I spoke to Julie Budet early last week to talk about Complètement Fou, Yelle’s brand new record release which has spawned a slew of tour dates in North America and Europe over the next couple of months; one of these stops will be in New York at Irving Plaza tomorrow night (10/10), and another in DC at 9:30 Club on Saturday (10/11). If you haven’t given the record a listen yet, you are missing out SO HARD…I’ve had it on heavy rotation since I got an advance several weeks ago, and the strong mix of ultra-dancey tracks with some more down-tempo ones makes it pretty impossible to get tired of.
Now, I have to tell you that I am probably more excited about the upcoming shows than anyone on the planet, because I have essentially been waiting six years to rectify a missed opportunity in Buenos Aires (of all places); I had tickets to see Yelle at Niceto Club in the fall (or spring, depending on which part of the hemisphere you identify with) of 2008, but because I had to take a last-minute trip to the north of Argentina I wasn’t able to go. (And it was THE WORST.) But FINALLY I have a chance to redeem myself, and so I spoke to Julie about what we can expect song-wise from the upcoming gigs. We also talked about that gigantic ear of corn that appears in the amazing video for “Complètement Fou”, as well as Julie’s thoughts on flat soda, the afterlife, and much much more. Read up on all that below, grab some tickets to the live show(s), and DEFINITELY pick up a copy of Complètement Fou, because it is seriously just so SO good. Here we go:
So first of all, CONGRATULATIONS! The record is officially out, which is SO exciting because it is SO GOOD! Was there a specific idea or feeling that you wanted to convey going into it, or did the narrative and sound fall into place more naturally as you were working on it?
Yeah, it’s more about that. We had ideas about the new songs, but we couldn’t find a link between lots of the things we had in mind. When we started working on the songs, we said, “Okay, we don’t want to put limits on the compositions or the writing, so we’ll see what happens.” At the end we realized we had a few songs talking about relationships, love, sex, and it’s actually a good mix…it’s a good balance between the dancey songs and more…maybe deeper songs.
And did you feel any more pressure (or maybe even less pressure) in making this record to when you did the second? What was the general vibe?
I think we were just really proud of both Pop Up and Safari Disco Club, and so we took the time to enjoy it. It’s important for us to enjoy every moment of touring, of playing every night in front of people, and it’s also really important to stay away from music for a few months after that, to digest what we just lived. And after that, it’s kind of a renewal; sometimes you have to wait a long time from the beginning to the end to have something concrete and finished, but our mood was very free. We didn’t have a label or deadlines, so we said, “Okay, let’s start something new and see what happens. Maybe in three years we’ll still be at the same point, or maybe in two months we’ll have some songs and be ready for something new.” So it’s just a question of that mood, you know, and whether or not you feel free.
Right. And I’m sure working with Dr. Luke was amazing, but was the experience something you’d like to repeat in the future in terms of working with someone else in that capacity?
Yeah, I think we’ll do it again. It’s like, you’re happy in your little place and with your way of doing things, but you think, “Maybe if I change my way of doing this, it could be good.” We had the chance to do something different, and I think it really helped us to have a fresh view of how to make a song. The experience of that (the way he worked on melodies and song production…the whole process) I think it really helped us to have a new vision of how to make music in a different way. I think we would do it again for sure.
Cool. And so tell me about the AMAZING video for “Complètement Fou”…first of all, the clothes in and of themselves are incredible. Did you have a favorite outfit that you wore?
I think I really liked the white outfit I was wearing on the corn. [Laughs] It’s really pure and simple but weird in a way, and actually, I really like that moment of the music video…I really like the corn; it’s a piece of art for us, and I’m super happy to have it in the video. It’s weird, but I really like it.
Yeah, I was going to have you tell me more about the gigantic corn, so let’s just go ahead and get into it right now! Whose idea was it to include that in the video, and what happened to the piece afterwards? Do you just have a huge corn hanging out in your apartment now?
Actually, since the beginning (since we worked on the cover of the record), we wanted to have a link between American culture and French culture, and the popcorn for us is really something strong in American culture; when I was a little girl I was fascinated by it. And so it came from Grand Marnier’s mind (the idea about the corn and popcorn), so we did the cover of the album with my head in this ocean of blue popcorn, and after we realized, “Okay, there are so many things we could do around corn.” And the giant corn in the video is a strong object…it’s like a horse, you can ride it! Grand Marnier is still the man behind that idea. We have a friend in Brittany who’s a plastician, and we asked him if he thought it was possible to create something like a giant corn…
Just a giant corn, no big deal…[Laughs]
Yeah, and he said, “I think I can do it,” so we started the process, which took about four weeks. We still have it; it’s in a place in our hometown. (It’s REALLY BIG!) [Laughs]
Amazing. And do you have any plans to make and/or release videos for the other songs anytime soon?
