Silver Lake is the Netherlands-based art-pop duo made up of Marleen Hoebe and Jesse Koch. Partners in music as well as life, the pair create dreamy, nostalgia-filled tunes that we at Indie Top 39 have fallen in love with. First, we came across the incredible ‘Violet’, and then when they released ‘Beaches’, we just knew we needed to find out more about this ridiculously talented act. Marleen graciously agreed to be interviewed by us, so without further ado, please give a warm welcome to Marleen Hoebe of Silver Lake.
Hello and welcome Marleen! We’re so thrilled to reintroduce you to our ever-growing audience. Now, believe it or not, Silver Lake are actually the second husband and wife musical duo that I’ve had the privilege of interviewing. How does that dynamic shape the music that you write?
We’ve been together for over 7 years now, (we actually met each other on the stage of a live-music bar in Amsterdam) and in that time we’ve already done some creative projects and songwriting together. I think one thing we got better at was giving each other feedback. The process of songwriting can be very personal and vulnerable, so you have to find a way to be able to give each other good feedback without the other feeling offended or hurt. We take each other’s opinions very seriously, and I think we got really good at that.
Our songs usually start with one of us writing something or making a basic demo, then working together to finish it. We both know our strengths. Jesse is really good at producing, creating sounds, and recording. He also plays just about every instrument that I can think of! And I love working on melodies and harmonies and lyrics. But I guess that is not very different from how non-romantic creative partners write songs.
We do often hear that people find our music personal, intimate, and romantic, so maybe it seeps into our sound after all.Marleen Hoebe
You both were involved in other musical projects around the Netherlands before you decided to become the dreamy art-pop duo that is Silver Lake. Were you playing completely different stuff genre-wise or was it in the same realm as Silver Lake?
To us, they are very different projects. But, maybe to outsiders, they could all be considered “indie” projects. Jesse had a blues-rock band called The Silverfaces, inspired by bands such as The Raconteurs, Jack White and Led Zeppelin. I played keys for the indie-pop artist Anna-Rose Clayton, who made music in the vein of Lorde and Tove Lo. We were both already listening to the artists that inspired the Silver Lake sound, such as The Last Shadow Puppets, Alexandra Savior, Angel Olsen, Lana del Rey, and a lot of 60s and 70s pop. Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Heart, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood etc.
OK, now I have to confess, I first discovered your music when hearing your second single ‘Violet’, and it’s a song that I still listen to multiple times a day! It’s just brilliant. Was it hard to follow in the footsteps of such a well-received debut single?
Well, thank you very much! For our debut single, we chose ‘Under The Silver Lake’, which is a pretty strange song in terms of song structure. But it did seem like a great introduction to our sound and to the two different lead vocals. We found it very important to make a video for that one to have something visual as well. We filmed a music video entirely on analog 16mm and 8mm film, which was very exciting and fun, and the video turned out exactly as we imagined. It even has Jesse playing the guitar solo underwater shot on super 8 film haha.
Then, for ‘Violet’, which is very subtle and layered, we thought it would be really cool to show how we translate that to a live performance. So for that one, we went to Abbey Road Institute and recorded the song live on tape. It was recorded on a StuderA827 through a Neve VR60 for the gear nerds among us! There are also no overdubs, so everything you’re hearing in the recording is what you see, and the take you’re listening to is take 3.
Speaking of your debut single, I’ve been really loving ‘Under The Silver Lake’ as well recently! Yes, you’re fast becoming one of my favourite acts! There – I said it! I know that the song’s title was inspired by a David Robert Mitchell movie of the same name. Please tell us more…
That’s right! We saw this movie Under The Silver Lake in the cinema and we just thought it was so fascinating, aesthetic and mysterious. Jesse went into the studio that same night and wrote the intro and the verse. Then, when he asked me to come and listen, I sat down for the rest of the evening and wrote the choruses. We really like how the movie has an almost surrealistic feel to it. You’re constantly wondering “what am I looking at”? So we translated that into a music video of our own where we wanted to build “The Waiting Room of your Subconscious”. We hope it has the same surrealistic feeling as the namesake movie.
By the time this interview is published, your brand new single ‘Beaches’ will have been released. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I absolutely love your guys’ sound! How proud are you of the song and what does it mean to you?
Very proud! It might even be my personal favourite. Maybe you recognise that sometimes the world can feel very small and you feel kind of trapped in your own head.
I wrote ‘Beaches’ as a reminder that you can always find beauty in the things around you.Marleen Hoebe
When I listen to it now it always makes me very calm and content, and I hope it will give the listener that same sense of security. Someone else wrote about ‘Beaches’ that it is like a “musical hug” and I love that! For the music video, we went all the way to Seville and Cadiz in the south of Spain and recorded a sunny video.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences? Who did you grow up listening to? And would you say that your tastes have changed over the years?
See question 2.
When you’re not creating music, what fills your days? What do you both enjoy doing?
Non-music days do not exist in our lives haha. We do enjoy performing or writing with other artists, and Jesse produces and mixes songs as well. I am involved in Ready To Play which is a great initiative. They are responsible for a large part of the music education here in Den Haag and they coach young bands and give them opportunities to start performing live.
If I grabbed your cellphone and opened Spotify (or your streaming service of choice), who would I see under your recently played section?
We recently discovered a vibraphone jazz playlist that we have been listening to a lot, so probably that one. But we’ve also been loving Sylvie Kreusch’s new album, she’s a cool new Belgian singer.
Success is such a broad term with different meanings for everyone. What would “being successful” in the music industry look like for you?
It is a very broad term.
I think being creatively independent and living off our original music would be a big goal.Marleen Hoebe
But we’ve always said we would rather play 300-500 capacity rooms throughout Europe, than play 1 stadium show a year in Holland. Not that we would say no to a stadium show, but we really aspire to be as authentic as possible, and not have to make big creative concessions to get there.
You’re allowed to collaborate with any musician or band. Who do you choose and why?
I think it would be a difficult choice between Alex Turner or Balthazar. We admire both their songwriting as well as their production, so it would be so cool to create something together.
Thank you so much for chatting with us today Marleen, it’s been a real pleasure! I know that Silver Lake’s debut album is scheduled for release in the spring of 2023 (I don’t know if I can wait), but what can we expect from Silver Lake between then and now?
I can’t say too much about that. But we will definitely be releasing more music in the following months!
We added Silver Lake’s single ‘Beaches’ to the playlist of all the artists we interviewed so far.
Don’t be shy to give it a listen!