Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Charlotte Gainsbourg: Runaway

A memorable performance by Charlotte Gainsbourg on French music show Taratata, with a cover of Kanye West's Runaway.

It's been a busy month for her, having scooped the Victoires de la Musique award for best female artist at the ceremony at La Seine Musicale on the outskirts of Paris earlier this month.

She was on the shortlist with Catherine Ringer and Louane. There's pretty much no doubt in my mind that she was the obvious victor.

She's also just begun her tour, promoting her Rest album, with a date in Geneva so far. Dates are scheduled for Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium next month.

She's also got a show in Paris at La Cigale on March 28 and a sold-out gig in London the following day when she plays the Village Underground on March 29 .

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Grand Corps Malade on C à Vous

Is there a bigger figure at the moment than Grand Corps Malade?

With his new album Plan B released earlier this month, GCM shows his style remains as poetic and his delivery as unique as ever.

If Leonard Cohen had been a French slam artist, he's probably have sounded a lot like GCM.

He appeared on French evening TV show C à Vous as a smooth yet fiery digestif following dinner in the studio.

Beyond the release of his sixth album, GCM is walking tall after his film Patients picking up four nominations for next months César Awards.

The film is shortlisted in four categories in the French equivalent of the Oscars, best adaptation, best first film, best male hope and best film. The films already been a success, an award would be an exceptional achievement.

Mylène Farmer: Rolling Stone video

A new clip by Mylène Farmer is kind of a big deal.

The release of the new music video for Rolling Stone, unveiled in full on TF1 on peak time on Saturday night after a series of short teaser clips were broadcast, gives some idea of her iconic status in France.

She's now probably the country's  biggest musical star, and videos have always played a big part in her career from the 80s to the present day.

Produced by French DJ Feder, Rolling Stone went to number one on its release at the end of January, adding to her record number of chart topping tracks in France. The video should give the song even more attention.

The song's release came as some surprise. It dropped in January, just as final details of the release of Mylène's latest film were emerging. Ghostland, a horror film scheduled for release on March 14, is her first movie role since the 1990s.

Fans will no doubt pick through each frame of the new clip for clues as to where they reckon Farmer's art is at. By the looks of things she's probably been playing a lot of Assassin's Creed. As is her style, Mylène is unlikely to say much.

She is apparently working on a new album, a follow up to 2015's Interstellaires, with rumours of live dates next year. The album is expected later this year, and more details will inevitably emerge over forthcoming months.

Fishbach: Eternité video clip

Fishbach's album gets a UK release, just as a new video emerges for the track Eternité emerges in France.

The video's great, a post-snapchat montage capturing an artist at the top of her game but who doesn't take things too seriously. We'll hopefully be seeing a lot more of over the next year or so.

She deserves some serious promotion in the UK, she's the kind of artist who could establish herself quite firmly here and in the USA. 

Christine and the Queens proved beyond a doubt that there is a potential audience for francophone artists in an English speaking audience that has perhaps been overlooked for too long.

Record companies are now much more conservative than ever, and they'd rather market an artist who has already established themselves than take a chance spending money and nurturing entirely new talent that might or might not deliver in the future.

Fishbach has certainly proved through her success in France with À ta merci that she's an artist already capable of attracting both commercial and critical success. An appearance on the shortlist for the 2018 Victoires de  la Musique for breakthrough live act gave her a platform to a wider public that she certainly made the most of.

She's got shows in Germany at the end of this month followed by dates in north America.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Petit Biscuit: Live in London

If you're in London this weekend, there's a chance to see one of France's finest young DJ/Producers as Petit Biscuit plays at the O2 Forum on Saturday night.

He's just released the track Problems, featuring Lido, as a single. The track comes from his Presence debut album which came out last year.

Speaking about the release, he says: "Me and Lido met in Paris in July 2017. At that time I didn't know him a singer but I loved his production.

