After rocking out recent gigs at Colette we get to sit down with the well mannered French hipsters and find out about their new album and up and coming US tour
La Femme, French for ‘the woman’, consists of Clémence, Sasha, Marlon, Sam and Noé – although this it likely to change at every gig. They come from all over the Gallic turf, sing in French and like to wear stripy tops and bérets on stage. After causing ecstatic riots during their recent gigs at Colette, and the Jalouse Rocks Paris music festival, they have just self-recorded their first album and are getting ready for a tour round North America. We met the hyperhipsters with good manners in a café in the East of Paris, talked Eiffel Tower, America, and selling out (or not).
Dazed Digital: Who is la femme? Is it Clémence, the singer and only girl of the band?
La Femme: La Femme is definitely not Clémence, it’s not one single girl. La Femme is a solar system, and the actual members of the band are all only loosely attached to it and can fluctuate: for example, we went touring round the States for three months and Clémence wasn’t there for most of the trip, she couldn’t make it. So instead, we brought two other female singers, one American girl, one girl off on a surf trip.
DD: You sing in French, is that a statement?
La Femme: We sing in French, yes. Why do it in English? It’s not our language, so many bands here do it, which is a shame because French is a very rich language. Sometimes we sing in English, but it’s total, random nonsense. France seems to be trendy too these days: in the States, everyone was listening to Yeye Singer.
DD: How would you describe your music?
La Femme: Our music sounds bi-polar, solar, psycho Berlin. We try to describe our sound with a city if possible.
DD: And what are your key musical inspirations?
La Femme: We are inspired by music throughout the 20th century: early jazz, surf, rockabilly, rock n’roll, everything except recent r’n’b and acid smooth jazz.
DD: What would you do if you weren’t musicians?
La Femme: We’d make drawings, open a restaurant, a tearoom. We feel like artists more than strictly musicians, and for our gigs we try to do as much of it by ourselves as possible: the visuals, the photos too.
DD: Does this artistic process continue when you’re on stage?
La Femme: When we can, we have one big mono-keyboard, and we all wear white t-shirts and have projections on them. We already have tons of ideas for when we have more money: we’d like to have gigs when we all looked like we hanged ourselves. Or have one where we’re up to the waist in jelly.
DD: Are you hipsters?
La Femme: What do you mean by hipsters?
DD: What do you mean by hipsters?
La Femme: The hipster used to be the guy who is anti-conformist, in search for the latest everything. Today, hipsters are hyper-conformists, slightly snobby, and just follow what everyone else is doing. We’re worth than hipsters! We go to places that will be trendy in 20 years. But we have good manners, we never show up at a party empty handed.
DD: You’re not just hipsters, you’re also very French ones…
La Femme: Yes, we played on that a lot when we toured round the States: we wore bérets and stripy tops on stage, and kept making crêpes for everyone. When people asked us where we lived, we told them we lived on top of the Eiffel Tower, and that everyday, we biked to Montmartre to paint.
DD: Is there any venue you’d refuse to play in?
La Femme: Yeah, what’s that place called again, Le Scopitone? We turned that down recently. It’s a horrible place and they’re not nice people. If we’re going to play at Le Baron, fine but squeeze as much money out of it as possible, don’t reject this world, take what you can and go. We were asked to play at the Soho house in New York and asked for 5000 dollars, so they refused of course. But overall, we don’t mind America. They’re less scared than the French, they don’t need a validation to believe in something. If they see potential, they just go for it.
Photo: Clement Dauvent