Hooverphonic were due to represent Belgium at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam with their song “Release Me”.
Belgium has two participating broadcasters — RTBF and VRT — who take it in turns to organise the nation’s Eurovision entry. This year is an even year, meaning Flemish network VRT was in charge.
Over the past decade, both broadcasters typically opted for relatively unknown names. But VRT changed tack for 2020. Perhaps the fact that the Netherlands was due to host convinced the broadcaster to shoot for something big. Because all of Belgium was stunned when Hooverphonic were announced during a press conference in Brussels on 1 October.
The band on the wishlists of many Belgian Eurovision fans for a long time. And now we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Hooverphonic. Let’s do this!
Belgium at Eurovision 2020: Facts about Hooverphonic
1. They’re a trio
Hooverphonic’s membership has changed multiple times through the years, but Alex Callier and Raymond Geerts have been the band’s backbone since its beginning in 1995. The group currently consists of three core members.
Luka Cruysberghs (19) — Born in Leuven, Luka is the lead singer and the group’s newest member. She came aboard in April 2018. You can hear her vocals on Hooverphonic’s newer singles like “Romantic”, “Horrible Person” and “Looking For Stars”.
Raymond Geerts (60) — Born in Sint-Niklaas, Raymond is a founding member of Hooverphonic. He’s been the group’s guitarist since 1995. He has also written on a couple of Hooverphonic tracks, including “Inhaler” and “2 Wicky”. Raymond was also a member of The Ditch for a while. He played the drums with that band, his original instrument. He only started guitar after teaching himself.
Alex Callier (47) — Also born in Sint-Niklaas, Alex is the second founding member. He is the group’s bassist and composer/producer. From 1990 to 1993, Alex studied a degree in Image, Sound and Editing at the Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema and Sound in Brussels. Funnily enough, after graduating, he started working as a sound technician at VRT — the same broadcaster that selected the band for Eurovision.
2. Their lineup has changed a few times
It’s no secret that Hooverphonic’s lineup has changed several times. Luka is officially the group’s sixth lead singer. In order, her five predecessors were Esther Lybeert, Liesje Sadonius, Kyoko Bartsoen, Geike Arnaert and Noémie Wolfs.
The turnover rate may seem high, but it should be remembered that Hooverphonic has been on the go since 1995. In any walk of life, people tend to come and go over a period of 24 years.
Geike Arnaert stayed with Hooverphonic for 11 years, making her one of the faces most associated with the band. Belgian and Dutch fans might recognise her without realising it. She is the female voice from the big 2017/2018 BeNeLux hit “Zoutelande”. She recorded the song with Dutch band BLØF after her departure from Hooverphonic. Geike admitted that she always felt like she was in the shadow of Alex’s talent. In a documentary about the group, Alex responded: “my talent is absolutely nothing without her talent. What was I without her? Really nothing”.
3. They were originally called Hoover
In the early 1990s, Alex Callier met Frank Duchêne. They connected over their love for the music of Pierre Henry, whose work would influence the typical Hooverphonic sound. Together with Raymond Geerts, Alex and Frank created Hoover in 1995. They soon discovered that there was already a group with that name, so they switched to Hooverphonic. Allegedly, this was also to avoid a clash with world-famous vacuum cleaner manufacturer. Nonetheless, their debut album was released under the name Hoover. Frank Duchêne left in 1998 due to musical differences.
4. Luka auditioned for Junior Eurovision and The Voice
Luka attempted to sing for Belgium at Junior Eurovision 2013. Then aged 12, she entered a cover of Hooverphonic’s “Happiness”. Alas, she didn’t get picked. However, her audition remains online.
Five years later, Luka tried out for The Voice Van Vlaanderen 2018 with her version of Marilyn Manson’s cover of The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”. She convinced all four coaches to turn around. She opted to join Alex Callier’s team and eventually won the season.
5. They used guest singers like Madame Monsieur’s Emili Satt before Luka joined
Despite Luka and Alex’s winning partnership, Alex and Raymond didn’t initially consider Luka for the vacant lead singer role with Hooverphonic. In fact, they weren’t actively looking for a new vocalist. At the time they were working with guest singers, including Emili Satt. Yes, the female singer from Madame Monsieur — France’s Eurovision 2018 act. She can be heard on “Badaboum”.
Luka didn’t officially enter the fray until she asked Alex to compose some music for her. She heard “Romantic” and wanted to record it. However, Alex had intended for it to be a Hooverphonic track. This led Luka to joke: “Okay, I’ll just join Hooverphonic”. And so it came to be.
6. They have collaborated with famous artists and songwriters
In 1998, Hooverphonic went on a European tour supporting, among others, Moloko, Fiona Apple and Massive Attack. Alex says that they learned much from touring with these acts, lessons they still use today. They would later cover Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy”. For their second LP Blue Wonder Power Milk they collaborated with American producer Mark Plati. He has worked with acts such as The Cure, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac. Although Alex writes most of Hooverphonic’s material himself, he occasionally writes with others. One of these is Cathy Dennis. Best known for the very non-Hooverphonic sounding “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” (Kylie Minogue) and “Toxic” (Britney Spears), she chipped in on “Jacky Cane” and “The Last Thing I Need Is You”.
