Sebastien Tellier is a French singer and songwriter. He begins his North American tour April 1st in New York City at Le Poisson Rouge.
What made you start creating music?
When you’re a musician usually it’s because when you were a child it was a way of communication to the world, growing up it’s very very lonely, I want to fix the silence. A musician makes music to forget the silence, actually.
When did you first see yourself as an artist?
My father and my mother didn’t want me to become a doctor or a lawyer, or something like that. The dream of my parents was for me to become a musician. When I was a baby, or when I was about five or six, that was the beginning of my musical life. Step-by-step at the very beginning for me music was a …and step by step the spiritual world came to me and it was much easier for me to forget the technical side and just be an artist, and so when I was 20 that was the beginning of my artist life, not music for music, but music for message.
Was there added pressure with your parents being so supportive of your career path?
There was no pressure because it was life. They wanted me to find some pleasure in music, not a problem, not a pressure, for me it was really easy to become a musician because for me it was the right way, it was not just the right way to win money, because I don’t care about money, it was without a doubt a pure wish.
There’s a large visual component to your music…why is that?
To listen to music you need your eyes, not just to create music, but to listen to, because the acting, the clothing, the appearance, everything from the singer has an influence, not just the composition. There’s the question of image. It’s when somebody looks at me and can know what music I play to explain the meeting you side of my music, and I have long hair to explain the woman’s side to my music, and I wear sunglasses to explain the sophisticated side of my music, so when you play music you have to present the whole works with the music.
How do you view the live experience?
The record, when we are in the studio, in the recording studio, it’s much more comfortable…on the stage, sometimes it’s cold, or too hot, but it’s the most beautiful experience of my life. When I’m on stage, I can be myself.
How do you feel about your constant association with French musicians Air and Daft Punk? (Sébastien’s last album "Sexuality" was produced by Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo)
If we can find a different between me and other successful French artists it’s that I’ve pursued a slow career. For me music is spiritual, I’d like a slow journey. I make very slow music in my mind.
What are you working on now and for the near future?
For now I have to finish the tour, to end of the tour will be the end of the summer. After that it’s important for me to make some songs, that’s a long time for me to be away from that. The goal of my life is to become a new person because I don’t want to make the same album as the previous one, and so I have to change my car, I have to change my apartment, I have to change my taste, become a different guy. When I’ve become that different guy it will be time to make the new record.
How do you keep the tour fresh?
For example, when I go to Burger King, there is no Burger King in France, so for me it’s always a pleasure to go to Burger King. For me, the greatest pleasure is always the smallest pleasure, like eating a good burger, sleeping well, wash the things you wear…I can find pleasure and some new energy with usual things like that.
You’ve kept referring to music as a spiritual journey, do you see yourself stopping at any point?
For me it’s impossible to stop the music. It’s the best thing ever, listening to music, listening to the emotion. Music is the first art for me, I don’t paint, I don’t know what you could compare to music.
—Sebastien Tellier Interview
Photo by François Valenza