2022 seen by Juliette Armanet: “The future, I think about it without thinking about it too much”

Ambassador of the Maison Dior and a key figure in French pop, she is touring like never before, preparing a Bercy for March 2023. She nevertheless took the time to sit down in a Peruvian bar, around a full-bodied pisco sour, to tell us about what pop is for her and her taste for literature.

Juliette Armanet On the shoot for you, earlier, I remembered my first cover of Inrocks, I was crazy. I wanted to shout it out to the whole world! I feel like an eternity has passed. I don’t know if I have more self-confidence today, but I’m less pissed off.

How did you get there?

With the tour, my body came into play. Before, I was a girl sitting at the piano, de facto more reserved. The fact that I got up, to have this powerful music and this audience waiting for me to deliver something… It’s thanks to him too. I see in people’s eyes, when I dance, when I move, that they follow me more.

Isn’t there precisely a dictatorship of the public that sets in when one becomes a more “mainstream” artist?

Of course the public is a dictator. He is the one who decides if the song will become a hit. A good concert is a good audience. You can do whatever you want, jump, set fire, throw yourself on the ground, if he’s not in it, he’s not in it.

I am often asked Alexander, a song from my previous album. But no, I’m not going to start playing at the request of the public. Knowing how to impose your tempo and daring with silences can be learned. There is a bullfighting where you have to remain in control of your subject, of your show while being open to what is happening. The public is expected to be a dictator. I expect him to be radical. There’s nothing worse than an audience that isn’t one, that has no desire.

And your own radicalism, have you preserved it?

I hope. This is my territory of freedom. In concert, I’m not in the recitation of the album. We are going to look for danger, psychedelic magnitude, intractability. The musicians who accompany me bring me to insolence. So I feel very free and I hope it will remain so. Afterwards, what happens when you made songs that did well? I remember Catherine Ringer singing Andy, thirty years later… How does it feel to renew this love story, this pact with the public? That’s crazy.

Are you planning?

This pop format requires personal sacrifices and time… it can be exhausting. I’m coming to the end of a cycle with ten Zéniths and a Bercy in March. They are very powerful symbols of something that has grown. I don’t say to myself “I succeeded”, but rather “It marks a strong stage”. There can be an emotional shock after such a tour. How to bounce back? The future, I think about it without thinking about it too much either, because I want to live fully, to be in tune with what I’m going through. But I believe that for the next stage I will be looking for something very different.

“Björk is unbeatable. It’s my idol”

Aren’t you afraid to become mere entertainment?

No way. Pop as I like it is on a very fine line between entertainment and artistic gesture. As long as we maintain the ambiguity between something purely enjoyable and something more ambiguous, I think we’re in the right place. I’m not afraid to share with a more massive audience something very first degree, fulfilled and fun for him as for me, to put a kick on all the times and go for it, as long as I manage to offer a more specialized alternative, to stay in a complex place. In any case, if we start to no longer esteem the public, to lose confidence in them, to take them for an idiot, we have lost everything.

Everyone is waiting for pure, true, complex emotions. It’s not true that there is an audience that will like basic stuff and another that will listen to sharp stuff. We can all listen to Mozart and Kylie Minogue. These are different places in the heart, but potentially compatible. The more your audience grows, the more popular you can be. What is difficult, for example, are social networks, where you are always asked to speak.

But I don’t always have something to say! Still, as long as I maintain ambiguity and sincerity – because they go together – pure entertainment doesn’t scare me. It was Pascal who said that human nature is made in such a way that one cannot remain alone in one’s room and that one needs to be entertained, that is to say to turn away from the essential. . But what is the main thing? Isn’t the essential also that, precisely to turn away from the essential?

The guilt of entertainment can be dangerous too…

The Bronzés go skiing, it’s one of the best movies in the world. While we are on a big comedy… But we get hairy! That’s the whole question about Johnny Hallyday: was he a genius or some kind of ballroom singer? I don’t know how to answer it, but if I listen to Johnny at 2 a.m., it can upset me. It all depends on the circumstances, on what is happening around our listening, too. Andalusian by Kendji Girac, a July 14 with his friends, it kills. I’d rather have an open heart than be a snob.

What are you listening to today?

I block on Rosalía. The tenderness, the inventiveness, the voice… She is in all the places where you don’t expect her. She produced the most modern music there is. Everything mixes, all cultures, identities, sexualities. It’s bizarre how the universal arises in the midst of experimentation. The most significant things for humanity are anything but places of entertainment, but almost places of pure experimentation. There is a monstrosity in people who have marked the history of art. Björk for example – unsurpassable. It’s my idol.

