TRAFFIC NOIR - Two Belgians who are not afraid of challenges
Art has never produced style and style never art.
The two Belgian brothers Etienne and Serge Lambertine from Liege are THE insider tip of the current independent music scene in Belgium.
No baggy pants, no hip hop bling – TRAFFIC NOIR don’t need to follow trends. „We do our own thing! What matters most to us is authenticity“, says Etienne, the singer of the band, with a straight face. He is serious.
Ironically, this way they became trendsetters in their region of origin, Wallonia. In accordance with the spirit of the times, these exemplary artists make the statement that at the end of the day one is always one’s own creator.
The sound of TRAFFIC NOIR – influenced by new wave beats which come primarily from Belgium – is a modified, danceable version of the technotronic and underground house music of the 90s.
However, everything started quite differently.
Serge, the elder brother, bears the name of his great-grandfather, Sergei Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf). His mother, a Russian by birth, is the great composer’s last granddaughter. A member of the Moscow Bolshoi ballet, she stayed in Belgium after a guest performance and fell in love with the Belgian cuisinier Hector Lambertine.
At his mother’s request, Serge studies mathematics. However, this logician ventures out into the big, wide world and makes on a long round-the-world trip. In India, he meets the musicians of the Belgian band „Fury and me“. He quickly becomes part of the group and goes on a world tour.
Back again in Belgium, he knows that he wants to be a musician.
And what about his brother Etienne? He is named after the Belgian painter Jean Etienne Liotard (Chocolate Girl) who was a friend of the Lambertine family.
Etienne, unlike his controlled, intellectual brother Serge, is a pure freethinker. Being a student at the Liege Academy of Applied Arts, he is discovered by Anna Keersmaeker’s dance company Rosas and dances like the devil. „Creativity, freedom, love – this is my credo!”, says Etienne. And you believe it looking into his sad, hungry eyes.
As a side job, he works as a gardener, in a chocolate factory and in a fast food restaurant. Etienne smiles imperceptibly as he continues: „Being there and feeling the burden of life, I suddenly knew what my destiny was going to be!”
A performance at the vernissage of the Belgian painter Luc Tuymans reunites the unlike brothers. After years of the privation and homelessness, the Lambertine brothers finally find the sounds to express what pushes them forward and what shapes TRAFFIC NOIR. This short performance is not only a success, it creates a stir in their Walloon home region. Everyone agrees at once: Something great is going to happen.
Serge clears his throat and says in a hardly audible voice: „By the way, we didn’t have a plan. We just wanted to do music.” Such an understatement is typical of Serge, the calm genius in the background.
Suddenly, they are swamped with offers. The producer Vincent Verbelen calls and shows interest in the brothers’ first album.
STROMAE (Alors on danse) takes Serge and Etienne under his wings and settles the first festival gigs in Belgium.
The CACTUS festival marks their definite breakthrough. All Belgian musicians know: These guys are going to be big.
MILOW wants to go on tour with them, but they decline.
Triggerfinger, Kiss the anus of a black cat, Girls of Hawaii, Selah Sue – they all offer to help the Lambertines. But there is nothing to be done about it! „TRAFFIC NOIR refuse to be castrated!”, mutters Etienne nearly inaudibly. And then, after a break, he says: „You know, we’ve been through so much shit, we don’t really need this anymore.”
His brother looks away. He doesn’t care about anything anymore. Seemingly.
Yet, Serge, the sound magician on the keyboard, is anything but indifferent. His clever arrangements and unusual, yet catchy compositions are known to be outstanding.
His musical idols are Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Adolphe Sax and the Pet Shop Boys.
Etienne, the younger one, agrees with his grumpy brother. The lyrics he writes for TRAFFIC NOIR’s driving pearls of pop music are simple. „But it’s all true and real!”, he says emphatically.
TRAFFIC NOIR want to be free. Etienne adds: „We don’t care about success.
We could have had it all. So what?”
In Germany, TRAFFIC NOIR are not yet known.
This may change quickly as they are Thomas Nicolai’s support band.
What will happen after the tour through Germany? They will go into the studio. The first album “Balma” will probably be released by the end of 2019.