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    "Desert of Real"

    Interview With Wanheda Guitarist Jan

    Interview von Anne
    18.01.2022 — Lesezeit: 6 min
    Deutsche Version lesen
    "Desert of Real"
    Bild/Picture: © Wanheda

    With their new album, "Desert of Real", the Belgian post-rock collective Wanheda aims to question the vanity and egocentricity of humanity in the present. It is an indirect continuation of their EP, "Cenozoic Explosion", from 2018.

    Back then, the band already worked with the topic of human greed and the influence of our unstoppable destruction of the planet and attracted the attention of the post-music scene.

    Greek mythology and the present

    Wanheda (group of six people in casual clothes) standing in front of three neon lights on a meadow at night.

    With "Desert of Real", the six musicians from Leuven deliver a contemporary album full of lively music. Their art is not only reminiscent of Mono's enchanting and heartful sounds. The confidence and energy of the music created by bands like Caspian and This Will Destroy You also shines through. In the creation process of the new record, they focused entirely on the theme of technology addiction and our relationship with social media. They used "The Judgement of Paris" from Greek mythology as the basis for this. For them, it is an allegory for the torment of technology and the self-obsession it can cause.

    Wanheda produced their album in a way that is also used, for example, by directors of modern opera. They have taken a classical story and placed it in a contemporary setting. It makes the theme and the narrative more realistic and accessible to the audience. Their music reflects this in a play of gloomy, dark, and heavy moments and light, bright and clear sequences. Wanheda founder Jan Verduyckt and his crew see their influences mainly in classical post-metal and post-rock, but also blues rock and classical guitar music. I now took my chance to interview guitarist Jan Boucké.

    Anne: Hi Jan! Thanks very much for taking the time for this! How are things going? I'm sure you and the guys are looking forward to releasing your new album "Desert of Real" on February 2nd? Congrats on that, by the way! I like it a lot! It is very thoughtful and quite enchanting, and I love its cinematic components!

    Jan: Thanks for having me! It's a great time for us as a band. For the past few years, we've been working hard to release new music, and the time has finally come, so we're happy and nervous at the same time. Releasing new music is always exciting. We're very curious to see how people will receive our record. We are really looking forward to it and can't wait to pop off! It's been more than two years since we've played live. We are eager to play again after all this time. Although COVID is still topical, we hope our planned shows can take place. Thank you for listening and for the kind words, Anne!

    Anne: What is the meaning of "Desert of Real"? You told me it has something to do with social media addiction?

    The addiction to social media

    Jan: "Desert of Real" is about emotions associated with addiction and struggling with addiction. To be more precise: the addiction to social media, smartphones and technology in general. It also deals with the (mental) consequences of addiction to social media and the discord that (the increased use of) social media and technology causes in society.

    Anne: You used a classic story as the basis: "The Judgement of Paris" from Greek mythology. Would you like to tell me more about it?

    Jan: As technology is increasingly becoming the religion of the 21st century, we have given our album a divine intervention. We've used the story of the Judgement of Paris as an allegory of the throes of technology and the self-obsession it induces. Technology and social media are presented as Eris – the ancient Greek goddess of strife and discord – throwing an apple of discord in our society, a gift "to the most beautiful" and thus a breeding ground for narcissism.

    Wanheda (six people in casual clothes) are standing on a meadow in the broad daylight.

    Anne: So one could also say the album tells a true story?

    Jan: Although we felt like making a conceptual album and giving meaning to it by this chosen theme, we leave the listener to their conclusions. We are not so much into preaching an impending technical dystopia but more about exploring and expressing our feelings on the subject. We think it's essential that our music gives rise to emotion, whatever a person may feel while listening to our songs.

    Anne: How did you come up with a topic like that?

    Jan: While writing and listening to our creations, we felt interwoven emotions and contradictions throughout the songs on the album. Feelings such as despair, melancholy, euphoria, nostalgia and bliss. We find it interesting to reflect on socially relevant themes. Our debut EP was about humanity's greed and wasteful impact on the planet. We felt like continuing our penchant for scrutinising humanity's vanity and egocentrism on our full-length "Desert of Real".

