Interview: French Musician Yelle is a Traveling Girl.
by Daniel Haim
Born and raised in Brittany, France, Yelle, or Julie Budet is known for her spirited, explicit lyrics, laid over a booty-shaking pop electro beat. This musical prowess was expertly showcased in ‘05 with the track “Je Veux te Voir” or in English “I Wanna See You.” The minute this humorous track (taking a friendly jab at French rapper Cuizinier) was placed on her Myspace page, it garnered 2000 plays in just two days.
Now very much at ease on stage with her fluro tights, the brunette with attitude drops her first album, which echoes a certain nostalgia for the golden years of French Electro-pop (Étienne Daho, Elli et Jacno, Alain Comfort, Taxi Girl) but all boosted with her own flavored groove and subtle vibe into some booty-pop, revealing the story of a shameless girl with a strong character.
Yelle may be young and pretty, but she is also a very explosive character entering a slightly rigid French pop scene. This stage freak with a unique flow is fully driving the new non-aggressive girl power scene, focusing on delivering a kick-ass lyrics. She also doesn’t take herself seriously and is refreshingly laid back, especially when she proudly covers the song “A Cause des Garçons” which translates to “What We Do For Boys” French ’80s anthem.
Yelle grew up with music, her dad being a famous musician in the Côtes d’Armor region, where she still lives today. She played the piano, then went on to acting, and played in a few bands that never made it past the rehearsals, but whatever: she knew she was a born performer.
Five years ago, she met Grand Marnier at a party. This young musician and producer was going back and forth between his own band and his dorm room where he was making beats on his computer. Although his teens were all about rock music, he was drawn to electronic music after listening to the Beastie Boys and started mucking around with his machines. Yelle started singing on Grand Marnier’s demos just for a laugh at first, but the combination was deadly and ended up producing an electro pop album all in French if you please. Yelle’s golden voice was in the house.
Daniel: Who are your major influences and what motivates you to make the awesome music that you do!
Julie: I grew up in a musical universe, my father is a musician and i wanted to be a singer since I’m his little girl. I had two music groups when I was a student and when I met Grand Marnier we decided to become “YELLE.”
Daniel: Having traveled around the states what are the differences between the crowds and what has been the craziest experience so far?
Julie: It’s our second time in the states and it’s really cool to travel in a van around the country–meeting people and perform in many different places. We were in South America last week and the crowd was totally crazy. They showed us lots of love so I hope it will be the same in US. It’s a good beginning, Dallas was very cool, and Austin, TX was amazing. For the moment, we have good surprises. Just one thing that make me sad: it’s difficult to eat light.
Daniel: Which songs do you perform more frequently?
Julie: We play about 12 songs per night and it’s like a rock DJ set, mixing our songs.
Daniel: Music is a universal language and you’ve been traveling the world with your album, What do you think about your fans that are able to connect to your music even though they don’t understand the language?
Julie: I was thinking it’ll be a problem at the beginning, but today I can see it’s not. I think maybe the language is exotic for Americans, even if they don’t understand the lyrics they can understand the spirit.
Daniel: Has the industry changed you?
Julie: The music industry is changing and it’s important to think about it and to be reactive and find good ideas. I don’t think it changed me deeply, but you must keep it in mind. It’s all about virtual diffusion, and real shows.
Daniel: What has been in your eyes your greatest accomplishment so far?
Julie: I’m a very happy girl today, lots of cool things happen to us and it’s crazy.
Daniel: Are there plans for you to record any of your songs in English?
Julie: First of all, my English is kind of cheap. I love singing in French and i guess people like it too. I love the idea to release the next album in 10 languages, like crooners, it could be fun.
Daniel: Who directed the video clip ‘Ce Jeu’ and who came up with the treatment?
Julie: “Ce Jeu” music video was directed by Yoann Lemoine. He is a great young director. Yoann has been following us on the “C’est l’Amerque” tour recording a documentary. He is into our music since the beginning, it’s really nice to work with people who really like you and your music. Moreover, he is really funny when he is a bit drunk.