Here at Campus Philly, we’ve got some serious French fever and electropop chart-topper Yelle reigns at the top of our obsession list. With a recently released dance album and a sold-out Paris gig, there’s nothing we’d rather be listening to at the moment.
Composed of lead singer and namesake Julie Budet with bandmates GrandMarnier and Tepr, Yelle has risen to impressive international fame thanks to the MySpace internet music invasion–she’s often referenced by the blogsphere in the same vein as international lady pop powerhouses Robyn, La Roux, and M.I.A. Budet and GrandMarnier began making music together in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2005, when the duo posted a shocking dis called “Je Veux te Voir” on MySpace, that they got the attention of a record label and began producing their debut album, Pop Up. Five years and four top ten singles later, they show no signs of slowing down, releasing their critically acclaimed sophomore effort, Safari Disco Club, and embarking on a world tour of the States, Europe, and South America.
In person, Yelle (which stands for “You Enjoy Life”), is adorable and friendly, introducing herself as Julie and speaking in surprisingly fluid yet charmingly accented English. She describes her meteoric rise to fame as surprising and a little overwhelming, but notes, “I think it’s really important to stay happy about little things. I try to live day by day and not to plan too much”. Lack of planning is certainly working out for them, as they’ve toured 11 cities in the US, with Philly as their final stop. “We’re really happy to be in Philadelphia, it’s a cool city and we’ve heard good things about it,” Budet says with a grin, “We’re doing lots of magazines, radio and blogs, and it’s really cool to see the American crowd and media following us and supporting us.”
Safari Disco Club has a more tribal vibe, spurned by GrandMernier’s dynamic percussion, but this is no Vampire Weekend afro-indie act: rather, the techno mixing brings to mind a New Years Eve dance party on the set of “The Lion King”. As opposed to Pop Up, Safari Disco Club, “is more produced, because for the first record we had jobs and didn’t have a lot of time to work on the music. This time we spent one year totally focused on this record and we had more time to produce more melodies and harmonies and everything.”
The power behind the voice could easily be felt at Union Transfer when they performed “Les animaux dance dans le safari disco club” (the animals dance in the safari disco club), easily referring to the pounding crowd before her, singing along in messy, “We don’t know how-to-speak-French-but-who-cares mumbles to new hits like “Comme Un Enfant” and old favorites like remixed versions of “Ce Jeu”, and “Mon Meilleur Ami”. Regarding her new, international audience, we have to ask –will she ever sing in English? “I don’t know, because it’s really important for us to express ourselves in French: it’s easy to write, to find the right word to express emotion. I think people also really like the fact that we sing in French, and even if they don’t understand it, because it’s different and unique, so I think it’s important to keep that.”
Until then, they’ve got a sold-out show in Paris to keep them occupied, “We’re gonna start working on new stuff on January and February because we have off, then after that we are already in talks to play in Asia,” as well as a well-deserved Christmas break.
It’s hard, then, to keep track of time when on tour? “Yeah, when you wake up in a hotel and you just go- okay, am I in the UK? No, I am in Colombia!” explains GrandMarnier. “…that’s weird” he deadpans with a mock-serious grin. Adds Budet, “When we arrived in Philly, I was asleep in the van and the guys let me sleep in. So, when I woke up I was all alone in a van in the parking lot. ”She raises her eyebrows up and in a hilarious mock-terrified face, and explains, “I was like, ‘Where am I? I don’t know!’”. Picking up wad of cash on the nearby table, she pretends it’s a phone, “HELP! COME GET ME!” she cries into the cash, and as the room erupts in laughter, it’s easy to see that Budet’s sense of humor, combined with GrandMarnier’s master mixing and their unabashed happiness at playing before dozens of screaming Philadelphians (true story –they delayed a song because people couldn’t stop cheering), this is one French obsession we’re going to have some trouble getting over.
Yelle’s sophomore album, Safari Disco Club, is available now on iTunes and Vinyl. You can check out their mixes and singles on their website.
You can contact Magali Roman at firstname.lastname@example.org
images © www.yelle.fr