K’s Choice was formed by Belgian siblings Gert and Sarah Bettens, who grew up playing music in Antwerp and briefly fronted a band named the Basement Pigs during their teens. Sarah also enjoyed some recognition as a solo artist, scoring a mild hit in 1992 with her cover of Hank Williams‘ „I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.“ She soon reunited with her brother to form the Choice, and the band made its official debut in 1993 with the release of „The Great Subconscious Club“. Bassist Erik Verheyden and drummer Koen Lieckens were added to the lineup, and the Choice expanded their audience with European tours supporting Morphine, the Proclaimers, and the Indigo Girls. By 1994, they had changed their name to K’s Choice and struck an American deal with Epic. „Paradise in Me“, the band’s second album, showcased a more musically aware K’s Choice. It also provided the group with their first American single, „Not an Addict,“ which spent nearly 30 weeks on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and briefly made Somewhere in between the flurry of show dates, K’s Choice hooked up with producer Gil Norton (The Pixies, James, Catherine Wheel) for 1998’s „Cocoon Crash“. K’s Choice joined mixer Tchad Blake for 2000’s Almost Happy. After a ten year break they came back in 2010 with their album „Echo Mountain“ which showed the band’s much more softer side. 2015 was the time to return to their roots, meaning rock music, this in the form of their new album „The Phantom Cowboy“. Being on tour with their latest release, they will give a concert on 4th of December at the Rockhal in Ech/Alzette and for this occasion their singer Sarah Bettens answered a few of our questions.
Hello and thanks for taking your time for an interview. Where are you at the moment?
Right now, I’m in Belgium, We were playing some shows in our homeland and it’s been very satisfying to play finally this record live in front of sold out crowds.
After the long break between „Almost Happy“ and „Echo Mountain“ you seem to be back for good as K’s Choice. How does it feel?
It feels really good, especially with this new heavier sound we have going. It feels like we started over and are 21 years old again. We also have a few new band members and it’s adding a whole other level of excitement.
With your new album „The Phantom Cowboy“ your sound is quite more rock-orientated. Shorter songs and a sharper guitar-sound. Was that the intention or simply just a natural occurrence as the album took shape?
We really wanted to do something different for this record. We had just made a partly intstrumental and very intimate soundtrack for a documentary about an Antarctic expedition, as well as an acoustic spinoff off Echo Mountain. So after a few years of doing seated theater shows and performing on chairs, we were ready to rock again. It’s the first time we made a record with a very clear goal and focus. We wanted it to be a fun record to listen to and perfect for live shows and festivals. We imagined people jumping up and down.
What is the big difference between K’s Choice during your breakthrough album „Paradise In Me“ and „The Phantom Cowboy“?
Age. In all seriousness, we have matured so much since then. When we started writing for Paradise In Me, we were kids. Everything was still new and we had no idea that we would actually be doing this for 20+ years. I think we’ve become better musicians, and we are now able to take all the experience we’ve built up and put it in a new album, while still being able to channel the enthusiasm we had back then.
Are you now all focused on K’s Choice or will you still do solo stuff in the future?
We’re never sure what the future will hold, but right now, all the focus is definitely on K’s Choice. The new band sounds kick ass, we’re having a great time and the feedback from fans and press has been great. We also signed a deal in the United States for „The Phantom Cowboy“ to be released this September, so we have some exciting times ahead of us.
If you have to name one artist who influenced you, who would that be?
It’s impossible to name just one, because I like so many different things and all those influences have shaped my taste in music and what I want to make by myself. It also changes a lot, depending on the ‘phase’ I find myself in. If I did have to reference one artist from my youth, it would be Annie Lennox. I saw a live show by the Eurythmics when I was 17 years old and it was the most exciting show I ever saw. Annie Lennox’ presence on stage was mesmerizing and intoxicating. I wanted to do exactly what she did and have that kind of impact on an audience.
Are you also listening to the new bands and their music?
Absolutely. Sometimes the guys in a band give me new stuff to listen to. A new band I like a lot is Slow Pilot, a Belgian artist that opened some shows for us these past weeks. Very talented and beautiful voice.
You must really like our country as you’ve already played a lot of concerts here in our little Luxembourg? What’s not to like?
Luxembourg has always been very good to us, from the very beginning. We would not want to tour on a new record and skip a country that has given us such great memories. Our expectations for the show there are high, so spread the word!
With all the touring, where do you call it „home“?
Definitely the United States, because that’s where my family is. Belgium still feels very familiar of course, and it’s always great to see family and old friends, but my life is in the States now.
Thank you very much for taking time and good luck for the future!
Thank you and see you in Luxembourg!
(Interview by Mike Dostert)