Christine Herin, known professionally as Dolche, is an Italian-French singer, songwriter, composer and record producer already boasts a 20-year music career, more than 500 concerts in Europe with and key collaborations with Grammy Award winning professionals. She was born in Valle d’Aosta, a French-speaking autonomous region in the north of Italy. The first single off her forthcoming album Exotic Diorama (out Oct 2020 ) is the cinematic Roma – available now, and which has a very DIY inspired lockdown concept for its video. We had a chat with the artist herself to find out more about her life, creativity in lockdown conditions and the ideas behind her forthcoming album…
How did you become a musician? Who or what inspired you?
I began to sing when I was around 3 or 4 years old. My dad used to bring me to the small church of my 40-inhabitant village and he tells me I harmonized the hymns sung by the choir. Since my earliest memory music has always been there even if in my family and village nobody knew anything about music. My mother still asks me when I will find a real job! I am completely self-taught. I remember the day I found out that the public library in the city had vinyl. I was 12 and went there every day I could to listen to these amazing sounds that I never heard before. I was listening to Aretha Franklin’s records. I also had a great love for classical music…Bach, Puccini, the opera. I probably got so stubborn and sacrificed so much to be a musician (I can’t even remember how many side jobs I did) because it was the only way to do it. It was like survival for me. Music was in me and I had to do it to be myself.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician? What do you hate most?’
I enjoy the live performance, the stage. Most people are afraid before concerts. I never have been. It’s the most natural thing for me. Sharing the emotions with the public, throwing myself in the instruments and in the performance. I just can’t get enough. I don’t hate anything about music. I hate that most things I am required to do today as a musician have nothing to do with writing or playing music.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
No hesitation on that: I would give women an equal space. The music industry is still so anachronistically a man’s world.
If you were on a desert island and could only take one album with you to listen to, what album would you choose?
What a disaster, just one?! Ok it would be “Greatest Hits” of 1981 by Queen. I would already have all the sound of nature to listen to and I would definitely need some music to get the energy to face the tough wild life and to feel the power of pure art.
Tell us about the new single ‘Roma’ and the video that goes with it.
Ah, that is a story! Because I had to figure out a way to make a professional video from home in complete isolation. Out of curiosity, before everyone begun to do it, I was spying the unique, amazing show that the city of Rome – ‘Roma’- had to offer in these sad lockdown days. There is a website where you can connect to all the main webcams in town and watch a show that nobody has ever seen before. The city, my city, bare, silent, empty, beautiful and melancholic with its fountains pouring water and the sun changing the shades on the statues. I wanted everybody to be able to take a look into this secret jewel box. I purchased all the videos of one entire day, the day when our Prime Minister declared complete lockdown also for factories. And I used the time-lapse images to show the magnificence of the sun and clouds and water moving in an otherwise still postcard. I wanted to put my body into this narration and I covered myself with a bed sheet miming the pose of La Pietà, by Michelangelo Buonarroti. I moved all the furniture to get a white empty wall, embraced my guitar and projected the images upon me while singing. There are of course a lot of technical issues that I solved but that’s my geek side and I will not bore you with that! This was the perfect way to present to my fans my love song for Roma, a city that welcomed me ten years ago and gave me a home, a wife and a dog. I will be forever thankful to this ‘old lady’.
How has Covid-19 affected your music/ musical plans for this year?
As all my fellow musicians we have all been hit hard by this epidemic, both in personal life and in our jobs. I planned the release of my album for 2020. And this included touring in Italy and in the USA and, hopefully, in some other countries where my music is very much loved (Turkey, Brazil, Mexico). Plus, I usually spend part of the year in New York City to write music and film music videos. All this is gone for the moment. I will soon be on Patreon with live online concerts and more. Musicians are too often afraid and ashamed to say that we do it because we love it but we need money to keep doing it. And concerts, together with merch sales, are the only income source if you are a small/medium size independent artist. People are unaware that we get absolutely zero from all the platforms they pay to listen to music. I hope this will be an occasion to let people learn more about this and support their favourite artists trough different circuits to help them keep making the music they love.
Can you tell us anything about the follow up single to Roma?
I can tell you that it is a completely different song and mood. It will be a song, in English this time, with a super well-produced video that we shot in New York City last November with very exciting special effects! I am very proud of it especially because of the message of the song. But I don’t want to spoil it for you!
Your forthcoming album will be called ‘Exotic Diorama’ and will be released in October this year – can you give us an idea what inspired the songs on it?
My wife Chiara found the name for the album and I think it perfectly expresses its deepest nature. The first time that I was in New York was with her and she brought me to the Natural History Museum, near Central Park. Quite a show. I stayed still for a time that I cannot measure in front of the dioramas of many wild habitats. A sad yet mesmerizing spectacle. An entire world in a few squared metres enclosed by glass but still so alive that I could imagine sounds and movements. Exotic Diorama is like a key hole through which you can spy an entire universe. Mine. My music is inspired by dreams and food and sounds of nature and smells. For this reason, it is varied and nearly unclassifiable. No kidding. We face a great problem each time we need to select a music category when we release a single! Each song is unique and has a different style from the others. But all together they make sense. Like an impressionist painting that you can only understand if you look to its entirety. Lastly, the word exotic fit my nature: in my home village, in my same family they look at me as if they saw a hummingbird flying in the Alps!
If you had to describe the album in a few lines – what would you say?
I will do it in three words. A big trip!
You have fans all over the world – how do they differ?
Oh, they couldn’t be more heterogenous! I have this lovely and fun old guy from Punjabi all dressed in red and orange sending me pics of his hens and a young 16 year old lesbian girl from Turkey who tells me how much she feels alone and finds comfort in my music and in the fact that I am openly Lesbian. I have a lot of amazing people from South America fighting for the amazons and for the rights of our environment and a Brazilian woman who always plays my songs and sends me video might it be in the backyard during her kid’s birthday party or driving to work. One thing though they all have in common. A profound respect for human rights and human freedom.
Have you had a chance to meet any fans on tour (prior to lockdown)?
Yes, I met some of them after my New York gigs and they joined my team for dinner right after. It was a blast!
Do you have a message for your fans – old and new?
Be nice. Be open. And have a Dolche day!
What are your personal hopes and wishes for the rest of the year and beyond?
Well, I am pregnant. After many tries Chiara and I finally made the right one just the day before lockdown was declared…perfect timing, ah! I am not kidding. I am always working and traveling and touring and rehearsing and this forced pause in the first three months (ending in two weeks) has been the only way I could stay still in one place. So, my hope is an easy one: That this kid will get into a world made better by all the hard times that we are going through. And that my wife lets me buy one more guitar!