2017 SXSW Showcasing Artist
Imagine the mysticism of Van Eyck running into the surrealism of Magritte on some Balearic beach at 6 o’clock in the morning. en imagine the two passionately falling into each other’s arms like two disciples of acclaimed Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet. Finally, imagine what the baby of that joyously odd, yet strangely fitting one-morning stand might look or – better yet – sound like. Suffering from a severe lack of imagination? We’ve got your back! Just listen to Alphabet, the sophomore album of Belgium’s most avant-garde pop outfit SX, and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Four years after the duo’s debut album Arche struck gold in their native country, SX returns with a more confident, stripped, fiery, harmonious and ultimately also more seductive album. ‘I like to call it exotic reality’, says sonic witchdoctor Benjamin Desmet about Alphabet’s sound. ‘In the sense that we look for the unexpected in the realm of both our imagination and the world around us’, adds Stefanie Callebaut, SX’s captivating frontwoman. ‘We love to experiment and push the boundaries of pop music – adding both gospel and techno along the way.’ Mind you, rewriting the rules of pop has always been part of the band’s DNA – ever since storming onto the airwaves with the dreamy lo-fi synthpop tune Black Video in 2011. ‘But we were just kids back then’, says Callebaut about the years leading up to Arche. ‘Listening to it today, I often get the impression that certain songs contain enough darlings for two tracks! is time around, we wanted to do as much as possible with as little as possible.’
In case you’re wondering: Arche is Greek for ‘beginning’, while Alphabet is the band’s way of saying they’ve now found all the letters they need to write songs – ‘pure and simple’, according to Callebaut. ‘ ere’s a certain serenity to how we make music now, but also still very much a sense of wonder and – ultimately – harmony.’ e same goes for SX’s stunning music videos, which the two band members direct themselves. Desmet: ‘ ey are an essential part of the sensory experience that is SX.’
An even bigger part of that experience is frontwoman Stefanie Callebaut’s captivation with movement. ‘To the extent that it sometimes almost gets in the way of the music’, she admits – only half-joking. ‘It definitely happened that we were working on a track and Benjamin came up with something brilliant – musically – but I just couldn’t bring my body to dance to it. So we cut it. It’s never just about what’s going on in my head. I need to feel our music in my fingers, toes and pretty much every other part of my body.’
Chances are: so will you. Alphabet is nothing short of a sultry wonder: ‘Pretty abstract but also very human’, asserts Desmet. ‘Surreal but concrete. Less but more. A product of our bewilderment and fascination for the world around us. Sort of like a painting of René Magritte, who also stuck to simple yet powerful, inventive and deliciously odd images – full of color and humanity.’ In a nutshell, that’s precisely what Alphabet is about.