Interview by Yohann Ruelle.
It’s back to school! Like the children, you are going back to school this September with the release of your new single “C’est la Vie”…
Exactly ! I have the binder, I’m ready. (Smile) I’m pretty happy… for a return to school.
“We cannot be victims, neither of ourselves, nor of the life around us”
Was it a period that you didn’t really like at school?
I hated it. With all my heart ! No really, I didn’t like it. In general, at the start of the school year, people were a little nicer but it was always the second or third week of classes that things became a little more… complicated. The moment of grace disappeared, tolerance eroded, clans became clearer and the consequences were managed.
There has always been a very playful approach to your music. Is it from childhood that you draw your inspiration, this grain of madness, still today?
I don’t think it’s age-related. It’s a state of mind if we have this agility to be able to express our emotions with freedom. When our souls are a little lighter and we can fly more easily, we find it easier to be happy, despite the reality of life or the moments of sadness that we may have. Whether we feel joy or sadness, even that is a good sign. That’s what I’m trying to preserve. Because gravity imposes another rule. Resisting or fighting it is necessary.
We allow ourselves few things in our adult lives.
That’s it, we don’t allow ourselves. It’s funny because when we’re younger, we say “I’m going to be like that”, “I’m going to do that”. But then, real life is completely different! At times you have to ask yourself why. I think it’s super important, to be able to continue writing and stay creative, to cultivate letting go. We cannot be victims, neither of ourselves, nor of the life around us.
In the song you say that “ growing old is a shipwreck » ! Do you think so?
We are programmed to think that. (Laughs) It’s certain ! You’re no longer going to fuck, you’re no longer bankable… Everything is more difficult. Anyone who says they don’t think about it is crazy. We must dismantle this concept and not ignore it, because we are all victims of it. We must actively deconstruct this way of thinking.
“The happy sad mix is super important in pop”
How was this new single ”C’est la Vie”, very pop, a little disco, born?
This is the last song I wrote for the album. She was born by chance! It’s funny to think that it happened like that… (Smile) It’s like she’s summarizing two and a half years of writing. At that moment, I was able to see things a little more clearly and I wanted to express it. She talks about death and celebrates life. This mix of “happy sad” is super important in pop. It metabolizes sadness so that it becomes something more beautiful, more useful. This is a fundamental rule. If you take away the choruses, it’s just the most depressing song in the world!
You have gone through painful personal trials in recent years, such as the disappearance of your mother. Has art helped you overcome them?
100%. Creation helps everyone, I think. Even if it doesn’t want to be grandiose, even if it comes out in a very intimate and personal way, this idea of creativity means that there are neurons that are working and that there are associations that are formed. We feel more… liberated. So it’s very, very important.
“Shortly before her disappearance, she gave me a card”
The title is therefore also a tribute to your mother. What lessons have you learned from her?
Shortly before her disappearance, she gave me a card drawing me with a head in the shape of a flower. At the time, I didn’t understand when I received it… then I realized the meaning she gave to it. Throughout my childhood, she watched me and tried to provoke this idea of building things that have no value to the world around you, but to you that make you feel like a superhero. With this illness which was progressive, I think she was very aware that she was no longer going to be able to be the responsible person who would encourage me to stay creative. And she was very afraid that the complications of life, success, reality, could change this very simple approach, compared to creating something from nothing, without looking for value in it. She often told me: “Be careful with the people you put around you.” You need the people you surround yourself with to be happy that you can create something, whether it’s beautiful or interesting, but not because they’re going to make money from it. “That’s the biggest challenge,” she told me. I think she was telling me that, not to keep me successful, but to keep me happy. That’s why in my job, there are so many miserable people who weren’t miserable at the start…
It’s an industry with challenges and pressure. When you start in this field out of passion, you don’t necessarily think about it…
Yes, it’s violent. This is why we must provoke and cultivate this irreverence of the enfant terrible…
“We are on stage to tell 360 degree stories”
With this in mind, you recently set up your own creative workshop in Puglia. What does it change ?)
