Interview: Emotions – Inspirational Fuel for Woodkid
by Julija Kaselyte
There is a name that currently stands out in the music industry: Yoann Lemoine. With his massive talent this Frenchman, perhaps better known to music lovers as Woodkid, has not only directed music videos for the world’s finest – in early 2011 he started his musical career with his record titled “Iron.” In a few days his new EP Run Boy Run and its first single, along with a music video of the same name, will be released.
But let’s start from the beginning and find out more about Yoann – what music he is keen on, why emotions are vitally important for creating music, and finally, how he is enjoying the spring tour.
Julija: What type of music did you listen to the most in your childhood? How does it differ from what you have been listening to lately?
Woodkid: A lot of classical music. My mum listened to a lot of Vivaldi. She listened to Barbara [Streisand], too. My dad listened to Gainsbourg and Simon and Garfunkel. I was more into dance music: from Corona to Ace of Base. I’m a child of the 90’s so all the MTV movement back in the days is definitely part of my DNA. I also listened to a lot of movie scores, so I could listen to them in my bed and recreate my own imaginary movie on top of it. I think, my childhood music is a mix of all the above. It’s definitely classical in a way, but some of the new tracks definitely have a dance potential.
Julija: Where do you draw inspirations for your own music?
Woodkid: Everywhere where emotions exist. Could be paintings, films, food. I need to be emotional in order to create. When I did Iron I was in a very angry and rebellious state of mind. I needed to express those bad emotions and transcribe them into a piece of art. Sometimes when I watch a beautiful sad movie, I want to write a song right after it by transcribing this thing that happens in my body into vibrations. It’s fueling me somehow. I need to be fed with these feelings. I actually never really emotionally feed myself with music.
Julija: How could you describe your creating process?
Woodkid: It’s a lot about having a vision first. As a director I need to see images, ghosts. It’s like memories or colors, textures sometimes, a sense of light. I make it come to life by gathering images, sounds. It comes from a very blurry and abstract starting point and then I elevate my visions, I sculpt them by gathering more images or more sounds, and I try to reach a point where all these references together start making perfect sense to me. I try to find links between images, sounds and emotions. I call it translations. What chord sequence would perfectly represent nostalgia, or a sense of revival, for example? Which sound texture would be marble, or wood? Which sound would be a very bright light?
Julija: What themes do you like to touch upon in your records?
Woodkid: The Golden Age, my first album, is about the transition from childhood to what I call the adult age. I go through all the themes of this adult age, from religion, to war, to sexuality, all the dogmas and social factors that make you become an adult, and make you create your own character. I’ve been very obsessed by that moment when you step outside the door of your house to live your own life, the discovery of freedom. There is a very cinematic sense of movement in time and space in this album, it’s a journey. It ends up in a final mystical / sci-fi / futuristic / narcoleptic ending.
Julija: Do the titles of each song come naturally or do they have special stories?
Woodkid: Very naturally. Each sound and theme inspires my visions and themes. Usually I start to create sentences and concepts around the production and sound quality of the track and the main words that come first, most of the time becomes the title.
Julija: Your new EP Run Boy Run will be out in a few days. How will the sound be different from the Iron EP?
Woodkid: It’s fancier and brighter. It’s a very complex track that goes from very dark and aggressive percussion to a very mellow pop string chorus. It’s very novice to me. There were no choruses really on Iron.
Julija: How much of your personal statements are in your lyrics?
Woodkid: A lot, of course. I get inspired by my own sexuality, my own childhood, my own demons. It’s not an autobiography but I inject a lot of my personal stories and feelings in it obviously. There is something very psychoanalytical in this album, it’s a real testimony.
Julija: Would you like to name a few people that were a true pleasure to work with while recording Run Boy Run?
Woodkid: Well of course my friend Guillaume from The Shoes was a big support for me on this album. He’s a real “sound pimper” as I like to call him. I worked with Julien Delfaud on this album, too, with SebastiAn, and Ambroise from Revolver.
Julija: You are having concerts at the moment. How is the tour going?
Woodkid: The tour is amazing, it’s great to meet your own public, your own fans. I’m always fascinated by the fact that I get to fill venues of thousands of fans sometimes in a places that are so far away in Eastern Europe, only having released one EP. I am very excited about the release of the new album. I can’t wait for people to know all the tracks.
Julija: Which song of yours do you enjoy the most playing live?
Woodkid: For now, I have a blast playing “Run Boy Run.” People get even crazier than on Iron, though they don’t even know the track yet. They jump everywhere and I get pretty hysterical on stage, too. We made an 8 minutes long extension of the track and everybody has a blast playing it on set. Big drumming action. And the final is very epic!
Julija: What would be your dream place to perform?
Woodkid: I would love to perform in Siberia: outdoors in the snow with Russian Choirs, in very harsh conditions, under a massive soviet monument. Have 100 people invited, wearing massive fur coats, and create the perfect mood for my music.