Songs Competitions.
Her latest release Storm is a beautiful and intimate piece about her struggle with depression and anxiety, and on its first day of release was listed onto two major Spotify Editorial Playlists!
In celebration of the release, Flore in Belgium, and I, in the UK, sat down and had a coffee and catch-up over Zoom to discuss her amazing talent and music career to date, including Covid-19 and the impact that has had for her as an artist.
Who do you think is Flore now, in the present moment?
One big mess!
It sounds really unprofessional but that’s who I am. There’s such a pressure to do things by the rules of the industry to try and “make it” and with the years I’ve realised that that’s not who I am. So at the moment, Flore is a songwriter. I’ve always written more than sung and with everything that’s going on, I have been writing even more. I have always tried to be extremely honest in my songs, which has been stressful because there’s a fine line between revealing too much and being impersonal but as mentioned before, I try not to worry too much about what is right or wrong to others and stay true to myself.
What made you move to London? Was it primarily a career decision?
Yes definitely. There are music universities (conservatories) in Belgium but it’s mostly classical music which although I respect a lot, it was not what I wanted to do so I knew Belgium wasn’t the place. I had always loved London, and the reputation it holds within the music industry is definitely a plus. That being said, I did also want to leave Belgium. Although I love it now, at 18 I knew I needed a new start. It’s definitely helped me grow a lot as a human.
What artists do you take inspiration from? Anyone close to you that inspires you?
I always find this such a hard question and my answer is so cliché, it makes me cringe but I do believe you can get inspiration everywhere.
At the moment, I’m a fan of Spotify’s Discover Weekly which is ON POINT for me but there have been artists that have inspired me so here it goes. Lorde, Angèle, FKA Twigs, Broods, Lana Del Rey, Videoclub, Sasha Sloan, Billy Lemos etc.
There are definitely people around me that inspire me. In the last 4 years I studied in London (UWL and Tileyard) I have met the best songwriters ever; they have taught me so incredibly much. I’m so grateful I have met the people I have.
When did you start singing/ realize you wanted to be an artist?
I must’ve been around 13? Maybe a little younger?
I had so much on my mind I just always wanted to write. I played piano at the time and realised that I could put my words to music and that’s how it started.
You sing in both English and French, why do you do it? Do you think that it is important for artists that speak two or more languages to incorporate that in their songs?
I started songwriting in English; but my Dad does not speak English, he’d often show me these amazing Belgian and French artists such as Jacques Brel whose lyrics are stunning.
I wanted my Dad to be able to understand what I sang so I started writing and singing in French. My Dad definitely influenced me to want to be better. I personally think it’s a lot harder, maybe because there are so many words or ways to say what you mean in French.
In my opinion, the industry can be very constricting in how language is used, otherwise, you won’t “make it” (whatever that even means but that’s a whole other question on its own) however that is slowly changing and I love that. Artists such as Angèle and Rosalia or the many K-pop artists are living proof that you can sing in whatever language you want and still be successful. If you want to sing in a different language than English or at least incorporate some words or sentences, then do it. It’s your music, you need to be able to represent it with all your heart.
Poisson is your most listened to single, what is it about and how did it come to life?
The song Poisson, (which means, fish) is about depression and voices in your head. I compare fish swimming and rotting to thoughts that poison your mind. It’s actually a very dark song but because of its fun production, it seems very lightweight. I wrote the song and pre-produced it before showing it to a producer I work with called Tom Corscadden. He immediately loved it and came up with that sick bassline you hear throughout the track and basically built it around that. It was a very smooth process.
In your latest single “Storm” you talk about being in a dark place mentally, how do you deal with the darker side?
I keep my mind busy. Some people say it’s not a good way to deal with it, it might not always be but it works for me. I write a lot, but sometimes that’s just not always the way you’ll feel better. I’ve tried lots of things over the years so now I do a bit of everything, I paint, doodle, sew, watch movies that I know make me laugh etc.
Why do you think is it important for artists to sing/talk about mental health?
Again, I think it depends on the artist, if you don’t want to disclose that part of you, that’s completely fair but for people that are scared to but want to, I genuinely think it’s important. There has been such a rise of people that suffer from mental health or at least people have become more open about it which enables others to have conversations about it without it being taboo. Don’t get me wrong, Storm was the song I was the most scared to release because of how clear the subject is, but the feedback I have received has been so amazing, which just proves that people want to hear that and relate to others.
Releasing a song during lockdown must be harder, how did you deal with it?
There’s this issue of morality where I did not want to be insensitive to everything going on around the world. But at the end of the day, the song is about mental health and I can only speak for myself but the lockdown is extremely hard mentally. It has changed people’s life, completely turning it upside down.
What are your next steps when the lockdown is over?
I want to collaborate with as many people as possible. I know it becomes possible to make music through various platforms; however, there’s literally no better feeling than being in the same room as people that are creative and challenge or complete you. So a lot of that, a lot more releases and a lot of hugs (when appropriate).
You can listen to Storm now, on every streaming platform.
Flore’s stunning and sensual music has me captivated. I wait curiously in anticipation for more to come from this stunning artist.
Interview by Francesca Rigoni