Clara Luciani: “I like this moment when the songs are still virgin” [2/3]

[Clara Luciani, l’interview fleuve] Eighteen months after the release of her triumphant “Coeur”, Clara Luciani is on tour in the biggest theaters in France. At just 30 years old, she looks back at length on her career, without evading any intimate, artistic, professional question, or her own contradictions.

Have you always been interested in contemporary production?

The new rock wave with the Strokes or Arctic Monkeys obviously interested me, but I had a preference for what inspired that current. I was so happy rock was getting cool again.

Your taste for the guitar also comes from there?

It started with my dad, who plays guitar and bass very well. I always wanted to sing and bought my first electric guitar at 11 because of Chrissie Hynde. Because I watched the DVD of a best of Pretenders over and over, and I was completely in love with her. I even wanted to look like her – I showed pictures of her at the hairdresser. I don’t consider myself a guitarist, the guitar is above all a composition tool.

Have you played in other groups than La Femme and Hologram, your Britpop duo formed with Maxime Sokolinski (Soko’s brother)?

I also had a shoegaze band. Anyway, I consider my project, even if it responds to my name, as a group. With my musicians, but also Ambroise [Willaume alias Sage] who I work the songs with, and the people on my label. These are hours of reflection, sharing and listening.

Without all these people around me, I probably wouldn’t have been so successful, even if I don’t underestimate my part. We form a team. I never blushed to ask for help. On the contrary, I find it noble to function in a community. Ditto when I am offered this incredible thing to design this special issue of Inrocks, I only plan to do it with my family.

© Fiona Torre for Les Inrockuptibles

Exactly, what is your relationship to reading the press and the proliferation of dematerialized reading materials?

To be quite frank, I mostly listen to the radio, particularly France Inter, while getting ready in the morning. This allows me to keep abreast of the news in ultra-busy days. The press needs to be seated and at least concentrated, which probably took me a little away from the written medium.

“I am very interested in Harry Styles”

Do you stay up to date with music news and new trends?

Yes, but I’m not like the singer Christophe, who made me hallucinate so much he kept to the page. I don’t have his level of curiosity, but I listen to what comes out, I watch the credits when a production interests me. For example, I’m very interested in Harry Styles. Like Lana Del Rey, he is one of those artists who manages to make records loaded with heritage, while ringing in 2022. I would like to be able to do the same. Admittedly, I built myself through figures from the 1960s, but I want people to hear a woman of her time when listening to my songs.

During your young career, you have already recorded many duets. Who is the performer who has impressed you the most so far?

The first duet I made was with Nekfeu. He had heard my voice in La Femme, I must have been 22, 23 – I still wonder how I could have received that call. I was very impressed to find myself in the studio with him. In addition, Nekfeu is far from my musical universe, it is inevitably more comfortable when I sing with Benjamin Biolay, which is not for all that less exciting. At the time, I only listened to rock so much that I had to call my sister to find out more about Nekfeu.

I wondered how our universes would be able to respond to each other, and the result made me happy [Avant tu riais, en 2016]. Our collaboration aroused my musical curiosity. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful form of interbreeding to create bridges between different styles. I would like to renew this experience and sing with artists far from my DNA.

A few words about another famous duo, the cover of Summer Wine with Alex Kapranos, published in the summer of 2020, between the two confinements, and appearing today on a collector’s flexi insert in this issue of Unbreakable ?

It’s a duo born at L’Olympia. I had invited Alex to sing, I wanted us to cover a song by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, but I didn’t really know which one to choose. Alex proposed to me Summer Wine, whom he adored; the musicians learned the song, we repeated it the day of the concert to interpret it in the evening.

During the first confinement, Alex completely reworked the arrangements and took the cover somewhere else for recording. However, he did it with bits of string, recording the sounds of keys or the songs of birds in his garden, but he’ll tell you about it better than me.. I like that this positive memory remains, like a snapshot of a historical moment. Because it was a stressful time and not very inspiring, apart from inspiring me to design the album. What a joy that this cover finally comes out on record!

