Saturday, 31 August 2013

M83: Hurry up we're dreaming (about advertising!)

There are times when TV producers and advertising people seem to be listening to the same music.

Previously Moby's Play album seemed to be a ubiquitous soundtrack to adverts, TV news and magazine features. At other times it was Royksopp's Melody A.M that was the CD that the TV producer and advertising agency executive kept on their desk.

Right now it seems to be the turn of France's M83, who seem to be soundtracking everything on TV at the moment.

Sure, they did a proper soundtrack to Tom Cruise's Oblivon movie, earlier this year, but their work being incorporated into advertising campaigns has probably given them a bigger exposure.

So even if you've not consciously been listening to one of France's biggest musical exports, chances are you know some of their music without even realising it.

For example, Persil uses Outro for their For Whatever Life Throws at you campaign.

The advanced cleaning properties of contemporary French electronica obviously attracted another with Midnight City featuring in a campaign for Ariel.

M83 are also there to help you choose which clothes you wash,  for those who buy expensive American lingerie.

My Tears are becoming a Sea was an appropriately aquatic soundtrack for the UK trailer for the film Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os)

In another promo, Channel 4s' gritty drama Red Riding in 2009 featured the track Gone from the Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts album from 2003

Curiously, it wasn't the band's only association with things Red that involved Riding, the song Just a Fragment of You credited to Anthony Gonzalez from M83 and Brian Reitzell featuring in the soundtrack of the 2011 film Red Riding Hood.

Meanwhile, France's car industry was quick to get wise to the epic and technological sound of M83, using it in the Capture Life campaign for the Renault Captur.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Phoenix: Entertainment: A Take Away Show

With Phoenix's domination of summer 2013 almost complete, another imaginative video has emerged, this time showing the band playing - appropriately - at Versailles.

For most bands such an elaborate location would be strange, but Phoenix are from the neighbourhood so it's kind of their backyard.

The video shows an interesting use of a drone, a small unmanned helicopter equipped with a broadcast quality camera.

We'll be seeing a lot more of these in music videos before too long I reckon, it's certainly a better use of drone aircraft technology than any of the military applications that they've been used for.

In the meantime, thanks to La Blogotheque, another interesting video that deserves your attention.

The website says it is the first of a series of videos they have made with the band. I look forward to more.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Franz Ferdinand at the Hôtel de Crillon

With the release this week of the new Franz Ferdinand album , I thought I'd drop a mention to a great video that emerged by the Glasgow indie rock band.

The band released their fourth collection, Right thoughts, Right Words, Right Action at the beginning of the week, and needless to say they continue the European aesthetic that they've cultivated since the beginning of their career.

Franz Ferdinand are no strangers to this blog, I've featured them a couple of times before, and their involvement with all things francophone shows no sign of abating. They've performed with Jane Birkin on a Serge Gainsbourg number, and just the last weekend played at the Rock en Seine festival outside Paris.

The track Love Illumination emerged in June, the official video the following month, but an interesting video of a performance behind closed doors at a Paris landmark certainly makes interesting viewing.

The video came about as part of a project by the website.

The idea with the series is to take an act with a reputation as a live act, and put them on in a unique location in Paris.

So far the series has featured  Foals at la Bibliothèque de l’Hôtel de Ville., Franz Ferdinand, and Suuns on the stairs of the Grand Palais, in a series of films sponsored by Converse.

The Franz Ferdinand video was shot at l' Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. The hotel, which opened in 1909 in a building that dates from the 18th century at the foot of the Champs Elyseés.

It is currently closed for renovation, and is expected to reopen in 2015.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Daft Punk: Lose Yourself to Dance

The new video for the Daft Punk track Lose Yourself to Dance emerged at the weekend, during the MTV
Video Music Awards.

While the performance by Miley Cyrus was the one that got most of the subsequent headlines, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, along with Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC were also making a strong bid to steal the stage.

However, our eyes were on a  brief clip by France's favourite robots, with a teaser for the video for the song Lose Yourself to Dance.

While it doesn't have the element of surprise that Get Lucky head- the song's familiar to the huge number of people who have either got or heard the album by now - there;s no denying that it's still a great song.

Get Lucky, of course, went on to be the biggest hit they've had so far, and has been by far the biggest single of the year and like its predecessor, it also features Pharrell Williams on vocals.

However, will there be a full-length video for the song? Get Lucky didn't have much more than a minute's worth of pictures released, which were knitted together with footage from other clips that the band released earlier to make a broadcast video. I suppose it didn't exactly slow down the sales of the song.

Hopefully we'll get a full video before too long, if only to stop the music channels repeating the visuals from the One More Time video.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Rock en Seine festival in Paris

This weekend sees the Leeds and Reading festivals taking place in the UK, but the traditional English bank holiday weekend is also the date of the Rock en Seine festival in Paris.

The event's been held since 2003 at the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud park west of Paris. With over 100,00 people in the audience and acts spread over four stages, there are over 60 acts playing.

The three-day event sees acts like Phoenix, Nine Inch Nails and System of a Down on the bill, other acts include ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, Savages and Skip the Use.

