Joueuse is bringing back the fun, upbeat sounds of Yé-Yé with its catchy tunes. Little did scientist Victoria Meyer know she had it in her!
I am a huge fan of French Yé-Yé pop, a music genre that became popular in the early 1960s with doe-eyed singers such as France Gall, Sylvie Vartan, Françoise Hardy, Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot. Young, innocent and enviably good looking, these French Yé-Yé belles charmed their way into many hearts with delightful and sometimes melancholic songs that were sweet as cotton candy. Yé-Yé was France’s bubbly answer to the head-shaking ‘yeah yeahs’ of British and US pop/rock n’roll.
VICTORIA MEYER (SCIENTIST AND YÉ-YÉ SINGER)
Not long ago, I heard about Victoria Meyer, an environmental scientist working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena who is bringing the genre back to life together with songwriter/producer Andy Paley (known for his work with artists such as Brian Wilson, Madonna, the Ramones and Debby Harry). And it all happened by chance.
The Bordeaux native was introduced to Paley, who was looking for someone to help him write Yé-Yé songs. When he asked if she could also sing, she gave it a shot. And the results are truly magnifique! I had the opportunity to interview Victoria about her fascinating debut in the world of French Yé-Yé music and her EP, Joueuse.
You had no prior singing/songwriting experience when Andy Paley asked for your help. What motivated you to accept this new challenge?
“I’ve learned that you should never say no to something new if the hesitation is just out of fear of the unknown or of not being good enough. I think that applies to anything in life, including science… and music! When Andy asked for my help, I did not hesitate to accept, and we wrote the song C’est un tombeur that first night we met. The same thing happened again when he asked me a few days later if I could record a demo of the song. I jumped right in, and I don’t regret it!
One of the things I love the most about living in Los Angeles is that anything can happen. You can be a scientist writing research papers one day and start writing Yé-Yé songs the next day. That’s a great illustration of the ‘Only in L.A.’ phrase.
What did you know about Yé-Yé music before recording the songs?
“Like most French people, I already knew all of the most famous Yé-Yé hits by France Gall, Françoise Hardy, Jacques Dutronc, etc. Even though all these songs came out in the 60s, they are still very present and are part of the French musical culture. Everybody knows the chorus of Laisse tomber les filles or Les Cactus, including people of my generation. Since I started this Yé-Yé project, I’ve discovered great songs that I didn’t know before, such as Le coeur au bout des doigts, by Jacqueline Taïeb. Andy also introduced me to some great American pop girl groups, like the Shangri-Las.”
Your EP features four songs. Another song (Suis les soleil) was released separately. Do they share a common thread?
“They each have their own style and sound pretty different, but I think the common thread is in the lyrics. Each song has some degree of woman empowerment. C’est un tombeur is about a girl seeing through a player’s game and not getting fooled by him. Neuf vies shows how a girl is not accepting her boyfriend’s stupid behavior anymore and kicks him out of her life. Even Feuilles d’automne, which is about a girl waiting for her lost love to come back, ends up with her saying that she won’t be waiting around much longer and that she will find another lover. I think it is my way of giving a modern twist to Yé-Yé music. Many of the old songs were about innocent, often naive, girls. I’m trying to change that.”
Which song is your favorite and why?
“C’est un tombeur remains my favorite song, because it always reminds me of how things started and how I felt when I first heard the demo for the first time. I also think it is a really catchy song! The funny part is that when my friends first heard it, they all had a different theory about who that mysterious “tombeur (player)” was. The truth is that it is not about one person in particular, but I have to admit that I used some real-life inspiration to write about him!
What can we expect from you in the future now that you have gotten a taste for making music?
“Andy and I are working on new songs. We really enjoy working together and coming up with new ideas. I am quite busy with work and we don’t meet as often as we’d like to, but we’re hoping to write many more songs together, and maybe release an album one day. That would be amazing!”
Joueuse is available on: iTunes, Spotify, CDbaby and Soundcloud
Image: Jessica Chou