Although he is still too young to purchase liquor in the USA, Loïc Nottet – who will turn 21 in 2017 – already has quite a résumé. Born in Charleroi (Belgium), Loïc grew up peacefully in a small village. Disney cartoons and the music channels were his childminders and he watched all of them with equal fascination. When he saw the epic Michael Jackson video Ghosts, it came as a revelation. “Suddenly things fell into place and I told my mother that was what I wanted to do. I liked to draw, write, dance and play, but suddenly I realized that I’d always need music. It was fundamental.” Of course, a country kid with his eye on a singing career has a long, challenging path before him...
Loïc’s golden ticket came when a radio show invited listeners to apply for a talent show: The Voice Belgique. Encouraged by a girlfriend, Loïc signed up. Successfully making it through all the stages of casting, he surprised the panel with his version of Rihanna’s Diamonds. Three chairs turned. Beverly Jo Scott became his coach and Loïc reached the final. A fairy tale? No, just the start of the adventure. “It boosted my confidence when Sia retweeted my cover of Chandelier with a comment. When I was little, I’d watched Star Academy and dreamt of taking part. But how could I become an artist when I didn’t know anybody who worked for a record company?”
Belgian television had noted his talent and asked him to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. Loïc was hesitant, but the broadcaster insisted. He finally agreed, but with certain provisos: he would choose the set design, choreography, costumes and song. At the final, he finished fourth with a song called Rhythm
Inside. Choreographer Marie-Claude Pietragalla, who was on the panel of Danse Avec Les Stars (Dancing with the Stars), was impressed by his performance and sent him a message. One thing led to another and Loïc found himself selected by France’s TF1 TV channel to compete in the show’s 2015/2016 season. “I was the youngest in the contest. I was worried about the French public, who had a reputation for being a tough crowd. I was sure they were going to hate me, especially when they found out I’d done Eurovision. But I won the competition with 68% of the vote, the highest score in the show’s history.”
The public may have loved Loïc the dancer, but what about Loïc the singer? His single Million Eyes began to answer that question. Loïc had found a great ally in the shape of his manager Dimitri (the man who launched Stromae’s career) and was very clear about what he wanted. “I loved movie music, Hans Zimmer and especially Danny Elfman. I wanted to bring that motion-picture feel to the album and tell a story. Million Eyes marked the start of a new chapter for me.” Working on his music, Loïc Nottet was highly ambitious and wanted complete control. “I had to do everything myself, I needed that. I did all the basics and beats on a keyboard at home and sent them to professional producers who arranged my music. The same went for the lyrics. When I work on my melodies, I sing nonsense words, but as soon as I find a title, I realize what it’s going to be about. I knew my first track for the album would be called Million Eyes even before I’d finished writing it. And it was the same for all the other tracks.”
To develop his sound, Loïc worked with three producers: Luuk Cox (particularly on Million Eyes), the young Ico and Alexandre Germys. They refined the texture of the songs Loïc had written on the keyboard. The tracks on this first album have a common message: tolerance in world dominated by ego. “I believe everything I say in my music. I stand by it and will go on standing by it, whether the reactions are positive or negative. I have no regrets. Not a single song was chosen for the album just because we needed space filler. Hungry Heart is about a boy who feels he can never give his partner the love she wants and decides to leave because their relationship is toxic. It’s like a love song, but when I wrote it, I was thinking about someone gazing at themselves in a mirror. So it’s about narcissism.”
Cure starts out like a John Carpenter soundtrack, while Mud is backed by a hypnotic tribal beat and Poison slows down the tempo. When he wrote Wolves, Loïc was inspired by the age-old story of Beauty and the Beast, while Dirty explores the contempt that conformists show for anything that is different. “The album is cinematographically planned, with a prologue and a grand finale, Mirrors. Mirrors are key to the issue of appearances,” explains Loïc. He spent a long time looking for the right title for this first collection of songs... and then found it. It would be called Selfocracy. “The album says a lot about me and I thought the word ‘selfocracy’ sounded good. We’re living in the age of the selfie and that’s connected to the album’s message.”
From pop to electro, movie music and melodies that breathe nostalgia, this set of eleven songs makes up a very sincere album – a record by a Peter Pan in an oversize sweatshirt who invites us to explore his Neverland.
“After the Mona Lisa, Da Vinci could say he was a painter. And after Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling could confidently claim to be a novelist. Those titles are deserved. I don’t yet see myself as an artist. I’m trying to become one. I work myself hard.” Such modesty does Loïc Nottet credit, but is contradicted by the quality and emotion of Selfocracy, a first album in what will be a long career; the album of a sensitive artist with a child’s face and tender soul.
So on this first album, Loïc Nottet unveils his emotions and melodies, opens up his heart and makes his overriding aim clear: to delight his listeners.