Meanwhile, Fauve, JC Satan and Team Ghost are on the bill, three highly recommended French bands.

There also seem to be quite a few Scottish bands on the bill, including  long-term francophiles Belle and Sebastian, indie legends The Pastels and more recent breakthrough act Chvrches.

Meanwhile, Franz Ferdinand play on the Friday night.

I'm still surprised more UK music fans don't make a trip to France for a festival, as at just over 100 Euros for a three day ticket it represents great value and the chance to see 60 acts including some that are playing the much more expensive UK festivals.

And it's in France, which is always a good thing.

It's a busy weekend for Phoenix, who also play at the Leeds and Reading festivals, having already played events like T in the Park and Vielles Charrues festival in France earlier this summer.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

French music report on Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 ran a brief feature on its World at One programme about French music

While it's always funny to hear some of the BBC's plummy voices and polite scripting at its finest, it's heartening to hear their verdict that "Suck it no longer does."

The report features an interview with Acid Washed, and writer Stéphane Jourdain.

They make the case that modern French music has united genres, and that the crackdown on rave culture in the UK led to some of its figures organising events in France instead.

Marc Tessier-Ducros also talks about Air and his involvement with the band, French artist are able to take elements from outside their usual frame of reference to create something new, something purists of genres like German techno are unable to understand.

However, the claim that the resurgence of the French music scene is thanks to Margaret Thatcher is an interesting one, and I suspect one that will have a few music fans choking on their café au lait.

Listen to the report on this page 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Stromae: √ (Racine carré)

This week sees the release of the long-awaited second album by Belgian singer-songwriter Stromae.

The new album, entitled  "√" or "Racine carrée" (That's 'Square root' in English)

The artist, known to his family as Paul Van Haver, became internationally known following the success of his song Alors on danse.

The song reached number one in countries across Europe, including France, even making inroads in the UK where it became probably the best know French songs in recent years.

It led to collaborations with the likes of Kanye West and the Black Eye Peas, his debut album Cheese winning the best dance album award in the Victoires de la Musique in 2011.

The songs Papaoutai and Formidable have been released ahead of the album, Papaoutai reaching number one in France as well as Belgium, Formidable reaching the number one spot in Belgium and top five in France, its hidden camera video being one of the most memorable so far this year.

The album's been a critical success, and this looks set to be mirrored in the album's commercial reception.

Some critics have compared him to Brel, but this might be down to a shortage of instantly recognisable Belgian songwriters, but there's certainly something in their similarly iconoclastic approach.

Stromae's an intelligent and witty operator, who is able to wrap some clever and mature ideas into instantly memorable songs.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Lana Del Rey and Cedric Gervais: Summertime Sadness

A remix of a track by Lana Del Rey by French house DJ Cedric Gervais has given the American singer
songwriter her most successful single so far in her career.

The original version of the track featured on her 2012 album Born to Die and an original version was released as a single with an accompanying video in June that year.

The new version re-engineers the song and has given  the track, co-written by Lana Del Rey and Rick Nowels, another lease of life.

Significantly it looks like it will be a bigger hit as a remix than the original version of the song was when it was released. The new song has given Lana Del Rey her first top 20 hit in the USA.

The video has also been remixed to suit the new imagining of the song.

I've already featured Lana Del Rey on the blog, on account of the videos for the tracks Born to Die and Blue Jeans being directed by Yoann Lemoine, the director better known by his music performance name Woodkid.

Gervais, originally from Marseilles but now living in Miami, had a major hit in 2012 with the track Molly.

He established himself from an early age as a DJ, in St Tropez and Paris, before moving to the US to further his career aged just 15.

 He's been releasing material since 2005, and has two full-length albums Experiment (2006) and Miamication (2011) under his belt.

He has also remixed artists like Katy Perry and Willy Moon.

Lana Del Rey is likely to be a huge star before too long, and theres' little doubt that Cedric Gervais will get a massive boost to his career as a result of his involvement in this track.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Olympe: Zombie

A new video for the song Zombie by Olympe, a singer who shot to fame in France as the  favourite in the
latest series of the French version of The Voice.

The song is a cover of a track by the Cranberries, a regular on  student union jukeboxes in the 1990s. Like the Olympe  video, much of the original was in black and white.

The original  song, released in 1994 on their No Need to Argue album, reached number one in the singles chart in France. It was a far more aggressive song than the Cranberries were previously known for and embraced difficult themes with an appropriately angry sound.

The song was written in protest at the deaths of two children in a IRA bombing in Warrington in England 1993, and makes reference back to the Easter Rising in Ireland, the 1916 insurrection that eventually led to Irish independence from the UK.

There have been previous covers of the song, including a Eurodance version by Italian act ADAM  that reached number 16 in the UK charts in 1995, almost as high as the Cranberries original which only reached number 14.

Olympe may have lost out to Yoann Fréget in the final of The Voice in May, but certainly won the hearts, minds and ears of a huge audience.

The song Zombie was one of the songs he performed during  the show, and it comes from his debut album, entitled Olympe and released in July, which features new versions  of the songs he performed during series.

