Yelle is one hot little package, and probably the first Internet/MySpace star to come out of France. Her lyrics are fun and controversial, usually involving some kind of joke on men’s behalf or her favorite sex toys. Probably most controversial is the debacle over her hit song “Je Veux Te Voir” ( I Want To See You) where she responds to the French rap group TTC, taunting the lead singer Cuiziner, his dj, Orgazmic, and cousin Teki Latex. The tune is hilarious and her beats and rhymes flow like camembert on a hot sunny day, thanks to her producers TEPR and Grand Marnier.

“Sometimes people understand [the language] a bit, but usually they don’t care, they just want to enjoy the music, which is really easy to do.”

Format: Do you feel challenged with your album being exclusively in French?
Yelle: Yes. When we started to work, we didn’t think about the language. We thought just to have fun with it, but then we realized, oh shit, maybe it will be a problem, but it turned out to be not to be. We toured Scandinavia, Germany, America, and we’ve noticed always something new. Sometimes people understand a bit, but usually they don’t care, they just want to enjoy the music, which is really easy to do.

Format: How much of an influence do your producers, TEPR and Grand Marnier, have on your music?
Yelle: They come from half rock and half hip-hop culture. They’re fans of Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine…Beastie Boys. And I think the mix between everything, is good. I’m a real pop girl. When I was a little girl I used to listen to French pop music and Pink Floyd, and after that when I went to university, I was in to mainstream radio like Madonna, Blur. Now I think my taste is influenced by mix of the above with ‘80s influence too, of course, because that’s the era we grew up in

I think Grand Marnier has this view of music where he wants to create something different with a different sound. You can do what you want; you can experiment all you want— just find good harmonies and rhythms and make people dance. And I think, yes, we compliment each other very well.

Format: Did you ever think your first MySpace hit would have an impact?
Yelle: No, at the beginning it was just the first song we put up. We were just thinking, ok this is for friends and family. No, we weren’t thinking about success.


Format: Being from a smaller town, I hear you don’t like the big cities so much. Do you feel a bit strange being so exposed on the international scene?
Yelle: It’s important for me to keep my balance because I live with my family and friends, and I have a little house and a garden and I can’t have that in Paris. Paris is cool for clubbing and promotion because everything happens there. But with Internet, it’s not a real problem to stay in touch with all that. Maybe we don’t have as much shops, or the same exact culture, but we have a real street culture in my town, St.Brieux. In France, we have free skateboard and graffiti parks. We have a really solid crew of people who want to do different things. France is great for promoting street culture.

Format: What exactly is tectonic?
Yelle: It’s a kind of dance. It’s a mix between Jumpstyle, a dance with your feet and legs. It comes from Belgium and the hardcore rave/gabber kids are really in to it. So tectonic is a mix between that and vogue, you might say. It got big in France maybe six months ago, but the phenomenon has been around for at least seven years. I don’t know why it just exploded, but I really love the energy—it’s very powerful. They are always making up new steps. There are many elements to it too: the hair cut, the clothing. The hair is very punk, like a mohawk, and they like to play with their feminine side. It’s very gender bending. The guys wear very fitted clothing, and they like to make out with each other to piss off the girls. A bit gay, but not too over the top. It’s a very easy and fun-loving lifestyle. I think it’s really cool.

Format: Does this affect your stage act?
Yelle: Yeah. I like to have fun and jump around on stage. I love interacting with the crowd: to make them dance and clap their hands. I’m also very happy when I do my shows because I feel like, rien n’est gagné (nothing is lost). When I arrive you say, ok, I don’t know how I can be tonight, or how the audience will be, so you just go out there. You could also say that I’m maybe a bit inspired by this kids TV show we had in France in the ‘80s called Club Dorothé. They used to play all the Asian cartoons. My favorites were the spy shows, one of them was called Nicky Larson, and there was another one called Cat’s Eye. Cats Eye was about a team of three sisters that were also a team of art thieves. They would run around the world trying to reclaim their father’s work that had been stolen by the Nazis. I loved it.


Format: Do you see a relation between music and fashion?
Yelle: Yes. For me, it’s important because I like to play with my wardrobe and I like to find new designers. I think now, its important to have an image in relation to your music. It’s not a problem if you want to dress all in black, or green, or I don’t know. But it’s important for the public to understand your music, and to remember you. I like to have fun in life in general, so that translates in to my clothing and my music.

Format: What is your dream job?
Yelle: I don’t know…maybe, cupcake maker? Hahaha.

Format: How has TTC responded to your song, “Je Veux Te Voir”?
Yelle: I think they are a little bit upset, angry with me even. For the moment, I don’t think about working with them, but I would love to. For me, it was a joke, not a big fuck you. It’s just a song about a boy, you know? So I hope maybe one day we can be friends? Hahaha I don’t know? Maybe we can make a duet?

Format: Have you thought about English on the next album?
Yelle: I don’t know, why not? I like to use some cool words in English. We are always making fun of this word, “amazing”. Some people in America always use this word when they hear something they like. It’s always AMAZING, AMAAAAAAAZING! So maybe we can use this word in a song. I think it could be cool. I’m not closed off to that kind of idea, maybe we can do that.


Jesse Ship
I'm currently Managing Editor of this little web mag here.
Jesse Ship

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  1. ABSOLUTELY LOVE Yelle. I went away for 5 weeks this summer to a french immersion program where I was only allowed to speak french and listen to french music. Found Yelle and fell in love. I rocked out to her music for a solid 5 weeks, and still am!

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