LA FEMME: THE FRENCH ROCK N ROLLERS TAKING OVER THE WORLD

Marlon, Clémence and Sacha of La Femme shot in Los Angeles.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY Danielle DeFoe
WORDS Julian de la Celle


 

     Never would I have imagined that a band like La Femme would come out of a place like Biarritz, France. I spent almost every summer there growing up and I'm even writing this very article at 2:00AM in the middle of a long week's stay in this very city. It's a mecca for surfers and the like, mostly in the summertime, but really it's home to a majority population of French aged 60 and older. Not the most exciting place to be, but it is beautiful at least. I sat down with guitarist Sacha Got in Los Angeles before their headlining show at The Regent in October - each came out in some type of costume, although not very different from what they would normally come out wearing on stage. I already really enjoyed La Femme from listening to both Psycho Tropical Berlin (2013) and their newest record Mystère (2016) but after seeing them live they absolutely blew me away.

 

Marlon

 

     They have a certain connection on stage between every single one of them and when you're watching you can tell that this is exactly what they were made to do. Their energy is at 300% the entire set and they're just really fun to watch! Set up with three keyboards in the front of the stage, they move around and dance so much that by the end of every couple songs they end up at each other's keyboards diving into the next song with ease. Vocalist and frontman Marlon Magnée is seen jumping into the audience, midway through singing the second verse of a song, and will keep simultaneously singing and crowd surfing until he's back on stage ready for the next one. Fellow vocalist and frontwoman Clémence Quélennec radiates this exuberant energy as she dances her way through each song, singing some songs on her own and some alongside Marlon. I highly recommend seeing them live if you haven't already, but in the meantime you can read our interview with Sacha below:

 

Julian de la Celle: You were born in Biarritz, right?
Sacha Got:
 Yes! 


Julian: My grandparents live out there.
Sacha:
 Ah, so you go there often then? 


Julian: Yeah, I try to see them every summer!
Sacha:
 Sick! So you were there last summer?


Julian: I was there in June, yeah.  
Sacha:
 Okay, cool. Call me next time you come! We’re doing a cool festival in September on the beach, Côte des Basque. We organize and we do the line-up and everything. It’s very little, but it’s fucking cool. The festival is free too.


Julian: Oh, how cool! Do you guys just get local bands or do you try and get bands from elsewhere too?
Sacha:
 Yeah, for now it’s just French bands because we don’t have the money to bring other bands down, but it’s like new bands from Paris and things like that, really cool.


Julian: Sounds great. We’ve just started a sort of “Band’s to Watch” section in the magazine as well with newer bands from all over, one in Italy called Red Bricks Foundation, another in Paris called Rendez-Vous and so on.
Sacha:
 Oh yeah, they’re friends of mine from Paris!


Julian: Yeah, they’re good. I always find it difficult to find more “Rock ’n’ Roll” style bands in France, it tends to be more electronic or house music. 
Sacha: Yeah, it depends, there is some stuff. It’s going in a good direction lately. 


Julian: So, when you’re in Biarritz, what do you do? Aside from surfing I don’t ever feel there’s much going on there [laughs].
Sacha:
Yeah, surfing and shit. But I have some friends there because I am from there, so I just chill with them and I go to get some rest and to see my family too. For going out it sucks, but there is one bar I always go to called Chez Miguel, do you know it? I always go there, they have good rum.


Julian: Inspiration wise, where do you guys draw most from wether it be films, other musicians, art, etc? 
Sacha:
 Lots of things, really. The band at the beginning was a melting pot of 80s cold wave and 60s surf music too, but with the new record it’s going in another direction. More oriental stuff and lots of psychedelic too, slow songs. Have you heard the new record?


Julian: Yeah I love it! I listened to the whole thing in my car the other day. 
Sacha:
 Cool, cool! [laughs]  

Julian: There’s one song I really love called “Al Warda.” So cool! Did you expect that you guys would be as popular in the U.S. since you do sing predominantly in French? I mean, there are a lot of French bands, or other non-English speaking bands who will sing in English because it’s usually more popular that way.
Sacha: Yeah, it’s funny. We try to sing in English and we just can’t do it! [laughs] It’s very funny. I don’t know, I mean, American bands will sometimes sing in French and so we feel we can come and speak in our language too. Plus, there are so many French bands that try to imitate English bands - they try to do The Libertines or The Strokes. Us, when we saw these bands trying to be English, we thought it sucked.

 

Sacha

 

Julian: When you aren’t on tour and you aren’t playing music, what else do you do creatively? 
Sacha:
 A lot of us do drumming too. A few of us wanted to go to art school before music and stuff like that. But, I don’t know, when I’m not playing music I like to party…uh [laughs] I’m watching my computer, you know. 


Julian: What do you watch? [laughs]
Sacha: Dumb shit… [laughs] or, like, Facebook. We like to watch shitty videos like medieval fights and stuff. They’re dressed all medieval, and they fight. It comes from Poland and it’s fucking violent. We like to see Russian fights too, because you know how in Russia they have camera’s on the car? Well, every time there is a problem it’s on film and they go out of the car and they kick people and stuff. But after, we are not for the violence, we like peace!  


Julian: When we shot SOKO not too long ago I asked her what music she wanted me to play during the shoot and she instantly suggested you guys. Are there other bands or musicians that you’re friends with or that you’ve become close with through touring or other collaborations? 
Sacha: Yeah, yeah. From California we like The Growlers very much. The Pesos too. They’re good friends of mine! The Memories too. In Paris I can recommend you a guy called Jacques, he does weird shit with sounds of nature and stuff like that. Also, La Tendre Émeute, they’re fucking wild, fucking great! One of the best French bands right now. They aren’t famous yet and don’t have any records out but will soon. They’re all living in squats and the shit thing is that they don’t want to be popular, but me I want them to be! You know, it’s like when people ask us “Do you want to do the TV show and be commercial?” and at the beginning I would say “Fuck, I don’t want to be commercial…” then after I thought if we don’t do that, another shitty band will do it, so we have to do it. If you keep doing what you love, than it doesn’t matter.


Julian: Do you think fashion is important? I mean, you’re obviously pretty fashionable. 
Sacha:
 Yes… [laughs] In Paris, every time at fashion week they see me.


Julian: [laughs] They’re like “Hey, it’s that guy!” 
Sacha: No, but the middle of fashion sucks… I have some friends who are models and they get told that they have to run around because they are too fat and they’re so skinny! So it’s horrible. I couldn’t be a model. But we love clothes and stuff like that, yeah.  


Julian: Are there any cool vintage stores where you live now in Paris that you like to go to? 
Sacha: Yeah! There are a bunch of stuff. The flea market is great in Paris.  

 

Julian: If you could spend 24 hours with anyone in the music realm, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you be doing?
Sacha:
 Hmmm… I don’t know. Maybe Bob Marley and have a joint!  

 

Julian: Great! [laughs] So what’s next for you guys now? 
Sacha:
 Well, we’re touring the west coast, then we go to South America and back to Europe. We’ve just toured this whole year as well, but we’ll be back in the US in the Spring too for SXSW and Psych Fest, I think. After we have lots of new songs we want to record.

 

Julian: Where did you record this album? 
Sacha:
 We began in the Manoir, in Brittany, it was fun. After in Paris we have a basement and then we mix it here, in LA, so we came here for that. We go back and fourth a lot! I hate planes as well, it’s so long…it’s not human! [laughs] 

 

Julian: Well, thank you for taking the time to speak to me! Let's keep in touch. 
Sacha:
 Thank you!

 

Clémence

 

Clémence

 

Marlon