In support of their recently released album Complètement Fou, French electro-pop group Yelle play Toronto’s The Mod Club tonight as part of their North American Tour. Ahead of the show, we Skyped Julie Budet — the leading lady of Yelle — to discuss singing in French, blue popcorn, accidentally meeting Drew Barrymore, and American music. Here’s what she had to say:
AMBY: Hey Julie, thanks for speaking with me today.
Yelle: No problem!
AMBY: Congrats on the recent release of your new album Complètement Fou. What was the experience like recording your third album?
Yelle: It was new experience for us because it was the first time we were not just recording in our studio. It was the first time we opened a new door of creation; we had a new producer and a new writer. It was a totally new start and I think it gave us some freshness.
AMBY: Your past two album titles also have fun and vibrant names like Pop Up and Safari Disco Club. I believe the translation of Complètement Fou is something like “Completely Crazy”? Am I right?
Yelle: Exactly, right.
AMBY: Ah, good.
AMBY and Yelle: [laughs]
AMBY: I feel the title suits this band because you’re the type of artists where if you want to be crazy, you’re going to be crazy. For you, what’s the significance of the title mean?
Yelle: There are a few references. At first, the name of the album is a name of a song that was on the record called Complètement Fou. The song is about how we do whatever we want and we aren’t thinking of anything else; we try to be honest with people and have fun doing music. Our music started in France and is making its way over to other places, which is important to us. We also met Dr. Luke on this new record and it’s an incredible story… We couldn’t believe he was into our music and when he asked if we wanted to do something together, we were all like “what?” I kept thinking, “you are Dr. Luke and we’re just some little band.” It was kind of crazy and the whole process of being in LA with him was a great experience. It’s more in that sense of crazy.e
AMBY: You mentioned how your music is coming over to countries other than France – is that one of the reasons you kept this album title in your native language compared to the first two being in English?
Yelle: It’s really important for us to keep the French – it’s of course our native language and it’s impossible for me to think of singing in English. I like the way we can play with words and have fun with rhymes, it’s totally something different when you have to do that in another language. It’s a little bit strange because even though people don’t understand us, they still sing everything. Someone after our show in Boston told me that they don’t understand what I’m saying, but they love the vibes and dancing with us. That’s okay for me. If people just want that, it’s fine. For people who want to know the words and the translation, they can –
AMBY: There’s an app!
Yelle: Exactly. Lots of people want to understand but they don’t speak in French, so we made this as something funny but would also have a translation. I don’t really understand why us, but that’s okay. It’s like that and I like it [laughs].
AMBY: The record’s artwork has your face sitting in what looks like flower pedals, green golf balls, and blue popcorn. It’s aesthetically beautiful. Where did the idea for these photographs come from?
Yelle: We wanted to have something really colourful and strong and wanted to find a theme in between the US culture and the French culture. We realized that the popcorn was something crazy that is known in the US. Since I was a little girl, I was always fascinated about popcorn! I like the fact that each popcorn is unique and there is something really strong for me with how every grain is different. It’s like a notion between the two countries. We wanted to have my face a little bit closer to people, but hidden because I keep my secrets [laughs]. It’s kind of different and we like the strong aesthetic.
AMBY: In support of the album, you just embarked on a North American Tour. With the title being – let’s see how I pronounce it this time – Complètement Fou…
AMBY: What’s one of the craziest things to happen to you while touring?
Yelle: We’ve had some really great experiences. One day we were playing in Austin, Texas and at the end of the show we went to the dressing room. There was a girl and she was smoking, so a guard asked if she could finish her cigarette outside. She left and someone told me, “I think she’s the girl from ET, you know?”
AMBY: That’s too funny. Drew Barrymore?
Yelle: Exactly! I was thinking, “no, that was not Drew Barrymore…” She came back and it was actually her, it was Drew Barrymore. She started talking to me and saying how much she loved the music and our songs and is a big fan. She then fell on her knee and I was like WHAAAT. It was a crazy moment. I told her I was a big fan and it was so funny.
AMBY: It’s great to see how many of your fans aren’t from France and how the music is being listened to everywhere. I read in another article that you’re very interested in American music. Which American artists are you listening to at the moment?
Yelle: I’m a big fan of pop music in general and I really like a pop singer like Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, or Beyonce because I feel they are pretty strong females and I like that. It’s all kind of Gwen Stefani-esque for me because she’s the queen because of No Doubt and her whole career; she can manage to have a family but still be rocking with her band. I also like listening to Beck; I like how he’s reinventing himself on each album.
AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about yourself that most of your fans don’t know yet?
Yelle: That’s a tough one. I’m on Instagram and am sharing a lot of things… I’m sharing of photos of my dog to ones of my butt during a yoga session [laughs]. I feel I have no real big secrets.
Thank you Yelle, for giving us your answers!
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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout