La Femme is aloof, effortlessly cool, and shrouded in a plume of existentialist Gauloises smoke. In other words, they’re Parisian. Their alluring blend of haunted surf pop and an attitude reviving rock’s wild forgotten days has rocketed them to the pinnacle of French chic. Psycho Tropical Berlin, their first full-length album, hit number one on the country’s digital charts. Hedi Slimane used their Chuck Berry cover “Oh Baby Doll” for a Saint Laurent mascara ad starring Cara Delevingne, and they won Best New Artist in some sort of French Grammy equivalent. Now, just off a world tour that included a series of dates in the US, the champagne is spilling onto American soil.
Live, they’re fun. I saw them at Austin Psych Fest a few months back. Singer Clémence Quélennec maintained an awesome girl power vibe while Sacha Got surfed the crowd on his keyboard. Guitarist Marlon Magnée wandered around on acid in a giant wicker sombrero throughout the weekend, hanging with Anton from the Brian Jonestown Massacre. So yeah, they like to party.
With this intersection of glitz and grunge surely working, expect big things. Album covers keep it edgy, to say the least, with their first EP featuring a fully splayed vagina, and Psycho Tropical Berlin a nude bust. Their synth-y, at times spooky, blend of punk, electro, psych and surf is exciting and unique. And it’s good to see that some rock stars are still genuinely cool.
After a failed Skype attempt and a bit of a struggle with language barrier, we caught up briefly with keyboardist Sacha Got from the balcony of his Paris flat.
How was the tour?
“Amazing,” as we say in America. Good music, good people. The gigs were great so we had a good time.
What’s your favorite place in America?
California, New Orleans, New York, Austin, Denver.
How did the whole surf rock vibe begin?
Some of us come from a little town in the south of France called Biarritz. We’ve surfed since children. We discovered surf music in Paris, with bands like The Cavaliers and The Wangs, and really enjoy the sound.
What are your songs about? How seriously do you take the lyrics?
It depends. Sometimes the lyrics are not at all serious. In “Hypsoline,” it’s just words that sound good together, but they don’t make sense. Most lyrics talk about the story of life, love, characters… classic stuff.
What’s a wild tour story?
A friend of ours is a fisherman. He came to Austin Psych Fest with a giant bag of red wine. He made people in the festival drink it and then slap the bag. It became a game, “Slap the Bag.” This was funny.
How does fashion play into the band?
We like clothes, mostly old school stuff. Everyone has an affinity. We like to dress cool. But the business of fashion, most of the time the people are boring and they wank off for nothing.
Name five influences, they can be anything.
Women, men, nature, destiny, and the weird side of life.
Talk about the Paris music scene.
There are some really great bands right now. Juniore, Igor Dewe Wall of Death, to name some. It’s cool because in Paris there are so many places to play, so many scenes: Garage, ’60s scene, electro, punk.
We’re playing some festivals this summer, some gigs abroad like Israel and Russia, which we are excited about. After that, we want to stop touring to record our new album.