I think we’re going to wait a little bit, but we have stuff in mind. If we could, we’d like to have a music video for each song. (Of course, you need a lot of money to do that.) It’s fun to have the chance to create something crazy for each song, so I hope we’ll have maybe one, two, three more, but we have to decide on the next single, and it’s still a competition.
Well, as I say (and will likely continue to say), they are all really good, and I wouldn’t be able to choose between them.
[Laughs] Which one would you choose?
Oh my god, I don’t even know…”Moteur Action” is really good, but I also really love “Un Jour Viendra” and “Florence en Italie”…yeah, I really can’t pick. BUT I am about to ask you some questions based very loosely on my interpretations of your song titles, the first being for “Complètement Fou”; what’s the craziest thing in the last year that’s happened to you, or maybe a crazy thing a fan has done for you?
We had some crazy presents from fans on the Safari Disco Club tour, actually. There were a lot of teddy bears dressed like us, cakes…we have really cool fans in Oregon, and they give us popcorn each time we go there. But I think it’s more about the crazy energy every night; it’s really huge to be able to feel people having fun and enjoying the moment, and it makes me so happy to make people dance and have this strong connection with them at a precise moment. And actually, I think we had that in Buenos Aires, because …I don’t know, the crowd there is really crazy and intense. I remember the last time we played it was funny, because the crowd was jumping and it was like a wave, which was a really weird vision to see from the stage. We also had some crazy experiences at Coachella, because the crowd there is incredible. South American crowds are also really intense…they just really give a lot.
Yeah, they’re VERY dedicated, and I know you guys have tons of fans down there so that’s great. Now, the next question is for “Coca Sans Bulles”, so I’m going to ask you if you drink regular Coke, Coke light or no coke at all.
I drink regular Coke; it’s rare that I drink it, but sometimes I like it. (With carbonation, of course, because with no bubbles it’s disgusting.)
Oh my god I know. I think here we’re much more into the individual bottles and cans to have in our homes, whereas I know a lot of other places in the world just go with the big bottles to keep in the fridge, and they go bad after like a day. That’s the eternal struggle every time I go back to Buenos Aires. But ANYWAY, for “Un Jour Viendra”, you’ve been a lot of places with Yelle, but is there anyplace you haven’t gotten to visit that you’d like to?
I’d love to play more in Asia (China, Korea…), and also South Africa; it’s a country I’ve thought about a lot, and I’d really like to go.
Yeah, I’ve heard really good things about South Africa but I’ve yet to go myself. Now, for my last song-based question I’m going to apologize in advance, because I am just not very good at pronouncing French words in the first place, but especially when the phrase exceeds three words. SO, regarding “Dire Qu’on Va Tous Mourir”, yes it’s true that we’re all going to die one day, but do you believe in the afterlife?
Yes, I believe in the afterlife. You know when you go somewhere and you can sometimes feel a really strong energy? I think it’s because something happened there. For me it’s a way of accepting death in a way, because thinking you can have another life afterwards…it’s easier to think about the fact that we’re all going to die. I like the idea of having a different life, and also wondering sometimes whether you dreamed something or lived it in another time and place. I don’t know if we’ll ever have the answer, but I like that we can think about it.
I do too, I do too. Now, you’re about to embark on this tour, so I wanted to ask whether there was any specific song from this record that you’re really looking forward to playing live?
It’s a hard question, because of course we’d love to play every song from the record on stage, but we want to keep the energy and sometimes it’s hard to put a slow song in a set. But we actually are going to play “Dire Qu’on Va Tous Mourir”, so that’s got to have a progression…people are waiting for something crazy from us (dance and happiness and joy on stage), but we’re going to play that song because it’s important for us and an important moment in the set. So maybe I’ll say that one.
Okay, and what about the older songs? Is there any one in particular that you still really love to perform?
I’m still really happy to play “Je Veux Te Voir” because it’s kind of a highlight of the night. I know people are waiting for it in a way because it’s a strong song, and I know people will be really happy to hear it.
Definitely. Now, what is important for you to keep around when you’re traveling on tour? Any survival items?
I like to have a silk scarf that I got from home years ago, because I have to protect my voice and I use it every day, but I think about home when I wear it. It smells like home to me. [Laughs]
And you will obviously be away from home for a while on this tour with all of the different stops…are you looking forward to visiting (or re-visiting) anyplace in particular?
Of course we’re really happy to be back in towns we’ve already visited, but I’m really curious about cities we’ve never been, like Cleveland…I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I’m really curious about it. And we’re going to visit countries in Eastern Europe, so I’m really interested to see how the crowds there will react. But each time is a new experience.
Remember to grab tickets to see Yelle at Irving Plaza tomorrow night (10/10) and at 9:30 Club Saturday night (10/11). Also DEFINITELY snag a copy of Complètement Fou, and follow Yelle on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news.