He is unusual- so modern yet he seems to have been dropped on earth straight from a different era. At times I can imagine him living it up during the golden age of Hollywood, at others I picture him waltzing into Studio 54- either oiled and naked or in a tuxedo... Van Hechter is mysterious to say the least. He is as stylish as his music is stylized. His songs are catchy, multi-leveled, humorous. Onstage he glides effortlessly from one tune to the next like everything he does comes easily. With him I never know what part is fiction, what part is truth. Of course this generates fascination... As he prepares for a very busy Spring/Summer/Fall season, I interviewed him -- about the future, about love, about life and fashion...
You have many singles coming out in the Spring! When do we get to hear the first one?
- May 15th! ''My Kind of People''! It's a Van Hechter song- but by Sainte Croix... I love what we're doing together. It's crazy catchy!
Who is Sainte Croix?
- A very talented producer, an amazing musician, a wonderful human being. Him and I both attended a great but rather snobbish French Lycée... I remember loving his vibe even as a teenager. We met up a few months ago and it was like we'd never been separated.
And then what?
- Then on June 1st my album with Eryck Wyseman comes out; ''Hot Damn''.
Eryck Wyseman is the guy who produced your ''Love Elastic'' album, an album that put you ''on the map''...
- True... First time I charted, first time I got airplay in the US. The album did well in the UK too. I'm still quite underground but with a nice following now- I owe it to ''Love Elastic''...
You've got your sound but there's also a whole lot of image around you. How much effort do you put in?
- God! So much! I mean: I workout daily, I eat a certain way- I haven't touched junk or fast food in years... Then there's skin care, wardrobe research... I don't have a stylist, I like coming up with my own ideas- so that's also time consuming. But I love it all. I think of myself as a package: sound and image, one doesn't go without the other.
You really are a good dresser... Who showed you the ropes?
- Well, my mother was a stylist and my father was a hairdresser to Montreal stars in the 60's and 70's... I was exposed to fashion really early. One rule I follow- my mother's styling rule: ''Never ever wear only expensive pieces. If the shoes cost 1000$, then you need at least one simple cheap item like a cotton t-shirt or a thrift store scarf... Those dressed in full Vuitton look like soulless generic show-offs''... That sentence is engraved in me. She was so right!
When will it all end?
- I will always love music but will music keep on loving me??? That's your answer! It'll end when the industry decides I'm no longer relevant.
Tell me about your activism...
- That's something I do with my disco brother Chauncey Dandridge. He's the real activist. I'm only part time LOL! But writing an anthem to the Stonewall Inn, then a series of LGBTQ-themed songs and performing them with him is something I find very important. Each duet we release focuses one one particular aspect of the LGBTQ reality. Chauncey write beautiful poetry-- most of the songs are co-written. The latest one: ''Sissy Faggot Half-Man Poof'' addresses school bullying- and how one can survive it to become a very happy adult.
How do you feel about touring in Paris next summer?
- I'll be touring with Amar Lefèvre, a neo-Punk artist I've become friends with these past few years. Although I am actually French (meaning I have the nationality), I haven't set foot on land in two decades. I wonder if I'll like it. One thing is sure: I intend to drink a lot of very good wine!
Last question... Are you in love?
- I hate that question. I am in love with my friends, with chosen cousins and siblings. I am in love with my musical family. I am in love with a few porn stars I wish not name... I love a lot but I'm not sure I am fit for marriage or conventional settings... Last time I tried I was lousy at it. As it turns out I'm a much better ex-husband as I was a husband LOL!
While we impatiently wait for the new stuff, here are a few links to Van's work: