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This Modern Love: Yelle

French duo return with a shiny new Dr. Luke-produced LP, but they've lost none of their panache. So we made them fill out our dating questionnaire. Blowjobs, threesomes, high fashion!
October 10, 2014, 3:20pm

You might remember French duo Yelle from their 2005 hit "Je Veux Te Voir," an in-your-face slice electro-pop, complete with a rainbow-colored, pop art video that's attracted nearly 7 million views (and that's from a video that was only uploaded up in 2009). They were one of those bands who harnessed MySpace's early buzz power, with songs like "A Cause Des Garçons," and the aforementioned "Je Veux…" spreading like a virulent, but not unwelcome virus. It didn't matter that they sang in French; as one half of Yelle, Jean-François Perrier points out, to this day there are fans in the front row zealously mouthing along, even though they don't speak a lick of the language. Moreover their music is a sequinned explosion of sonic sass, each video more sleekly stylish, artful, and eye-grabbing than the last—they're high fashion editorials come to life.

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"We want it to be very simple and timeless," explains Julie Budet, the singer who embodies Yelle. "We love graphic shapes and colors and pop art. It’s still a big part of our thing—music and image and fashion—but we’re not looking for it. It’s just natural."

As such, designers like Brian Lichentberg, Jean Chartles de Castelbajac and longterm collaborator Jean Paul Lespagnard, who's been a good friend of theirs since 2008, have flocked to dress the singer. Julie's not afraid to be playful and as Yelle she embraces a larger than life aesthetic.

Take a look at any one of their videos and it's easy to see why Katy Perry cherry-picked them as openers on her 2011 California Dreams tour—her stage sets and costumes are more than a little influenced by Yelle. It was thanks to Yelle's synth-heavy remix of "Hot 'n' Cold" that they caught the ear of Dr Luke.

"We hadn’t even heard of him: we had to Wiki him!" laughs Jean-François. Subsequently Yelle signed to his Kemosabe Records label and their lately released third album, Complètement Fou, features the super producer behind the boards. Through him they've ended up in writing sessions with pop behemoths like Carly Rae Jepsen.

"It funny to now realize how big he is as a producer and how it could sound like a marketing idea to break it over here, but it’s actually all about music," explains Jean-François. "It’s really pure."

"It still sounds like Yelle," concurs Julie. Although the DIY element to their early work that's been sloughed off, this is no bad thing: the glossiness suits them. According to Julie and Jean-François the main theme on the album is relationships and fun, but there are moments of melancholy too: the 80s-tinged "Dire Qu'on Va Tous Mourir" explores the fragility of life, (well everyone dies alone you know), while "Florence En Italie" is about Stendhal Syndrome. "In the Renassaince era people used to faint because of too much beauty!" says Jean-François. Those Italians, so dramatic.

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Fittingly, there's humor lurking here too. "We have a song about two strangers dancing together in a club and it’s a perfect match of bodies," continues Jean François. "It’s not a love song, but it’s a body love song!

"We also have a silly song about making circles with your hips, but that has a double meaning in French—to make circles with your hips but also make money with your ass. It’s a wink to that thing nowadays because everyone is naked and it’s all about sex and provocation."

When Julie and Jean-François were over in NYC we decided to pin them down to fill out our dating questionnaire, This Modern Love… and then we realized the pair have been romantically involved for the past 12 years (they've been making music together for roughly nine). Will you find them arguing about a troublesome middle 8 while they're between the sheets?

"Nope! Sometimes it’s disturbing how easy it is," laughs Jean-François. "We’re always together 24 hours a day, every day and it’s fine!"

Given the length of time the pair have been together, it's pretty safe to say they've never ever tried online dating. Even though their friends are all over it, with varying results, Julie remains optimistic: "I would do it I was single. For fun! It’s interesting."

Jean-François: "Yeah it’s just because you don’t want to move from your house! You’re lazy!" [Laughs.]

Still, they gamely responded, with Jean-Francois keen to let Julie do most of the talking, although he couldn't help but interject every now and then…

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yelle

Photo by: Maciek Pozoga. Age/Sex/Location:
31/Female/West Coast of Brittany (It’s quiet and sometimes boring.)

