She is MADMOIZEL, an amazing artist from Paris who releases her music since 2008. I discovered her works about two years ago and she nailed me forever with her skills and her passion, not to mention the exceptional degree of innate musicality that is all over in her records. And she is an alternative figure who dwells mostly in the underground electronic scene of Paris and I wanted to talk with her about all things in her art as well as some other crucial things we ask artists. We talked about music, her past, present, and future. She gave me her comment on the pandemic situation in France and the related political decisions that made her angry, and she told me about her own adventure with Covid-19. We talked about her live gigs and the gear she uses. We did a long interview that flows like a river and I must thank Mary McIntyre from TONN RECORDINGS who brought us in contact. Ladies and Gents, pour red wine in your glasses and tune in to our French guest, MADMOIZEL!!!
Hello Madmoizel and welcome to WL//WH. I saw your name in the showcase compilation ‘Fast Forward’ by Tonn Recordings, with the track “Mystery”. Let’s go straight to the news; what is this track? What are we expecting from you in 2021?
Hello dear Mike! Thank you for your focus on MADMOIZEL “Mystery”, which ends the last compilation of TONN Recordings, is a special song inspired by the lyrics which are both directly taken from words said by a friend of mine and also reflecting what I had to go through at a certain period of life. About 2021, different projects are in progress, others are almost finished. But as I am superstitious, I prefer not
talking about things before they are 100% achieved. No doubt about my continuous musical work and I can say that new things are coming: releases, collaborations, remixes…and I would love so much to announce a live show…maybe
the end of 2021! Let’s hope!
In June 2020 I also saw your name in the ‘Intersection III’ compilation via the same label where you put your hands on “La Noche” from Colombian artist David Pinilla, confess, please…
I have a special affection for David P. A stylish smoker with a huge and refined musical culture. Its debut album on TONN has everything I love. A raw modular sound that reminds me also the one of Nova Guardia, a brilliant artist on TONN too. The perfect sound for underground live acts. Watch a video live of them both and you will understand. The evening I uploaded the album of David I immediately had a crush on “La Noche”. So when TONN suggested participating in a “Covers” compilation I could not resist choosing that song – even if covering a track you love is a real challenge…but “challenges” stimulate me. So, I decided to slow down the tempo, to bring the feminine and sultry touch. I also was inspired by Astor Piazzola who Grace Jones used in ‘I’ve seen that face before and tried to stay as close as possible to the original piece. I actually moved the raw modular & minimal darkness into a melancholic &a cinematographic pop song. I was happy with the result and delighted that David and Mary loved it too.
You have also uploaded on your YouTube channel one outlandish and amazing cover you made for the anthemic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” of the mythic band Bauhaus, and it is live footage from Les Nautes, Paris, back in 2016. What led you to twist that specific song from Bauhaus? What happened during that night at Les Nautes, Paris?
I played at Les Nautes for the first time with my label mate Judith Juillerat. We were invited by our label Lentonia Records which was supported by the art contemporaneous program of the Galeries Lafayette called Lafayette Anticipation. Then I have been booked there again, and during the live I covered Bauhaus. Why Bauhaus? Why Bela Lugosi’s dead? Bauhaus is a remarkable band in all senses to my eyes. We all have in mind the images of “The Hunger”. Peter Murphy widely interprets Bela Lugosi, David Bowie, and Catherine Deneuve wearing sublime sunglasses and outfits in search of prey. This movie scene describes exactly how intense is the song and the live
performance in that goth nightclub. I have tried to keep this dark intensity in my live performance.
You have self-released your first two albums (‘Dame De France’-2010, Lady Dandy’-2013), then ‘The Love Machinery’-2016 via Lentonia Records, and since 2018 you interact with Tonn Recordings (‘Play Bizarre’ LP, etc). What is intriguing you with that specific label from Belfast?