As a teenager, I was stuck on her. Rosalía is part of that madness, that intimacy. They build a philharmonic, giant, cosmic thing, while creating intimacy. What guy is upsetting us today? Harry Styles doesn’t affect me, for example. Billie Eilish gave me a huge slap on the other hand. I find it wonderful. Otherwise, I listen to Pi Ja Ma, Fishbach… a lot of chicks in the end! Rebeka Warrior too, a very great artist.

“When you feel that what you went through writing a song reaches someone else, it blows your mind”

You read ?

I went back to reading, out of survival. These are jobs where you have to get away from it all, otherwise it becomes cloistered… even the constant phone call… I told myself that I was going to go crazy. So I read and it does me the greatest good. I loved the Lola Lafon, which I read in one day. I really like Blandine Rinkel too. My parents were booksellers for ten years, I grew up on books! I go twice a week to the bookstore and I buy books on instinct or according to what I have read or heard here and there. Reading is essential.

It only belongs to you. You are caught. Sometimes I would like to go back to school. I did hypokhâgne, khâgne, and I have amazing memories of it. I was given five hours to think about a subject – it was too good. I remember a quotation from Heidegger on Rimbaud. When in your life will you get that chance again? I miss it. Music is not an intellectual art…

© Benjamin Schmuck for Les Inrocks

It can be, right?

Yes of course. But there is something very wild in the music anyway. In any case, reading feeds the music.

A significant meeting this year?

One day, we were playing in a small room in the North. We had gone for a drink in a boozer. It was 11 a.m., everyone was out for beer. And a gentleman of about 70, a little damaged by life, strong, comes to see me, takes me in his arms and asks the boss to play The Last Day of Disco. He begins to sing it by heart while looking me in the eyes, and then explains to me that the song upset him… It turned my heart upside down.

At what moment The Last Day of Disco did he like it? What did it evoke in him? It was a movie scene! It’s crazy how the meaning of a song escapes you… It’s trivial to say, but when you feel that what you have experienced in writing a song reaches someone else, it freak out. And especially when it’s someone totally different from you.

A movie in 2022?

I loved The Almond Trees. I did theater during my literature studies, fifteen hours a week. I wanted to make it my job. I passed the Conservatory three times, but it didn’t work. Yet it was my vocation. This film immersed me in this learning of words, of reading, and in the beauty of post-adolescence, when the social norm has not yet shot you down, when you are insolent, when you are not yet a little sheep…

“I worked crazy, I sweated, like everyone around me”

Have you had a defining moment in your life?

I got pregnant while on tour. It was a very decisive moment! How to live it all? How do you live it all when it doesn’t just involve you? It’s insoluble. I experienced a lot of renunciations. Had to cancel
Zenith, stop. It was hard. Do not go to the Victoires de la Musique. There were moments of amazement. It’s my story, it’s made like that! Keeping this child at this time when my music was exploding was decisive. I don’t regret it at all, but I know that I was looking in the mirror and saying to myself: “Are you sure of yourself? Yes ? So OK, we will live everything!”

The first time I saw you on stage was nine years ago, opening for Perez at the Badaboum (Paris XIe). How do you explain your XXL journey since then?

I worked every day. I did all the first parts one by one, without a sound engineer, without a manager, without anything. I built everything stone by stone, without knowing where I was going. Will Bercy be the best time? I do not know. I have the fucking crazy virus. I’m bitten. Finding my music is the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. It helped me calm down, a little bit. I worked crazy, I sweated, like everyone around me. You only see my face, but this project is very collective.

What do you think of Annie Ernaux?

“All images will disappear” [dans Les Années], that’s wonderful. Her hair is a bit frizzy, burnt, almost scorched with insolence! [rires] I wrote my master’s thesis on autobiography with Romain Gary/Émile Ajar. When I found out Years by Annie Ernaux, all my reflection on the question of fiction as a conquest of freedom, how Gary was invented and found by the imagination… Ernaux broke everything. She explains that your identity was forged and formed by what surrounds you. All the illusion of constructing oneself on edge and with guns, with the deep belief that we forge ourselves intimately, everything is broken by this idea of ​​being circumstantial beings and of being determined by what we eat, what we see, how we move…

It is a monument of literature because it breaks the foundations of the story of his life and what life is. Because life is made up of decorations, that we are not a pure identity. It’s awesome. I viscerally hated the doc The Super 8 Years on the other hand. All of a sudden, his whole clinical stuff becomes unbearable. As much as his writing gesture seems extraordinary to me, so much the relationship to the image…

Burn fire 2 (Romance Music/Universal). Released since November 4. On tour in France and on March 17 in Paris (Accor Arena).


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