An interview with the charming irish pop duo who recently moved to Paris.
Your first album did pretty well in the UK, what expectations do you have for the new one ?
Pete : The first album was more jazzy, relaxed and mellow. We’re into pop now. The Star EP is how we sound now.
Michelle : The first album was different. We’re excited about our new sound. And the venues in this new country. Our expectations ? Spread the word out in France and all over Europe.
How did the two of you end up in Paris ?
Michelle (laughing) : I spent holidays in France since i was a teenager. And i also have cousins in Paris.
So, basically, you have no excuses for not speaking french ? (I’m just kidding…)
Michelle (laughing) : I go to french class twice a week. But i never had a chance to stay for more than a week or two. Maybe i always dreamed to come live in Paris…
Pete : Maybe it’s different for you, but from an Irish point of vue, it’s exciting to come live in Paris.
And is it like you think it would be ?
Michelle : It’s different when you are on holidays.
Pete : It’s more difficult than we thought. For example, when you look for an apartment… In the UK it’s easier, you ring the landlord and either they like you or they don’t… There is no big file… Things like this are different, we had no idea but we like it.
Michelle : When you are on holidays, you just go visit, the Champs-Elysées, Notre Dame, you don’t go around… Living here you discover all the other parts of the french way of life. French people protect their identity, this is how we live. We eat this, we do that. I like that. The food is amazing. I think i’ve tried everything now.
Pete : We’re new here, it’s still very exciting. Honestly, the quality of life is better here. Especially now, with our bad economy… In France, when you’re unhappy, you get in the streets. People are very much into their way of life here. And they want to keep it that way. The coffee places, long lunches and good holidays. And all the great music. We knew France was good for music…
Really ? Are you kidding ?
Pete : No really. I’m serious. You have many venues for live music and all the clubs and festivals…
Michelle : Audiences here are really, really nice. People here, they listen when you play a gig. It’s enjoyable, it’s very good. People come up afterwards and talk to you.
Pete : It’s true. In Dublin, there is so much noise. People are getting very drunk. We came for holidays here in november 2009. We had a friend, an irishman living here who booked us many gigs in Paris pubs. I thought that nobody will listen to us. But the experience was different.
Michelle : We enjoyed that holiday so much that when we get back to Ireland we went straight on the internet to find an apartment and move here. That was last february.
Pete : We went back and forth. It was hard to find an apartment for a long time. In the begining we were in Bastille. And now we are in the 15th district, which is a lot more quiet.
Did you record the new track on the EP in Paris ?
Pete : No, Dublin.
And about the music, do you like the french scene ?
Michelle : Yeah ! I like Zaz. We listen to the radio here.
Pete : And all you can hear on the radio here is The Black Eyed Peas… I like Sanseverino and the old french music, Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg « La chanson de Prévert »
Michelle : I’m learning it now.
Pete : I play bass for a french band. Our percussionist is french. The longer we stay, the more musicians we meet. The network begins.
Do you ever feel homesick ?
Michelle : Sometimes. I miss my family. I have small nieces and nephews, i miss them. They’re growing older. And I miss chips sometimes. Proper chips. They’re different here. In Ireland they make it bigger and thicker. It's good. There is a lot of Irish people here. There is a lot of…
Michelle : I don’t drink so…
Pete : We try not, but sometimes when we had a friend over…
Michelle : Maybe that is the reason why i am in France. I don’t drink like an Irish person. I drink very little.
Pete : I don’t miss Ireland at all. Never. I’m very happy to be here. I’ve lived in many places, in India, in New York, Canada. I spent a lot of my life outside of Ireland.
Do you think that all this travelling improved your guitar playing ?
Pete : For Sure. I studied the guitar in Spain. My guitar is from Spain. You have to play with long nails (he shows his fingers) because it’s very percusive (he takes his guitar and start playing). I’ve spent a lot of time in Andalucia, near Sevilla. I studied there for six months.
And you went there specifically to study guitar ?
Pete : Yes, yes. Going to Spain has really made a difference in my music. And then i was in India for six months and i played with local musicians everyday. In Dharamasala, this is the town where the Dalai Lama stays in North India. He’s in exile today. Lots of Tibetans live there in exile and some great singers. And what they sings is so different from what i understand or know about music. I spent three months in little villages outside this town playing music everyday. I was playing classical guitar, an english friend of mine played the flute and they were singing local music. The « melange » was very interesting. This is where the Himalaya starts. Many forests. It’s beautiful. I used to sail in Australia for a long time. We didn’t have radio, television or internet on the boat. And because of that i started to make more music in my head. And this can be interesting too…
Michelle : I think it’s very important. We don’t have a television at all. We didn’t have a tv in years. Our living-room is always centered around facing each other. There is no distraction. We sit around in a circle.
Michelle, can you say a few words about your parents’s jukebox in the family restaurant ?
Michelle : My daddy is a chef. When i was a child, my parents had a restaurant on the side of Ireland, by the beach. My dad lived there. It was a seafood restaurant. And we had a big room, a function room. For dansers. We had an old record player and many boxes of records. When i was small i used to go in during the day and play the records. They had so many things from the sixties and the seventies. It got me into The Beatles and The Carpenters. I used to dance around. I still have that record player and the boxes. The sixties and the seventies are really important to me. Pop songs were short and sharp. Burt Bacharach had such strong melodies, i loved it. I used to play them all the time. My friends were more into what was in the charts at that time.
Can you describe your upbeat happy sound ?
Michelle : It’s me. I’ve always been like that. I’m not the kind of person who gets affected by things, even if something bad happens. I never feel sad, i just go on with life.
Pete : When we’re playing live it doesn’t have to be very loud but it can be upbeat. And it’s nice to see it in people’s faces in the audience.
On the ep the song « Something i need » have somekind of a soul quality into it. Do you listen a lot of soul music ?
Pete : Actually, no.
Michelle : Some, but no, not really. I don’t know how that happened. Maybe some Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Bill Withers. I’m addicted to his songs. My brother had one of his albums.
Pete : We play « Let’s stay together » at our shows. (Pete takes his guitar and they actually play a beautiful acoustic version of the song). Maybe we’ll put that song on our next album. We want to record it properly, maybe an acoustic version.
The last song on the EP « Take me » has more of an eighties feel...
Michelle : We are child of the eighties. Whatever influenced us was on the radio. Do you know the records « Now » ? Every year there was a compilation, i have the second one. That was from the eighties. My parents had this for the restaurant.
Pete : When we recorded « Take me » we had the idea we wanted that kind of sound for that track. For « Take me » we had a small amplifier, a very bad one but i liked the sound. I plugged in my electric guitar. We put the amplifier and the microphone outside and that’s how we got that sound.
Michelle, what’s the most important thing in your life, music or food ?
Michelle : That is tough ! In College i’ve studied nutrition and my dad being a chef, food is very important to me. All my books are about food.
Pete : Well you do spend more time singing that you do eating. So music is more important.
Michelle : I think they’re equal… I do both equally. Me dad used to take me to restaurants when i was a child, just to visit places and look at the menus. It’s his fault if i became obssessed with food.
IN CONCERT ON JANUARY 22nd AT THE THEATRE TRAVERSIERE.
Read also Michelle’s blog about her life in Paris and food :