The team behind the annual French music and food festival So Frenchy So Chic – which is set to take place next month in Melbourne and Sydney – have released the second EP in their ‘YÉ-YÉ 2.0’ series, sporting contributions from Odette, Ngaiire, Woodes, Elizabeth and Julia Wallace.
As the project’s title implies, ‘YÉ-YÉ 2.0’ draws heavy inspiration from the ‘60s yé-yé movement, wherein French artists took sounds and styles borrowed from Western rock’n’roll, inflected them with bouncy pop and new-wave elements, and appropriated them for a local audience.
All five of the Australian artists featured on the second ‘YÉ-YÉ 2.0’ EP have covered classic yé-yé songs; Woodes, for example, took on Clothide’s 1967 classic ‘Fallait Pas Écraser La Queue Du Cha’ (or ‘Should Not Crush The Cat’s Tail’ in English). “I grew up in North Queensland and unfortunately never learned French, so this was a challenging project to do – but [it] was one I really enjoyed,” she told The Music.
Noting that she sought help from a local French café to nail the pronunciations, she continued: “I found it interesting to see the subtle ways in which a word could dramatically change. It felt a lot like musical problem solving to get the right pronunciation, and then the next task was to make it feel like me and my own story or performance. I loved working with Nadeah, who taught me the lyrics to the song and helped me along the way.”
Odette performed the France Gall track ‘Laisse Tomber Les Fille’ (‘Stop Messing Around With The Girls’), which she described as “one of [her] favourite songs of all time”. She continued: “I love dancing to it. French vowels are tricky to get right so I had to push myself to be able to sound some of them. It took a few lessons.”
Ngaiire’s inclusion, ‘L’idole Des Jeunes’ (‘The Idol Of The Youth’), marked a full-circle moment for the Papua New Guinea-native R&B artist. “France has a sneaky way of creeping into the things that I do quite often,” she told The Music, explaining that her latest 2021 album ‘3’ was made between Paris and Sydney. On her cover of Johnny Hallyday’s 1962 hit, she said: “I loved the experience of singing in French!
“I come from a multilingual background so it wasn’t completely alien to me. I will say though that after singing this song over and over in the studio and trying to get all the pronunciations right, I felt like my mouth was going to pack up and resign from my face! Trying to move your tongue in ways that aren’t natural to your normal day to day shapes is a real workout.”
Elizabeth – who covered Marie Laforêt’s ‘Marie Douceur Marie Colère’ (‘Soft Marie, Angry Marie’) – echoed the sentiment, saying she “loved the process of learning such a passionate song in French”.
She mused on the track’s “passion” and “fury”, saying: “It reminded me very much of being 21, heartbroken and running away to Paris to hide. I did all the things a heartbroken young girl should do like walk through cemeteries and start smoking cigarettes to be cool. If only I had known any words in French, now lucky me I know all of these ones.”
Rounding out the EP is Julia Wallace’s take on ‘Mes Amis Mes Copains’ (‘My Good Friends, My Dear Friends’), which Annie Philippe first released in 1967. Her track was minted in tandem with Alice Ivy, who Wallace says she “loved working with”.
As for why she chose the song in question, Wallace said: “The melody … instantly jumped out to me, and then the lyrics about a girl needing her friends back after a relationship was very relatable and just made it a perfect song to cover.”
Stream the new ‘YÉ-YÉ 2.0’ EP in full below:
Today’s release in the ‘YÉ-YÉ 2.0’ series comes as the second instalment in an ongoing project spearheaded by So Frenchy So Chic founder Jean-Francois Ponthieux. The first EP, released last November, featured covers of classic yé-yé songs by Ainslie Wills, Montaigne, Ali Barter and Nadeah.
The 2022 edition of So Frenchy So Chic will take place in Melbourne on Sunday February 13, and in Sydney on Saturday February 19. In addition to appearances from Ali Barter and Nadeah, performers include French-Nigerian singer/rapper Féfé, former Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds member Mick Harvey (covering the songs of French icon Serge Gainsbourg) and French-Australian singer-songwriter Lili Alaska.
Tickets for both editions of So Frenchy So Chic 2022 are on sale now via the festival’s website.
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