France's Latest Ultra-Cool Export Claude Violante Premieres 'Your Heart Is Weak' EP: Exclusive
Meet Parisian electronic artist Claude Violante. On the rise since her debut self-titled EP, released in 2012 via France’s Tsunami-Addiction (see stand-out track “For You” here), Claude today streams her forthcoming EP, Your Heart Is Weak, one week early via Billboard. Released in partnership with JD Samson’s Atlas Chair imprint (AVAN LAVA, Baby Alpaca, bottoms), the four track EP effortlessly blends ‘90s R&B vocal hooks with ‘80s synth based electronics, forming a distinctive sound that is equal parts delicious throwback and innovative fire.
“The first track I heard was “No Mercy,” and I can't even explain how it made me feel -- the rhythm is so driving, and goes through frenetic moments of freedom with such ease: genius drum explosions pushed up against sounds you just want to hold in your arms,” JD Samson, of Le Tigre and MEN, tells Billboard of first hearing the label signee's innovative sound. “The kick guides you to a most surprising and bouncing celebration of loss of self -- and the lyrics break my heart every time. I remember what love is, and what making art with passion is all about.”
And if you’ve ever seen the 2012 French film Les Infidèles [The Players], you may have heard Claude's side project, Haussmann, whose first single “Boys Like Us” soundtracks the film’s credits. [Side note: the band was named after Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the innovator Emperor Napoleon III tasked with renovating parts of Paris into grand boulevards. "We were snobs," she now jokes.] Claude has also earned film credits by providing the score of Patric Chiha’s Boys Like Us (2014) and Paulina Pisarek & Caroline Detournay’s FREE BULLET (2014) alongside Haussmann and electro-pop group Beau Travail.
“It's kind of a joke, because it's a horrendous movie about guys cheating on their wives and trying to hide it from everyone,” she tells Billboard, of the feature. “It’s not a feminist movie at all -- like way, way worse than anything you can imagine. And the lyrics of 'Boys Like Us' are really about being a transvestite, so we found kind of a revenge in it.”
And with the release of her forthcoming EP Your Heart Is Weak (out July 7 via Tsunami-Addiction/Atlas Chair), the striking force is looking to take her unique blend of melancholic electro-pop stateside, offering up an intriguing four-track taste of what her forthcoming full-length LP will offer, including -- most notably -- the dark night terror/murderous reverie of standout “I Kill By Night.” Give it a spin, exclusively via Billboard, here:
Billboard phoned Claude in Paris to talk about her musical background, the EP's inspiration, and her love of horror and soul.
Your first self-titled EP came out in 2012 on French label Tsunami-Addiction. Tell me about the time between projects.
It was very long. I was doing music for films and features but you know, in France and in the U.S., it's very difficult to make music that is a different kind than you hear on the radio and have money to work on it. So, maybe the reason why it took so long is because we didn't have a lot of money, and we had to wait and great people helped us for free and everything. It was really constructed with faith, maybe the faith of Gloria from Tsunami Addiction who really trusted that it could be cool for other people than us to listen to my music [laughs].
And did she connect you with JD Samson and Atlas Chair?
Yeah, she did. It's very cool, because I really like JD from the things I was listening to – Le Tigre and the kind of Riot Girl bands of the time, so I'm really proud of that. When you’re surrounded by nice and warm people it’s really different – it’s very cool.
Tell me about the title Your Heart is Weak? What about that name seemed right?
Well, the album was mainly written for a person in my life that I loved, and I think it was nice to address it to someone. "Your Heart is Weak" is not a bad thing for me, because it's taken from a song off the album that she didn't hear, I think, yet. It's a love song about a relationship that’s ending, and "Your Heart is Weak" is like saying that you have that sweetness, but you have many weaknesses too. It sounds pretty tough, and I think I like that, but I think it's also a very sweet thing to say to someone.
I think my favorite track is "I Kill By Night.” You wrote it about having night terrors...where you kill strangers?
For maybe three years I [had] that kind of dream maybe ten times a year for three years. It was ridiculous, and I'm really not a physical, violent person. I actually wrote it with my mother, because she told me "You should really write a song about that" and, so I did. She wanted me to exorcize the thing and write about it. I like to think that all the songs are really melancholic, but I'm really not desperate. That's the mood I would like to send out, you know, is that it's never…the end.
Are you a big fan of horror?
Yeah but I'm not into gore. I'm more into mystery -- even though they're violent -- I don't care about violence. But, gore just for the pleasure of seeing blood and decapitated people is not my thing. I like twisted, complicated, dark movies, of course. Like, you know The Killer? It's a f--king great movie. Really deep.
How do you feel about comparisons to groups like the XX or Giorgio Moroder? Who are you listening to these days?
Well, I have to say, I really don't see the comparisons to Moroder and the XX. Moroder is some kind of genius, of course, but I don't listen to him at all, ever. What I really love, my favorite band, or I mean ‘one man band,’ is Burial. He's my number one, f--king awesome. I also love Clams Casino and The Platters. I listen to The Platters, I think, everyday. I love soul. Chaka Khan - she is my goddess. And also Fleetwood Mac, of course. And The Beatles - The Beatles are my favorite.
You listen to a lot of retro music. Do you think that's influenced your own production technique?
Yeah I love 90's R&B. It was I think the best era of producing, music producing. When you listen to the first Timbaland productions, it blows your mind. It's fucking crazy, and even the sounds of Dr. Dre's first disc is so rough you know. The sounds, really, the sounds -- I love it.
Your new EP is out next week -- on July 7. What's your next move once it's released?
I'm doing a few gigs in Paris for now, and I guess I'll be looking for a tour. I don't know…I need a tour manager. I haven't been really thinking about the live gigs, because I want it to sound good enough for the stage. But I'm starting… it [takes] two months to think about it, how to put out the work on stage. And with electronic, it's not really obvious. You have to really think about the [the set-up] to find a solution.