Interview with musician Van Hechter as he speaks on his past, present and future
Introducing Van Hechter a pop artist who grew up between Canada, France and the U.S.A. He has been through an inspirational journey so far. This year has released his strongest album to date; ”Love Elastic”— One of the single’s off the album ” Back in Vogue” has received attention worldwide as Van continues to use his music and platform as a vehicle to inspire, raise awareness and motivate others.
“Back in Vogue” is your new single and you are using this release to raise awareness. Can you tell our audience firstly what the single is about and secondly why you decided to use this single as a vehicle to raise awareness and take part in the Movember campaign?
”Back In Vogue” is an anti-Tinder/anti-Grindr song. We pick people like items in a catalogue and flush them as soon as one little detail bothers us. But everything changes/goes back and forth. Romance and romanticism will inevitably be back in vogue one day.
It’s just one of my favorite tracks on the album, also one that I love to do live. I decided my proceeds to Movember because I myself survived testicular cancer. The cause is close to heart!
What would you say has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your life and how did you overcome these challenges?
I have 2 but they are intertwined… Loosing my mother a few days before my 4th Birthday broke me– then getting bullied in school for being gay– almost killed me. They go together. I was picked on BECAUSE I was already broken. Kids saw my vulnerability and figured it was easier to abuse me… And it was— for a time. Hahahahha then I got my revenge! I became quite the bully myself. That’s when I realized I had tremendous survival instinct, and that I carried an inner-monster, ready to defend me when needed. I don’t use this monster a lot– only when attacked.
What would your advice be to anyone in the world facing similar challenges?
Try to understand that YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM so long as you are kind and respectful to others. If they bully you it’s because you are SPECIAL and being special is a GREAT quality. Just it’s very threatening to those who are narrow minded- or are being raised by narrow-minded adults. Everything they laugh at now will become strengths later. Trust this. Trust your soul. Also if you’ve lost a parent as a kid—- you are wounded deeply but if you work hard you can turn much of that experience into a positive— it builds empathy.
You grew up between Canada, France, and the U.S.A., studied opera, literature, and cinema in college. How would you describe your upbringing, and would you say this part of your early years played a big part of the tenacity that you apply to all your projects?
Mom was very strict but her love was unconditional. She had EXQUISITE taste, too. I inherited a bit of that- like 50% hahahaha. Dad was a self-made man… He hadn’t even gone to high school yet he became a successful businessman. He was very intelligent. He’d been starving as a kid— I got to go to the best schools, I got to travel, was exposed to art… He taught me to dream big -as he had- and that ANYTHING was possible, even when the odds were slim.
This year (2020) has seen a huge impact on artists finding a huge part of their craft shutdown due to the pandemic. There is clearly light at the end of the tunnel as many musicians are looking forward to 2021. What are your plans for performing live in 2021?
I am really optimistic about 2021. I will get vaccinated- not for me, for OTHERS! And then I’ll travel, hopefully. Chicago has made me #1 on a chart so I’d love to have a few gigs there. Of course I will be in New York City a lot… And- perhaps even the UK, although details still have yet to be set up.
What is the track on your album that you are most excited to perform live?
”Back In Vogue” when it’s dark outside, ”I Am” when it’s still daylight.
What will be the Top 5 dream locations for you to perform to and why?
New York City, especially if the performance happens at The Stonewall Inn- the club accepted me with open arms, no questions asked. I was given carte blanche right away and I will never forget it.
London- because you guys always like my songs and outfits before anyone else does.
Florida– because I was conceived there. It’s a magical place to me and I love the crowds.
Chicago— because my fan base is growing there, all of a sudden. Good time to visit.
Last I’d say Boston because I haven’t performed there in a long time and I LOVE university cities.
Our audience are the most avid Television and Film fans. What are your top 5 Best TV Shows of all time?
French & Saunders
Like-Moi (a French comedy created in Montreal)
What are your Top 5 best artists who you would say have inspired you and why?
Bowie showed me how to layer vocals, how to make an imperfect voice sound good.
Annie Lennox taught me how to write a proper multi-levelled text.
Giorgio Moroder (especially during the Donna Summer years) helped me figure out how to arrange a song– where to edit where to extend.
The Supremes made me want to always pour a lot of hope in my songs even when the topic is dark.
The Sex Pistols — encouraged me to shout the anger out. There’s always a shout with me- at some point.
Top 5 best moments in your career so far?
1-Stonewall Inn at World Pride 2019 then on NYE last year; surreal. Carrying those 2 moments to the grave. I’d wanted to do that ever since I’d heard of the 69 riots.
2-First time a friend texted me to say that ”Love Elastic” was on the radio while he was working out at a gym in a foreign country.
3-All ”Hechter Fever” parties held in Montreal at District Lounge with Eryck (musical collaborator and associate) and my gorgeous Vanettes… CRAZY EVENTS; they served as rehearsals for when I’d have to go on the road. We’d dance the night away with the clients afterwards. I remember coming home thinking; WOW THIS IS WHY I DO THIS- to make people happy.
4- First time some fan came up to me when I was walking on the street all scruffy and dressed horribly to say; ”Van— I love you- I am an outcast and you tell me it’s ok to be one”…
5-Last- I’d say rolling around like a stupid male-mermaid in the Florida sand for our ”Love Elastic” video on a really cold January week with only an team of 2; director Andras Toth and my assistant… The whole experience was surreal; travel wasn’t smooth, we’d booked a horrible hotel room I had to disinfected myself when we checked in. While filming seaweed bugs eating me alive. We were crying from laughter and swearing like soldiers, – assistant kept throwing kelp in my face between takes to amuse himself.
We had a ball, we were in a strangely hysterical state. I kept yelling; ”THIS is what I’ve chosen to do with my life— the glamour- oh the glamour!!”
I love remembering that shoot. And to date ”Love Elastic” is my most popular video, so…
Finally, the pandemic, lockdown and restrictions has led to a shift in reality for the entire world. Many have also seen this as an opportunity to learn and become better people inside and out. What would you say you have learnt in 2020 that will positively help you moving forward in the future?
I learnt that I could be alone for very long stretches of time without feeling bored or lonely. But isolation also highlighted how much I LOVE people. Contact makes me happy. I like to look into eyes, I like to high-five buddies or tap shoulders. I missed it SO MUCH.
I haven’t become a better person through the pandemic, though– haven’t even tried. I think we can all agree that I’m rotten to the bone and will never do better than this! LOL!!!!!!!!!
To stream the single “Back in Vogue” and album “Love Elastic” click here