jeudi 30 décembre 2010

Rendez-Vous 003 : Highway To Yelle

*originally posted the girls are

If first impressions are anything to go by then French electro popsters Yelle certainly catch the eye. From their frontwoman’s colourful command over a style that rivals even fancy-dress-savvy-starlet Lady Gaga, to their tour-de-force pounding drums and jump-start synths, this group are truly making waves. So, with a top five chart hit in France and huge success following a recent tour in North America under their shiny pop belts, surely it’s only a matter of time before London’s Calling?

Chéri Amour: OK so for those at the girls are who are new fans of the band, how did Yelle come about? How would you describe your sound?
Grand Marnier (La batterie. Production. Kinky): Ah, ‘the sound’. I guess the sound would probably be labelled ‘electro pop music’. We like modern music, we like dance beats and we like melodies so it’s a bunch of that. Catchy too because we are from the FM generation!

CA: Your debut album, Pop Up, (released in 2006), was a huge success over here in France, particularly with the track Je Te Voir which reached the top five. Would you say there are many good electro bands currently in France?
Tepr: (Synths. Programmes. Fun) Yes, definitely. There is a scene. There is a scene following Phoenix a little bit. There are a lot of rock/pop bands singing in English here in France too that are doing really well for themselves; bands like Jamaica, Fortune, Pony Pony Run Run.
Grand M: But with regards to electronic music, there are all those people like Ed Banga’s ‘Crusade’ and Kitsune.

CA: But, maybe not what you guys have established – this kind of pop meets electro?Julie (La chanteuse. Sequins. Dance): We sing in French too so that makes us stand out from these kinds of groups.
Grand M: So, we don’t have any musical family here. We are alone. (tiny violin…) No, it’s nice though.
CA: When you were figuring out what you wanted to do musically, were you inspired by your French pop predecessors like Lio or Daft Punk?
Grand M: It’s not a direct influence as you can’t compare our sound to Daft Punk.
Tepr : When we were 15, we were mainly listening to rock bands and Daft Punk‘s first album, Homework, really opened our eyes to dance and that type of music. Homework is full of hooks so I guess, in that sense, it influences us.

CA: What do you think of the revival in recent years of the French electronic scene? Do you feel like you fit into that?
Grand M: Yes, because of journalists. The scene and the movement is quite separate for us though, really. We are a band living in Brittany, France. We are alone… in the countryside. We are not in a scene of underground dance music or anything there.
CA: There isn’t a scene in Brittany?
Grand M: There’s a scene for cows…!

CA: In 2008, you performed an overseas tour in North America and performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. What was that like?
Tepr: It was the beginning of something incredible in the US. We did Coachella and then we had proposals for so many more gigs after that.

CA: You played quite high on the bill that day, didn’t you?
Tepr: Yes, it was a really good slot at 9pm on the Saturday night.
Julie: We were actually playing at the same time as Portishead on the other stage.
CA: What was the reaction in America with all your songs being in French: was this a problem?
Tepr: We still can’t figure out why but the language difference doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Grand M: It’s funny to see people actually moving their mouths, trying to sing along to the words. I mean it’s something that we used to do ourselves when we were listening to those American rock bands when we were 15. It’s all about the energy and the direct feelings, I think.
CA: You’re all very involved in making the music – the production as well as writing. Tell us how this works…
Grand M: Actually I mainly write the songs but do produce some of them. Julie is writing together with me. With Tepr, we also produce some of the tracks alongside one another but he produces by himself too.

CA: Do you think it’s important, this collective almost DIY approach to music? Producing your own records etc?
Grand M: It’s the best way to do work with what you have. We produce all the records ourselves so we can really make the most of things. We don’t have any deadlines. Also, mixing the album, we have the opportunity to try different things. Sometimes it’s difficult when you maybe want to create a bigger sound from the production but it’s more real when you do everything by yourselves.

CA: What is the process like translating your sound from the studio to a live performance?
Tepr: It’s another job but we like it.
Julie: It’s different!
Grand M: Mostly, regarding the drums (as I play live drums on stage and when we make the records), it’s more produced. When I write a rhythm, I might play it but I won’t record it like that. I will record and edit.
Tepr: It’s a big challenge for us. People can feel when it is fake so we are always thinking about this. We finish an album and look at that as one challenge and then move onto the next; translating that into a live performance. We have to adapt all the songs from the album.
Grand M: It’s like a digi-set live but it’s just another process to us.

