French duo Her is preparing for the release of their full-length debut album, but the process has been marred over the preceding months by a tragic turn of events. In August 2017, founding member Simon Carpentier passed away from a long and private battle with cancer, leaving the sole remaining half Victor Solf to complete the band’s collaborative achievement.
“Grief is affecting everyone and everything in Her,” Solf tells Billboard. “This recording and producing process is helping me a lot…it’s a sort-of remedy.”
The finished product — the self-titled Her LP, set for release in early 2018 via Republic Records — is a culmination of a decade-long partnership between Solf and Carpentier that spans their time together in a previous band and the following two-year effort as the duo Her. Although most of the album was written and composed with Carpentier present, Solf handled the majority of the studio work that resulted in the final major label release. The task appears to have not only motivated Victor, but emboldened his purpose.
“Simon gave me this mission of finishing the album and supporting it on the live side. It’s my duty now to have our music live for Simon, for our past 10 years’ collaboration, for our fans and for me,” Solf says. “Even lately in the recording booth, we could feel his energy around us while we were trying new things.”
“It’s our own little masterpiece,” he says.
Her has maintained a steady output since their formation in 2015, with two EPs and two live releases, which showcase their blend of post-rock and pop on singles like “Quite Like,” and their roots in classic soul and R&B on impeccable live covers of Sam Cooke and Al Green. They first gained mainstream attention when their track “Five Minutes” was picked up for a “Shot on iPhone” commercial spot, but Solf believes the newly released material will reveal a completely different side of the band that has existed all along.
“It would be a mistake to put us in a box after only listening to our single ‘Five Minutes,’” Solf insists. “We have always dug into very diverse influences, and I like to think our music isn’t like anything else… the album is going to be as diverse as who we are and where we come from.”
There is no better testament to this pledge than the first track released from the upcoming LP, “We Choose.” The history of the track stretches back to Her’s first days, when Solf and Carpentier were facing the dissolution of their former band and made the decision to break out on their own.
“It was a statement about why we were continuing, about this strong faith we had into our music because we couldn’t do anything else,” Solf reveals. “It felt like the right moment to release it now… as a reason why Her needs to pursue this quest for hope and for life.”
“We Choose” is not only the first track written for the Her project, but it’s already a bonafide staple as the opener at live shows for the last 18 months. It makes perfect sense, as a genre-spanning introductory track that builds with dense production and ascends to anthemic heights with its solemn tone and resolute lyrics.
In the grander scheme, it’s a bridge between Her’s humble beginnings and their uncertain future where the question of moving forward continues to present itself. However, Solf approaches this challenge with the same determination as on Her’s first day.
“The future is unknown but I can only say I will work twice as hard to achieve Simon’s dream, and mine.”
Check out “We Choose” from Her’s upcoming 2018 debut, self-titled LP below.