– Since you celebrate your 10 years, let’s start with a move back. What happened 10 years ago so that you meet and decide to set up this band?
Stan – We met in a bar in Paris called Le Limonaire, where every Monday was an open stage of goguettes [funny words put on well-known songs (translator’s note)]. I was going there since 2005. I already performed in small shows in very small places of goguettes in Paris, with Clémence accompanying me on the piano. During a goguette night, Valentin came and told me a bar in the 20th arrondissement that wanted to do a goguette night. I told him we could do it together the 2 of us, and even the 3 of us because on that night Aurélien was there and it was always good every time he came at the Limonaire nights.
Aurélien – We didn’t know each other. We spent time together because we went to the same bar on Monday night but we weren’t particularly friends.
Stan – So we decided to do goguettes in trio, with obviously Clémence on the piano to accompany us.
Aurélien – But it was supposed to be one-shot. It was in February 2013. Except it was very successful.
Stan – ...which led us to go on. Then was a long ascent, until today.
– I think you, Stan, are the chansonnier of the troupe, at the beginning?
Aurélien – The elder! (laughs)
Stan – Yes. At the beginning I am a legal expert in labour laws, it was my main job, but I liked to write funny things. And I liked the concept of the goguette because suddenly it became political and a bit humorous. And above all on known songs, which enabled me not to compose my own songs, which I’m not necessarily able to do. What I couldn’t do very well either at that time was singing, but 10 years later I improved a little.
– Why did you add in brackets "en trio mais à quatre" (trio of 4 people)?
Aurélien – It’s very simple. As Stan was doing his goguettes solo, when we started to present our own songs, Valentin, Stan and me said to ourselves “let’s put ‘trio’”, while demanding that we are 4 on stage all the same because Clémence was on the piano. Now that she has a much more important role in the show, it’s true that you can’t understand this "of 4 people", but at that time she only had a role of accompanist, she was very set back. After the 1st show we’ve been told: “But why do you say ‘trio’? You’re 4 on stage. So we added "of 4 people" in brackets, because Goguettes in quartet sounded too... serious...
Aurélien – Yes, or classical music, so it didn’t match. "Trio of 4 people" is ridiculous.
Stan – There’s a comical effect, which eventually remained...
Aurélien – ...and we never found better.
– And when did Clémence take part of the creation and singing process, more or less?
Aurélien – When it started to become a little more staged, I’d say, circa 2017, before we arrived in Avignon. She expressed it herself, she started to sing and to write more, with "Je Suis de Droite!"...
Stan – It must be from 2016, 2017... but knowing that during the 3 first years we didn’t perform much, maybe 6 or 7 times per year, not more.
– The band history clearly shows a before and an after lockdown, a before and an after "T'as Voulu Voir le Salon".
Stan – Clearly!
– What has changed? Has it changed you?
Aurélien – No, I don’t think so. What may have changed was the tour that followed, because we’ve gone up a rung in the pro side. Before we hardly could push the boundaries of mass media.
Stan – It made our tour operator’s life easier too, to find venues. Before Covid we managed to fill venues anyhow, but often with subscribers, people who didn’t know us. Whereas after Covid the audience knew us from the start, we felt more enthusiasm from the start. Before, we sometimes struggled to hook them.
Aurélien – We built the show while thinking “From the 4th song we must hook them” etc., because there was this crescendo aspect. Now it’s different, because some people know our songs by heart... It’s changed a lot. Besides we’re recognised in the street.
Stan – Yes we are, a bit more. Well, it’s no riot still.
– Yet I think your talent would have eventually been recognised anyway. Did you notice little signs of this before 2020?
Aurélien – Laurent Ruquier dubbed us somehow, made us take confidence. We did On N'est Pas Couché once [former popular French Saturday Night TV show (translator’s note)]. I remember I said to myself if a guy like Ruquier was able to put us on TV and to trust us, it meant we had our space.
Stan – We had a 1st appearance at Les Grosses Têtes [old daily comedy radio programme (translator’s note)] which made some buzz for our YouTube channel and for our videos.