CA: You are currently working on your second album, Safari Disco Club, set for release in March 2011, oui? How is that all going?
Grand M: Yes, it’s due out in March with a new single out in mid-January. The recording is all done, in fact. We are just waiting for a few changes on the mastering and then we are going to shoot the artwork for it next week. We are working on the music video too. We’re facing all these other exciting challenges now; both live and the music videos.

CA: Do you have tours planned surrounding the release of the new record? Will you be coming back to Paris?
Julie: Yes, in April.
Grand M: And we’re going to open for Katy Perry.
Tepr: We are doing the UK dates with her.
Grand M: That’s an exclusive!

CA: So on the KP topic, you guys were lucky enough to be approached to remix her track Hot and Cold? How was that?
Julie: It was quite hard as we were in the US and didn’t have the facilities of our studio, so had to record it in a bedroom.
Tepr: Grand Marnier and I didn’t meet her but Julie did. At the time, we had such a limited time to record the track, like three days. We recorded the vocals under a blanket.

CA: Obviously, Julie, something you have in common with Katy is your quirky outfits and fashion sense on stage: do you think style is important part to the band?
Julie: I think it is important. It’s certainly part of the fun! For this album, we are working with Jean-Paul Lespagnard who we have already worked with on the Ce Jeu video. He’s a really nice guy. Plus, he is really into our music and gets involved in the whole idea.
Tepr: We like to feel that the people around us are really into the band and what we are doing.
Grand M: Not just into the name dropping.
Tepr: It’s cool to work with Jean-Paul as he is a young designer and he has a passion for life. He’s crazy!

CA: So, what’s next for Yelle, any other projects or collaborations that you can talk about?
Grand M: We don’t have time at the moment really with the new album coming out.
Tepr: We did
The Crookers song, Cooler Couleur, last year and Julie did a cover for the Nouvelle Vague album.
Julie: For the new one, it just came out a few weeks ago (Nouvelle Vague, Couleurs sur Paris; a journey into post punk and new wave French classics).

CA: Which current bands do you rate?
Grand M: Miike Snow, White Rabbit.
Julie: Robyn (Ed - co-incidentally, another fab femme the band have worked with)
Tepr: Dead Mouse.
CA: What would your death row dinner be?(initially there is some confusion translating this idea…the last supper. Subject realised, the band are full of potential cuisine ideas)
Tepr: Avocado.
Grand M: Profiteroles with chocolate.
Julie: Something probably from Brittany, like Crepes.
Tepr: Perhaps, we could make this into some kind of three course meal. For starters, we could do Avocado salad….
Grand M: You know, I would really like to try (gestures at his own arm…)
CA: So, main course… human flesh?
Grand M: Maybe, my own sperm too. Flute of sperm.

CA: Describe Yelle in 5 words.
Tepr: Fun.
Grand M: Pretty.
Tepr: Kinky.
Julie: Dance.
Tepr: Is that 4? One more? Hmm, avocado?
Grand M: I think Avocado is good. It’s a vegetable with a fun shape. Good colour. And tasty.

Naturally. With a fun composition, good colourings and the ability to cook up tasty bite size pop hits, Yelle are the brightest vegetable in the electro pop patch. As the band prepare for tonight’s show at Fleche d’Or, I am informed that Rory Phillips, the headline act for ce soir, can’t make it due to the snow. So, does this mean a three hour theatre style set for Yelle with a intermission and ice cream? “If we are all alone on the bill, I think we will just spin some records after. Maybe even some Katy Perry”.

Yelle‘s new album, Safari Disco Club, is out in March 2011; until then tickets for their shows supporting Katy Perry on her UK tour in March are on sale now and I, for one, am penning that one down for Papa Noel. Electro-ho-ho!

jeudi 9 décembre 2010

Plastiscines @ La Cigale, 27.11.10

*originally posted on thegirlsare

Tonight’s show at La Cigale is the final date in the Plastiscines recent ‘Bitch’ Tour, and judging by the throng of devoted fans as well as many of the bands family and friends (later gushed about in the group’s on stage thank-yous), there’s more to these girls than just their formidable faces and figures. These French sisters are doing it for themselves; and in hot-pants, to boot.