"He made me listen to some toplines and I immediately felt like his voice could fit perfectly with a track I made a few months before, drawing inspiration from my first US tour: something between house, pop, and funk.

"There's a mysterious and sensual atmosphere, kind of like a seduction game."

His album's one of those shortlisted in the breakthrough album category of this year's Victoires de la Musique 2018 awards, with the winner announced at the ceremony in Paris tonight.

2017 was quite a year for the Rouen-born 18-year-old, the year closing with him playing arenas around France, including a sold-out show at the Zénith in Paris.

Petit Biscuit has more dates in mainland Europe in forthcoming weeks, before he heads over to north America for a series of shows including the Coachella festival in April.

Barbagallo: UK Tour

A reminder, if any reminder is needed, that Barbagallo begin their UK tour on Monday with a show at the Borderline in London.

Dates follow in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle over the next few days before some shows on the European mainland. Pity he's not playing more dates as a show in Scotland wouldn't go amiss. Maybe next time.

While obviously better known as part of Tame Impala, his work as a solo artist and as part of  Aquaserge secures his place as one of the key figures in France's contemporary psychedelic scene.

Last month saw the release of the track L'échappée, the first to emerge from his forthcoming third album.

His new album  Danse dans les ailleurs,  is due for release at the beginning of March and it already looks like being one of 2018's most significant releases so far.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Victoires de la musique 2018 Best video shortlist

I thought a quick post looking at the three contenders for this year's best video award at the Victoires de la musique 2018, being held in Paris on Friday night.

It's the French music world's big showcase, a televised big budget presentation giving a showcase to the country's talent and introducing many to talent that they may not have previously known.

Yeah, it's pretty mainstream, but always interesting and worth following.

The Best Audiovisual Creation category, to give it its correct title, features three videos, by Orelsan, Gauvain Sers and The Blaze. Each is in their own way a pretty interesting piece of work.

Orelsan: Basique

OrelSan's return was marked with one of 2017's most impressive videos. Shot on a bridge in Ukraine, the rapper made quite an impression with the clip that has so far racked up almost 50m views of YouTube.

The video was by Greg&Lio, who have also made clips for Jain, Booba and Casseurs Flowters.

Gauvain Sers: Pourvu

A more traditional chanson, with a video that plays it straight but with some very nice subtle touches. It comes from Sers' debut album, a number one in France in June.

The video is by French film director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, creator of movies like Delicatessen, Alien Resurrection and Amelie. He's also created music videos for the likes of Etienne Daho, Julien Clerc and Jean-Michel Jarre.

The Blaze: Territory

A video that feels more like a French movie that I want to see more of. The clip illustrated the track from the EP that emerged in February. It's already won the best international dance video and best styling awards at the UK Music Video Awards in October.

Earlier in the year it picked up the Film Craft Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

So who is my money on? I'll have to say Orelsan. It's a striking clip, immediate and taking the artist far beyond his usual audience. It's a simple idea, done well, which tends to be a good guide for a successful video.

We'll see tomorrow evening who picks up the awards.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Paris Music Festival 2018

I thought a quick look ahead to next month's Paris Music Festival was in order, bringing together as it does some of the artists I've featured here recently.

The Paris Music Festival takes place over March 15, 16 and 17 with gigs held at some interesting venues across the city, with ticket prices for each show held down to a reasonable 10 euros.

While some of these take place at regular music haunts, some of the city's more unusual venues open their doors to live music over the weekend. From the American Cathedral or the Bibliotheque Historique de la ville de Paris, museums, churches and cultural centres are among the venues hosting artists.

I like particularly the look of Chapelier Fou and Lenparrot playing at the archeological crypt on the Ile de la Cité on March 15 and 16. Quite a setting for shows.

Other acts playing include Yuksek, playing a DJ set at the Musée Bourdelle, Yan Wagner and Arnaud Rebotini at the closing event on the 17th at L'aerosol.