It follows a video for his cover of Lana Del Rey's Born To Die, another song that cemented his reputation on the series.

A second album by Olympe is expected early next year.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Mélissa Laveaux: Postman

A nice boost fro French Canadian singer-songwriter  Mélissa Laveaux in the UK with BBC Radio One DJ
Lauren Laverne promoting the song Postman as her choice Free MP3 of the day.

You can get the track from Lauren Laverne's blog here >

Her second album  Dying Is A Wild Night was released in France in February.

She released her debut Camphor & Copper in 2006. The following year a remixed  and re-recorded version of the album was released after she won a bursary.

This second version of her debut was released in France in 2008.

She's playing dates in France and elsewhere in mainland Europe, and plays a show in London as part of the Ooh La La festival in October 22.

The album is released in the UK on September 30, and the track Postman as a single on September 22.

Gojira at Bloodstock 2013

A major gig in the UK for French metal act Gojira at the weekend, with their set at the Bloodstock Open Air

Other bands on the bill at the weekend included Slayer, King Diamond, Anthrax  and Lamb of God.

During their set Gojira were joined by Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe

Gojira played at Bloodstock in 2010, but since the 2012 release of their l'enfant sauvage album the band's been picking up critical acclaim and considerable attention.

The album was the band's fifth, and they're matured into one of the most respected bands in the international metal scene.

The album reached the top ten in France.

In June Gojira were awarded the Metal Hammer Golden Gods award for the best live act of 2013.

They've been touring extensively this year, with more dates to come.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Kavinsky: Odd Look

Odd Look has been chosen as the latest track to get a promotion as a single from Kavinsky's album

The track maintains the cool retro/futurist electro sound that he's cultivated, and it fits well with the Terminator influence on the video.

Kavinsky's debut album was only released in February this year, despite his track Night Call featuring in the film Drive, which gave him a massive profile.

Odd Look also featured in a French advert for BMW last year.

Kavinsky is allegedly a fictional character created by Vincent Belorgey, who apparently crashed his Ferrari Testarossa in 1986, and reappeared as a zombie in 2006 to make electronic music.

Whether it's entirely true is open to question, but what is certain is that Belogey was influenced by the electronic soundscapes featured in movies of the 80s.

The track Odd Look has emerged as part of an EP - also titled Odd Look - which features a total of six different versions of the track,  of remixed versions of the track, the original and five remixes.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Evolution of Get Lucky by PV NOVA: Video

I featured this wonderful take on Daft Punk's Get Lucky which reinterprets the song in the style of earlier decades in chronological order in June, but thought another mention of it might be deserved on account of the new video.

PV NOVA, the Paris-based producer behind the track asked people to send in videos interpreting the historic versions of the songs, and received 179 videos in the space of a month.

38 of these were incorporated into the final edit to illustrate a century's worth of Get Lucky.

Of course, I'm sure there will be fuller versions, covers and remixes of the 'historic' versions to emerge in due course.

PV NOVA's debut album Start Again is available to download. You can set your own price for the download album, either take it for free or donate through Paypal, which will help him with his future musical projects.

M83: Claudia Lewis video

A new video has emerged for the M83 track Claudia Lewis, another song that featured on their 2011 Hurry Up we're Dreaming collection.

The video, directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, is the latest to come out as part of MTV's Supervideos series.

The idea of the Supervideos was to bring directors and actors together to make music videos. While not the 'official' videos by the acts involved, they provide an interesting alternative visual take on the song.

Previous videos have included LCD Soundsystem's Pow Wow directed by Training Day writer David Ayer and starring Anna Kendrick, best known for her part in the George Clooney movie Up in the Air that saw her get an Oscar nomination.

The director of the new M83 clip is Bryce Dallas Howard, the daughter of Oscar winning director Ron Howard. She's established herself as an actor and director in her own right

The actress that features in the video is Lily Collins, daughter of former Genesis drummer and 80s solo star Phil Collins.

M83 have of course released the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise movie Oblivion since their last full album, but the new video certainly serves as a reminder that we could certainly be doing with some new material from M83 before too long.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Editorial: August 2013

A warm summer is upon us, and we've been making the most of it before France takes the month of August off.

There's been lost of French bands playing at festivals, whether established acts like Phoenix or Guetta at events like Glastobury or T in the Park to more developing acts like Owlle and Miss Kittin at Lovebox, there's been a higher profile than ever for French acts.

There's more to come this month, of course, with Melody's Echo Chamber and We Were Evergreen playing festival dates. Much to look forward to in the next few weeks.

While I'm sure much of it is down to the popularity of our friends in the metal helmets, I'd like to think that these bands are getting the publicity they deserve on their own merits, for the simple reason that they all sound so different from Daft Punk.

Also pleased to see that we went over a total of 600 posts on this old blog in July, and the number of visitors continues to be healthy.

As always, I can be contacted on johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be.

We're also on Twitter as @viveleroq or you can find me at @karnag

Thanks again to the record companies and promoters who have been in touch, it's always very encouraging, and thanks again to the Institut francais in London and the French Music Office in London.

Merci et à bientôt

John K