Divine Love is the remarkable debut album from Victoria+Jean, an extraordinarily creative duo linked artistically and romantically. A vehicle for Victoria’s towering vocals and Jean’s varied and instinctive electric guitar playing, Divine Love is also a truly collaborative project. The pair ambitiously hunted down their favourite producers, sent them the album’s 12 tracks and asked to collaborate with them. These names include John Parish (PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp), Rob Kirwan (The Horrors, Depeche Mode), Christopher Berg (The Knife), Ian Caple (Tricky, Kate Bush), Joe Hirst (Stone Roses), Alistair Chant (PJ Harvey & John Parish) and Lucas Chauvière (De La Soul). Incredibly, each producer chose the track that was intended for them.
Ian Caple’s ‘Divine Love’ was the first they received back. It is a spacious, ethereal and soaring opener that ushers you – but not gently – into the album. Victoria+Jean’s love of blues-rock is evident in the brooding ‘Why Won’t You’ and ‘Takes You Like A Rose’, while ‘Your Baby Don’t Know Me’ is an explosive four minutes of fierceness. Throughout Divine Love there is a contrast between hard and soft but also within the songs, like ‘Where We Belong’, where serenity is punctured by bursts of punchy electric guitar and rising, powerful vocals. ‘Härligt Sverige’ (‘Glorious Sweden’) is a shimmering and occasionally unnerving ode to the extremes of beauty and nature that shows the contradicting emotions in Victoria’s relationship with her birth country.
The collaborative nature of Divine Love also extends to the visual. In addition to tracking down Russian artist Oleg Dou to create the mysteriously beautiful cover portrait of Victoria, the duo have made videos for each of the album’s tracks. Travelling to Los Angeles, Tokyo and Sweden – to fund their efforts, the pair sold fridges and chocolates, among other things – they collaborated with an array of award-winning directors including Maria Mochnacz, Kosai Sekine, and Spike & Jones. Renowned visual artist Anita Fontaine created the kaleidoscopic video for current single ‘Divine Love,’ which stars actress Annabelle Wallis (The Tudors, Peaky Blinders, Annabelle, X-Men: First Class).
The album’s themes reflect their own shared lives and experiences. As well as the thread of divine love, the transient nature of their existence – of different cities and cultures – is clear. Victoria was born in Sweden, grew up in London before moving to Paris where she began her first career as a model.
“My mother was a model in the 80s so I have always been surrounded by fashion people and I started modelling when I was 13 or 14,” she explains. “The more I grew up the more I got to meet photographers and designers like Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Zac Posen and Christopher Niquet. But the difference was that they really took me for what I was, a musician. I never liked the fashion side of things, the models, the castings, the object side that you are taken for.”
At 16 she was signed as a solo artist by a French major label. However, she broke her four-album deal before releasing her debut album, unable to make the compromises demanded upon her by the label. She moved to Belgium where she met Jean and the couple began a career motivated by encounters, travels and sound, he having left school at the age of 16 to begin a life of touring the world with various bands and musicians.
At the very beginning Jean thought Victoria wanted to conquer the world. Over time, their perspective has changed. Victoria+Jean’s music is not about power; it is more fundamental than that. They want to share with the world what they create with each other. “I think I can’t see my life without doing music, I need to write, I need to sing. If I don’t I don’t feel well in my body and with my soul,” Victoria says. “We like to live this way. We like to say we only live once, let’s do it to the end.”
VICTORIA+JEAN DIVINE LOVE
1. Divine Love (video)
2. Holly (video)
3. Big Billie (video)
4. Until It Breaks
5. Why Won’t You (video)
6. Your Baby Don’t Know Me
7. Firecracker (video video 2)
8. Härligt Sverige (video)
9. Takes You Like A Rose
10. Where We Belong (video)
11. Pull The Trigger (video)
12. Define Love