The festival has come together as a collaboration between the city authorities and the organisers of France's Record Store Day, to create an unmissable event and to put Paris at the heart of international  musical creativity.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

MC Solaar: Eksassaute

A new video by MC Solaar, with the track Eksassaute the latest track from his recent album to get promoted as a single.

The track comes from his Géopoétique album, released towards the end of last year, and one of 2017's most significant hip hop releases. Solaar hadn't released an album in ten years so the appearance of his new collection in November was met with some anticipation.

A number one album, the previous single Sonotone attracted considerable airplay confirming that Solaar had lost none of his poetic touch,

If there's a somewhat nostalgic tone to the start of Eksassaute, it quickly displays an energy and an electro feel couldn't be more 2018.

Solaar's got nothing to prove, he's a pioneer of French hip hop who effortlessly retains his crown.

He's touring extensively towards the end of 2018, with a show at the Accor Hotels Arena in Paris on November 22.

Festival Beauregard

The full line-up for this summer's Festival Beauregard - a four day event in Normandy - has been unveiled, with some great names playing this year.

Depeche Mode are at the top of the bill, which is kind of a big deal, and also at the top are Jack White, The Offspring and Macklemore.

While international acts seem to dominate the top places, there are plenty of French acts throughout, with some of France's most interesting artists taking part.

Orelsan and Nekfeu are two rappers at the top of their game right now, and both are playing. Charlotte Gainsbourg, while a very different artist, is also enjoying something of a critical and commercial glow at the moment on the back of her recent album.

Also on the bill are Girls in Hawaii, Petit Biscuit, Hollysiz and Carpenter Brut. All artists that have been mentioned here in the past, all well worth seeing and all delivering strong new material in recent months.

It remains a difficult economic time for festivals, with competing events taking place over a crowded summer season and prices increasing, but organisers who select the acts well can still succeed and a good mix of respected French acts and some big name international acts is a pretty decent mix for an event line Beauregard.

Its location - close enough to the UK for a weekend visit - and its ticket prices that compare favourably to similar events in the UK makes Beauregard a real proposition for British music fans. Let's not forget it's in France, the weather will be better and the atmosphere will be pretty fine as well.

This year marks the festival's tenth anniversary, and while that might make it a comparative new event compared to some of France's other music festivals, it's certainly proved there is a place for it in the French summer music events schedule.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Voyou: Seul sur ton tandem

Love this video for the song Seul sur ton tandem by Voyou.

The track is one of five that feature on his recently released debut EP On s'emmène avec toi.

The EP's a lovely piece of work by the man known to friends and family as Nantes-based artist Thibaud Vanhooland.

He's previously worked with the likes of Pegase and Rhum for Pauline, acts I've featured on this blog before.

Voyou is signed to Disques Enterprise, one of my favourite French labels and home to talents like Fishbach, Bagarre and Moodoïd.

Looks like he's found a natural home with some like-minded artists.

The video for Seul sur ton tandem is by Vincent Castant who previously directed Jacques' video for the track Dans La Radio, another strange and wonderful visual treat.

Voyou play La Maroquinerie in Paris on April 19.

Angèle: Je veux tes yeux

A striking video by for the track Je veux tes yeux by Belgian singer Angèle.

It follows her debut releae La loi de Murphy which emerged in October last year, a slice of electro pop that attracted considerable attention as much for its franco-english Lily Allen stylings as for its equally memorable video clip.

Angèle, who is the sister of Belgian rapper Roméo Elvis, is currently working on her debut album, which if the strength of her two singles so far is any measure, will be one of 2018's most anticipated releases.

The video for Je veux tes yeux was directed by photographer Charlotte Abramow

Angèle spent much of the closing months of 2017 touring in France and Belgium, and has her first ever show in Paris at Le Trianon on May 22.

Juliette Armanet: L'indien

A new video by Juliette Armanet for the track L'indien marking the release of a special new edition of her Petite amie debut album.

The album, which came out last year and has already been a gold seller in France, is being re-issued this month as a deluxe edition featuring four extra tracks.