Aurélien – And there was a musician and singing teacher, Marco Béacco, someone from the chanson world, unfortunately deceased, who had a big experience and discovered us rather early, 2015-16, and he made us laugh when he said “When you do your first TV appearances…”! But I think he really saw the potential of the stuff.
Stan – And the 1st buzz was Bruno Le Maire. His campaign advisor in 2017, for the primary, had our song "Elle Préfère Bruno Le Maire" as ringtone. As he was with a journalist from Europe 1, his phone rang and she heard this song and said “What’s that? Its’ ultra-funny”, and the next day she did a column on Europe 1.
– Were the very good "goguettes you have missed" done in full, or you couldn’t finish them and put end-to-end the achieved fragments?
Aurélien – Some songs were pieces we never ended. And then we added some, intentionally, to do a medley, a channel hopping.
– Which relations do you maintain with your colleagues from the same register? I’m thinking of Frédéric Fromet very especially.
Stan – Good relations.
Aurélien – He came and did a song with us, at la Cigale, last year, we had invited him and he gladly accepted. Then we didn’t become friends for all that, but it was a nice meeting.
– Do you follow what he does?
Stan – We do.
– Does he follow what you do?
Aurélien – We suppose so.
– We don’t have les Guignols de l’Info anymore [French equivalent of Spitting Image (translator’s note)]; are you ready to take their place?
Stan – (laughs) It takes some work.
Aurélien – It was a daily programme, that’s another job. But I understand the spectators see a link, a filiation. We were brought up on a diet of les Guignols, the 4 of us. And it’s clear it’s a lack. But it’s always like this, it recreates itself in another form later.
– Or other forms.
Aurélien – Other forms, with the same mind.
Stan – Except now there’s not much on TV all the same.
Aurélien – But TV loses its standing all the same.
Stan – Yes, Internet has replaced.
– Are the 4 of you musicians?
Aurélien – In various ways.
Stan – I am not a musician.
Aurélien – I am a little, Clémence was at the conservatoire and studied musicology, and Valentin had a serious schooling too and can play many instruments.
– Haven’t you been itching to compose too?
Aurélien – Valentin, Clémence and I do it.
Stan – But elsewhere.
Aurélien – Indeed. For les Goguettes we’ll never do it, this isn’t the aim.
– How about making parodies "in the style of"?
Stan – Oh yes, we didn’t think about, it’s true.
Aurélien – Personally I made songs as a child, around 5-6, that were false Brassens. In the style of. I did "in the style of" Jean-Jacques Goldman too... Anyway, when you start you always imitate. You’re more or less conscious of it.
– And how about playing the imitators sometimes?
Stan – No because we don’t have the talent, we don’t know how to do, but this said when Aurélien sings Johnny Hallyday he...
Aurélien – Yes by reflex I tend to imitate a little but it isn’t...
Stan – ...it isn’t out-and-out imitation.
Aurélien – Take the tone a little, the intonation, because it can add some comic discrepancy with what is being said.
– Let’s do the list of your side-projects.
Stan – Mine are not artistic.
Aurélien – So, Clémence is pianist of singer Agnès Bihl too...
Stan – ...who’s just preparing a piano-voice album for her 25 years of career.
Aurélien – Valentin is preparing a new album too. And he also plays with Lise Martin in a show called Presque un Cri, about Vyssotski, the Russian poet and singer, translated into French.
And I hope to make a new album too.
– Bossa, isn’it it?
Aurélien – No, chanson. I’ve made a Brazilian 4-tracks last year it’s true, but before that I’ve made albums of songs in French and in English too.
– I propose you to have a look at the list of the albums reviewed in japprecie. Which ones do you know? Which ones do you like?
Aurélien – I know Yann Pierre, we sang together. We haven’t seen each other for a long time.
La Maison Tellier too. Volo of course, bah Fromet...
Ah, Alphaville!! Alphaville? I don’t know what they do now.
– They’ve done that in 2017.
Stan – I know Zaho de Sagazan. It’s rather nice, I like it.
Aurélien – I’ve listened to Tom McRae quite a lot around 10 years ago, I liked it. I know Rover but not very well.
