French touch - Issue 124 - Magazine | Monocle

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France and electro have always got on well. The Germans claimed krautrock and the Italians got their hands on disco but synths were ever a French affair. Now a plethora of acts have swerved the sound towards pop; the likes of Christine and the Queens top festival bills but waiting in the wings are an up-and-coming bunch ready to advance the genre.

A towering presence with immaculate disco-lioness hair, Corine is a relative newcomer to the scene: two EPs preceded her first feature album Un Air de Fête, which was released late last year. But the wintry launch date felt at odds with the eminently sunny feel of the tracks. Delicious, groovy opener “Pourquoi Pourquoi” gives a taste of the unabashed sexy attitude that Corine brings to her music – and to lyrics that are titillating and elusive. (How’s this for a first verse: “I love chocolate / Milk chocolate / But mostly dark chocolate / Dense. Intense. Raw. Refined.”)

The album’s standout single remains her wonderful hymn to the sun-baked Riviera, “Il Fait Chaud”, but ask Corine what her favourite track is and she’ll say it’s the reggae-infused “Orage”. “I love that song because it talks about my village and the South of France,” she says. “It’s very particular to me.” Refreshingly, despite her perfectly pitched pop persona, much of what Corine does is very personal. Not only does she write her own lyrics but she has a lot of control when it comes to production. She clearly has quite a lot of fun doing it too: her antics have included booking two well-preened poodles for her glamorous album-cover shoot. The two dogs, Justice and Olympe, have gone on to become something of a sensation in their own right in France.

The breathless quality of her singing has shaped her identity on the record but Corine confesses that hitting the right notes is not her priority. As her propensity for posing demonstrates, you also have to dress the part and play with the most far-fetched fashion fantasies. “It’s not just the music; it’s everything,” she says. “You have to give the public a big story – like a dream.” Today is no exception: when she appears at Paris’s Hotel Grand Amour she’s sporting black leather with a fantastic, tight-fitting singlet, fiery scarlet Harem ankle boots and a matching red neckerchief by Hermès.

The outfit choice is very revealing of the inspiration behind her act: the 1970s are obviously a big influence. “My music is very ’70s because it is really organic,” she says. “On stage we are six – there are five musicians – and we play everything live. So it is different from an ’80s approach.” Much of her charm comes from this vintage allure but that doesn’t mean she feels stuck in the past. “I am a girl from this moment,” she says in her signature self-confident tone. The collaborations on her album – with the likes of chanteuse Juliette Armanet, another of the country’s rising stars – prove that she’s more in tune with the contemporary scene than may at first be apparent. As French musicians enter this new golden era – what she believes is a reprise of the country’s glorious, Gainsbourg-graced heyday – Corine thinks they have everything to gain from being friendly and, crucially, not overly competitive with one another.

Touring around France will keep her busy for most of this year, with performances including a suitably colourful concert for Pride at Disneyland Paris. But her music has already taken her and the band from Tokyo to St Petersburg, and to festivals in both Spain and Portugal. “I think it’s the beginning of something more,” she says of her international career. “I think music is a beautiful language because you don’t need to understand all the lyrics – it is the energy that talks.”

When it comes to plans for her upcoming album, she reveals that she doesn’t discount experimenting with a very different sound. There’s one thing, however, that will stay the same. “It’s always going to be something really spectacular because I love that,” she says with a smile. “I can’t go on stage without something theatrical.”

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