Clara Luciani : I loved being a part of that group and enjoyed the experience. It was really stimulating, we were 7 people on stage, it was rock n’ roll! But there came a time when I started saying to myself, “Ok, I’ve achieved everything I can as a performer”. I never dreamed of being a singer, I’ve always been into songwriting.
The style isn’t the same but there are lots of common themes. That’s how I got to know Marlon and became part of the group, we were chatting on the beach in Cannes about artists like Yéyé and Barbara etc. We realised we had the same influences and interests – a shared DNA that spanned a wide gambit. I think that what we’re doing now is very different.
I think they can be separated into two different families. On one side there is Chanson Française with traditional artists like Barbara, Françoise Hardy, William Sheller… and then there are the classic rock artists like The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed.
I’m a pretty curious person by nature and I think not using modern tools to find exciting new things is stupid – especially in 2018 when you have apps like Spotify and you can listen to music from around the world and every era. I think this is the time to embrace curiosity – before it’s too late.
Yes, honestly most of the songs I create take form naturally in an acoustic way. The guitar is the only instrument I can play, badly. It’s the first thing I use, then later I will work with producers to create the rest of the song. But, I like the idea that my songs have two lives! ‘La Grenade’, for example – I enjoying singing it solo with just a guitar and as part of a group, too. I think both ways still stay true to my style – even when I went to see Yuksek and Benjamin Lebeau, we worked hand in hand to create something that still felt like me. Just like my two categories of influence, each of my songs has two facets – one can be really hard and rocky, and the other almost disco.
Yes, I don’t know if it’s something that only happens to songwriters, but when I hear certain songs I think, ‘I wish I had written that’. That happens to me when I read, too. The first time I listened to the song from Metronomy I knew I had to find it or at least use it – transform it, that’s what happened really.
I sent them the song and I thought it was really cool of them to let me use it. You can’t do anything without first speaking to the original artist. For example, I covered a song from Lana Del Rey in French but I couldn’t record it because I was refused permission and I don’t have her digits to ask directly *laughs*.
What do you like the most?
I’m enjoying being on stage more and more. When I started I was really shy and it felt uncomfortable. I’d find myself trembling so much I couldn’t play my guitar. Now, it’s a lot better and my fans are really supportive – when I play people sing along, you can feel that they’re really there to hear you – there’s something reassuring and kind of addictive about it. That’s my favourite thing I think.
What changed between the making of these two releases?
I think it’s all about narration. The EP signified destruction and the album was all about reconstruction. There’s almost a tale between the two. That’s why the album is more illuminated and has more energy – it’s about finding yourself again.
The guitar is the only instrument I can play, badly."
I said to myself, “ It’s stupid to have an album that is autobiographical and in which I don’t mention where I’m from ”. I wondered how I could pay tribute to my roots and the region I grew up in. One day, I arrived at the train station in Aix-en-Provence and you could see Saint-Victoire straight ahead. It was a reflex reaction and I thought, “ It sounds pretty good, it’s beautiful and it has lots of different meanings ”. It felt right, and I sent a message to my team straight away.
Yes, and ‘saint’! The idea of the Madonna, a sacred woman. It really worked on a lot of levels.
It’s funny because, if anyone had ever asked me back then whether I would be singing my heart out on stage, I would have said ‘ Yer, right! ’ Sharing my songs felt somewhat immodest. Songwriting was really a personal diary for me – something that would never have left my bedroom. But, when I arrived in Paris, I started showing my friends the stuff that I was writing and they said they’d never heard anything like it. The people around me really encouraged me to share my stuff, even singing in public felt a bit vulgar, but also really powerful. For me, there’s this cathartic aspect to sharing my problems, and once I’ve shared it with a crowd I feel a bit lighter afterwards.
Yes, that’s true, my fans are largely female. Sometimes I feel a bit sad that my music doesn’t speak more men. When I look around the stage I definitely see more woman and I think it’s disappointing that just because I say words like ‘boobs’ men don’t think the subjects I’m singing about are relevant to them.
But it’s not just about girls! Love is a universal story. In the song, ‘La Grenade’ yes I sing, ‘Sous mon sein la grenade’ (EN: the grenade behind my breasts)but that could mean anything. It really means that behind this form of fragility is something strong – and I think that sentiment applies to men, too.