    Anne: The outcome of your work sounds very professional. Did you record the album all by yourselves, or did you work with sound engineers, a label and a studio?

    "We recorded the instruments at Masterplan Music"

    Jan: Thank you! This time we recorded all instruments at Masterplan Music, a wonderful studio owned by Stijn Debontridder. Together with our producer/sound engineer and former guitarist JP, he took our songs to the next level. We chose to record real strings, something we didn't do on our debut EP. Jolien Deley backs "Desert of Real" on cello, Griet Wiame on violin and Tim De Jonghe on trumpet. I think all of this makes it sound more mature and well-thought!

    Anne: You formed in 2016 and released your first record, "The Cenozoic Implosion", in 2018. What would you say has changed since then? For you as a band, in terms of your musical style and in general?

    Jan: We formed in 2016 but started rehearsing in 2017 as a full band after Jasper joined us on keys. I think a lot has changed since then. We've played a lot of shows and went on tour. Those are all positive experiences you make as an individual. They form you as a band. Besides, as a group of six individuals, you are bound to encounter obstacles. If you can overcome them, it makes you stronger as a group. We all got a few years older, which is also noticeable musically. If you combine that with a different approach to writing and recording, I think you get a more mature album.

    Anne: What is it about the Belgique post-music scene? I mean, there is so much going on with all the projects and bands and fanzines and our beloved DUNK!festival and DUNK!records and stuff. It feels like a big family overall! How do you think did this evolve?

    Jan: I feel the same way, but I honestly have no clue how this evolved. As fans of post-whatever music, we have been visiting DUNK!festival for quite some years. We love going to concerts and festivals, but once you've experienced the magic of DUNK!festival, you can do nothing but make it an annual tradition. We feel like people in this "scene" are super kind, open-minded, helpful and appreciative. I think people – like us – love to surround themselves with such people.

    Anne: The style of your music is very versatile. I could imagine fans of bands like Mono or Caspian, other soulful and melodic Post-Rock bands can easily get infected. Would you say that they are role models for you? Would you like to name some more?

    "There's always room for creative input"

    Jan: It all started with our lead guitarist Jan Verduyckt aka JV. He is a fan of bands like Mono, Sigur Rós, Yndi Halda, etc. Other bands that inspire him to write for Wanheda are Pink Floyd, Radiohead and April Rain but also composers of classical music. Additionally, we're all big fans of Russian Circles and If These Trees Could Talk.

    Wanheda - "Desert of Real" album cover (A person stands in front of a foreground of zeros and ones with their mouth open)
    Wanheda - "Desert of Real"

    Anne: As you've mentioned before: You are a band of six. That's quite a bunch of people. Is it always easy finding common ground and putting all these creative ideas together?

    Jan: I can imagine this process easier in a smaller group, but so far, we haven't experienced any significant problems in this regard. JV is the primary writer who comes up with most musical ideas, but there is certainly room for everyone's input.

    Anne: Besides interviews, Bandcamp, and social media are you planning any events around your release? I assume gigs are, unfortunately, not much of an option these days?

    "We want to go on tour"

    Jan: Of course, we had hoped for a better situation, but it seems like 2022 will be another year affected by corona. Nevertheless, we hope to play lots of shows! We have some gigs planned in the coming months. The first one will be on February 5th in Ghent, of which it is still unclear whether it can take place or not given the current measures.

    Our release show is planned in our hometown Leuven on February 26th in JH Sojo with Capitan as support. Aaaaaaand we are planning to go on tour again in October/November this year! So we will undoubtedly pass through Germany!

    Anne: Thanks very much for this inspiring and sympathetic interview! It was a pleasure! I wish you much success with "Desert of Real"! See you at DUNK!

    Jan: Thank you so much, Anne! Hope to see you soon!

    Wanheda consists of Jan Boucké (guitar), Jan Verduyckt (guitar), Nick Van Vynckt (bass), Quinten Van Gils (drums), Jasper Simon (keys), and Jan Peeters (production & guitars).

    Wanheda – "A Desert of Real"

    © 2024 · · Anne Reis