Q&A with Yelle

Categories: Q&A
Justin Namon
GrandMarnier, Julie Budet (a.k.a. Yelle) and Tepr.

When French electro-pop trio Yelle's C'est La Amerique tour stopped at the Magic City last Friday, we decided it was a good opportunity to meet with the group face-to-face. We originally hoped to spend the day with Yelle, getting to know them better, seeing them have fun in Miami, but their publicist didn't grant us the opportunity. Instead, we interviewed Yelle, who is Julie Budet (also commonly referred to as Yelle herself), GrandMarnier and Tepr.

When we met Juile and the guys, she was in the midst of eating her dinner and bringing up how "wet" Miami was (by "wet," she meant humid -- we know, she was adorable from the start). We packed into their tour van where we could get away from the noise coming from the venue due to the ongoing sound checks.

New Times: You've gained quite a following in Miami, probably because your music is bass-heavy and people here like that, but how would you describe your sound?

Yelle: It's a real mix between pop and electronic stuff, because we have a lot of different influences.

Tepr: It's real songs actually, you can play each of our songs like a folk song, but its electronic production with real song. But you can you also include our songs in a DJ set, our songs match up with a booty bass song or just plain house.

NT: You call your style techtonik but we think your influence comes a bit more from Miami bass.

Y: Techtonik is actually just a movement --

GrandMarnier: A dance movement in France.

Y: Yes, and we used technonik dance in a video clip for a remix by Tepr and it became really huge in France -- technonik and the video clip. Lots of people say we are a technonik band but [we're] not.

GM: Technonik is a real dance movement; indie dance movement.

NT: The notion is that the French tend to look down on all things American, but your sound, and the sound of other French artists like the Teenagers and Justice, is very much influenced by American culture. In your first single "Je Te Veux Voir" you reference a lot of American things like Magic Johnson, Lil' Jon and Hummers. Do you think your sound is influence by American culture?

T: Yes, we've been influenced a lot by American dance and TV culture. When we were teenagers everything was about Saved By The Bell --

Y: Beverly Hills [90210].

T: Fresh Prince of Bel Aire and a lot of American bands.

NT: There is that law in France that says 60 percent of music on the radio must be in the French language, but nowadays with the internet music has become more global. Because of this we think, a lot more French bands are now writing and singing in English, so why do you still write and sing in French?

Yelle: When we decided to write in French, because when we write together [pointing at GrandMarnier], it was really --

GM: It was really natural.

Y: It's natural to write [in French] to express feelings and express different stuff. You know, my English isn't really good -- maybe more now -- but I talk a horrible English.

GM: I think maybe it's one of the reasons it's liked here, because it's kind of exotic for American people.

NT: Very few bands that don't sing in English ever each any kind of success in America because American audiences tend to be fickle -- they like to feel an emotion or connection to a song. But there is something that breaks that barrier in your songs. Between the beats and intonation of your voice, you can sort of understand what the sentiment of the song is. Is that something you do consciously?

T: I have the same feeling when I hear American stuff. I don't understand what the guys says but I feel the intention and I'm glad to realize Yelle gives the same feeling to you guys.

[Tepr says something to Yelle and GrandMarnier in French; we can't understand a word of it]

GM: It's not something we program, it's really natural when we make a song together.

Y: Maybe we use a typical sentence, a bit cliché like "C'est la vie" or "Comme si, comme ça". Even if the people don't understand French, they are listening to words like that --

GM: The chorus are quite simple.

NT: MTV US picked Yelle as Artist of the Week earlier this year. What kind of response did you get from that?

GM: We have no responsibility. A girl from MTVU in charge of searching for new talent contacted us because she knew us from MySpace and our American label Astralwerks got in contact with them --

Y: [speaks in French, we presume correcting GrandMarnier that we meant what was the fan reaction for the MTV promos]

GM: Ah, response from the crowd, you mean?

T: [to GrandMarnier] Response from everything. Did we have gigs because of that? Or more promo 'cause of that?

GM: Ah, okay. We had [bigger] crowds at shows.

Y: We were in the U.S. in April [2008] --

NT: For Coachella?

Y: Yes, and we were stopped at a little [campground] because we had an RV. It was crazy, this girl says "You are Yelle! I recognize you because of your haircut!"

T: Yea, and she was like a 50-year-old woman.

Y: And just because they saw the MTV --

T: It was a small place; it was incredible.

GM: We also had a few bad messages from indie fans saying "MTV is too mainstream for you."

NT: What's in store for Yelle? Are you working on a new album already?

Y: No.

GM: We have a few stuff in our computers but we need more time to recuperate because now we are just touring, touring, touring. So maybe this winter.

NT: You've already done two dates so far, Dallas and Austin. What has been the reaction so far?

Y: Good. It's a surprise for us. In Austin, it was really, really crazy. It was outdoor, it was really hot, and the people were really cool. They jumped on stage.

GM: We had to stop during the "Mon Meilleur Ami" song and we had to say "Hey, everybody has to get off."

Click here to read our full review and view photos from Yelle's performance at the Polish American Club.

-- Jose D. Duran

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