It was somewhere in 2008. As the night fell, the very first Isbells songs were coming to life within Gae?tan Vandewoude’s bedroom. He was working on small but brave fighters: modest, breakable folk songs reminiscent of Nick Drake or Bon Iver, that would start their trip around the world from his room.
Appearing on soundtracks for Grey’s Anatomy and Hawaii Five O and featuring in a global TV campagne for Trivago – it’s clear that the success of songs like ‘As Long As It Takes’, ‘Reunite’ and ‘Elation’ not only surpassed the borders of his country, but also those of Gae?tan Vandewoude’s expectations. “I found myself on a rollercoaster, and I’m still riding it 9 years later” says Isbells’ song writer, looking back on his wonder years.
At home in Belgium, the mellifluent melancholy of his debut album Isbells (2009) as well as Stoalin’ (2012) were a regular feature on the air for weeks on end. Not only did concert venues and streaming numbers grow in proportion, so did his dreams. Isbells toured Eurasia and could see its fanbase grow all over the world. “This ride is such an enrichment to my life. It makes you pause, dream and grow. I often feel blessed when I hear what kind of meaning has been attributed to my music – everything from comfort during loss to euphoria at a wedding or a birth.”
In the runup to his third album Billy (2015), Vandewoude brought his old bedroom doll from Sweet Little Mojo back from oblivion. But there was a heavy storm raging in the Belgian artist’s head at the same time. Billy was the result of an intense search for his true self. “The road was not always easy. I’ve gained insight, but have also struggled with a lot of doubts, questions and dark moments. This ride gives me the chance to reflect, to find myself and to look for reasons.”, says Isbells’ spiritual father.
Isbells broke the silence in 2018 with ‘Looking for the Beauty in the World’. “I’m not ready to give up”, says a combative Gae?tan Vandewoude.
2019 will see the long-awaited release of his fourth album. Isbells has not yet reached its final destination.