Christine & The Queens have made history being the first French female artists to be nominated at the Brit Awards for the International Female Solo Artist gong. Here is a list of what should come next to our stores from the other side of the channel.
Historically, the French had their fair share of pop icons during the 60s, with the likes of Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan and Brigitte Bardot. And although we can’t turn back the tides of time, there are ways of exciting acts popping up in the present to the point where one could question if there is a rebirth of great French pop arising. Artists such as indie pop sweetheart Christine & The Queens already proved to the world that French music isn’t exclusively about the ‘French touch’ anymore – especially considering the likes of Daft Punk and Phoenix now enjoying success on the other side of the Atlantic. Clara Luciani, Michelle Blades or Laure Briard’s music may not be familiar to you yet, but they’ve already been working with some of the most exciting acts and record labels of the industry. Catch them before they become big !
Cléa Vincent, (who mostly made a name for herself with her two first EPs, Non mais Oui 1/2 and Non mais Oui 2/2) has more to offer than her D.I.Y. Pop and refreshingly profound lyrics. Also known in France as a member of the project Garçons alongside Carmen Maria Vega and Zaza Fournier and her now celebrated parties exploring different decades of music, her solo debut album, Retiens mon désir, is definitely a piece worthy of your time. Loaded with nostalgic synths and melodies reminiscent of the 70’s which France Gall would certainly be proud of, Cléa Vincent is unquestionably one to keep an eye on, as shown by her touring schedule which includes Russia and Central America later this year. “I’d rather perform a thousand gigs in front of one person, than one gig in front of a thousand people”, she tells us. France already proved her wrong, as her release party, back in December at La Maroquinerie, was sold out weeks in advance.
Former member of the cover band Nouvelle Vague (and the French rock band La Femme), Clara Luciani is only 24 but her music is surprisingly mature. Her songs are romantic and minimalist, and she’s not afraid of speaking from her heart. Her lyrics, warm and soulful, talk about love with the most exquisite poetry, without any filter or artifice. Somewhere over her model-like figure and delicate fringe floats the aura of a young Françoise Hardy, who would have been possessed by the soul of Alain Bashung. Inspiring, and definitely moving.
Fishbach was one the highlights of Transmusicales last year, and her seminal album, À ta merci, signed to the Parisian independent record label Entreprise (Moodoïd, Grand Blanc) has brought France to its knees. Evanescent, lunar, sensual but also remarkably dark and theatrical, Fishbach, a.k.a Flora Fischbach, instantaneously bewitches all the audiences she performs for. French journalists have a lot to say about her hypnotic shows, and they are definitely worth the trip. “The bottle doesn't matter, as long as you reach drunkenness”, once said Alfred de Musset. Well, that’s probably true, but Fishbach has a hell of a bottle to get you intoxicated.
Former journalist and piano enthusiast since an early age, Juliette Armanet dropped the camera to embrace the pen for good in 2014. L’amour en solitaire, that she’s been performing for two years across the country before finally releasing it in December, emphasizes her obsessional appreciation for sober arrangements and candid melodies. Her strength? Her high-pitched voice, reminiscent at some point of Jane Birkin’s, and always showcased with the most meticulous attention. Her debut album has been announced for 2017.
Does the name Alma Jodorowsky sound familiar to you ? It wouldn’t be surprising, as she is the grand-daughter of the Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Holy Mountain). She’s also an actress, seen in Blue is the Warmest Colour and alongside Cara Delevingne in Kids in Love, and a Lancôme ambassador since 2014. The 25 year old “it-girl” – she hates the expression - turned to music a few years ago, and founded the band Burning Peacock with David Baudart. Their first album, Love Reaction, is produced by none other than Jean-Benoît Duckel (Air). And needless to say, it keeps all its promises. Supported by a Lynchian and indie aesthetic, the project brilliantly brings together French and Anglo-Saxon pop music, and finally finds its own way between the melancholic joy of Camera Obscura and the chic ambient vibe of the classic piece Moon Safari.
Unlike Cléa Vincent and Fishbach, whom she’s great friend with, Michelle Blades was not born in France but in Panama. Raised in Miami, she then left the city and moved to Arizona, where she fell in love with the local indie scene. Four albums later, she still seems to be lost somewhere between punk and folk, experimental ventures and bedroom music, teenage dreams and teenage lust. “I don’t want to become Christine and the Queens, I want to be Brian Eno”, explains Michelle to Villa Schweppes about her last album, Polylust, thought as a collection of “prototype” songs. One thing’s for sure, with Polylust, her nocturnal and arid “fuck off” to pop music, Michelle Blades might not yet become Brian Eno, but she definitely managed to steal a bit of the desert’s wilderness. And that’s always something to start with.
Laure Briard is definitely one of a kind. One look at Sur la piste de danse’s video, released last summer, is enough to understand that the native of Toulouse knows her cha-cha-cha by heart. She considers herself to be a free spirit, and even though she has joined the likes of Midnight Special Records (like Cléa Vincent et Michelle Blades) for her two last releases, she recorded her first EP with Julien Barbagallo, who plays drums in Tame Impala, and her first album was signed to the Californian indie record label Burger Records, which has become known for releasing most of its material on cassette. The Toulouse native sings either in English or French, and doesn’t want to be labelled. Is it pop music or variété ? Laure Briard doesn’t care, and neither should you. As fresh as a pâquerette*, en français. *English daisy