Interview: Yelle

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MP3: Yelle – Tristesse/Joie

Yelle is France’s latest international export.

Dripping with pop and style and inescapably catchy music, she is everything that a pop star should be.  She puts the majority of American pop to shame, like an adult telling the kids to go home and do their homework.

Her densely layered, electro-infused pop is hardly the disposable kind that is churned out over modern American airwaves, which probably explains her meteoric ascent.  In a scant few years, she has broken into innumerable music markets around the world.  She finally brings a full-fledged tour to the States, dropping by University of Maryland College Park’s WMUC and DC’s famed 9:30 Club on Monday, Oct 11.

I was lucky enough to have a few minutes to pick Yelle’s brain.

Aural States- Describe your background and history with music? You come from a musical family, correct?

Yelle- My father is a musician and I grew up in a musical house! I was listening The Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, and more. When I was a teenager, I was listening more Pop music like Madonna, Blur, Cindy Lauper, Prince, etc.. and I had two bands when I was a student, but just for fun. I wanted to be a singer since I was a little girl..

AS- When did you start to dabble in electro and pop?

Y- I meet GrandMarnier in 2000 and we decided to make music together in 2005. I discovered electronic music with Daft Punk (Homework) but GrandMarnier give me lots of references to Rap and Electronic stuff. We put our first song “Je veux te voir” on MySpace in September 2005 and we received lots of messages, and one from our actual label.

AS- What inspired you to write the song “Je veux te voir” formerly “Short Dick Cuizi”?

Y- The song talks about a guy (Cuizinier) from TTC a French electro-rap band. It’s not a diss track but a funny track with lots of references. It’s just an answer for the girls to him, and for all guys, with humor.

AS- Have you talked to Cuizinier since then?

Y- He was the first person that listened to the track. He was not upset at the beginning but I think, because of the success of the song, he became a little bit angry.. But we exchange emails and we are very polite!

AS- What was your initial reaction to the response on MySpace?

Y- Very surprised! Because, of course, it was the beginning of our project with GM but it was really fast and today it continues to be incredible!

AS- What kind of role has the online press and presence played in popularizing your music? How do you feel about it?

Y- Today, Internet is the best media cause it’s easy, fast and international. We use it everyday to find and to give information and of course it was important at the beginning cause we received lots of propositions. We are touring all around the world and Internet really helped us to do it.

AS- How did your album come about?  It seems to have more complex and higher-quality electronic influence than the average electro-pop album that is produced today. What were some of the factors influencing you while writing the songs for this album? Artistic influences or inspirations?

Y- We are really influenced by 80′s songs of artists like Elie & Jacno, Lio, Alain Chamfort and more. It was a cool period cause lots of bands tried to make a different pop with new sounds and new lyrics, very explicit and with fantasy. We tried just to be free and to make the sound we like, a mix between old sounds and new beats!

AS- Lyrically you definitely don’t shy away from explicit topics. How important is it for you to address these types of topics and themes head-on? Did you have any overarching themes in mind, or did any emerge, from your album?

Y- I just want to be free! I come from a generation who want to talk about everything without taboo and I just try to find good words to explain my feelings. We write together with GM and we are always talking about the things we like in our life, and of course in our songs we talk about love, sex, parties, death, freedom, etc..

AS- Your videos are all very interesting visually, playing a lot with colors and some quirky costumes. What influences the style in your music videos and how did you get the ideas for some of the visuals or costumes for each?

Y- It’s the same for the videos, we exchange a lot with GM and we are very interested by the power of image, colour, etc… and it’s important for us to have a global view of our project. So we meet with lots of directors or designers.  Like for the new “Ce Jeu” video clip, we met Yoann Lemoine, who had the same view as us and he introduced us to a cool Belgium designer call Jean-paul Lespagnard.

AS- Have you found any difficulties with the language barrier?

Y- I was thinking it could be a problem one day but it’s crazy cause we are touring all around the world and we have such cool feedback from the different crowds! They like the French songs and my French accent! The only language barrier is my horrible English!

AS- Is this going to be your first American tour? How do you feel about it? What are you looking forward to and what are you anxious about?

Y- Actually we already did a little american tour in April 2008 but this one is bigger! We hope to have fun in each city and to meet cool people and of course give powerful shows!! We want to enjoy this moment and give pleasure to the public!

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2 Responses to “Interview: Yelle”

  1. Nolan says:

    This is way too catchy.

  2. pasta says:

    another great interview Greg! and I agree….way too catchy indeed.

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