Name: Pitou Nicolaes aka Pitou
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, producer
Current release: Pitou's new single "Dancer" is out via V2.
If you enjoyed this interview with Pitou and would like to stay up to date with her music, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
Analyzing it afterwards, which I tend not to do, until it comes to doing actually releasing the songs, doing interviews etc., there’s often something I need to sit with / process - that will then subconsciously come back to me as the impulse to create something.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualization' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
Chance plays a big role, but it is not something I passively wait for - which sounds contradictory. There’s always an element of planning; you need to sit down and make space for the creation. But for me - from there on - there is often a big element of chance in the creation.
I invite elements (certain instruments, sounds, pieces of lyrics, inspiration) and play with them, until my subconscious / chance shows me an interesting route to go down.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
I collect things that inspire me, books, objects, prints. I also keep a digital archive which I can go to, when I don’t have access to the physical things.
When I don’t have any inspiration I’ll go there, remind myself of how many beautiful things there are still to be admired and sung about.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
I’ve had both happen - “Angel” was a song where the melody, chords, and story emerged simultaneously. But more often, the idea of the lyrics comes first, and I’ll go looking for a melodic mood and atmosphere to match them.
I’ve also written songs, and then completely re-written the lyrics. “Dancer” is an example of this. By changing the lyrics, it went from a song that had a lot of despair in it, to a song that felt much more hopeful, filled with fire.
An anthem for those times of despair it previously sang about.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
To me, the creative state is one of openness and clarity - the openness to perceive everything your subconscious or surroundings might offer you, and the clarity to follow whichever path or instinct you think will bring / show you something.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
Deadlines are very important to me.
Sometimes there is an intuitive notion from within that says ‘this is it’. But often you can also go on endlessly - and a deadline can help you move towards a finalization.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
My upcoming album was the first record I co-produced myself. All of the songs are adaptations of my original demos.
It taught me a lot to be so involved, but also made the finalizing of the songs more difficult. There was always something to edit, re-arrange, etc. It made it harder to let go of the songs, deadlines were crucial.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
The finishing of an album is such a long process, that by the time I am releasing these songs, I’m already working on new ones.
I love this blend of being occupied with releasing finished songs - creating the visual world for them, playing them live, etc. - and meanwhile creating new works.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I think it is all about finding the channel through which you can most honestly communicate. For some people this is writing, for some it is dancing, for some it is cooking.
For me personally, it is my voice and music. There is just something about singing, be it in the studio or on stage, where I feel most human, most open and true.