French electronic duo Her find immortality in their music

“We choose the way we’ll be remembered.” The first song Simon Carpentier and Victor Solf wrote as French electronic duo Her opens their self-titled debut album with those words. Both of them were afraid of the future at the time and needed to make a song about how they should be the ones to decide how they are remembered. No one else could decide.

“We Choose” was released after Carpentier’s death from cancer, aged 27, in August 2017. He and Solf had met over a decade ago at their school in the medieval town of Rennes, north France, forming Her in 2015 after their first band, electro-pop band The Popopopops, split two years earlier.

Knowing their time was limited, they mapped out how they wanted their debut album to sound, and how the entire project would be presented to the world. You’d be hard-pushed to find a record or another band to compare it to, and it’s not what you might expect from a French electronic act.

“Making this album was a very intense part of our life,” Solf says. He’s sat, in an orange roll-neck sweater and black trousers – handsome in a particularly French way, with a strong jaw and dark, close-cropped hair – at a venue in Paris where the first part of a documentary about Her will be shown, along with a live performance by him and his band members.

 

“It was really important for us to be able to produce our songs, to be really focused on the whole project,” he continues. “But it was also important to trust people and bring them in; we’d been working with our sound engineer for five years, even before Her, and he really helped us a lot on the production and the mixing.

“Sometimes you can’t see anymore what’s wrong with a song, so someone a little bit outside can help. It was the same with the musicians, Simon could play the guitar and the bass and I could play the keyboard and some drums, so we could have recorded it ourselves if we’d really wanted, but it’s not how we think about music. We started to work with three other musicians – without computers – in the studio, and it was really nice to have different opinions.” Continue reading “French electronic duo Her find immortality in their music”

Chanson Du Jour: Rue St Vincent

Yves Montaud “Rue St Vincent”

Paroles et Musique: Marc Ogret 1909
Salabert 1909
autres interprtes: Cora Vaucaire, Patachou, Renaud (1981 “Chansons Ralistes”)

Elle avait sous sa toque de martre,
sur la butte Montmartre,
un p’tit air innocent.
On l’appelait rose, elle tait belle,
a’ sentait bon la fleur nouvelle,
rue Saint-Vincent.

Elle avait pas connu son pre,
elle avait p’us d’mre,
et depuis 1900,
a’ d’meurait chez sa vieille aeule
O qu’a’ s’levait comme a, toute seule,
rue Saint-Vincent.

A’ travaillait dj pour vivre
et les soirs de givre,
dans l’froid noir et glaant,
son p’tit fichu sur les paules,
a’ rentrait par la rue des Saules,
rue Saint-Vincent.

Elle voyait dans les nuit geles,
la nappe toile,
et la lune en croissant
qui brillait, blanche et fatidique
sur la p’tite croix d’la basilique,
rue Saint-Vincent.

L’t, par les chauds crpuscules,
a rencontr Jules,
qu’tait si caressant,
qu’a’ restait la soire entire,
avec lui prs du vieux cimetire,
rue Saint-Vincent.

Et je p’tit Jules tait d’la tierce
qui soutient la gerce,
aussi l’adolescent,
voyant qu’elle marchait pantre,
d’un coup d’surin lui troua l’ventre,
rue Saint-Vincent.

Quand ils l’ont couch sur la planche,
elle tait toute blanche,
mme qu’en l’ensevelissant,
les croque-morts disaient qu’la pauv’ gosse
tait crev l’soir de sa noce,
rue Saint-Vincent.

Elle avait une belle toque de martre,
sur la butte Montmartre,
un p’tit air innocent.
On l’appelait rose, elle tait belle,
a’ sentait bon la fleur nouvelle,
rue Saint-Vincent.

An English Translation of  Saint-Vincent Street

She had under her furry hat,
on the hilltop Montmartre,
an innocent little look
People called her rose, she was pretty
she smelled good – like a new flower
Saint-Vincent street

She hadn’t known her father
she had no mother
and since 1900,
she lived at her old foremother
Where she raised herself like that, all alone
Saint-Vincent street

She already worked to live
and on frosted nights
in the dark and freezing cold
her little scarf on her shoulders
she returned home by Saules street
Saint-Vincent street

She could see in the chilly nights
the starry sky,
and the crescent moon
shinning, white and fatal
on the small cross of the basilica
Saint-Vincent street

Summer, by the hot dusk
she met Jules,
who was so sweet
that she stayed the entire night,
with him near the old cemetery
Saint-Vincent street

And small Jules was a thug
who pimps the chicks
so the teenager,
seeing that she wouldn’t accept to be a prostitute
by a hit of a blade pierced her stomach,
Saint-Vincent street.

When they laid her down in her coffin
she was all white,
while burying her,
the undertakers said that the poor child
was killed the night of her wedding ceremony
Saint-Vincent street

She had a pretty furry hat
on the hilltop Montmartre,
an innocent little look
People called her rose, she was pretty
she smelled good – like a new flower
Saint-Vincent street

I sa mok em boo di ay, I sa mok em boo

Bonjour, mes amis.

Yesterday, as I fiddled with my cable remote to find something entertaining on the tube (Springsteen underestimated, “57 Channels And Nothin’s On,” there’s more like 257) I stopped at an infomercial selling a “Golden Oldies” multi-cd package. The product’s celebrity hawker was none other than Sha Na Na’s “Bowser,” who performed his trademarked Bowser muscle pose at the end of the spot.

Despite my deep aversion to Bowser (hated the 1970s syndicated Sha Na Na TV show – especially Bowser doing his muscle pose)  I couldn’t stop listening to the commercial, as each ’50s-era song brought back memories of listening at night to Boston’s original golden-oldie radio station, WROR.

As a teenager, I was nuts about these records, even though many of them were recorded before I was born. While Sha Na Na always sounded like phonies to me, I preferred the originals I would hear every night listening WROR:  “A Lover’s Question” by Clyde McPhatter, “I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Flamingos, “Mr. Blue” by the Fleetwoods, “Sleepwalk” by Santo & Johnny,  “Susie Darlin” by Robin Luke, and “Stranded in the Jungle” by the Cadets. On my morning drive into Pilgrim High School, my 1964 Pontiac Tempest station wagon had only AM reception, so my favorite oldies on FM’s WROR weren’t an option.  Instead I was forced to listen to the AM radio hits of the mid-’70’s: Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Peter Frampton, and the discofied Bee Gees, None of these performers were speaking to me the way The Five Keys did in their classic “Ling Ting Tong”

Even though I hadn’t yet discovered that this song was actually about smoking reefer (I sa mok em boo di ay, I sa mok em boo.) I instinctively knew “Ling Ting Tong” was cooler than, say, “Rhiannon.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if every dollar made from the sale of this CD collection (or any oldies compilation) would miraculously appear in the pockets of each of the remaining Five Keys? And not just in their pockets, but in the pockets of every living musician and singer who made these wonderful records: Lee Dorsey, Dave “Baby” Cortez, Bill Doggett, Little Willie John, Buddy Knox, Bruce Chanel, The Hollywood Argyles and Gogi Grant.

“Saturday Night Fever?” I remain unimpressed. Ling Ting Tong? He would never be wrong.