Self Summary:
I used to go to university to learn about art and movies and theater, but I was super lazy. I was always doing all the stuff around the class—short movies, and interviews and documentaries—but I was not going to class. But I got my degree and then I started to work in a theater company. I did that for three years and we started doing music and when it started to become real I decided to stop. Since I was a little girl I wanted to be a singer, my father is a musican and I grew up around music, but I was really shy.

What am I doing with my life:
Yelle is a duo because we are always working together. Jean François does music, lyrics, melodies, and me too. And we’re working together all the time, 24 hours a day, although I am the image of Yelle. Since I was a little girl I wanted to sing happy songs to make people happy. I really like the feeling when I’m onstage of seeing people smiling and dancing and having fun. It’s the best! We didn’t tour for two years after the second album and I had some problems with my voice, so we took a long break and in the last months I felt like something was missing and I realized I was really missing being onstage. It’s like a drug. It’s so intense!

I’m really good at:
Julie: Doing nothing!
Jean-François: And cooking! She’s very good at dessert. You also do great scones and cookies.

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The first thing people usually notice about me is:
JF: She has a happy face! When you meet Julie for the first time it’s really easy, people feel really comfortable with her.
Julie: It’s weird because I feel really cold when I meet people, I think, "Oh I should be nicer," but actually people are always telling me the opposite.
JF: She hugs a lot. She’s a hugger.

I spend a lot of time thinking about:
Yelle: Am I at a good place? Am I a good singer? I’m not confident at all.
JF: You’re always reconsidering your life, because you’re not sure.
Julie: It’s not a real job. You’re just getting paid to have fun and travel and meet people and make people happy. It’s a dream job, but it’s weird and sometimes I think I could do better things for people, but in a way I am helping people.
JF: We had a guy who messaged us on MySpace who was about to kill himself. A guy from LA, he had a lot of trouble in his life and he was driving to the desert and he wanted to kill himself. Randomly played some Yelle music and decided to not do it. He said our music was so positive and it saved his life.

Favorite books:
Julie: I’m just discovering John Fante. It’s cool to read it here in the US because everything is happening in LA, so you can imagine the hero walking in the streets. I don’t have a favorite author but I’m reading Ask the Dust and it fits for right now.

Favorite music:
JF: Sophie—he’s a guy from London who’s a producer and he released an EP on Numbers called Bipp and we did a session with him at our house. He loves what we do and vice versa. We were trying to make some songs for a collaboration with a Japanese artist. You really have to check out what he does. It’s really futuristic weird dance pop. Very minimal with a high pitched voice.

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Favorite TV show:
Julie: True Detective was really good. I was so impressed by the story and the acting.
JF: We just started Lost, we’ll probably start Game of Thrones really late too.

Favorite Films:
Julie: Wayne’s World both 1 and 2 because it’s stupid and I like the 90s references. Because I was studying film everyone was into really French Nouvelle Vague films. I get bored of these kind of movies and I’m more into stupid things!

Six things I can’t live without:
Julie: My boyfriend.
JF: I’m a thing! Good to know. I’m a toy boy!
Julie: A scarf because I like to protect my vocal chords.
JF: Like a real singer—like Celine Dion!
Yelle: Food—sugar! Sweet things, candies! A bed because I love sleeping. Tea, I drink all kinds of tea all the time. I put some herbs in the garden to do my own herbal tea. A bathtub. I know it’s not good for the environment, but I like it.

The most private thing I’m willing to admit is:
Julie: I like blowjobs.
JF: This is very true!

On a typical Friday night you will find me:
Julie: Drinking white wine. At home, at a friend’s house, at a bar…!

You should you message me if:
Julie: If you like threesomes! Well we’re already two…

Yelle Tour Dates
10/10 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
10/11 – Washington D.C. – 9:30 Club
10/12 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
10/15 – Toronto, ON – Virgin Mobile Mod Club
10/17 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop
10/18 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
10/19 – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
10/21 – Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre
10/22 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
10/24 – Seattle, WA – Neumo’s
10/25 – Vancouver, BC – Fortune Sound Club
10/26 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
10/29 – Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theatre
10/30 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
10/31 – Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda
11/02 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern
11/03 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
11/07 – Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
11/08 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues
11/10 – Atlanta, GA – The Loft
11/11 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle

This might be the best This Modern Love we've ever done! Follow Kim Taylor Bennett on Twitter.