If music is universal and transcends cultural barriers, then an interview with French superstar Emilie Simon is a walk in the park. However, this park ended up being in the Green room at the Roxy. After tackling a plethora of topics ranging from fashion, east coast versus west coast, strange American habits and playing new material, I came to this profound conclusion: despite political differences, Americans and French appreciate multi-talented artists such as Emilie Simon. Are we friends now?
RacketGail: First of all, Emilie, I noticed that you have an amazing sense of fashion, just looking at your MySpace. What kind of inspiration do you draw from it? I mean, being from Paris, you know, that’s the fashion capital.
Emilie Simon: In terms of fashion? I don’t really know most of the time when I do music, I see a lot of pictures and I try to make it all fit together, you know? So by the time I’m on stage or I make videos and things like this, I try to stick to my imaginary world, you know, to find the right designers or people who can have the input and go the same direction to support the music and so everything makes sense.
RG: Do you like singing better in French or English?
ES: I think both languages have got very different melodies. Some songs, I will never do in English because you know, it will be like wrong, you know, little bits of it. And some songs I will never do in French because of the same thing, it will sound strange to me and some songs you can do both. So sometimes I write in English and French, the same song, but I don’t know, it’s more the sounds, how it speaks the best.
RG: Was this your first show in L.A.? I mean, how long have you been in the States since you lived in New York? How long have you been here?
ES: I just arrived a few days ago to rehearse a little bit, to do the first shows, you know, rehearse the new songs.
RG: How did that go? Were you confident in performing your new material now? What are you nervous about?
ES: I’m nervous about everything [laughs] but it’s going to be alright, you know? It’s just a new set-up, new songs. It’s completely different. I used to tour with a band and now I’m alone on-stage, but it’s pretty different kind of energy, so I don’t have my habits yet on this set-up. So it’s quite refreshing but also a little bit you know, of course I will be very awake on-stage to make sure everything works.
RG: Was this your first time in L.A.?
RG: What’s the first image when you arrived here? What do you think about being from Paris? I studied abroad so a lot of Parisians would you know, say something about it. Are you a big fan? What comes to your mind when you think L.A. and California?
ES: The first time I came, I think it’s um… I love the weather and the people, they are really nice and relaxed and also there’s a lot of space- big space, big streets because in France, they have very small space. So it makes a really huge difference, that you feel like you’ve got so much space and yeah, I really like coming here.
RG: Do you prefer east coast or west coast because you live in New York? If you had to choose one or the other, where would you want to go? Where would you fit more with your personality?
ES: For now, I live in New York. I think it’s closer to the European habits you know? But I also enjoy coming here; you know that maybe in the future, I will come a bit more here.
RG: Do you have anything you do to prepare before a show before you go on-stage? Do you have any habits or anything like that where you do something, say a prayer? I don’t know, what kind of training do you do before you get on-stage before they call you out, what do you do?
ES: I think I check all my equipment and then I have to get ready you know the dressing and I catch up on things to do to help me concentrate.
RG: What is the weirdest thing about Americans that you noticed from being French? I mean, what sort of thing that you found were really different in comparison?
ES: I think it’s the fried pickle yesterday [laughs]. It’s quite different. I never had this in France, that’s like really strange food here.
RG: Fried pickles?
ES: Yeah, yeah I tried it yesterday, that’s why I remember that.
RG: Do you prefer French food over American food?
ES: Oh, really I love a lot of different food and I love French food, but you know sometimes it’s really too rich. You know, I prefer a very vegetable and you know, plain thing. I don’t know, I like it.
RG: Being at the Roxy, it’s a really intimate venue, you think you’re more comfortable with a big stage with a whole bunch of people or a small setup with like just a couple of people? I mean, where would be your comfort level?
ES: Now, I really like the size of this room because it’s not too big and it’s not, just some people there, it feels a little bit like, I don’t know, French, but a little bit more intimate which is cool for my first show, you know?
RG: Alright, I know this is a one-night only concert, [laughs] it’s kind of a random question, but you call it a one-night stand, so have you ever had one? [laughs]
ES: You mean, concert?
RG: No, I was trying to be funny, you know? It’s called a “one-night stand,” so I’m trying to get at something personal but if you don’t want to answer it… [laughs]
ES: Oh yeah, yeah I don’t think…
RG: Anything you wanted to add for fans of yours for the magazine? How do you want to tell people about your sound? How would you describe yourself?
ES: Oh, tonight is going to be very electronic, it’s a lot of programming I did myself, you know? So it’s all that, made home, home-made with my computer. So this time I’ll be very electronic, but maybe in the future there will be you know, it will change but this is like, the first try will be very electronic.