chickfactor: how did you get into music?
philippe: I never got any formal training; I just found a guitar on which I could play my own songs right away. I just needed to make small objects, I needed it. at that time I’d stopped doodling, so it came in handy.
cf: listening to your records, I hear echoes of burt bacharach (especially your use of the trumpet) and michel legrand’s soundtracks for jacques demy.
philippe: indeed, I love these two artists, along with the beach boys, chet baker, charles trenet, chopin, tim buckley or bob dylan–I don’t quote them consciously, I just like listening to them when I take a bath.
cf: all your songs are short. sometimes, just as you get into one, it stops abruptly. it can be a bit frustrating for the listener.
philippe: since I also love the clash and the buzzcocks, I guess I like music to be lean. it’s not frustrating for me: I don’t like repetitive things, I like fragmented things.
cf: why did you release all your third album, mes mauvaises fréquentations, as a batch of four EPs before collecting them on the CD proper?
philippe: I wanted things to be fragmented even more. The songs were written and recorded in four installments, in four separate places. it was important for me to indicate that in some way.
cf: you sang a bit on your first album, les mariages chinois, but on the second one, l’éducation anglaise, you let your sister bruno and your girlfriend anne handle all the vocals. now you’re back behind the mike.
philippe: I’ve played a lot of live shows since l’éducation anglaise, and singing became a daily discovery. furthermore, I now appreciate the fact that I don’t need to systematically hide myself anymore. that said, I still love writing for others, especially young women; it’s a bit like looking a yourself in a distorted mirror. I think lolo ferrari [france’s answer to pamela anderson] would be very good in the role.
cf: I hear you have a young daughter now. in what way did it change your life?
philippe: my little girl is 3 years old and her name is edie. she made me discover the pleasure of getting up at 8am after a night spent drinking.
cf: a lot of your songs, like “le jardin botanique” or “le jardin anglais,” are about strolling in parks and gardens.
philippe: I do love strolling in parks with edie; everything looks completely new when you start paying attention. I love these pieces of artificial nature in the middle of a city, I feel they’re more real than the country. it’s like fake flowers that smell of plastic.
cf: I hear you’re going to be on the michel legrand tribute album.
philippe: I believe it’s going to come out on the village vert label. I think saint etienne is going to be on it. as far as I’m concerned, I’ll duet with valérie leulliot, who’s in the band autour de lucie. I’m really happy about it because as I love her voice’s texture, it’s very moving (she did back-up vocals on “les pays lointains” and “entre nous”.)
cf: your records have come out in japan, and you’ve even collaborated with kahimi karie, the “princess of shibuya-ku.” how did that come about?
philippe: I also wrote “dis moi quelque chose avant de dormir” for kahimi’s my first karie EP. we just recorded a couple of new songs for her next record, “electrophone” and “les leçons de français.” I’m happy about her singing my songs, I like her very much. it’s a bit of an adventure for me because I wouldn’t dare write these songs for my voice. I don’t know why the japanese appreciate my songs so much. maybe they hear something very french in my music, but I don’t really want to know. we’re playing there in november.
cf: there’s a burst of pop energy in france these days, with people as different (but still compatible) as you, dominique a, valérie lemercier, and bertrand burgalat, some bands on the cornflake zoo, rosebud, and lithium labels. do you feel like you’re part of some kind of scene?
philippe: I like all these people and personally know them. but I think that if you want to feel free, you don’t want to belong to any scene. so we all do our own things, exploring everywhere.
cf: who would you like to work with next?
philippe: I like louis philippe, the little rabbits, and the pastels. they’re all very different, aren’t they?
cf: merci, philippe! CF