7. They performed at the opening ceremony of Euro 2000
Although Hooverphonic has quite some experience to fall back on, their most nerve-wracking gig, according to Alex Callier, was performing at the opening of the UEFA European Football Championship in 2000. The ceremony was held in King Boudwijn stadium in Brussels. Alex composed “Visions” for the occasion. Over 50,000 attendees watched on in the stadium, while about 1.5 billion more tuned in from home.
8. Alex composed Sennek’s “A Matter of Time”
Sennek represented Belgium at Eurovision 2018 with “A Matter Of Time”, a song composed by Alex. However, he revealed that the original version was very different from the one performed in Lisbon. “The evolution of the song went really weird. I started writing with her and then she finished it with somebody else. My version had a choir during the entire song. My idea for her staging was that she would be surrounded by a cool band, like rockabillies. So surrounded by them, singing along, taking you in. But they didn’t do that, they made it more a diva song, but then you have to be a real diva. That was the advantage for Blanche, she didn’t have to be a diva, because her song was so fragile”.
9. They have released 16 albums
Since their foundation in 1995, Hooverphonic have brought out 16 albums. In 1996 they released their debut A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular. This spawned the international hit “2 Wicky“. Eleven more studio albums followed along with two live LPs and three compilation records. From an artistic point of view, “Eden” is considered to be one of their classics. Their latest album, Looking For Stars, is from 2018.
10. Hollywood has a taste for Hooverphonic
The music of Hooverphonic has proven to be very popular in other media, soundtracking films, commercials and TV series.
- “2 Wicky” — Movies: Stealing Beauty, Finalemente Soli, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, My Best Friend and Permanent Midnight. TV: Entourage.
- “Sarangi” — Movies: Charlie’s Angels and The Dance. TV: Baywatch.
- “Eden” — Movies: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Commercials: Repsol (Spain) and Alpro (Belgium). TV: Zone Stad and Thuis.
- “Mad About You” — Driven, South Kensington, New Best Friend. Commercials: Smart Car, Autoroutes (France), Volvo and Eurotel Image (Czech Republic). TV: Las Vegas, Cold Case and Third Watch.
- “Inhaler” — Movies: The Real Blonde. TV: CSI.
- “Waves” — TV: Sex And The City.
Other featured songs include “This Strange Effect” (La Femme Nikita), “The World is Mine” (Mile High), “Battersea” (Third Watch and Goodbye To Camelot, Jaguar commercial), “Wardrope” (commercial for J.P. Morgan), “Renaissance Affair” (commercial for Volkswagen), “Jackie Cane” (commercial for Toyota) and “Amalfi” (commercial for Danone).
Bonus Fact — Alex watched Eurovision 2019 in a restaurant toilet
Alex Callier was asked by the VRT to go to Eurovision on three previous occasions, but he never had the right song. But he always wanted to go. One year after Luka joined, Alex finally found what he called “the perfect song for Eurovision”. And so they decided to give it a go. They are all huge fans of contest, especially Alex — “I watch Eurovision every year with great passion. Last year (2019) one of my closest friends decided to give her birthday party on the night of the grand final. I tried to persuade her to give a Eurovision themed birthday party, with snacks and flags. But she decided to give a ‘normal’ birthday party in a restaurant. I ended up watching the Eurovision final on my phone in the toilet of the restaurant. I just didn’t want to miss it”.
Alex has stated in earlier interviews that he has a huge thing for the Eurovision songs of Salvador Sobral and Duncan Laurence. But he also is very much a fan of the older classics, like France Gall’s winning number from 1965.
Bonus bonus fact — Their roots lie in Sint-Niklaas
Alex and Raymond are from the city of Sint-Niklaas, which also happens to be the hometown of our Daphne Dee. So, we had to squeeze in just one more fact!
It’s a city of about 80,000 people and is located between Antwerp and Ghent, in the province of Oost-Vlaanderen (East-Flanders). Since the end of World War II, the city has organised the festival Vredefeesten (Peace festival), to remember its liberation. The three-day event attracts more than 100,000 visitors. Due to their busy schedule, the band can’t always perform. However, they headlined in 2019. The band often performs at the city’s De Casino. As performances in De Casino are a home game for Hooverphonic, the atmosphere is always a bit special. A lot of locals head out for this. The group also uses the venue to test out ideas for bigger events.
Eurovision 2021 Update
Following an agreement between the Dutch-language broadcaster VRT and its French-language counterpart RTBF, the ambient-alternative-electronica band will postpone their involvement in Eurovision and take up the reigns when the contest resumes next year.
What do you think of Hooverponic’s track record? Are you excited to see them in 2021? Let us know in the comment section below.