THE INTERVIEW: YELLE
French electro-pop sensation YELLE has been steadily taking the U.S. by storm with her recently released album Pop Up. She fits snugly into that category of girl singers with something to say. Though her music is in French, it doesn’t even matter. Her live shows are high energy and her videos are colorful, being heavily influenced by the 80’s. I had the chance to talk to her about her new album, what makes her tick, and what we can expect when she plays at Webster Hall next week on October 14th.
How did you get your start in music?
I was born into a family of musicians. My father was a singer since I was born. I have always been a musician, in my heart at least!
How did you end up working with GrandMarnier, who’s a really great producer and beatmaker and Tepr who’s a pretty badass remixer on your album?
Actually GrandMarnier is Yelle too. We are a team made up of two parts. He has produced and co written since the beginning. Then we met Tepr. We asked him to play live with us and help on the production of Pop Up.
Your music has been described as electro-pop and you’re in this new crop of female singer’s writing brutally honest songs. Instead of comparing you to other artists, how would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
Electro pop is right. I mean, we have so many influences…but I think we do something easy to listen to, so “pop” and “electro” is the way we produce the music. “Fresh,” “dance,” and “fun” are words I would use to describe the sound too.
When you were working on putting songs together for the album Pop Up, were you going for a certain sound and style?
We were totally free about the music as we knew the lyrics and my voice are the link. When we are in the studio, it’s a recreation and it’s just about having fun and being happy. We record without questioning what we’re doing.
What are some of your favorite tracks off your album Pop Up and why?
I think “Tristesse/Joie” is one of my favorites. The song is about death, but it’s written in a light way. It was a challenge to write about something very dark, with a sweet result. I also love “Femmes,” about love between women, just because it makes me a bit… horny. Ahah, in a tender way.
The video for “Je Veux Te Voir” has an awesome Jane Fonda’s Workout vibe to it. How did the concept come about?
Aahah, yes, I love that style. It’s all about simple, sharp, and strong colors. It’s very graphic. We had that in mind with the song “Jogging” which is about competing to be pretty, so we naturally used it, and used a sample of it at the beginning of the video.
I hear there’s a story behind that hit single “Je Veux Te Voir.” Care to share
Yes, it’s kind of a funny diss song. It’s about fake “pimp” boys, illustrated with Cuizinier, a French rapper. But there is no hate behind it, just fun from girls to a boy. Even if he and his crew hate me now, since the little “success” of the song.
It’s pretty safe to say that fashion plays a major role in your videos and live shows. Where do you draw inspiration from and how important is it in defining what you do?
My inspiration is just the way I live and the songs we do. Again, just having fun, including bright colors, sex, sport, friends, etc. So it’s all natural for me to wear clothes a bit “freestyle” designed, with colors and cool shapes! Pierre, my French publicist, is really into fashion too, so he helps, and GrandMarnier has a lot of ideas too.
When you were recently touring in the U.S., did you find that the music translates well live with American audiences who may not speak French?
Yes!! It was a BIG surprise!! I think they love a few expressions, like “c’est comme ça”, you know, catchy things in the chorus. It’s always fun to learn foreign words. But I also think they like the music, which is catchy and danceable. It’s so nice to see the crowd dancing and trying to sing in French. Like French people trying to sing in English.
With the American presidential election coming up, who would you most like to see as the next U.S. president, McCain or Obama and why?
Obama. It’s closer to my way of thinking. Power to the people!
What can fans and future fans look forward to at your live show in NYC at Webster Hall on October 14th?
Full of energy and color!
Download – Yelle – Je Veux Te Voir.Mp3