Lessons in Hope, Life & Legacy: A Q&A With Her’s Victor Solf

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Photo Credit: Julot Bandit

While a coveted feature on Apple’s 2016 “Shot on iPhone” campaign may have been Her’s breakout moment, the band’s true success derives from the unwavering chemistry between its two founders: Victor Solf and Simon Carpentier. 

Her launched in 2015 after Solf’s and Carpentier’s former band, The Popopopops, dismantled. Together, they refined a sound that borrows from the past to look into the future – combining elements of classic soul with jazzy undertones and packaging it with sensual visual and lyrical themes. The duo released Her Tape #1 in 2016 and Her Tape #2 in 2017, which led them to international tours and over 20 million Spotify streams with fan favorites like “Quite Like,” “Union,” and “Five Minutes.” All the while, Simon was quietly fighting a battle with cancer, a six-year battle which he unfortunately lost in August 2017.

After the loss of his best friend, Victor felt more compelled than ever to carry on the Her name in Simon’s honor. This led to the 2018 release of Her’s self-titled debut full length album, the band’s first major label release on Republic Records. The was followed by a US tour and currently, an extensive tour through Her’s native France.

We caught up with Victor at his Los Angeles stop of the North America tour, where he shared more on the band’s live presence, the legacy that Simon left behind, and more.

OTW: How did you and Simon originally meet, and when was the moment that you decided to start the band?

Her: Yes, we had a band called The Popopopops, and that’s the band that we had together for 6 years. Simon and I met in high school.

OTW: So, you met in high school, created the other band, and when did you decide to create Her?

Her: You know, the thing about the first band is that it was in high school so we were all close friends. So when one of the guys from the band decided to do something else –to study and find a job– that’s when Simon and I decided to continue music. We decided to create a duo because we had this connection. That’s how we created our previous band, and that’s why we decided to continue working together.

OTW: How was the name, Her, born?

Her: It took us a while. What we wanted was to put the music first and everywhere. We wrote maybe 30 songs before thinking about the name of the band. We could tell that we were talking about women a lot. Not only women, but also femininity in a man – and that was really the spark.

OTW: Speaking of the sound, how would you describe it without using any genre words?

Her: I think it’s in between the past and I hope the present, or the future. 

OTW: In the live setting, it sounds like there’s a lot more of a rock vibe, versus the soul and jazz feel of the recordings.

Her: Yes, it was really important for us to do the album one way and not to repeat that on stage. We didn’t want to replay the album exactly the same when performing live. It was important for us to do something else. So yes, it’s more rock when we’re playing live. We’re playing every instrument live so it’s very organic. 

OTW: Is the band structure the same as when Simon was in it?

Her: We started with the two of us, and that’s how we worked – we composed and wrote the songs together. But it was really important for Simon and me to play with other musicians without production or any computers.

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OTW: How was the tour?

Her: It’s quite amazing for a French band to be able to play in the US – it’s kind of a dream. Especially now, because it’s a headline show instead of opening in a festival. San Francisco was really nice.

OTW: “We Choose” is obviously very emotional as the first song that you and Simon wrote together. Tell us what it means to you as you’re performing it now?

Her: It has very very strong meaning and is really important to me. This song is about trying to have faith and hope and to not give up. It’s only when you give up that everything can fall apart. This song is about how we can choose how we want to live. We wrote this song at a time that was really hard for us because it was the beginning of Her, and we didn’t have a lot of gigs. Especially at that time, it was important for us to sing “We Choose” and it helped us believe that we can keep on going. It was really about hope and life.

OTW: I hope I’m not asking too many questions about Simon! Obviously it’s a very touchy subject.

Her: No, I’m very happy to be able to talk about it because I’m talking about Simon.

OTW: Since some time has passed, what have you learned that you can pass on to others that might be grieving the loss of a close loved one?

Her: For me, I will just say that it makes me realize that life is precious. It’s really not something normal to be able to walk without feeling any kind of pain or to be able to see perfectly. It’s a gift. I need to do the best to be happy.

OTW: Have you noticed any difference in your outlook?

Her: Yes, I was so focused on the music because we started to work on the album one year before he passed away. It was really important for me to continue and to finish what we started. I was working all the time.

OTW: Do you feel Simon’s presence when you perform?

Her: Yes, all the time.

OTW: Would you say that there is a theme or sound that ties the Her album together? 

Her: I think that what we wanted with Simon is to have a strong sound. That’s why we’ve made a lot of decisions and choices about how we want the snap, percussion, and the guitar effects to sound.

OTW: Did you snap on it yourself? [laughing]

Her: Yes. [snaps]

OTW: That’s a strong snap!

OTW: You also sang for Yuksek. Are you going to continue doing more vocal features?

Her: No no, this is exactly what I want to do. It’s really cool and helps me to be able to meet new people that I really admire and to work with others.

OTW: As a Paris native, what other French cities would you recommend to visit?

Her: Brittany! It’s a place nearby. It’s really really nice. Rennes, it’s where my parents live, and it’s where I met Simon. All the cities near the seas are nice.

OTW: What are three things were on your to-do list after the tour?

Her: It’s not a joke, but I don’t have three things that I want to do after the tour. I want just one thing, and it’s to travel. I want to start with Los Angeles.

OTW: Do you love it here?

Her: Yeah, it’s really cool. I want to be able to meet new musicians in LA and not feel like I’m in a hurry.

OTW: Do you have any new music brewing or are you going to start fresh when you get back?

Her: No no, I have a lot of songs. I try to create songs as often as possible. I hope that before February I’ll have a lot of songs.

OTW: Speaking of other musicians, who are you a fan of that you would consider One to Watch?

Her: Anna Leone – she just released an EP, and it’s really good.

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