Dubbed as the ‘bébé rockers’, being one of several current Parisian teenage bands, from the moment Plastiscines strut out on stage, one can only gaze in awe at their energetic exuberance: legs flailing, hair tossing and heads banging, the band crash into their set with Sex Pistols venom yet maintain their perfectly executed appearance of ‘rock chic’, as if presented in the latest cult fashion shoot. It’s not surprising then that Editor-in-chief of pop culture mag NYLON, in fact founded NYLON Records and signed the Plastiscines as its first act, after seeing them on the cover of French fashion and style magazine Citizen K.

Lit up on La Cigale’s glamorous and majestic stage like some hot guitar wielding Charlie’s Angels, their slender silhouettes are framed by the impressive light show of flashing strobes. Track Loser is met with an impressive and zealous crowd call and response while Myspace favourites,’Pas Avec Toi and Barcelona (both tracks taken from the group’s new album) demonstrate the bands ability to thrash out tight hooks and nifty fretwork, akin to the super cool nonchalance of The Long Blondes or the hearty backing harmonies of their punk rock predecessors, The Donnas .

One criticism to the set list ce soir would be the not-so-inventive, or indeed necessary, covers of both You’re No Good (first a hit for Linda Ronstadt and not to be mistaken for either the Van Halen or Aswad interpretation] as well as the 60′s classic, Be My Baby. Neither of these rather tired and uninspiring revivals compare to the bands own material which oozes class and confidence.

The girls saunter off after their double (yes, double) encore to a raucous, and more than deserved, final applause. With a glittering array of talent and charm as well as a powerful on-stage prowess, Plasticines truly represent a new rock elite.  Mon dieu, save these queens.

Ms Jones @ Café de Paris, 28.11.10

*originally posted on thegirlsare
Just down the road from the famed Nouveau Casino, Café de Paris is nestled amongst the heart of this capital’s café culture. Head towards the dimly lit back room and a haughty old theatre stage, with some strategically placed ambient lighting and the benefits of an original stained glass ceiling, is transformed into the perfect setting to immerse oneself in a sea of sombre sound waves.

You won’t find much on Ms Jones if you look her up online. Her Myspace is sparse with only mere song samples to go on and no Wikipedia account in her honour either (a resource so easily used as an, albeit not entirely accurate, preface to a band nowadays) Yet, perhaps, this is Ms Jones‘ intention and simply the only elements she needs rather than some crudely constructed online biography like so many of her peers.

Her approach is raw and sometimes a little unconventional (with some eccentric tuning towards the end of the set) yet there is something endearing about the way she exposes herself so wholly and vividly to tonight’s audience. Like Kristin Hersch‘s  haunting opening chords and timid bleats upon the track Sno Cat, the sadness in the room is palpable.

However, for a reviewer that’s more of a wild cat than a sno cat, the performance is ultimately a little bleak; the fragility in her singing is, at times, almost too painful to watch. There are some impressive collaborations though during the set with both friend, Phillip Lamb and fellow performer on the bill tonight, Richard Robert who, as an aside, is a remarkably talented guitar player and linguist – entertaining us with songs in three different languages, no less!

Perhaps, someone should pen that Wikipedia page for Ms Jones after all, if for nothing more than to build upon the bones of this stripped bare songstress. A fan of Hirsh’s delicate discordance and Patti Smith‘s more tender testaments? This petite françaises quivering anguish is certainly for you.

Listen for yourself, here :

Rendez Vous 002 - John and Jehn and Friends, Soirée @ Fleche d'Or, 09.11.10

 *originally posted on thegirlsare

With their new recording, Down Our Streets out this month, John and Jehn are back on familiar soil after making quite a name for themselves in Old Blighty over the last four years. Finding the time to chat before their soirée tonight at Fleche d’Or in Paris, we muse over their new [and clearly popular!] line of home-made merchandise, Jehn’s lesser known movie fame and pitch all things Brit against its French counter parts. So, have they ditched their café crème’s for cream teas and their oysters for eels, or are they still flying the flag for their Republic?

Read the full interview with the dazzling duo, here :