Exclusive: Yelle On Why She'll Never Make Music in English
Thousands of miles away in a room lined with bookshelves somewhere in France, Julie Budet sits gracefully in front of her laptop. Wearing oversized readers and a white shirt with delicately thin black stripes, she looks like the stereotypical heroine in a Bernando Bertolucci film. Julie is no film actress and she certainly isn’t stereotypical. Instead, she is the frontwoman for Yelle—one of France’s most beloved experimental electropop groups. For over a decade Julie and her musical partner-in-crime GrandMarnier, or Jean-François Perrier, have been ravaging the internet and festival circuits around the globe with their sultry French vocals and electrifying sounds.
Fresh off the success of their newest single ‘Ba$$in’ and the trippy Internet-inspired video for it, Yelle has been preparing for today’s release of the five-track Complètement Fou Remix EP. Featuring expertly curated collaborations with SOPHIE, Alexaert, Tepr, and others, the EP is sure to be the perfect jam for club kids, ravers, and French music aficionados. Not content with limiting themselves to the release of a new EP, Yelle will also be the headlining act at the five-year anniversary of East Williamsburg’s Full Moon Fest on August 1st. On the eve of their album release and headlining set, Milk Made’s Chris Thomas had the chance to video chat with the Yelle’s Julie Budet about the EP, Full Moon Fest, early 2000s Internet inspirations, motorcycle riding in El Paso, and more.
You’ll be headlining the Full Moon Fest in a week. Do the venue’s twenty-foot high fauna walls and imported sand from France factor into your performance?
It’s important for us to have our own cinematography. We’ve been touring with our new record for more than a year now but for Full Moon Fest it’s harder because we are mixing songs from all of our records. It’s hard to build something current and strong. It took us a moment to change some details and songs and we realized that it’s a long process. The last few weeks, we’ve realized now we have something that we are proud of and are really happy about that we can show onstage with the lights and sound. Now we can really enjoy the moment and be totally free in the moment.
Yeah, that freedom will allow you to perform with no limits and potentially include some tracks from your new Complètement Fou Remix EP. How did you decide on the album’s remixers?
It’s not easy to give a song to someone and let them do whatever they want with it and just see what will happen. We try to find remixers that don’t have the same kind of music but do have the same energy and vision. For example, we have a remix by SOPHIE and we are big fans of his work. We had the chance to have him here to work on music and we really like his universe and what he’s bringing to music so we said that he should try something with Complètement Fou. He did something really crazy with it. I mean, we knew he would do something like that with it because we have very similar visions. It’s really about giving the chance to someone to show their version of how they see your song and how they can give their own vision to it.
It’s very brave to allow that freedom. That freedom also vibes well with your Internet and inspired sound and visuals. What do you like best about the Internet?
We feel that we come from that Myspace generation. I like the craziness of the Internet and the fact that everyone can do whatever they want. They can post crazy videos and art—lots of crazy things. Of course you know we are getting our own inspiration from all the things we discover through the Internet.
Has anything particular been inspiring you lately?
I really like to see people doing things in the moment without thinking about it. There is no constriction and they aren’t overthinking. It’s just, “Ok let’s go. Let’s do that and we’ll see what happens.” I really like to see that in the new generation even if sometimes it’s bad or weird. Even if you want to say that maybe you should have thought about it a little bit. Yeah, I like that we have the proximity to do that.
Did that attitude of being in the moment and experimenting affect the direction of your newest video for Ba$$in?
In that video we wanted to have something weird so we did crazy weird characters and had interaction with them. We thought about the future and didn’t want to have a vintage touch, you know? The most important thing was that it could be in the next future if we were talking to the object in the streets. Even the body that was dancing wasn’t my body. It’s just a random body doing some dance moves but I had to do the same dances so my head fit on it in the video. I think it was also the meeting of our two universes with the directors Diane Martel and Geoffrey Lillemon. I think it matched well with our vision.
You are really well known for exclusively singing in French. Have you considered singing in English at all or are you still against doing it?
We’ve had requests in the past but we just said what’s the point? It’s not us and it’s not going to be Yelle anymore. I think I could sing in English for a collab with an American band but singing in English just to do it? I don’t see the point.
Absolutely. You want to retain that French authenticity.
Yeah and I like the fact that people like us because we are singing in French. We are different. Not a lot of bands in France travel in the US but we are and we’ve played many festivals. We’ve toured around the country. I mean, maybe people will be disappointed if I sing in English. I don’t know. Maybe I will try some day!
Did you ever have a hard time interacting with American fans and people you met while travelling because of language barriers?
That’s something I like in the US, actually. You can talk to anybody really easily. It’s not that easy in France to go up and have a conversation with someone in the street like that. I enjoyed it a lot. When people realized we were from France they were super nice. They want to share their experiences too because most of them have traveled and they went to Paris. That was nice to just talk to them.
Before we let you get back to preparing for Full Moon Fest, I was wondering what your favorite moment was on tour that really defined your view of America as an outsider to the country?
On the last tour I remember having a day off in El Paso, TX. It was the middle of nowhere and we were stuck in the hotel and it was kind of depressing. The guys rented two motorcycles and a jeep and we asked a local guy where to go. He sent us into the desert and we found a restaurant that was doing really good food. We went there and had a really nice moment, actually. It was just a normal day but we were doing something we wouldn’t do normally like renting a motorcycle and just riding it around. It was a great experience.
Photography by Paley Fairman.