Europe/UK (Agent) Steven Thomassen
Push The Button @ De Grote Post - Oostende (be)
Vooruit - Gent (be)
CC De Adelberg - Lommel (be)
De Studio - Antwerpen (be)
Paradiso - Amsterdam (nl)
Cactusfestival - Brugge (be)
Dour - Dour (be)
Gezgin Salon Festival - Istanbul (tr)
Listen @ Ancienne Belgique - Brussels (be)
Concertzaak - Mechelen (be)
“There are some records that are so dark and so forward-thinking that you wonder if they could have ever been made by a human. Tsar B‘s debut EP – a twisted mess of threatening violins, off-kilt chord progressions and distorted vocals – is one of them” – NME
“the self-taught producer and classical violinist will bring a touch of the otherworldly to the seaside with her stark, brooding and forward-thinking electronic pop” – The Line Of Best Fit
“churning R&B beats, pitched-down effects and sighing vocals that curl around like sweet pipe smoke” – The Fader
Tsar B’s second album to the stars is a space adventure of endless departures and returns. The Belgian artist, composer and multi-instrumentalist rearranges the DNA of pop, early baroque music and club beats into a rush of life at a breakneck velocity, teeming with astonishment, devotion and curiosity.
Over the past years, Justine Bourgeus has picked the fruits of artistic freedom to her heart’s leisure, often bridging sonic concepts into visual mediums such as film, dance and fashion. In the wake of her debut LP The Games I Play and 2020 EP Unpaintable, Bourgeus polished off high-profile collaborations with the likes of Alexander Chung, Oscar and The Wolf and Nova Twins. Last year, she (quite literally) inhabited one of Salvador Dalí’s legendary cookbooks for the stunning concert film Les Diners de Gala. On top of that, Bourgeus emerged as a sought-after film composer and producer for emerging artists.
Starting her career as a violinist in several bands, Tsar B became Bourgeus’ vehicle for exploring visceral emotions through electronic composition in open-hearted, intuítive ways. On to the stars her classical background and instincts as a producer coalesce into joyous pop deconstructions that defy easy categorization.
to the stars’ signifies a launching point from her classical upbringings to her status as one of pop’s great burgeoning abstractionists. “‘interlude’ is a string reworking of “gonna hold you in my arms” where I quote the words ‘lascia ch’io pianga’ (‘let me weep’) from the opera Rinaldo by George Frideric Handel. So in a certain way, I return to my classical roots full of tears in my eyes. I used to sing this song when I was fourteen. Being twice that age, those words now carry so much more weight.”
The theme of interstellar wanderlust treads to the stars like a beam of pure unadulterated feeling, pulling listeners into its potent orbit. The seismic industrial march of “moonman” took inspiration from Belgian cosmonaut Dirk Frimout’s personal anecdotes of the STS-45 space launch. On the cascading avant-house of “i don’t wanna lose nobody” and sweeping mid-tempo trance of “interlude”, Tsar B’s orchestral tendencies submerge under the dark liminal spaces of basement clubs. The sensual techno swirl of “trophy” – a collaboration with Belgian-Congolese artist Reinel Bakole – strides towards a stratospheric climax.
More than ever, Tsar B’s penchant for the dramatic is undercut by her upbeat sense of humor. On the winsome, unabashedly romantic anthem “Auwtch”, her voice pierces through the glacial synth melodies with unblemished earnesty; a primal scream of sorrow of having her hopes foolishly shattered. That rude awakening is expressed in cheeky fashion in the video directed by Lennert Madou – Bourgeus’s visual partner in crime. Like a dream sequence, she rides horseback towards eternal bliss, only to see the camera pan out, revealing the mechanics behind the movie magic; the horse turns out to be an animatronic prop. Surprisingly, the bird’s eye view is arguably more stunning than sobering; depicting Bourgeus and the stagehand almost like an ancient mural from the stone age. “My safe space is to be a bit of ‘a Don Quixote’, a joker, to uplift people in a certain way.”
Just as Tsar B puts a euphoric spin on darker themes like heartbreak and isolation, she is equally electric in unburdening from her own perceived authenticity on songs like “underwater”. Bourgeus: “When you think of someone like Jimi Hendrix, you immediately think of that image of him setting his guitar on fire. I entertained the thought of doing something like that as well. I felt that whenever he smashed his guitar, he wasn’t angry; he’s actually in love.” This burning passion is expressed through the album’s striking cover art, which depicts Bourgeus holding her violin in flames.
“I feel it’s both my curse and my blessing of feeling too much”, she continues. “Sometimes it can come together in such an intense way. That’s why this album isn’t defined as ‘happy’ or ‘angry’. It’s stressing the love in everything; or maybe an aggression that doesn’t come from malice. It’s this feeling between wild and aggressive without being evil. I’m so broken with existence sometimes, so tired, simply because I’ve just felt so much. So if you smash something, you get to take it all out. You don’t really destroy your favorite instrument, you honor it.”
With to the stars Tsar B channels a cosmic odyssey in all its lofty highs; romantic, dangerous, ecstatic, and wholly immersive. “I’ve been through a lot over the past two years, and met so many crazy people who have inspired me so much. I really found myself. I encountered a tremendous beauty within life.”