Q&A:French electropop front woman talks performing for English-speaking crowds

Media Credit: Photo by flickr user Stig Nygaard used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Julie Budet, the lead singer of French electropop band Yelle, talks about the difference between French and American audiences and her dream tour mates.

French electropop band Yelle rose to fame when the group’s first single, “Je veux te voir,” went viral on MySpace in 2005. With last week’s release of Yelle’s third album “Complètement Fou,” which translates to “Completely Crazy,” the bandmates are still shocked by their success. We spoke to front woman Julie Budet about the new album and tour, as well as what it’s like to perform for non-French-speaking audiences. The interview was edited for length.

Where are you now?

Julie Budet: I’m in a town called Saint-Malo. It’s in Brittany, just in front of [the] U.K. and we are in rehearsals preparing the new light show [for the upcoming U.S. tour]. We’ve been working I think since Saturday and, yeah, it’s [been] really good. It’s a little bit tough because we have to do it and do it again and try the lights and the sound, but it’s really good.

What was the reception like for the new songs?

JB: Really good actually. And it’s really funny because when a new song is starting, you can see that people are [looking around confused at first], but it’s cool to see a good reaction. They are dancing, they have smiles on their faces.

Do you find there’s a difference between your French-speaking audiences and the non-francophone audiences?

JB: In the U.S. for example, people don’t understand what I’m saying most of the time, so it’s different because people are really enjoying the music and dancing and having fun and sometimes they can catch the little details [in the lyrics], but it’s more about the full thing – the dancing and fun and happiness. In France, it’s sometimes different because people are more focused on the lyrics. They take the time to understand and catch certain sentences, so it’s a little bit different. I think people like the fact that we are having fun onstage and feeling it and they want to share it with us. There is a connection.

What can audiences expect from your live show?

JB: We want something really symmetrical. It’s like a picture. It’s really symmetrical like a tableau with two synchronized drummers doing the same moves and the same dance. It’s more about a real show – full of dance – and sometimes we are dancing all together. It’s a complete show but it’s about having fun and about dancing. That’s really important.

Who is your dream artist to tour with?

JB: I’m a big fan of Hot Chip and I’d like to see them on stage and share a lineup with them. It would be a big honor to play with them. Maybe Depeche Mode would be nice. They’re really different. I’m always dancing and having fun on stage and they’re very [serious]. So if we didn’t have to match for the crowd, Depeche Mode.

What’s your favorite song to perform?

JB: Actually it’s probably “Complètement Fou” because it’s a new song, so we have to create something new and I like that song a lot. And it’s a little bit of a challenge for me because it’s really high, and I have to be focused and to actually let my body talk and let the emotion go. It’s my goal actually to let the emotion get out of my body and it’s quite hard actually.

“Complètement Fou” is also the name of your new album. How did you come up with the title?

JB: We had the song first and we were looking for a title for the record and actually it was obvious. It’s the story of the album. It’s completely crazy, what happened to us. It’s actually the story of everything – since we started “Pop Up” in 2006. It was crazy. Everything went pretty fast and we had this connection with the U.S. really soon. Everything was crazy and I’m still surprised and I’m still happy to see that I’m doing what I want to do and I have the chance to have a job like this. It’s not common. It’s incredible. I tell myself every day, I’m a really lucky girl and I want to continue like that. I want to continue to sing my little songs and tour the world. It’s great.

“Complètement Fou” is the only album you’ve released with a French title. Your other albums, “Pop Up” and “Safari Disco Club,” had English titles even though your songs were all in French. Was that a coincidence?

JB: I don’t know actually. I didn’t realize that. It’s probably because “Complètement Fou” seems really understandable for an English audience. I remember when we were looking for a title, we had that in mind: to find something understandable for English people. “Complètement Fou” is easy to translate. I remember being with [producer] Dr. Luke in the studio and he was trying to say it in French and it was quite easy for him, so when we were thinking about [the album title] after, we were like, that might work because it was quite easy for him to say it.

When you write songs or titles, do you try to simplify them for non-French speakers to understand?

JB: Not at all. It’s important for us to have no rules and no limits and to express ourselves and to find the right words even if it’s hard to understand for English-speaking people. That’s why we keep the French: to be precise and to play with words. We keep it like that even if it’s a little bit hard to understand.

Yelle will perform at the 9:30 Club on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.

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