Coming in hot from the other side of the pond is Belgian multi-instrumentalist Niels Hanne, who teamed up with Music City’s own vocalist Katie J Reece of EverSōl for his upcoming soul-filled rock album Orange Purple Skies, which dropped today.
The two first joined forces on his single “Sweet Escape” when he stumbled across her online whilst searching for a vocalist to work with. After a successful recording process, despite the 4,000-and-change miles separating them (forcing them to collaborate virtually) and a cute animated music video for the song, they decided to keep the partnership going strong.
Hanne, who usually takes over the rest of the instruments on his tracks, leaving the singing and lyric-writing to Katie J, enlisted the help of a few more professionals to help the album come to life. Arnaud Krakowka is another returning collaborator, appearing on drums. But some new faces include Joey Howard on bass, producer Pieter-Jan Theunis, and Dan Shike who mastered it. Hanne will therefore mostly be heard on his original instrument of guitar, which he picked up in his late teenage years. The team recorded in and worked out of Hook Studio.
Elements from Hanne’s influential bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica can be heard throughout the record, capturing the energetic, groovy nature of classic rock, largely featuring guitar and percussion-driven and with Katie J’s bright voice ringing above it all. Together, they churn out music as smooth and creamy as a box of Belgian chocolates.
Songs like “Breathe” and “Turn Around” lean more funk, drawing from eccentric rhythms to spice up the selection. Fast-paced “Say My Name,” on the other hand, feels like it’s straight out of a chase scene from a movie, as if it would be paired with a montage of beaches and goofy parkour flashing across the screen. “Maybe Tomorrow” provides a laid-back balance in comparison, exuding the sensations of a classic smokey restaurant, Katie J’s bluesy voice, expressive and with a sly edge, cutting through the phantom haze like a lighthouse beacon.
Considering how well her voice compliments Hanne’s style of playing, it is no surprise they completed a 13-song project together. Her vocals are especially highlighted on “Wonderland,” where she layers harmonies of herself, and “All You’ve Got,” which shows off both her precise control but also her rock-princess powers. It appears that any language barrier fails to pose a problem for them, as Hanne revealed, “I just love her voice without knowing the lyrics I always feel when Katie sings” when we spoke with him in November of last year.
Something that separates Hanne apart from many others is his dedication for creating unique YouTube videos for each of his songs, which he did for all 13 tracks on his album. The various videos feature anime, landscape drone footage of Nashville, and even F1 racing, adding to the overall appeal of the songs.
Orange Purple Skies is the grown-up actualization of every garage band kid’s dream, a recognizable take on familiar rock roots, and with an international team of experts to make it their own.