I feel like it’s a blend of opposites that comes from within. Even in my personality, but I think that’s less audible in my music. I think it’s essentially human to have this oscillation from joy to sadness… there’s an idea of finding your balance between the two forces, it feels like part of the human spirit, these contrasting energies.
I’ve done everything to strip it back – I even removed my cape and hat. This album represents the best and the worst parts of me.
Yes, I needed them because it was already intimate and intense I needed something to cover myself, something that I’ve always considered modest. I found singing like that very complicated in the beginning, I think it was really important to embrace the phase where I was just like ‘ yes, it’s me but not exactly ’. Now I could stand on stage in just a t-shirt.
Yes. It was my name, my songs and my stories, but I needed props and theatre - the striptease. I’m back to being me.
It’s a battle we have to fight, but I don’t make that a central issue in my music."
Yes, I call it a feminine album because it’s an intimate album and expresses my femininity. For example, last year I was reading a lot of Annie Erneaux, it oozes femininity. It’s so sensual and visceral, but not feminist! The idea was to poke the fun at all the things I hear about women in music, but I never said I was going to write a feminist hymn! In life, I’m a feminist, and I think it’s intolerable that other people aren’t. It’s a battle we have to fight, but I don’t make that a central issue in my music. Although, it is something that is a constant debate for me… Benjamin Biolay speaks about women he has fallen in love with… It’s a male discourse about masculinity. And women love it, listen to it, understand it… It’s shocking that when women speak about the same thing it automatically only concerns women. One thing I’m really proud of is that women suffering from breast cancer connect with my song, ‘La Grenade’.
I found it a bit strange to start with but then I saw the hidden meaning. It’s beautiful. They started using my song to give them courage and I was so proud of them. This is an album about healing, whether that’s emotional, physical or something else, I’m glad they found that shared energy in my songs.
Yes, it’s pretty complicated… For example, the first time I went on stage with La Femme I was 19 years old, I was wearing a mini dress and I didn’t even have time to open my mouth to sing before this guy shouted up from the crowd ‘she wasn’t chosen for her voice’. It’s this kind of remark that you hear – when a male musician can wear what he wants – and that’s totally fine.
That type of Italian eccentricity in fashion has always spoken to me, but it’s not always practical for everyday wear! "
Yes and no. I think in that respect I am a woman that represents my generation, but I refuse to be a figurehead, I have my own personal limits and I know I can’t be all things that society demands of women. You can’t be expected to wear all the hats at once. I think as soon as you say to yourself, ‘Right, I can’t be expected to do it all’, everything feels better. I personally feel better after writing and performing that song, I think it helped me to realise how capable I could be when I removed the pressure. Getting rid of the guilt and realising no-one is perfect is the first step.
Yes! Although I think they found it hard because my parents aren’t very objective, I even stopped them reading the lyrics. It’s difficult for a parent to not say ‘it’s brilliant’. They are so encouraging and supportive - they even keep clippings! It’s so cute, but I don’t think they’re the best people to judge my career.
First of all, it’s got to be comfortable. I think that’s the priority in life. I like to dress in a way that’s both comfortable and elegant, but that’s not always easy! For example, I really like high waisted trousers. I think if I had to choose one piece of clothing in my wardrobe to define my sense of style it would be a pair of classic high waisted suit trousers. Something simple, I don’t like to over think how I dress.
There are loads of things I like, the artistic director for Gucci Alessandro Michele for example. I also like Chloé and I adore AMI. I think those brands really define my everyday style - beautifully tailored pieces that are simple and elegant. I would love to wear stuff like that on stage with eccentric pieces from Gucci or Miu Miu…
Totally! I’ve always loved anything Baroque. That type of Italian eccentricity in fashion has always spoken to me, but it’s not always practical for everyday wear! At the moment, I’m all over the place during the tour, it would be madness to try and wear pieces like that!
I have a tiger-shaped box that I have used to keep all my guitar picks in since the very first concert. I always have it with me! If anyone tried to steal it… they’d be in big trouble! *laughs*