Ah but everything! It’s linked to this idea that we are on stage to tell stories, and that we can tell them in 360 degrees. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it has to be unique. And that also concerns clothes! Today, a lot of fashion houses have realized that if there are brands on performing artists, it’s super good product placement. The problem is that it wasn’t like that before. When you think of David Bowie, you don’t think of a brand. When we think of Michael Jackson, we don’t think of a brand! Never. Same thing for Mick Jagger. We have in mind a stature, an image. Iconic clothes. Often, these were either workshops that belonged to the artists, or outfits that were created and loaned to them, but without marketing. I realized that it could really be very, very fun and increase the storytelling to make them myself, with my team. All of a sudden, a costume on stage in a concert is not just a costume that you bought in a store or that comes from a brand. There is a whole story behind it. I love fashion, mind you. I have a lot of fun with certain brands. But that can’t be all. You have to keep the artisanal, intimate and unique side. And that’s in everything: we make our sets, we make pop-up player pianos that transform and become gardens, costumes, t-shirts, little figurines, little sculptures… Lots of stuff different, to build a universe, express oneself and turn the creative wheel in the widest possible way.
Do you feel even freer?
Yes ! And since there is no commercial aim, I can find inspiration everywhere around us, ask those around me. There are no limits, we can do whatever we want! We’re not afraid to know if it’s going to sell or not. We already find this universe on the cover of the single but I can tell you that it will be everywhere, on the next tour, in accessories, limited editions. I also have a huge art installation project, a sort of hybrid exhibition that we’re working on. It’s a whole world! Don’t be afraid to stand out. Who cares if it’s not perfect, it’s even better, because it’s not smooth. For example, someone who embraces her difference is Billie Eilish. She has complete freedom to express herself as she wants. It’s not at all hyper glam, hyper fashion: it’s in its own way.
The Dailymotion player is loading…
“I wanted to dedicate an album to the French-speaking part of my life”
So you are preparing a new album in French, which will be released this fall. Why return to French?
I have an identity that has always evolved and changed. The French-speaking part of my life has really taken its place and I wanted to dedicate an album to that, because it’s the only thing I know how to do: write chapters in my life with albums. I had two rules: I didn’t want to pretend to be French. So I kept all my particularities, my accent, my mistakes, everything! And secondly, I didn’t want to go “track shopping”, asking everyone to send me songs for consideration. Impossible. That’s not pop music. Alt pop, you have to write it. You have to be part of the whole process. And I wanted a whole collection of songs, not just a one-shot. When I started to learn French, what pleased me the most, and also surprised me, was that I felt protected.
Did you put yourself in a little bubble?
Exactly. This album is very pop, very melodic, extremely joyful AND very intimate at the same time. It’s not an intimacy that’s moody or melancholic at all. (He mimes the gesture) It’s wide, it’s free…
Who did you work with on the album?
I worked with Renaud Rebillaud. A lot. During two years ! With a young artist that I didn’t know, very fresh, very young and from Toulon, whose name is Carla De Coignac. This girl is great! There is also Doriand, with whom I have always written. The rule with them was that I always had to write 50% of the songs, the concepts. It was super important, to have the same process as in my English albums. This title, “C’est la Vie”, was made with Tristan Salvati. And there is Valentin Marso. It’s a small team but the best!
“You’re really going to get inside my head.”
What will be the common thread of the album?
You will really get into my head and my life in relation to my relationship with France. It’s the beginning of my life, it’s my youth, my childhood, a certain challenge and also the death of my mother. I didn’t want to express this important part of my life in English. And I have to say, while creating this record, I was never bored. It made me so happy. One song led to another.
Will there be guests?
No, zero. I had to do this trip alone.
Are you preparing an album in English at the same time?
Yes ! But that will be for next year…