You forgot to mention “Ilusion” released in 2019 on the prestigious record label Objetrouvé founded by my very good friends Stéphane Argillet and Coco Gallo – the duet of Peine Perdue. In 2018, my 4th album was mixed and recorded by Achim Dreßler (with who I work for 10 years now) and I was looking for a new label. My web inquiries drove me to TONN. The visual first caught me. Its clean-cut and minimal design associated with the city of Belfast plus a Lady as the owner of the label intrigued me immediately. As I read on TONN’s Facebook wall that was not possible for the label to add a new artist to its catalogue I didn’t contact Mary McIntyre. But coincidently, two days after, she bought my album “Lady Dandy” on my Bandcamp. As I use to send a private message to each of my supporters, we started to exchange together and of course, it fits. Then we released the album “Play Bizarre” in September 2018; then Iv/An and I re-visited one of our respective tracks on the mini-album “DUAL”, I also did three remixes (Misfortunes, Crystalline Stricture, Vogue.Noir), a cover (David P.), two singles (Control, Mystery), a TONN Liveworks, a TONN Danceworks, two portraits by Chad Alexander and Christopher Martin and I played in Belfast twice. So much achieved in less than two years and a half. We can say that MADMOIZEL and TONN Recordings have been determined, professional partners.
I just couldn’t ignore asking you about your appearance in Tonn Liveworks at The Mac Belfast in 2019, what is this 30-minute live performance?
Two days before I left the city of Belfast, on March 3 rd 2019, a video caption was planned at the MAC. A collaboration with the choreographer Vasiliki Stasinaki who I met after my live show with This the Bridge at the Black Box end of February. When Mary suggested a collaboration with the choreographer, Vasiliki and I immediately decided to work on the live version of “Repetitive” which sounded like a “contemporary-synth”. We recorded it without any rehearsal. Vasiliki and I are professional and use to perform on stage so everything was magically synchronized and it gave the TONN Danceworks you can watch on the TONN youtube channel. The performance was done so quickly that we had time for doing more. Vasiliki left the room and Mary asked me to play one song. She removed the grey curtain for the black one. A stark aesthetic and atmosphere came from those “Black Curtains” and perfectly fit with my silhouette and my minimal setup. Instead of playing one song, I decided to play the full live as if I was on stage. I played without any interruption for 30 minutes, in only one take with Mary and Paul Marshall in the room. It gave the first TONN Liveworks. It is for me the most beautiful piece of TONN Recordings & MADMOIZEL’s collaboration.
Now let’s go way back and I’d like to ask who are you? Who is Madmoizel? What led you to electronic music crafts? Where are you artistically emerging from?…..and if possible, where are you heading to through your music?
Luckily I was born in a family passionate about music and art in general. I listened to a lot of classical and neo-classical music. I also have been marked by David Bowie more by its theatrical representation than by its performances. At 6 years old I started to play the piano. Music had, and still has, an emotional depth to the point I crystallized all my feelings on and built both my own freedom and also my solitude. I was very young when I knew that Music will be the companion of my life. After decades of listening, experimentations, compositions with the piano, after playing with bands as a bass player, guitar player, and also synth-machines player I have decided to work alone under the name of MADMOIZEL in 2007. The electronic set-up was the key to playing on stage. In terms of electronic references I loved more the British sound of New Order, Bronski Beat, Art of Noise…than the German ones (even if I also listened to the classics). The Germans came later. So MADMOIZEL is the result of a contemporary synth sound mixed with lyricism and neoclassical references plus a theatrical touch. I often say that I try to play music of my own. Actually, I don’t care about being part of a specific scene and I think this is why I have been booked on so many different kinds of events. The most important in life is to do want we want.
Which one from your albums is in that very special place in your heart, and why, please?
“Lady Dandy” is probably the key to what MADMOIZEL became and still is. Associated to the sound of the album, the strong visual, a portrait of Vincent Malléa, impacted the audience and brought me to the light of the underground scene very fast. I was booked all over Europe and never stopped playing live since then. I suddenly shared the stage with Anne Clark, Kas Product, Peine Perdue…in underground venues, Queer / Goth festival, Fashion & Museums opening in Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris, London, Manchester, Belfast… It was crazy and it galvanized me. Plus “Lady Dandy” is a self-production, a kind of reward after so many years of intense work. But each of my albums is a personal process.
