Few artists can break down language barriers and find success, yet Yelle, a French Pop Artiste, can certainly state that claim as she has done just that. Her music, despite being sung entirely in French, has gone global and specifically infecting English speaking countries with her sound, yes sound. Listen to her album Pop-Up and you’ll understand. The electro-pop sounds make you euphoric and you can’t help but dance. Her live show takes the energy of the album and multiplies it by a 1000, giving you a feeling that you’ve just enter an aerobics session. So it was a great pleasure to have a chance to interview her last month, touching on topics such as how the group started, musical and fashion influences and a host of other topics.
Killahbeez: Hi Yelle, thanks for taking the time and doing this interview with us.
Yelle: No prob!
KB: So for those who are new fans of Yelle, can you breakdown how the group formed with you, GrandMarnier and Tepr and why the group decided on the name Yelle?
Yelle: I met GrandMarnier first and we became good friends. We decided to do music together in 2005 and we chose the name Yelle at the beginning for “you enjoy life” and it was just YEL, but then we decided to feminize it with one more L and E! Tepr met GrandMarnier because he used to be a journalist and he was writing an article about GM’s previous band. We asked him to join us on stage and for the album in 2006.
KB: Your album, Pop-Up, has a fun and playful sound to it, how do you translate that to the stage and bring that energy out?
Yelle: The live show is like an extra power of the album. It’s like a dj set with the energy of instruments (GM on the drums, Tepr on keyboards, me singing and hitting my floor tom). Performing live is what we prefer; we are a rock band when we are on stage!
KB: [laughter]. Yeah I couldn’t agree more.
KB: Writing for this album, how much of the lyrics are about your life and how much of it is just about a 25 year old girl (which you happen to be as well) living life and having fun?
Yelle: With GM (GrandMarnier) we find the theme in our life, in my real 25years old girl life! Of course it’s funny to imagine some stories but it’s always apart of reality!
KB: So do you feel that singing in French has been a barrier at all to breaking into the North American market, or do you feel like good music is good music and people don’t necessarily care about the language?
Yelle: It’s maybe exotic for English speaking people to listen French songs. But yes the music is very important and if the people are curious they’ll try to find the translation of the songs. It’s not a barrier, we have this particularity and it’s cool!
KB: Yeah I was definitely initially drawn to the energy of the music before diving into the lyrics a bit more.
KB: How would you describe your sound? I mean in some songs there are times when it definitely sounds like you are rapping, yet maintaining a pop / electro vibe.
Yelle: We did a real electro pop album with some fantasy sounds. I think I’m more a singer than a rapper; my rap is so old school! I discovered the rap music with Warren G and Snoop Dogg when I was a teenager and yes I like that!
KB: You mentioned Snoop Dogg and Warren G, who or what else influences your music and sound?
Yelle: I’m a big fan of Pop music with Madonna, Blur, Prince, and more and I was listening lots of rock bands and French singer when I was young, with my parents. Then I had a crush on Daft Punk, with my bro.
KB: Speaking of Daft Punk, a lot of French artists, such as Daft Punk, Justice, DJ Mehdi, SebastiAn and including yourselves, are getting a lot of recognition in the US. Do you feel like each of you are influencing one another with your sounds?
Yelle: It’s not the same sound, and not the same crew. We appreciate them but we can’t say they are an influence, except Daft Punk, for sure, cause they do have songs, you know what I mean, it’s not only about sound, it’s about songs. But we are from the same generation yes, and we all watched the Fresh Prince!
KB: So changing topics here, in all your pictures and in all your videos you’re so well dressed. Who or what influences your fashion sense? Any favorite designers or pieces of clothing that you can’t live without?
Yelle: I like to play with my outfits for a long time! I like to wear colors but black and white stuffs too! I just like to have fun with my style like in my life so I’m a big fan of designers like Jeremy Scott, Andrea Crews, JP Lespagnard or JC de Castelbajac who are really into pop art, they have lots of fun in the way to dress people! I’m a big fan of bags and shoes!
KB: Would you ever think of starting your own clothing line?
Yelle: We have some merch on tour and on a web site call www.recreation-center.com! Creating a clothing line is one of our project, yes.
KB: Going back to the topic of music, Tell us a bit about your experience at Coachella, what was it like performing at such a huge festival? Do you prefer big venues or smaller more intimate venues?
Yelle: Playing in Coachella was totally crazy and amazing!! We were a little bit nervous cause we were playing at the same slot of Portishead but the crowd was there, they were dancing and screaming, it was a very good night for us! We like to play sometimes in little venue to be closed from people but it’s really intense and fun to be on a huge stage too!
KB: What’s next for Yelle, any other projects or collaborations that you can talk about?
Yelle: Katy Perry just asked us for a remix, we did it, but now we really want to focus on the next album. Can’t wait to go back in studio and work.
KB: Anything else you want to say to your fans that read this?
Yelle: We love you!