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Introducing: La Femme

La Femme’s band members are mostly blokes – even if their name implies otherwise. They’re also, as you might have guessed, French. The band was founded by guitarist Sacha Got and keyboard player Marlon Magnée in Biarritz before they moved to Paris; they also spent some time conquering California with help from a couple of pro-surfers they met at a contest.

Qui sont les femmes, then? Clémence Quélennec, Clara Luciani, Jane Peynot and Marilou Chollet all feature as vocalists on their new album, Psycho Tropical Berlin; the boys insist that including a range of female voices suggests to the listener that ‘the woman is a mystery’.

Sexiness, a love of sun-drenched coastal cities and the knack for successfully orchestrating a queuleuleu (see below) typifies La Femme’s sound so I was interested to know what they made of the UK. We spoke about Monty Python and English breakfasts – but, mainly, about their music.

First off, though, treat your ears to the blissful summer evenings conjured up by Psycho Tropical Berlin cut, ‘It’s Time to Wake Up (2023)’:

PlanetNotion: What did you get up to over the summer?
La Femme: We played many festivals in France and surrounding areas: Mainsquare Festival in Arras and Les Eurockéennes in Belfort, for instance. We took some holidays too, and we made a video.

PN: Any stand-out shows?
LF: One of the best memories of this tour was certainly Rock en Seine. The audience was massive (about 15, 000 people) and Sacha surfed on the crowd with a real board during ‘Sur la Planche’. Another time, in Belgium, we started a queuleuleu [conga line].

PN: How is your album, Psycho Tropical Berlin, inspired by your travels?
LF: The majority of the album was composed before the first tour and road trip. It was mostly inspired by the waves of Biarritz and the asphalt of Paris. Some songs like ‘It’s Time to Wake Up’ were composed during the US tour. Most of the songs on the album are inspired by the desire to travel; from Biarritz, in front of the ocean, we imagined the waves and the sun of California.

PN: Do you think the mysteriousness of an interchangeable line-up filters through into your music?
LF: No, it’s not very important. We are the same six musicians on stage all the time; the mystery comes from our own aesthetic and atmosphere.

PN: You seem to be champions of a DIY ethos so how did you end up signing with Barclay?
LF: They’re not incompatible. We signed with Barclay on license contract, which means that we control all our own productions. We used to do flyers, videos and artwork by ourselves so it’s very important for us to keep that choice, which is why we created our own label, Les Disques Pointus.

PN: Influence-wise, you cite an amalgamation of vintage sounds drawing on genres like rockabilly and 1960s yéyé. Is it fair to say you’re a nostalgic band?
LF: Why not? We didn’t ever think about that. In fact, we mainly listen to ’60s and ’80s bands but we have an open mind to any kind of music if it sounds great.

PN: What do you listen to in your own time? How about new, up and coming artists?
LF: We love The Velvet Underground, Serge Gainsbourg, Motown, Swing, Kraftwerk, French Synthwave, strange music from the early 20th century… We’re not really drawn to newer bands even if there are good ones (e.g. Death in Vegas, The Growlers, Justice, Benco Box, Juniore).

PN: What’s the best and worst thing about spending time in the UK? (And nobody mention the weather…)
LF: The best things are English breakfasts, fish and chips on the ferry, Monty Python, Mr. Bean and the Queen. The bad thing is probably the rest of the food and the weather.

- Lauren Vevers

Photo: JF Julian

Psycho Tropical Berlin is available from Movember 11 on Les Disques Pointus. It’s also available on iTunes now.

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