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Exclusive Interview with Yelle

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Photo Yelle

In a musical style that's usually trashy and obscene, Yelle offer joyful, old fashioned, exotic and melancholic poems. Their unique and sunny style rocks! Several meanings surround the trio's writing, which evokes enjoyment but also death in a naive and utopian style while also hinting at more mature and cruel undertones. Between communion and loneliness, Yelle mixes the lightness of a night out of clubbing with the melancholia that surrounds the following morning. Yelle write concise and powerful hooks, which perfectly reflects our Twitter age. It's a good thing for a band who aims to reflect a specific time period without creating a timeless music style. Yelle is a pop ensemble - their offerings are musical, pictorial and stylistic. It was a very entertaining moment to meet Julie, the group’s voice and feminine figure, during the Swiss music festival Festi’Neuch.

Does your last single "L'amour parfait" have the same sound and taste as the up-coming album?

"L’amour parfait" expresses the evolution you will hear on the next record. However, it was compiled independently. This single will not be on Yelle's third album. Part of this record was produced in US with Doctor Luke who is behind the success of huge hits from Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus or Kei$ha. We kept the band's style, but it marks a big evolution. The record will be released in late September or early October. The date is still to be confirmed; we have to satisfy our French and American labels, but you will definitely see a new single at the beginning of the summer.

You participate in parties like “Kitsuné Club Night” or “Flash Cocotte” in Paris. You also offer DJ sets. Does this clubbing culture have the same influence as live performance for the band?

Completely! At these parties the music is good, we dance a lot and we have fun. The Cocotte nights are crazy. It is a big part of us today, even though I only started to go out clubbing recently. The communion with dancing is really beautiful.

You took part in the iTunes Foreign Exchange program in collaboration with the Swedish artist Robyn. Can you explain the concept of this experience?

Two artists meet each other and one chooses a song created by the other for a rework. We made a personal version of "Who's that girl" and Robyn reworked "A cause des garçons". This is an original concept, which challenges us to try and create new things while relying on someone else’s work. iTunes proposes and produces this exchange. We love our version of Robyn's song. Our musical worlds are close to each other, even if some of the sounds are very different. We knew Robyn's work before and she was familiar with ours as well.

You created your own micro label "Recreation Center" since the release of your album Safari Disco Club. Was the goal to stay independent in a financial and artistic way or was it rather to build a musical family around Yelle?

We wanted to make every choice in an independent way. We wished to experiment with the other side of the music industry. Yelle is not a full-time job, so we chose to produce other artists like Totorro, an instrumental band of Math Rock. That is a very specific niche and we support and help them when they are on tour. They are from Brittany and live in an old monastery near Rennes. They raise hens and play music.

Your band was born on MySpace. Is it natural for you to distribute or spread your music in a digital way?

In contrast to new generations, we grew up without Internet before making music. So the digital world is not a given for us. During the MySpace period you could easily observe your success by counting plays. Today, everything is more complex to manage, because the digital supply is huge. In seven years, since Pop-Up happened, everything moved so fast. We were able to observe the evolution and visibility in great detail thanks to the web. But that is not all. You can have tons of plays and nobody present at your live concerts and the opposite is true as well. I find it amazing to touch people through the Internet, but let’s not forget live emotion and smiles.

Is the addition of digital tools like Deezer, SoundCloud, Spotify, Youtube, and Facebook essential to indie bands nowadays?

New digital platforms hatch constantly. It’s not easy to select the right ones even if these tools are primordial today. A musical band has to think of e-communication. Which media are the easiest and most obvious for people to access? Artists also have to earn money. It's not about making millions, but it is normal to respect any kind of work. Every creation needs to be respected and financially rewarded when used by someone else.

The album Safari Disco Club reached the top of iTunes Electro US chart. You also have a lot of success in South America and Scandinavia. Is it the joyful dancing music that the public loves or is it rather the French-language hooks, which are exotic but also approachable, because they are simple and direct?

We like to use these little clichéd sentences understood by English speakers and others. There is also a dimension of energy and shared dancing moments, which people like a lot. Positive word of mouth works, because people have fun during our live shows. The audience is curious and loyal and they follow our evolution and comebacks while spreading the word about our music. We can see it on Instagram or Twitter. We just performed at the Sasquatch festival in US. Thanks to hashtags, just after the concert we saw videos, pictures and comments circulate very rapidly. It was crazy! The public is a part of the game because it feeds the network.

The band travels a lot. Is it special for you to play at a French-speaking festival? French-speaking program planners don’t seem keen on booking you.

Yelle have collaborated with many different artists. Yelle does the splits between the quite mainstream duet with Michaël Youn “Parle à ma main”, and songs like “A cause des garcons” which was released on the selective label Kitsuné. We lost people along the way. In Europe, people love to categorize musical bands and listen to them in a defined style. We blurred the lines, but that's not an issue for us. We enjoy every moment and are not driven by animosity. We are happy to be present at Festi'Neuch. We are under pressure though as it is the first live show of the new tour where the audience will understand all the words. I can't make mistake with the lyrics or mumble too much! What is more, our words mean a lot to us and we care about people understanding them.

You collaborated with Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and Jean-Paul Lespagnard. Loïc Prigent is a big fan of Yelle. Explain to us this mutual love between the band and Fashion...

The link with the fashion industry is obvious. From the beginning, I wanted to work with designers whose creations I love and develop a harmonious combination between music and fashion. The designers mentioned above created clothes for our live shows and videos. We hope to continue this kind of collaboration in the future. We spoke about creating a capsule collection with Jean-Paul Lespagnard. We will see if time allows it. Our other future collaborations a secret!

Are Art, Contemporary Photography and Cinema all influences for you?

I think so, but in an unconscious way. We are filled by what affect us or what we observe. The song "Mon Pays" triggered tons of images for the public. It is a kind of song that was actually inspired by movies, pictures or landscapes. We are interested by visual art. Not long ago, we were in Denmark for a live show and we spent a free afternoon at the Contemporary Art Museum. We take time to visit new places and not just stay in our hotel rooms or in the tour bus. You see, even today, the view speaks for itself. I could stay here all day looking at boats on the lake.

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