2017 was a pretty big year for Juliette, the release of her album being backed by extensive touring of France and sold out shows including La Cigale in Paris. Her work's been compared by some to that of the classic French singer songwriters of the 60s and 70s.

Previous songs from the album including Manque d'amour and L’Amour en Solitaire have helped establish her as another of the current generation of female artists in France that look likely to have long and successful careers.

The new single, with its disco flavour and distinctive video directed by Moodoïd's Pablo Padovani should help draw a little more attention to her quirky but approachable style.

Her album's on the shortlist for the 2018 Victoires de la Musique awards, in the Breakthrough album category.

We'll see at the end of the week if the success she's had in 2017 was only the first step towards greater commercial and public recognition.

Regardless of the outcome of the awards ceremony, Juliette's got more live dates ahead of her all over France including two shows at the Olympia on March 6 and 7 and a festival appearance at Les Francofolies de La Rochelle on July 15.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Editorial: February 2018

If 2017 went out with a sombre note with the passing of Johnny, 2018 seemed to continue that theme with the death of France Gall. 

A few years ago I noticed that in my day job I was having to write an increasing number of obit pieces for stars of the 60s and 70s, as time began to take its toll. Inevitably there will be more losses to the music scene over 2018, that's part of life and there's no escaping it. But no point in getting too maudlin, I've always been keener to celebrate what's happening now and in the future than to dwell on what has been. The likes of Johnny and France Gall will never be forgotten, but those who continue the work these pioneers began deserve our attention.

As I mentioned elsewhere, 2018 has so far been a year of acts I've previously featured on this blog returning with strong new material. Bagarre, Cats on Trees, Feu! Chatterton, Dominique A and Owlle to name just a few.

It's also been worth noting how France's female artists have been getting some serious recognition. Maybe it's a consequence of Christine and the Queens carrying the flag for French music to an international audience like few others have done in recent years, but maybe France has been a more fertile place for female artists over the preceding decades.

While the likes of Mylene Farmer, Jane Birkin and France Gall have been measured by critics in terms of their male collaborators, their enduring careers tell a story of a popular audience that perhaps welcomes the female artist more that the male music critic does.

Did you notice, incidentally, the run of posts featuring female artists in January? It actually wasn't intentional and just unfolded that way, with the likes of Cats on Trees, Mylene, Owlle etc all getting my attention over a period of time and before I noticed there was more than ten female artists in a row.

One other female artists who will hopefully be attracting some attention in the UK in the near future is Halo Maud, who plays live dates across the country supporting Baxter Dury. Many of the shows are already sold out.

Also taking to the road around the UK is Barbagallo, ahead of their new album to be released in March. Their L'echappee video was one of January's real delights, and their album is likely to be one of 2018's real highlights.

There are also London shows from a few key French acts, with Petit Biscuit at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town on February 10, Kungs playing Ministry of Sound on February 17 and a sold-out show from Ibeyi on February 28 at the Electric in Brixton.

Weird statistics this month in terms of visitor numbers, but the only statistic that really matters to us here is the number of posts we managed to make. I know we're a long way from delivering anything like the number of short pieces we did a few years ago, but any month that sees more than 24 posts leaves me happy that I've been doing my job here.

Why 24 posts? Because that was the total we managed to do on the first year of the vive le roq blog. That's right. 24 posts over A WHOLE YEAR. So more than that in a month always feels like some kind of victory!

As always, you can contact us at johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be.

I'm always pleased to hear from record companies, PR companies and promoters, so do drop me an email. I'm always keen to hear new things, and relay information about acts I already know and love.

The blog is also on Twitter as @viveleroq, although that's pretty much just an autofeed when we update with a new article. You can usually find me on my personal Twitter account quicker, @karnag

If you're around Facebook, remember to like the French Music Podcast UK page, where you can get regular updates with both fresh and vintage French music.

Thanks as always to the good folks at Oui Love Music From France.

John K