On April 8th 1984, Elisa Waut won first prize in Humo’s Rock Rally, Belgium’s biggest music contest.
Here’s what happened before…
In 1982 siblings Elsje and Hans Helewaut were ousted from Schizofrenics, a young new wave band from Bruges, and decided to join musical forces. They enjoyed the creative process, but entertained no ambitions as yet.
The first song they wrote was called ‘Unrath.’ At the time, Elsje was working at a ministerial department. She saved up her money to pay for their first recordings in a small studio. Also, a generous collegae sponsored her musical talents. Hans produced an instrumental demo, and Elsje vocalized whilst commuting between Bruges and Brussels. At first she chose the alias Abantu Musuji – African for ‘wild cat’, inspired by the movie and soundtrack of ‘Cat People’.
They made a demo and for a while Hubert Serlet joined them, but musically he was on a different wavelength, so he recommended his friend Chery Derycke as a probable better match.
Chery loved the demo and urged the siblings to play some gigs but, for the time being, they declined.
In the summer of 1983, Elsje holidayed in Ibiza, where she found that nobody managed to pronounce her name correctly.
That realisation prompted her to change it to Elisa Waut, which stuck as the band name.
That same summer, Alpen Radio, a local station in Bruges, organized a rock session. There, Chery met Elsje and Hans for the first time. They gelled immediately.
Chery set up a string of gigs and proceeded to play bass in the band. They distributed 250 home made cassette tapes to record shops, and Chery entered the band in Humo’s Rock Rally. At first, Elsje and Hans were apprehensive, anxious about possible bad reviews and criticism. Meanwhile, Belgian deejay Luc Janssen of the influential BRT2 radio show ‘Domino’ started giving the demo tape high rotation.
In this mysterious atmosphere, Elisa Waut entered the preliminaries of Humo’s Rock Rally, harbouring no particular ambitions, and thus performing stressless, oblivious of the fact that they would emerge as the future winners of this important and life-changing contest.
During rehearsals and live shows prior to the Rock Rally Emmanuel Marcantuani took part in Elisa Waut but left the group directly after their victory.