Liz Van Deuq I know her by sight, not personally. (To Stan) She’s a young woman who often sings at Forum Léo Ferré.
Stan – I know Ben Mazué, not being especially fan.
Aurélien – I like Franz Ferdinand. I also know them because they made an album with Sparks, FFS.
Stan – I know Pomme, so-so.
(They’re searching for others) Aurélien – No, I’m out of my depth.
Stan – Well yes, there’s Eiffel all the same, we know their guitarist very well. This said, I know them by name, but I’ve never listened. I don’t have a lot of musical curiosity. I stopped at French chanson of the 70s-80s, basically. With a few exceptions, all the same.
– Yes, because if you want to do hits of today as a goguette...
Stan – Often it’s not me.
Aurélien – And then the hits of today aren’t like the hits of yesterday, they don’t necessarily speak to all generations. At the time there were only 3 TV channels, you got hits. Everybody still knows them. Whereas today there’s only niche stuff. Apart from a few songs all the same from time to time, like Clara Luciani...
Stan – Angèle, Stromae...
– Do you have some more to suggest to Appreciators?
Aurélien – Lately I’ve discovered an American called Ben LaMar Gay. Well he does impro jazz things that I like less, but otherwise he’s got songs too.
Stan – Recently we went and saw Voyou and i twas very nice. It’s really good.
– How do you deal with time, duration, in your videos?
Aurélien – What do you mean?
– At which moment do you say “Now it’s fine we’re done with the song”, or “We’d rather remove a bridge”, “We’d rather add a bridge”...?
Aurélien – We’ve got a song format that’s already imposed to us, so we’ve got a frame for the duration...
– Do you strictly keep the same duration as the original songs?
Aurélien – Not necessarily. It depends on what we have to say.
Stan – Sometimes after 2 verses we’ve got nothing more to say because the topic doesn’t deserve to be said...
– ...and you publish even though it does less than 2 minutes for instance?
Stan – Yes, we can.
Aurélien – It depends on the song. The last short song we published is "La Dédiabolisation".
– Just thought of it. This one, compared to the original, is missing the whole final part.
Aurélien – Yes, there was a very simple idea, very precise, and sometimes there’s no need to spread out for 3, 4, 5 minutes. When the dart is well sent, in 2 minutes it...
Stan – And especially what was prioritised in "La Dédiabolisation" was to release it very fast after the event.
– That’s the problem when you deal with news, you have to react quickly.
Aurélien – Yes, and then it impacts temporality. If we want to make a painstaking video it takes us more time, like with "49.3".
– And then the other effect of topicality is it may have got less taste 2 years after.
Stan – That’s for sure, but sometimes some of them withstand time anyway.
Aurélien – Clearly. That is different from les Guignols for instance. Even though it happened we wrote on the very day or the next day, on tour we can’t always be writing in the heat of the moment. But if we speak of a 1-month-aged thing, people are going to fin dit very recent for a tour, whereas in a daily work les Guignols couldn’t afford it. This isn’t the same temporality.
– And in your concerts, how do you deal with the show duration, which songs to include, the longest ones, the shortest ones, do you extend them compared to what was in the record or in the video, or not... ?
Aurélien – The question is really about rhythm, we’re gonna avoid too slow or too wet sections, with consecutive songs which lack rhythm.
Stan – That’s it, we try to alternate slower songs with more dynamic songs. To set a few dynamic songs in strategic places: after three-four, in the middle of the show, toward the end, at the very end.
– Experience speaks.
Stan – It does. Anyway we grope for the ideal setlist. Then suddenly we come to one which works well so we keep it. But the point is, as regularly we withdraw and add goguettes...
Aurélien – And we came to a total duration that suits us: between 1 hr 30 and 1 hr 40. Each time we do more we feel it.
Stan – The ideal duration is around 1 hr 40, encores included. It’s a good duration.
• The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
• British author Jonathan Coe
• "Fort Alamo" sung by Jean-Louis Murat
CNews [French TV channel]
“"Trio of 4 people" is ridiculous.”