What equipment and paraphernalia do you put your hands on when you perform live?
I have bought my equipment with the idea to be able to travel all over Europe, to play on stage as often as possible. So it needed to be easy to carry and to package, and to have a very basic technical rider to “seduce” the bookers. So I bought the first series of Electribes. I first adapted my music to the machines and then I adapted my machines to my music. I work with the old Electribes EM1, I plug my microphone in the Electribes ES1 to synchronize in midi all the effects. I also use the first Kaoss Pad version which is an effect controller where my synthesizer is plugged. It allows me to do samples and loops in live, to reduce and to open the musical space, and to make the sound of my horrible synth a bit better. I actually bought a very cheap and bad synth but at least it is very light to carry, with 5 Octavia and
a joystick I use a lot. I am very pragmatic. So, when your tools are not vintage you have to push the limit of the machines and make the set up your own.
What is your current top-5 in your stereo and why, please?
It is so difficult to answer. Let’s say:
– ‘Le Gibet’ – Piano Works / Maurice Ravel (interpreted by Dominique Merlet)
– ‘It’s no game (part one)’ – Scary Monsters / David Bowie
– ‘Chanson Einer Dame im Schatten’ – Celan Songs / Michael Nyman & Ute Lemper
– ‘Hit that perfect beat boy’ – Bronsky Beat
– ‘Let’s go crazy’ – Purple Rain / Prince (even if “Under the Cherry Moon” is the album of Prince I love the most)
What has the global pandemic of covid offered to you? Any inspiration to protest your current views through music? Any collaborations or interplay with other artists?
You know, I got the Covid-19 only 5 days after the first French lockdown and it was not a comfortable situation for me, living alone in 20 m2 in Paris without seeing any of my friends. It took me 2 months to recover my health. I could neither rehearse nor jog (which is very important for my psychological balance). So I have tried to work on a musical project with up and down. I did my best and achieved a few works but I didn’t like this period. I was lost.
Music clubs, live stages, art workers, we are all being ignored in this pandemic and the truth is that we can’t do many things about it, or can we? What measures and actions would you take if you were the Minister of Culture?
If I was a bit terrified at the very start of the pandemic, I then felt angry about French political decisions. So much incompetence without mentioning the scandalous use of the fear and terror and repressive rules to make us blind. This anger has never left me. It inspired me a song titled “Culture 19” which will be part of a compilation on a label from Milano which will be released soon. The lyrics are: “Wear the mask, shut up, no mouth, do not breath, do not talk, do not think anymore” And I say “I wanna be part of the underground Culture” in reference to The Stooges saying “I wanna be your dog” but in that case, we are the dog full of rage. I actually protest against cultural censorship.
I want to be resistant and if I were the Minister of Culture I can tell you that I would have never closed the museum, theatre, cinema because I would have 100% trust in their curators and directors. Seriously, who really wants to have its venue closed? Who? Excepting a political decision? The loss of money impacts so much the business, that all the curators, directors have a very secure, responsible attitude. What the fuck is happening in the world today? The virus exists – ok, it is contagious – ok, hospitals are full – ok (because of past restrictive political decisions), but life is stronger than the covid area.
So come on!! Wake up !! Let’s go crazy, let’s get nuts!!! It is time “to stand up for our rights”!
Madmoizel, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to WL//WH, last words on you!
Thank you very much Mike for interviewing me. After 4 decades of musical research, and more than a decade on stage, releases, collaborations…I know now my career is for love for music indeed but also for love for people. Today I miss so much meeting and hugging friends, audience, bookers, technicians… I really hope we will kick the ass of our politicians to make it possible again.
Art is resistance <3!!!
Keep up with Madmoizel:
Interview by Loud Cities’ Mike