Wednesday, December 14, 2005

*Phew* Brisa's just dumped a bunch of new info on me, so I'm going to sift through it as well as I can. So, eat this: she's just recorded "Dans le Vert de ses Yeux" with some hunky French guy named Benjamin Biolay. From what my non-French speaking ass can ascertain, that song's been her big single off the album (she may correct me, if I'm wrong). I don't know who this guy is - maybe they're doing a Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin thing...


Anonymous said...

Success story Great ! Tell us more, gig dates ... !

But how all this fairytale began in Paris, France years ago ?

mk said...

BB is quite a popular french singer.
much in the gainsbourg style.
the big difference is that bb sucks imho :)
also, dans le vert de ses yeuxs is really the worst track in the album. i'm not sure this is a clever choice to promote this track.

Anonymous said...

When is the official site and new pictures up?

mk said...

'Most French pop is crap' Benjamin Biolay is a chansonnier making waves abroad. He talks to Colin Randall
BY Colin Randall
865 mots
17 décembre 2005
The Daily Telegraph
(c) 2005 Telegraph Group Limited, London

Benjamin Biolay is impossibly handsome, has Catherine Deneuve as the mother-in-law to end mother-in-law jokes, and threatens to become that rarest of musical creatures: a French pop star who makes it abroad.

It seems like a recipe for contentment. But chain-smoking over espressos in the Lutetia, the hotel that the Gestapo made their Parisian headquarters, Biolay wants to talk about none of these things, but about English football, English spin doctors and the Beatles.

Biolay, a confirmed Anglophile, shares the British perception of French pop, namely that it is best left to the French. "Mostly,'' he says, dipping into an impressive repertoire of colloquial English, "it's just crap.'' Yet there are signs that Biolay may be capable of bucking the trend. Word has been slowly spreading as he has branched out from a resoundingly successful songwriting career to head a pack of singers reinventing chanson française.

The term describes a style that had its heyday in the age of Edith Piaf, whose mighty voice and impassioned ballads won millions of hearts. And while Biolay, a boyish 32, sounds nothing like Piaf, chanson is an evolving genre; the current model, with its intense lyricism and eye for a good hook, has inspired excited comparisons with the late Serge Gainsbourg.

As a rebellious 13-year-old, Biolay first heard Gainsbourg while being driven, high on cannabis, along the German autobahn by an older family friend. He was instantly charmed. "If you do my job in France, you have to like him,'' he says.

Until recently, that "job'' involved assorted collaborations, writing for the French crooner Henri Salvador as well as for his own sister, Coralie Clement, and a former girlfriend, Keren Ann, whose work is also causing something of a stir beyond French shores.

After a stuttering start as a performer, with at least one failed band and some sink-without-trace solo records, Biolay finally made his mark with Rose Kennedy, an album reflecting his obsession with the American political dynasty, and subsequent releases have brought him glowing acclaim. Mojo magazine made his current release A l'origine an album of the month, and there are signs of interest in America, where the New York Times hailed him as "Le Pop Star''.

Growing up in small-town France, the son of a classical musician in the Beaujolais-producing region, Biolay was seduced by the one Beatles record in his parents' collection, an EP called Les Beatles. The group had broken up before Biolay was born, but had a profound effect on his adolescence. John Lennon was his hero. "I admire McCartney as I admire Schubert,'' he says. "But Lennon was so much more. He was the leader, and when you know the history of the band, you know he was the best. Albert Goldman tried to explode the myth in his biography, but failed; Lennon was human but I feel I understand him.'' No subsequent rock star has had anything like the same impact. Chris Martin has a fabulous voice, he says, but Coldplay no longer move him. "Great singer, great production, crap songs'' is his verdict on the X&Y album.

Commenting on others is what comes naturally to Biolay. When conversation turns to his own work, he quickly steers it away again. He speaks briefly about his actress wife, Chiara, Deneuve's daughter with the late Italian film star Marcello Mastroianni, and the sobering joys of fatherhood (they have a two-year-old daughter, Anna, to add to Chiara's son Milo, eight). "I played around a lot as a young man, but that's in the past,'' he says.

Sport is a passion, and he talks animatedly of his love for English football, describing Chelsea as a phenomenon that "may be obscene but is beautiful to watch''.

Politics intrigues him, too. He remembers his parents cracking open champagne when François Mitterrand became the Socialist president - "the only time I remember them smiling and partying'' - but is contemptuous of Tony Blair and New Labour spin. Peter Mandelson ("However did he come back again?'') and Alastair Campbell (a "loudmouth'' he bumped into at a party in Brighton) are objects of particular derision.

As for Catherine Deneuve: she is not just a formidable icon of French womanhood, he says, but "clever and cool'', too. Being a star in his own right, however, is something he appears willing to take or leave.

When strangers recognise him, he is not even sure whether it is for himself or because of the family he married into. As another function of French pop's inferiority complex, he suggests that his celebrity may be confined to Paris and big provincial cities.

For now, he has a point. The day after we meet, I mention his name to five twentysomethings in the medium-sized city of Le Mans and get four blank looks. But he's already a favourite of radio stations across Paris, and it shouldn't be long before we fall for him too.

'A l'origine' (EMI) is out now.