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Yelle - The Mighty Bouche

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Friday, 14 September 2007

First there was uffie. Now there’s Yelle. What’s with all the potty-mouthed French vixens dominating the current electro scene- 3D’s Carlislie Rogers went on a date to remember with little Miss Yelle.

Yelle’s debut album, Pop-Up, is pure electro-pop. And what’s great about it, like all great things that are great because of their weaknesses rather than in spite of them, is that it harks back to a time when electro-pop was still called bubblegum…or should have been.

Yes, that’s what this is, bubblegum with sequencers, more than anything else. Look at the outfits Yelle wears, the powder blues and the electric pinks, the long tights that simultaneously accentuate her sexy legs while lending a certain girlish charm, the eyes that travel between sultry and Disney smiling.

Bubblegum hasn’t really changed much over the years, and I think we still like it for all the same reasons: it is fun, catchy and relatively inane, at least lyrically. And the fact that it is in French, to English listeners, only compounds the utter meaninglessness of the lyrics, and also the fact that they don’t have to mean anything.

Yelle barely speaks a word of English, but I don’t mind. She could read a recipe for eel soup in French, all mettez l’anguille dans le potage, and I’d be smiling and nodding, and so would you.

There’s a kind of Casio innocence in the production by Grand Marnier, the chop-chopped vocals, the buzzy beats – he isn’t taking himself too seriously here, and Yelle sounds like a kid who’s never sang before having a good time in someone else’s expensive studio, singing about boys and dildos in that sanguine voice. Unfortunately, all the good talk about dildos and sex gets lost in translation to my ears.

“I met Grand Marnier in a party,” she says in a thick Parisian accent, through thick Parisian lips. “We have a common friend and we were at the party and we had a drink and ate marshmallows. Grand Marnier needed a girl’s voice on a remix and it was the first thing we did together. We have worked together for two years now. We worked with the tracks, we wrote them together for Pop Up. The first work we did together is not on the album, though.”

The pair recorded the album in Brittany, away from everything, writing the songs together. Essentially Grand Marnier would craft the songs from top to bottom, then give the lyrics to Yelle to go over, so she could provide her own unique flourishes.

“We recorded the album in a little house in Brittany,” she says. “We didn’t want to use a real studio so we worked in the little house with all the material. We stayed three weeks in this house and just worked with two guys on the song sounds in general. And there is another boy who plays keyboards on stage with us. We are three on the stage, a drummer, keyboarder and me. I do not actually play the keytar on the stage.

“I wrote the lyrics with Grand Marnier,” she continues. “Grand Marnier wrote a big part of the text, we talk about them together. We talk about the relations between a guy and a girl – I wanted to speak about difficult relations. I wanted to try to find out how we could translate the feelings through the music. Grand Marnier wrote the tracks first, then I come after and change some words, change sentences I don’t like – we work like that.”

Yelle says she has always sang, as long as she can remember, and blames her music now on what she listened to when she was very young.

“I wanted to be a singer since I was four years old,” she says. “When I was a kid I would listen to lots of albums like The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Later, I discovered electronic music with Daft Punk, through my brother. It was the first band I discovered playing electronic music, and it had a big influence on me. I didn’t listen to rap music when I was young, just a few songs from Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre and Warren G. I discovered rap with the Beastie Boys. I listen to rap today, but I have a pop music culture, not a very rap culture. We have good pop music in France. We have bands like Phoenix. They are a French band, very influential on me.”

WHO: Yelle
WHAT: Performs at Parklife
WHEN: Sunday 30 September