Even being on tour, are you already thinking about your third album and the direction to take to renew yourself?

I started writing songs just last week. These are quite introspective songs, where I talk a lot about family, blood ties. Maybe they will be the common thread… I don’t know yet in which direction I’m going to go in terms of sound. For the time being, these are skeletons of songs, recorded guitar-voice or piano-voice.

I like this moment when the songs are still virgin. I’m still at an embryonic stage, but it’s very stimulating to write and imagine the rest. That the songs come back reassures me. I’m still afraid it might end.

Are you afraid of the void?

Oh yes, even in my days. My sister always tells me that I am incapable of doing nothing. Just sit down. Because to sit is to think. I am too anxious to take moments of respite. So I keep busy, I take piano lessons, etc.

© Fiona Torre for Les Inrockuptibles

How do you write the songs then?

I happened to write in the lodges, like The rest during the previous tour. Despite the excitement and noise before a concert, it’s ultra-stimulating. But I couldn’t do it again during the tour of Heart, so, after the summer holidays, I went back to Sage’s studio for a few days, with whom I’ve been working since my first EP. I love the feeling of satisfaction of having finished a song – without even knowing what it will become – and listening to it on my phone when I get home.

It is an immeasurable joy, almost inexplicable. It doesn’t look like anything else. I feel happy with myself. Because as I often write about what hurts me, disturbs me or haunts me, it is as if I had digested it and transformed it into a song, as if I possessed a magical power. I feel infinitely lucky and I wonder how others manage their pain…

“Very young, I became aware of my mortality”

The song as a cathartic, therapeutic method?

Oh yes, it’s amazing. And yet, in life, I am hyper-modest. There, for example, I am about to declare my love to Françoise Hardy for this issue.Why I find it harder to call it than write it in a magazine, I don’t know. This is one of my contradictions.

It’s like the songs on the first EP, they were so intimate, about my breakup. It was easier to interpret them than to call my ex to tell him that he had broken my heart. Same for my sister: the greatest declaration of love that I sent to her was to write and sing. My sister. It’s very contradictory, it must be explained by the strange ego of the singers and singers.

Does the disappearance of the album format worry you?

There’s something very satisfying, as an artist, about having space to tell a story. A song is great, but I think of albums as a story, with a beginning, a middle, an end. And the albums that touch me are thought of as such: Melody Nelson, The superb.

Listening to them feels like sitting down and reading a book. I also build my albums like a loop. I would be very annoyed if this support was taken away from me. Even if it’s hard to capture people’s attention for 50 minutes, because we are a generation that zaps, that scrolls. It’s nice to sit down to listen to an album. I love the ceremony that this constitutes. I’m not saying that things shouldn’t change, but I find the current times difficult.

Where does your fascination with the past come from?

I think what I like about the idea of ​​the past is the transmission. I am very afraid of dying. I think about it all the time, maybe more than average. Very young, I became aware of my mortality. Around 6 years old, I started to be very anxious about death. There is a pretty song by Philippe Katerine which says that “objects live longer than people”. I like the idea that things survive us. It can be songs, but also children…

I like the idea that things are eternal, go through the ages. It reassures me. Maybe that’s why I love vintage so much, it echoes lives that have died out. I love wondering who put the vintage jacket I’m wearing, or finding an old laundry ticket in my pocket. Maybe my clothes will be worn by others too, that my songs will still be listened to in 2050. I had been listened to by Thomas Pesquet in space and that gave me a feeling of “small steps”. [rires]

We often love the fantasy of the past…

Yes, for me it’s narrative. I imagine, I tell myself stories. I am not in a desire of historian or collector. I don’t know the value of things.

heart again (Romance Music/Universal). Released November 25. On tour in France, and on December 8 and January 31 in Paris (Accor Arena).
Clara Luciani is dressed in Gucci.


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