In The Hague’s The Womb studio, Front's video team recorded an intimate session with la loye, the project with which Lieke Heusinkveld makes delicate indie folk. In a solo line-up 'i only hear you in my song' and 'white summer' sounded even more personal than on to live underwater, the first EP by la loye, which was released in December of last year. In addition to the session, Dirk Baart spoke with Lieke Heusinkveld about the growth that la loye has experienced in recent years.
Written by: Dirk Baart
“I think it's wonderful that little happens, but that you are still sucked into the thoughts of the main character. You really get caught up in someone else's thinking pattern.” Lieke Heusinkveld explains her admiration for The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Sallinger's classic about the rebellious teenager Holden Caulfield. Although Heusinkveld does not come across as a particularly rebellious type, the description could just as well apply to her music. Under the moniker la loye, Heusinkveld has been performing moody folk songs since 2019 that seem minimalistic at first, but often grow towards grand highlights layer by layer.
la loye is inspired by Big Thief, Mount Eerie and Elliott Smith, but Heusinkveld also draws parallels to the film music she became attached to in her youth, soundtracks that are at least as good as the film itself. “I grew up in a musical family, but the love for film music only came later, when I started discovering which films I liked myself. I used to have to go to the video store – that still existed at the time – with my two brothers. After long quarrels, we usually went home with a film that we had already seen.”
Heusinkveld likes to take the time, not only in her songs. She also spread the development of la loye – partly out of necessity – over a relatively long period. She laid the foundation of the project during her studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. In 2017, she played her first shows. At the time, Heusinkveld, until then mainly active as a keyboardist in someone else's band, also wrote the songs that would eventually end up on the EP to live underwater. At the beginning of 2019, the EP’s title track was released as la loye’s first song. The EP itself followed almost three years later. “Actually, the songs are very old at this point. When I listen to the EP now, I think I sound young. I still recognize myself in the songs and stand behind them, but when I listen to the lyrics, I say to myself: yes, you may have experienced that then, but things will be different. I see the songs mainly as a preface to what's to come, like the album that I'm going to start recording next week. The songs still mean a lot to me, which is nice to notice. I wrote them so long ago, but they still elicit the same feelings they did back then.”
"I suddenly noticed how much inspiration I get from 'life'."
Lieke Heusinkveld does not easily speak her mind. Not in her songs, let alone in an interview. But it is clear that la loye is a very personal matter, something she experiences intensely. So intensively, in fact, that Heusinkveld describes the two days a week she works in a shop to make ends meet as her weekend. “Those are the two days I don't have to think about music.” In January 2020, Heusinkveld quit her previous job to fully focus on her musicianship. She had just played at Dutch showcase festival Noorderslag and was earning enough money from her performances to pay her rent. Thanks to the pandemic, la loye was unable to capitalize on the momentum that had been built up. The EP was shelved for a few years and Heusinkveld started working on new material. “I didn't know that about myself, but I suddenly noticed how much inspiration I get from 'life'. That I get a lot out of playing shows, going from place to place, suddenly ending up in the pub. In that case, there’s something that you have to let go of when you stand still. Now, I had to dig deeper. You're drawing so much inspiration from yourself that you have to open a few doors to incorporate that into your songs."
It is therefore not surprising that Heusinkveld carefully chose her bandmates over recent years. After all, they have to bring her personal arrangements to life, and Heusinkveld is not the type to raise her voice or slam her fist on the table to get that done. “I am indeed quite a modest person,” she admits. “But not when it comes to music. Then I know what I want and how to get it across. My band members are also all very sweet and somewhat introverted people. I partially chose them for that reason, I must say."
Another person who has been part of the humble universe that Heusinkveld has built around la loye for years is Grace Maria Afonso, a painter from the Canadian province of Ontario. Since debut single 'to live underwater', Afonso's works have graced la loye’s sleeves. Afonso's paintings feel intimate, but do not let the viewer get too close. She paints many still lifes (see the artwork of singles 'i only hear you in my song' and 'i'm still asleep'), depicting lemons, fried eggs or cups of tea with thick dollops of paint. She also paints houses (which can be seen, for example, on the artwork of single 'white summer' and the aforementioned EP), preferably from a distance, so that the viewer can only fantasize about what is going on inside. “Her paintings were exactly what I had in mind for the artwork. I first tried to make artwork myself for a while, because I paint a lot. But I was just never satisfied with what I made," says Heusinkveld, who discovered Afonso's work while attempting to turn Instagram from a humdrum platform into one that provides her with inspiration. “Her work fits the homely feeling I have with my music. I think my music is perfect for an evening like this, when the wind is blowing through the trees but you're safe inside. It had to shine through a bit in the artwork, that lone wolf feeling.”
Cinematography: Jilles van Kleef and Stan Wiersma Recording: Domenico Mangione and Jasper Boogaard Mix and master: Jasper Boogaard Location: The Womb