Years on from spending days of her childhood staring at the bright blue cover of Weezer’s self-titled album daydreaming of a record deal of her own, French singer / songwriter Pamela Hüte is now living out that dream of being a rockstar.
She’s gone it alone in a solo career and honed a fun brand of rock that fuses luscious melodies with raw guitars. As Pamela puts it: “I like the idea that the melodies are strong but the energy is pure too. I guess the truth is somewhere in between that.”
Pamela tells us she’s always wanted to be a rockstar and has even set up her own label, My Dear Recordings, to craft her way in the music business. She tells us: “I had a band in college, and this desire for music never really left me I guess. I was a lonely child, and music was how I kept busy: I spent hours in front of my dad’s stereo recordings radio shows, listening to records, singing to instrumental tracks, and I ended up wanting a guitar for Christmas. This is how I started writing my own songs.
“It was a dream in my teenage years, it became a reality in my twenties when I signed a record deal and released my first album. I’m not sure why, because it’s not as glamorous as it seems, trust me! I’m stuck with it now. I always have a song in me somewhere, and my studio looks a lot like Weezer’s booklet photography!”
As a 90s teenager, Pamela grew up on bands like Elastica, Sleeper, Blur, and admired the raw energy of Nirvana, and one of her favourite records is The Beatles’ Revolver, while also being a big fan of Otis Redding and the Stax Records era. Her musical influences are various and complicated.
But her rocky background shines through in her music. Case in point being her new single Turn It Up, which is the latest offering since her Highline album was released last year. It opens up with a funky bassline and drumbeat that continue over an opening verse, then a little guitar comes in over the top. The end of the chorus brings in a cool little guitar lick that leads into a second chilled verse, then the laboured guitar lick returns once more.
The bassline comes back in again and leads into an ascending guitar lick over repeats of “Turn it up,” then a rockier guitar solo and bigger chords under more repeats of the same lyrics that bring the track to an energetic ending. Check it out in the video below:
She told us: “Highline is really a collection of songs, each track was written around vocal melodies. Turn it Up is a riff, and everything was built around that riff. Also, it’s the first time I released a song I completely produced myself. I played and recorded all the instruments and mixed the track alone in my studio. That’s a big step for me and I was really excited to release it.”
As Pamela alludes to, Turn It Up marks a new stepping stone in her musical approach. She explains: “I completely changed my workflow. I played and recorded a drum beat, I looped it, recorded a bass, and sang over that. Guitars where almost the last things recorded. It’s the first time I ever do that. Usually, I jam for hours with my guitar, end up with a verse and a chorus I like, and build around that.”
Having been in several bands previous to going it alone, Pamela was always the one writing and leading the way but has always been reliant on the team element. As she puts it: “I always seeked for adrenalin and energy. I need a team behind me, I need to feel the power of the group. I never speak for myself on stage, I always say ‘we.’ I’m solo because I deal with everything and write all the songs, so it was natural, but when it comes to the performance, it’s really a band story.”
And in terms of what inspires her music, Pamela adds: “Mostly failing relationships, love struggles, life failures… very joyful things indeed. I write about humans, which is not always depressing. Turn it Up is basically about having fun, ignoring the hard times and covering the sound of despair by turning up the volume. OK, t’s still a little depressing. I can’t help it. I’m a melancholic animal.”
Having spoken to several French bands we’ve heard mixed stories of making your way in the country’s music scene. Pamela tells us: “It’s hard here in France, especially when you sing in English. A lot of help is given to French singing artists, which I understand, but the English-singing bands have a harder time. Rock is not in our culture either. There is a little trend for noise and math rock at the moment, but it’s already starting to run dry. Trends never last very long. Some good and young bands tour for years, and end up exhausted, putting up a bad record out because nobody gave them the time to evolve and get better. It’s a shame, but I’m not sure it’s specific to France.
“I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I don’t really mind about being noticed anymore. I have a different relationship to this whole business now that I run my own label. A lot of bands make it to the big stage for a year or two because the professionals and the media get over excited, and then the artists disappear completely. When you want to last, it’s a whole different road you need to take. It’s a marathon. You need to have a lot of humility and patience and also, in order to keep your sanity, it is recommended to have another job!”
Pamela plans to release more music through 2018 but has no fixed plans as yet. As she explains: “That’s the good thing about having your own record label, you can decide last minute whether you release a song or not! This release was a total improvisation, I decided on 21 December that I would release it on 5 January, and a friend came up with the video in four days right before the release. That’s fun. Sometimes you need to do things instinctively and without any proper plan, it’s very relaxing for the brain. You have zero time to ask yourself silly questions.”
Amen to that laid-back French attitude to life. Pamela also hopes to have gigs coming up through the summer, so keep an eye out for more news soon.