You grew up in a family of musicians. How much has the music that was played in your parents’ house influenced your musical taste and development?
The musical influence my parents gave me was very important for me. I have grown with soul, jazz and pop since I was a kid.
My mum and dad love music, especially jazz, rock and soul. They listen to so many artists that I cannot mention all of them, but I remember my mum giving me Cat Stevens and Rickie Lee Jones albums and I loved them!
Moreover, my dad used to play guitar and double bass when I was a little girl, since 15 years now. I loved it to listen to him playing big jazz and soul music standards like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Duke Ellington, etc. So the love for those music came naturally to me .
And as I got older, I felt so happy and joyful when I heard the voices of Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan and tried immediately to sing with a little voice recorder their song. Somehow that’s how I start singing .
A career as a musician was not you first ambition. Before you started as a singer and songwriter, you worked as an actor. How did that happen?
As I said before, I listen to and love music since I was a little girl, but I first started acting as there was a school of theatre near my place and as I loved doing shows my parents wanted me to a school where I could express myself.
Parallel they wanted me to learn an instrument, so I started to play saxophone, and I was taking many courses. I realized at that moment what I really want was to play with my own instrument and “use” my voice to sing.
With the founding of your first band “Joy’n’funk” in 2003, you started to work in the Parisian music scene. You’ve played in numerous clubs and bars over the years. Are the stages of Paris a tough school for a young artist?
Honestly I was young enough to have good energy and be enough positive not to give up, but yes, sometimes it was kind of hard to play in some places.
You surely know that sometimes when you start to play in little clubs, you are (most of the time) not paid. You play under bad conditions, sometimes you play in front of a few people, and sometimes people don’t even listen to you. So for your ego it’s not always easy but I think somehow that is how a lot of artists start and that’s how they became stronger in front of people when they are on stage. Anyway that was my case .
Maybe it’s my strong and positive personality but personally those experiences gave me the strength to pursue my goal of singing live and being on stage .
Because to me that was the way I wanted to learn music, I wanted to learn facing people, wanted to see what they feel while I was singing, feeling if they liked it or not. I was maybe not the best singer but I sung with my heart and I wanted people to feel that!
In 2010, you left France behind and decided to work as a singer abroad – among others in London, L.A., Montreal and Bangkok. How did these experiences influence you as an artist?
Yes, and I was not aware that singing abroad was about to come a brand new part of my musical career and maybe the best part of it .
In doing that – and as I’m a challenger person – I was getting out of “my comfort zone” but I wanted to confront myself with another audience, other people and cultures.
Singing for people who don’t speak the same language is so exciting but very frightening at the same time. The people don’t know you and they don’t wait for you .
For example in cities like New York and London, they have such amazing artists and a powerful musical essence and backgrounds that you can easily feel weak in front of such people and public, but I tried to do my best and give emotion and I think it worked. The voice can lie, the heart will never.
Five years ago, you met Gael Benjamin aka Geyster and started working for him as a backing vocalist. How did the cooperation come about? And how has it developed over the years?
I met Gael by a good friend of mine, Cyril Granet, who did the keyboard solo at the end of my track “Life depends on you”, an amazing keyboard player who worked ten years with Gael on many of his albums .
I had a track I wrote with a composer and I asked Cyril, if he knew someone who could mix it, and he told me about Gael.
Gael mixed my track, and he heard my voice and asked me if I wanted to do backing vocals on his album. I said yes, and that’s how it started.
I became as well back vocals singer and vocalist on his last three albums and on his live show as well.
With “Day By Day” you released your highly regarded first EP. You wrote and composed the four songs together with Gael Benjamin, who also produced and released your EP Tell us about the development process. How did this collaboration work?
As I was working and musically knowing Gael for five years and as (I think LOL ) we reciprocally like ours voices and music it was easier for me, and I asked him if he could produce and make my first EP. He said “OK” and we have been working on that project since one and half year.
Gael first sent me a few music instrumentals he composed and I chose some of them. For some tracks we did some changes, for others nothing.
I started to sing the melodies on his compositions and I started recording my voice, singing the melody, building the songs. That’s how I work.
Can we expect your first album soon? What are your future plans?
For the moment I am working on my video clip for “Day by Day”, that I am recording this weekend. And another video clip will come soon this summer.
I am now doing promotion for my EP on various radio and TV channels. And I will do my best to expand my music and bring people to know my musical world! So from now on, I am working on that and maybe later or sooner a whole album will follow, but…step by step!
One last question: As a bonus track we find a wonderful stripped-down version of the Jamiroquai classic “Space Cowboy” on your EP. At this point in your career, do you think that you’ve reached with your music the “good vibe zone”?
I will never be tired of learning. And as an artist who normally doubt all the time I don’t think I‘ve reached anything to be honest. I think I have much more to do and to learn, even after 15 years of singing behind, exploring into the world of music in France and abroad.
Through the hard times, through the good ones as well and with all the fantastic people and amazing stages and shows I have been lucky enough to meet, I don’t think I will be tired one day .
Singing is to me the best thing in the world. So I think that I can and will be a funky grandma singing on stage at even 90 years old if I can!
This interview was first published on June 13, 2018.
Photo: Maeva Borzakian