Finally it is there: Hilke’s album Silent Violent, a ’coming of gender’ story about – among other things – finding your own voice, hiding your feelings, and failed masculinity.
Hilke is a former member of the Belgian dream pop outfit Amatorski and released some electronic tracks under the moniker Hroski. Now she shows herself in all honesty under her own name: Hilke.
During the creation process, Hilke was searching for her own voice, somewhere on the spectrum between male and female. After she started her solo project, it became clear again that singing is an important factor in the emotional power of music. Therefore she wanted to make songs, where voices take a significant role in the music. She started to look for her own way of singing, a way that also would feel in harmony with her gender identity. She asked a couple of singers who she admires, to listen to her demos and to interpret the songs in their own way. Those collaborations inspired her, as a writer and a producer, but also as a singer.
Hilke sees her personal journey more as a kind of metaphor for a process that we, as a society, could or should go through. Questioning her own gender identity, questioning gender as a social construct, made her more aware about the importance of empathy and compassion, the ability to talk about emotions, show vulnerability, and about the failing fundamentals of (cis)male identity and patriarchy. “I believe that, as a society, we could benefit from a more ‘feminine’ or ‘gender fluid’ or diverse approach,”, she says, “where there is more balance between empathy, kindness, respect, vulnerability and strength.”
The album contains vocal features by Gregory Frateur (Dez Mona), Frank Powers (Dino Brandão) and Daniela Weinmann (Odd Beholder), but Hilke sings also herself on a couple of tracks. The songs are sometimes danceable, often slow, both deranging and soothing, fragile, but confident, like you would be dancing on ice.
Pumping basses and banging electronic beats are combined with angelic vocals and melancholic atmospheres, dystopian vocal chops and chilling and breath-taking build-ups. ‘Silent Violent’ has become a disturbing journey wandering between the dance floor, consoling goosebump moments and socially critical contemplation.