Julie Budet discusses the band’s new euphoric dance floor anthem and upcoming club tour
Without ever singing a word in English, French duo Yelle have managed to grab an American, as well as a global, audience. Singer Julie Bude and Jean-François Perrier, aka GrandMarnier, somehow conjure up dancefloor hits and club bangers that immediately get crowds up on their feet and sweating. On Thursday they released their newest single, “Romeo”.
Being able to hold the attention of an audience who doesn’t understand most of their lyrics is a testament to Yelle’s infectious energy. For those who do care to dig deeper, though, the band’s words are clever and cutting. They have never been ones to shy away from speaking their mind about any hot-button issue, unabashedly promoting a message of positivity.
ARTISTdirect’s Christopher Friedmann caught up with Julie Bude of Yelle to discuss the group’s new single, the feelings of unity and curiosity that she believes will bring the world together, and their upcoming club tour.
Christopher Friedmann: So we’re talking because you are about to head out on your Club Party Tour. Just to start, how is the mood in camp?
Julie Budet: I’m actually really, really excited to come to the U.S. with this new version of the live show. We’ve been to Asia two months ago for a little tour, and we played in Thailand, Korea, and Singapore, and we tried this new version of the live show, and we had a really good response from the crowd, the people. We are pretty excited to come back and play in the U.S. It’s a country that we really like to play in and we really miss our fans there, so we can’t complain.
CF: From the beginning, Yelle was able to establish themselves on the dancefloor. Can you tell us about how the club scene has influenced you?
JB: We really started playing music in clubs in France and in Europe and really quickly after working there in Australia and the U.S. and we had the chance to really take this… it’s different. Of course, I like to play live shows. I like to play in big venues. It’s really cool. But playing in clubs is different because you can really feel the people. You can touch them. You can sweat with them and there is a lot of contact. It’s not just about singing. it’s watching people, and having them in front of you also, having the ability to touch them actually. I like the proximity of the club scene.
CF: France and America have always seemed to be in a constant state of exchange when it comes to art. How has American music influenced you and what are Americans missing that is currently coming out of France?
JB: I’ve been listening to American music since I was a little girl because my parents were playing rock bands all the time at home. And when I was older, when I was a teenager, I was listening to the radio in France, but it was most of the time artists like Madonna or Snoop Doog or Red Hot Chili Peppers. So I was influenced by the American music scene and also taste. I was impressed by the music videos of Michael Jackson. I was impressed by the creativity, and everything was different, the color, there was something different in the U.S.
It didn’t just entrance me, but also GrandMarnier, because we were working together, and he would be really passionate about U.S. culture in general. When he was a kid, his dream was to be a drummer in the U.S.A. He was dreaming of Los Angeles. We have this connection with your country, the pop culture .
The only thing, maybe, in France people are curious about other languages. Lots of people can listen to a French song, but also an English song or a Spanish song. They don’t really care about the language. If they like the energy, they like the mood, it’s okay. Sometimes I’m really surprised because we had the chance, as a French singing band, to play in the U.S. But it’s kind of hard and rare, so sometimes, yes, I feel really lucky. I have a lot of friends playing in bands in France and they don’t have the opportunity to come to the U.S. because of, sometimes, the language of French.
I hope maybe someday [Americans] will be more curious because I think they might discover some other countries. Sometimes because we want to play at big venues, people don’t go and some don’t care because they can’t understand what you’re talking about.
CF: You’ve managed to make a real name for yourself over here without ever singing in English. What is it about French that allows you to express yourself better?
JB: It’s really important for me to express myself in French because I feel precise when I express something. I like to speak English, but I’m not sure about singing in English because it’s something really different and my accent is really bad and it would be weird. Also, I think we have the chance to have people listening to us in the U.S., and there are different people, there are people who are really curious that they want to understand the conversation on the internet with the lyrics, and some people who don’t really care about the lyrics, but they like the mood of the song. They like the energy. They like the music video.
