Une Débutante Au Jeu started life back in late 2005 when I had the idea of working on a few unique "seed" ideas I have half-written, some dating to 2003, and releasing them independently as a digital EP. The creative impetus came with the discovery of Benjamin Biolay and Keren Ann's albums - Rose Kennedy, La Biographie de Luka Philipsen and La Disparition. I was captivated by the songwriting, the chord colours they used, the arrangement and instrumentation. From there I started to ponder on such questions as - what makes a song sound french, besides the words? What is it that makes certain French pop music sound sophisticated or classy? Is it possible to write a french-sounding song without employing the usual clichés? Or even beyond the music itself – can one actually impart a metropolitan French character into the song – for instance their fashion and aesthetic sense, their joie d'vivre, or their knack for blending the classic and the modern?
Some of the most enduring melodies I can recall from my childhood happened to be of French pedigree - like L'amour Est Bleu, Francis Lai's theme from Un Homme et Une Femme, François de Roubaix's Enterrement Sous-Marin, and Richard Clayderman's repertoire. I half-seriously set myself a challenge to write melodies that, if set to French lyrics, could give the impression that the songs are indeed of French origin. I spent the next few years developing the seed ideas while constantly listening and tuning my aesthetic sense towards the 60's French scene - Gainsbourg, the Yéyé vanguard, Legrand and the La Nouvelle Vague soundtracks. The American influence of that time was unmistakable, but I tried to isolate what is originally theirs and what they infused from others.
Over time, the musical concept evolved into something not exclusively French-sounding, but definitively "old-school" style songwriting with dramatic melodic development; in "old-world" style arrangement and instrumentation featuring prominently tonal colours and voicing of strings, winds/reeds and brass. Yet I consciously tried not to sound like a 60's-inspired band or an authentic 60's covers act. I was looking for a new blend, and ended up with a mélange, with allusions to jazz, Tin Pan Alley, Gershwin, torch song, twee, chamberpop, funk, Shibuya-Kei and bossanova.
Lyrically, it is also an old-fashioned concept - four songs with four imaginary female protagonists living in four different metropolises, each in a different emotional season - a heart from frozen to thawing, blooming to wither. <see more notes about lyrics by clicking on individual songs>
This EP took almost four years from conception to release, and most of the time was spent on writing the songs. I set out wanting to make music popular because of the songs themselves once again. I hope to have inched forward from the starting line.
- Koi (a.k.a. Guy Poplin)
MORE ABOUT THE VOCALISTS:
BRIDGET LOW is frontwoman/singer of Breakbeat Theory, a live electronica outfit:
LILIA YIP is singer/songwriter of morphy, the band who refuses to be spelt with a capital "M":