PEREZ is back with a new album « SUREX ». He will be live on on March 12th at La Maroquinerie.
Thanks to Julien PEREZ
Photos : Yann Stofer
Interview : Clément Grelot
Translate : Valencia Ehrhart
Your new album is out on February 14th is called SUREX. Can we see in it the evocation of the times we live in…i.e. overexploited / overexposed and overexcited?
I liked the polysemy of this title indeed which refers to the idea of a surplus: of energy, of intensity, of affects, of exposure… For me it evokes this particular relationship we have to our future, oscillating between enthusiasm and anxiety. There’s a science fiction dimension, it could be the title of a short story by K.Dick. It also reminds me of a drug name, a sedative, an antidepressant probably, or a brand of condoms. Something to protect yourself, anyway. And then it has the same number of letters as PEREZ and the R is in the same place.
In this album there’s the title TICKET which is certainly the most « urban » song you’ve ever produced. Is it a musical genre that inspires you? –
Indeed, there is an obvious reference to rap in « Ticket » but it’s not really rap. When we did this song with Strip Steve, with whom I wrote and produced the album, we thought we wanted to do a pop song that reminded us of rap, like a distant cousin, like a tribute as well, because we both listen to a lot of it, especially Anglo-Saxon rap, but also French rap: Booba, 13 Block, Damso, Vald… You only have to look at the number of views of the clips on youtube or talk to a teenager to realise that the real Pop today, the real popular music, is Rap. There are melodies that the great Variety singers of the 80’s and 90’s wouldn’t have denied. But in my opinion the productions are much more interesting.
Has your way of creating your music changed/evolved since SALTOS, your first solo album?
It certainly has changed a lot. At the time of SALTOS, this project sung in French was still new to me and I was struggling to disentangle myself from my influences like Daho, Bashung, Christophe, Taxi Girl, Ellie and Jacno… My songs were more frontal and naive. That’s not a flaw in itself, but let’s just say that over time I felt like moving towards something more personal and more devious. My way of composing, for instance, has a lot more to do with collage work, with songs which are full of harmonic and rhythmic bifurcations, and I wanted to break away from the verse/chorus structure on a lot of tracks. I also wanted to look for themes and ways of writing that haven’t been used much in French pop music. I try to free myself more from myself, from my reflexes and my habits as an author and composer.
Through various interviews, we learn that you live on top of a tower in Belleville and mostly at night… Like a new generation Dracula. It’s all the more true when we watch your latest video (EL SUENO) which stages a dream from which sexy and bloodthirsty ghouls escape. Can you tell us more about this video and what this universe reminds you of?
The idea that motivated « El Sueno » was to make you feel a dream in progress, a dream taking place. The dream fades away as soon as you try to describe it according to a classic narrative as the characteristic of a dream is to distort time and sensations. So I tried first of all to create a musical climate that evokes a dreamlike atmosphere. The instrumentation is deliberately stripped down and hypnotic. It evokes both the trance of club music and the inner rhythm that inhabits each of us, made of breathing and heartbeats. The lyrics do not describe a story but rather suggest a sequence of sequences, like different states merging into each other, freely associating as the dream progresses. In doing so, I had in mind how great films about dreams manage through editing to make different temporalities and identities cohabit simultaneously. So it seemed natural to ask a filmmaker to make the video that would illustrate the song. I immediately thought of Alexis Langlois as we both share a pronounced taste for fantasy cinema, a fascination for a marginal night world, and have several collaborators in common, starting with the dancer and actress Héléna de Laurens, who has performed in his films and in my videos. We had been thinking about working together for a long time and it appeared to us that this song, by its form and theme, was the perfect opportunity to make this wish come true.
All your albums come with a very strong visual identity. We’re thinking in particular of the 3D videos that tease your latest tracks. Is it a dimension that you work on from the genesis of an album or are you only interested in it once the album is finished?
I don’t consider the artwork until the music is finished. For « SUREX », the collaboration with Aldéric Trével who made all these little 3D videos that can be seen on my instagram as well as the image of the record cover was decisive. He is a visual artist whose work I love and whom I have known for several years. When I offered him to work on my record, I wasn’t sure where this was going to lead. We talked about what the music showed through, in the lyrics, the recurrence of everyday situations that gradually drifted towards surrealism, my attraction to divagation, metamorphosis… He came up with the idea of scanning me to create my 3D avatar and started showing me animation tests in which he put me in wacky situations that were both grotesque and creepy. I thought it was a nice way to approach the question of incarnation for a solo project. And it was very much in line with the SF dimension of the album’s title « SUREX ».
Apocalypse / T-shirt / Une autre fois / Cerveau /Candy… So many songs that talk about love and/or carnal relationships that are very hard and even violent but also often romantic…in life, are things simpler or more complex according to you?
Let’s say I’ve never been sequestered by a girl who wanted to cut out my tongue so that I would stop singing, so my real life is in a way simpler than my phantasmagorical life but there are bridges between the two of course. Writing a love song is a good way to make catharsis when you’re caught up in situations that make you suffer. It’s a way of both formalizing chaotic and often contradictory feelings, and also of taking distance by emphasising or poking fun of them.
Your musical universe is quite unique on the current French scene. Can you tell us which of your colleagues you feel closest to artistically?
There are plenty of daring and exciting things going on in the French indie pop scene right now. I find it particularly stimulating, it makes you want to try new things and surprise people. To name a few projects: Julien Gasc, Chassol, Mathilde Fernandez, Alba Lua, Johan Papaconstantino, Kompromat, La Féline, François and the Atlas Mountain, Volcan, Jardin… And I inevitably forget a lot of them.
The release of the album is followed by a concert on March 12th at La Maroquinerie. How do you grasp the stage and all that it implies?
I like the stage a lot because it allows me to do rawer versions of the songs, for me it’s more about energy than the production of the album, it allows me to emphasize certain aspects of my music, especially the trance side, which necessarily work better with an audience and a high volume of sound. And then for the first time I’ve worked on the stage design, so I’m looking forward to it.
How should we listen to your music according to you on a dance floor or with headphones?
There’s always been this tension in my project and it’s great that it stays that way. I like the idea of music that can change shape depending on how you relate to it. Whether you can listen to it in the background while reading a book and it’s nice, or really loud and you want to dance, or one day you notice that some lyrics you never paid attention to are really confusing because you’re listening to the song on headphones for the first time. That’s why it’s important for me to make a very plastic music, with events, surprises, reliefs. I like it when you travel throughout an album, when you go through different territories, different states.