It’s the whole thing, I think, and because we really like to play with the visuals and with what we show in our music videos or on stage, with the dance, the lights, everything. I think people like us just for that, and they don’t expect much actually, and that’s just great. I feel really lucky to play in a foreign country that is not used to listening to some French stuff. But those people are curious, more curious.
CF: You’ve always been willing to comment on the outside world with your music. How do you view the voice of the artist in today’s society?
JB: It’s actually kind of hard in the way of… I feel like artists should be more involved in social life. It’s important to express what you have inside, what you feel, what you think when you don’t agree with something.
I really like to express that I like people. I feel that on our last song, “Interpassion”, I really talk about that, how it’s great and how it’s cool to meet people all around the world, and to have a connection with people that have different cultures, different ways of feeling, different languages, different products, different religions, whatever, it’s just about sharing love and being curious.
I think people are afraid of what they don’t know. And if we were a little bit more curious, all the people, probably everything would be easier because when you don’t know something you are like, “Okay, I don’t wanna know. I don’t know you.” But if you talk with someone, ask questions, if you discover the lives that they have, everything, it’s just about being curious.
And that’s the meaning of that song, be curious and you will realize people all around the world ask the same questions as you. They have the same doubts. They struggle with the same things. Love problems, work problems, it’s the same thing everywhere, but we are just living in different environments. But we are the same, we have the same pain and we have the same joy. It’s just about that, being curious. For me, my way of fighting racism or things like that, it is to talk about that, about international love and how we can cross the border with that, being curious about other people.
CF: You just released your new song “Romeo”. Can you tell us a little bit about it and how the concept was developed?
JB: Actually it is a song about… it’s kind of hard to express the meaning of the song because it’s more about the mood. It’s like being on drugs with no drugs. It’s the state of love, of energy, of joy, it’s so crazy that you feel something like being drunk. It’s this crazy feeling that love brings to you, and there is a… but I’m not religious at all… but there is this parallel between something that you can’t touch and something that you can’t really see, but there is something strong around us and leading us and maybe it’s the sun, maybe it’s the, I don’t know, maybe it’s natural stuff around us, and we talk about that. How it’s crazy to reach that moment of pure joy, pure happiness and how strong this feeling can be. “Romeo” is the name of that maybe person, or entity, or something that gave us this feeling.
CF: Throughout your career we can imagine you’ve had a fair share of interesting experiences, but is there one moment that stands out – a grounding experience or moment of perspective that reminds you why you do all of this?
JB: Being on stage is something very special for me because it really is like a drug actually. I don’t do drugs, but I do a live show and this is my drug. It’s a hard thing to deal with because when you’re not on tour and you have to do without it, it’s kind of weird, but sometimes just remembering moments, remembering the people screaming, the people dancing or jumping in a special moment during a live show can bring me the same energy.
We have a lot of good experiences. We play in different countries and different moments, but I have a few shows that are clearly stuck in my mind. I remember playing in Coachella a few times, and each time we had a really good slot. We were playing at 7 or 8 at night, so the sun was coming down, and there was something really special in the crowd, something really beautiful with the light, and I remember being really at peace inside myself. You know, you just realize you are at the good place at the good moment, and it’s really crazy, this feeling.
I remember another time we were playing in Denmark at a big festival, and we were playing the tent, and there was actually thunder during the live show. There was a storm. We could feel the electricity in the air, and during the show we could see the sky was really gray and almost dark, and the thunder was coming through, and it was terrifying at the same time, but it was also incredible. And I felt really full of electricity, full of power, and I remember it was a really crazy show. It’s funny because sometimes people are talking about that to me, like, “I remember I saw you at that festival. It was crazy with the thunder. It was really intense,” and sometimes if you’re at the good place, at the good moment, and everything is perfect, everything is happening, and it’s crazy.
I really like to be a singer also for that. For that connection that you can have with people, nature, with everything at the moment. Time could stop because you are having the best moment of your life at that moment, so it’s something great. And it’s better when it comes back. When it happens time after time, it’s crazy.