For as much as the story of HER is about tragedy and triumph, it’s really about two friends — Victor Solf and Simon Carpentier.
While still in school, the half-German Victor and the French Simon met in 2007, bonded like long lost brothers, started making music together equally informed by old school soul a la Otis Redding and post-Yeezus hip-hop, and formed HER in 2015. Success followed as the breakout “Five Minutes” soundtracked Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign and eventually generated over 6.7 million Spotify streams. The duo released a pair of EPs Her Tape #1 and Her Tape #2, spawning fan favorites such as “Quite Like,” “Union,” and “Her” and amassing over 20 million cumulative Spotify streams. Merging artfully seductive and provocative visuals and dreamy newer wave pop with a jazz undercurrent, the boys crisscrossed the globe in support of the EPs, including making waves stateside.
In the middle of it all, unbeknownst to anyone but those closest to him, Simon lost a long, quiet, and arduous battle with cancer in August 2017
“The last year was very hard, because Simon wasn’t doing well,” admits Victor. “It was tough for him to tour, but he felt like it was important to tour at the same time. He didn’t want to stop. He was ill for six years, but we rarely talked about cancer or death—we tried to talk about life. Now, I think that my job is to continue sharing that perspective. It’s a hard job, but I’m doing my best for myself and for him.”
With his friend’s spirit always close by, Victor worked on what would become the duo’s 2018 major label full-length debut, HER [Republic Records]. In between, he returned to the stage for a tearful, yet powerful gig at Rock En Seine in Paris — a festival they had always dreamed of playing. In between a series of emotional European shows, he put the finishing touches on the music.
“Most of the tracks were done, but there was a little bit of work on vocals or background vocals here and there,” he goes on. “It was very important to keep Simon’s vocals, vision, and guitar intact though. That’s what I did”
Fittingly, HER introduce the record with “We Choose.” On the 2017 single, airy production gives way to a lithe and subtle groove before the smoky vocals take hold. Immediately, Simon’s presence becomes striking.
“Weirdly, it was the first song that we did as HER, and it’s the last song we recorded featuring Simon,” says Victor. “We actually wrote the track when our previous band had ended. It was a statement about keeping hope and holding on to what you love. We were working on music every day, and the song spoke to that choice to keep going. People might’ve thought since that last project ended that we would just quit. We didn’t. I believe now is the right time to put ‘We Choose’ out. Even when things are going badly, there’s always hope. It’s the intro to this next chapter—how hopefully he would’ve wanted it.”
As the band launches this next chapter with a sold out livestreamed show from Paris’s Bataclan, HER remains forever a testament to the bond between its two architects.
“It’s vital to have this album out,” Victor leaves off. “I’m getting through grief because of it. This is music for life.”