Yelle Uncovered: Exclusive Interview

While on tour for the promotion of her last album, Complètement Fou, the  French Electronic singer Yelle talks about the past and looks to the future.

Since the buzz created around the track “Je veux te voir” in 2008, Yelle has become one of the most famous French Touch ambassadors, and one one of the most iconic French Electronic music characters. Last September, her third album Complètement Fou (Totally Crazy) was released. The American music producer Dr. Luke collaborated with Yelle for the production of this album. He helped her to focus on melody without losing the originality and the unique sound that the band had built through the years. Yelle herself describes this album as the most experimental compared to the others.

2 singles from this last album have been already released: “Bouquet final” and “Complètement Fou.”


Yelle, an international success

“It is hard to explain my success outside of France. I think everything started in 2008 when the US TV channel MTV U nominated us as “Artist of the week”. The same year, we played for the first time at the Coachella Festival in California and artists such as Katy Perry tweeted a lot about our music. The buzz created by these three things together generated curiosity about us all over the world.”

“Since our debut album, we have been able to renew our live performances and we regularly offer new tracks to the audience. That way, we keep the interest of long time fans and continue to attract new fans. It is hard to compare audiences from different countries. For example, it is more complicated to tour twice a year in France while this is possible in other countries. It is all about the needs of our fans.”


Lyrics in French, so what?

“I always sang in French and I don’t have the desire to sing in English, like other French artists or bands do. I love singing in French, it is such a beautiful and sexy language. I want to defend this part of who I am and defend this language with my music. Yelle’s lyrics will remain in French even if we started to add a few words or sentences in English in the last album.”

“I’d be interested in singing in English for a specific project, like a collaboration with another artist. A collaboration with Mac DeMarco or Dev Hynes of the band Blood Orange would be great. They are both artists that I appreciate a lot and who are very far from my universe. That would probably give something original and interesting. This kind of project, yes, I’d love to do it!”

Romantic relationships 

“My lyrics, which are indeed more accessible to French speakers, talk a lot about relationships between men and women. This is a recurrent theme. This is part of who I am. Just like I need to talk and share about this with my friends, I need to write about it and include my experiences, fantasies or questions that I have in my music.”

“I don’t have a common approach to this theme. I defend the right to choose, the right to experiment in romantic relationships, and in life in general. I am a storyteller. I write about the different aspects of love: heartbreak, desire, fantasies, a night of sex, etc… This theme is endless and I feel I always have something to say about it. Also, by having new and different experiences, my thoughts and consequently my lyrics and my music will always be renewed.”


The future

“The album Complètement Fou was released last September and it took us 2 years to conceptualize, write and produce it. 2015 will be totally dedicated to the promotion of this album and touring. If things calm down a little in 2016, we might start to write new productions. It would not necessarily be an album. It could be an EP, like we did with “L’Amour Parfait” that was released between the albums Safari Disco Club and Complètement Fou. We might rethink the process of our musical production releases and work more with EPs. The music market evolves and so we do.”

“Besides Yelle as a singer and a band, I’d love to again have the experience of acting in a movie. I had the opportunity to act in a two different movies in the past and I really enjoyed it. If someone offers me a good project, then I’ll do it without hesitating.”
“Also, at some point in my career, I’d love to produce artists. I want to give my experience to artists or bands that I believe in. I kind of started this activity with my label in France and the band Totorro. This is an instrumental Math-Rock band from Rennes, very far from my world and this is why it is an exciting project.”

This interview was performed on 4/10/15 at Mezzanine San Francisco. In addition to Yelle, I’d like to thank Mikelle Schwartz, Rachael Dwork and Laurence Muller  for making this interview possible.