Producer : Fritz Sundermann
Year : 2000
Record co. : Virgin
The initial spark for the group was given during a folk-workshop in Gooik,
where Jorunn - raised in a folkminded family - Annelies - studying
classical singing - and friend Soetkin brought an acappela version of the traditional
Italian song "Barbagal". The cheers from those present & the pat
on the back from people from the group Kadril made the
girls (later with Nathalie) to begin a group.
In 1996 the trio had a place on the Dranouter folk festival, a first high point
in their career, because in the backstage there was a certain Emmylou Harris who
stood there listening in awe. Her friendly note "To the three angelvoices.
Also enjoyed meeting you and hearing you sing - a lovely surprise. Wish you all
the best and hope our paths cross again. Stay true to the music in your heart",
was a reference they liked to exploit later.
After a few experiments with a number of musicians, the group felt ready for
the big time after a tour with Kadril : a cd-recording. On this title-less
debut, there were mostly old-Dutch lyrics on selfwritten melodies, but also
a danceable single ('t Smidje) and some surprising covers ("In this heart"
of Sinéad O'Connor and "Grand Jacques" of the great Jacques
Brel - a song that also appeared on the tribute-album "Brel op 1").
From the very beginning, they did receive very favorable press reviews. Almost
without an exception the reviewers were very enthusiastic about the fresh sound
& looks of the group. Take for instance this text from "De Morgen"
: "They look more playful, more natural, more attractive than the Spice
Girls. And younger too. And they can sing. If they open their little mouths a
capella, there are nothing but heavenly sounds coming from them. They even form
the most beautiful trio that has ever stood on the Flemish folkscene, but perhaps
that last thing is not such a great accomplishment, taken into account the "may
'68"-image that was so typical for the traditional music-scene".
In the slipstream of the press, the audience followed : from the album over 12,000
copies were sold, an astounding amount for that usually very small scene. The
concerts of the group also reached full capacity in the months that followed.
the same time as Laïs, there were a number of other young folk groups emerging
on the scene (Fluxus, Ambrozijn ...), forming sort
of a "scene" around the label "Wild Boar Music" of Kadril's
Erwin Libbrecht. The members of these groups also performed together under the
name "Bouquet Garni". It's probably the looks of these "mylady's",
the very accessible yet unrepresentative single "Het Smidje" and their
more commercial attitude that explain why Laïs managed to gather 5 times
the attention and record sales of their contemporaries.
Later in 1999 the climax was their gig at the folkfestival of Dranouter, where
they performed with their own backing band for the first time. The debut-cd kept
on selling well the whole year and attained "gold" status. It resided
in the top 50 of best-selling albums for an entire year (over 50,000 copies were
sold), and also gave the band some momentum to go abroad: in 1999, the band opened
on a number of occasions for Sting in France, and this led them to selling 7,000
copies of their mostly Flemish album even there.
The girls also recorded a duet with Johan Verminnen
op, a duet on his cd "Vroeger en Later",
provided the voices on some tracks of the Wallonian folk band Coïncidence,
and recorded a track on the soundtrack of the film "Verdwenen Straat"
(about writer Louis-Paul Boon, they can be heard on the "De Ballade van Boon"
which was written by Frank - de Mens - Vander Linden).
For the second album, which they recorded in 2000 and released in November
of that year, Laïs had assembled a new band: leader of this new backing band
(and producer of the album) was the boyfriend of Jorunn, Fritz Sundermann
- guitarist with a rich past in Belgian music, eg. in California Sunshine, Elisa
Waut, Isabelle Antena, dirk Blanchart... - aided
by Bart Denolf on bass, Hans Quaegebuer on hurdy-gurdy and Ronny Reuman on drums.
Despite this backing band, the album was still very much centred on the vocals
of the three leading ladies. Fritz about this in De Standaard "Het is
niet omdat we live wat harder gingen spelen, dat we zo'n sound ook op plaat wilden.
We wilden geen breuk met hun goeie debuutplaat, veeleer een logisch vervolg erop.
Want hun grote, formidabele troef zijn hun drie stemmen. .. De drie meisjes samen
één instrument. Ik ben de katalysator die hun gedachten muzikaal
vertaalt. Ze vinden een arrangement voor drie stemmen en noemen dat een nummer.
Vaak zit dat onregelmatig in elkaar. Voor ons komt het er op aan daar een harmonische
onderbouw bij te vinden. Maar het moet goed aanvoelen. We sluiten nooit compromissen.
Although the album contained no track that stood out so much as a single as "Het
Smidje" had done on the first one, "Dorothea" managed to become
almost as succesful as the debut. Singles were the catchy rape-song "(Houdt
uw) Kanneke (proper Dianneke)" and the title-track about a virgin "Dorothea".
In 2001, the band kept on touring intensively (playing for the second time
in the Marquee of Rock Werchter, which led them to the memorable quote "Welcome
to Folk Werchter!"). In the fall, they even played a few acoustic gigs
in China, while they haven't given up on the effort to also conquer France (for
this, they recorded a reggae and a-capella version of "Le Grand Vent",
together with the writer of that song Gabriel Yacoub).
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