“The witchy, hypnotic sounds of world and folk music… I wanted to explore it with my rock’n’roll style, creating something new, a signature sound, which Jamie helped me achieve.” France de Griessen
Hi France ! Can you introduce yourself in 5 words?
Rock’n’roll troubadour and pluridisciplinary artist.
What are your 5 most emotional memories ever as a singer-songwriter?
Very difficult question, because there are so many! I think it always has to do with being outside my comfort zone, but not in a panic zone either. That’s that space in between what you know you can do, and what you could do if you pushed yourself, without pushing yourself to the extent where you lose your power and confidence and fail. I think it’s something you have to learn as an artist. Finding that space that keeps you growing and becoming more and more powerful. I don’t mean power to control others, I am talking about personal power, which allows you to become the best version of yourself.
So let’s see… The most recent one is recording my new album, alone in the studio with Jamie Candiloro. It was a big challenge do to do that, and I am very proud I did it.
The first radio show I did on my own, just me and my guitar. It was late at night on the French Radio, I had a nice beer before and after, walked thru the city afterwards, beautiful empty Parisian streets, streets lamps… I experienced intense joy! Performing with my husband opening for Indochine in huge venues was also something special! Just the two of us facing thousands and thousands of people. Not always easy, as when you are the opening act the main act’s audience don’t necessarily love your music, but always intense, a wonderful exposure and an unforgettable experience! When my first album, “Electric Ballerina” came out in 2011 and French magazine Longueur d’Ondes put me on the cover with another female artist, Chloé Mons, that was a big emotional thing for me. I was so happy! And if I have to pick one more, it would be when I was invited at the Locarno International Film Festival and got to see my music on a huge screen, being part of the soundtrack of Bruce LaBruce’s “L.A. Zombie”. Bruce’s work is definitely not for everyone, but years ago, I saw one of his movies and I thought he was a genius. A unique, romantic and provocative artist. So I was very happy to work with him. There are so much more moments. It’s too hard to pick only 5!
Your upcoming album has been recorded and produced in L.A. by the great Jamie Candiloro (Courtney Love, REM, Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson…). How did you meet him and when the idea of working together came out?
We met thru a « French connection » in L.A.! We wanted to work together before, but it did not work out schedule-wise. This time, everything worked out perfectly. So I guess it was the right time!
What are your 5 favorite songs ever?
Johnny Thunders «I was born to cry» Rock’n’roll flamboyance…
The Gun Club «Idiot Waltz» Heartbreaking melancholy that hurts and feels good at the same time.
The Dukes «Just in Case» powerful, modern rock’n’roll infused with blues and punk.
Marie Laforêt «Les Matins d’Antan» In my opinion the best female French singer ever.
Taxi Girl «Avenue du Crime» Daniel Darc. Those powerful emotional drums. These musicians… Synth-Punk was born from The Velvet Underground. … A moment of grace.
But to be honest, I can’t really pick only 5 songs, I love music so much!!! It’s impossible!!!
How has Los Angeles inspired you in the process of composing/writing your news songs?
The songs were not composed nor written in L.A, but in France. I live near the woods, I have a garden, spend a lot of time outside and all the sounds of nature are part of my inspiration too.
L.A was the place where they were recorded, and the atmosphere of the city made me feel a certain way, which you can feel as you listen to the songs. There are several «layers» of inspiration in this record.
What are your 5 favorites places in L.A. and why?
Santa Monica Beach, because I love the sea, the sand, the palm-trees, this timeless typical Californian landscape. It is so joyful. Postcard California, but it’s real!
The Hollywood Hills, because that’s always were I live when I come to LA. You can’t walk much in this city, but this is a beautiful and quiet neighborhood in which you can!
I am vegan, and there are such amazing vegan places in L.A. That’s hard to pick only one! I will say Gracias Madre, because the food is amazing, and the place is so pretty too. The outdoor part of the restaurant is heavenly. They serve vegan cuisine inspired by the kitchens of Mexico, sourced from locally grown organic ingredients. You need to make a reservation because it’s always very busy!
I love to buy clothing from Wasteland (the one located near Santa Monica Beach). It’s second-hand and vintage clothing, the selection is amazing. So perfectly curated. I never went there without buying something I think! Magazines like Vogue, Rolling Stone, Nylon and others have sung Wasteland’s praises, and rightly so! I think it’s the perfect place to be inspired and shop for a rock musician.
Last, I love Goodwill. I think in these times of continuous mass production of things people throw away, I think we need to think more about recycling and buying second-hand. There are awesome things for sale in those shops – I love treasure hunting, and making old things beautiful again ! -, and you can donate things you no longer need or want, which will help people find employment opportunities.
In what ways is this album different from previous albums you have released?
My genre is rock music, but each of my albums has a different inspiration.
«Electric Ballerina» was a collection of stories inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s «The Red Shoes» and blended grunge, country music, «chanson» as we say in France and punk influences in the mix.
«Saint Sebastien» was more oneiric – as a nod to Giallo, an Italian film genre I love – , I would say a bit more romantic and about the transformation of pain into art, hence the title of the album. I was going thru very difficult times, and one day I had this vision of Saint Sebastien, who was at the same time wounded, erotic and flamboyant. At the time, as I said, things were so difficult for me that the only thing that seemed «real» to me was my own skin, not my spirit. My skin was my connection to the world. There was a tiny bit of electro in there too, which you won’t find in my new album.
This new album revolves around the theme of the procession – and not necessarily in a religious way, I insist on that!. Processions, accompanied by music, can be found in every part of the world. They have been a part of mankind’s history for centuries. This inspired me a lot. The witchy, hypnotic sounds of world and folk music… I wanted to explore it with my rock’n’roll style, creating something new, a signature sound, which Jamie helped me achieve.
The 5 words you would like our readers to remember?
Love, Freedom, Power, Compassion, Poetry.