Singtank x Bally.
Singtank have the ultimate cool-band pedigree. A globetrotting, brother-sister duo who hail from Paris, made up of tousle-haired Alexandre and Joséphine de la Baume (who also moonlights as an actor and model and happens to be married to Mark Ronson). Meanwhile musically, they tout a louche sort of Parisian-indie-pop, honeyed harmonies that belie a melancholy twist—like mid-2000s Phoenix with a feminine twist—all of which can be found on their latest record Ceremonies (out now on Warner Brothers/Parlophone). Most recently they teamed up with designer label Bally and director Francesco Carrozzini (who also shot this Lana Del Rey video) to create a fashion film utilizing their song “Coming Down” as the soundtrack. It floats by like a Bridget-Bardot-circa-’67-dream. We tracked down Joséphine de la Baume to talk fashion, creative expression, and 2001: A Space Odyssey in an attempt to crack their code for success
Noisey: What do you like to wear when you perform? Is it drastically different from what you wear in everyday life?
Josephine: I like to communicate the mood of the record with what we wear with Alexandre. Ceremonies is darker than the previous one and more urban in its inspiration, so are the clothes. We went for more graphic lines, leather etc. and yes I ended up dressing in life like I dress for my record.
Why do you think the American fashion world is obsessed with the idea of “French girl style?” Is that how you’d categorize your own style?
I think it started with the French new wave movement and those directors celebrating "la femme française" which was at the time very feminine, I think now what people like about French women is their nonchalance that comes with their city, they eat, they smoke, they age, and they don't wear much makeup. It's more of a philosophy, I don't know if it's better, but it's a charming way of living I guess.
Whose style do you personally admire?
Lauren Bacall, I like a woman with some androgynous element to her. She had a deep voice, the most feminine hair and wore men's jacket. She was strong and charismatic and drop dead gorgeous.
How much of a musician’s identity do you think is linked to visual things like music videos and fashion? Fashion supports the music industry more and more by sponsoring music videos that labels can't afford as much as they used to so it allows artists to achieve ambitious videos sometimes.
How do you create music videos that are representative of your sound? Are you involved in the process?
Of course. I directed the first music video for our second record’s first single "Can You Hear Me." We watched a lot of movies that inspired us like Blade Runner or Chungking Express that are both about urban life, although one is more retro-futuristic than the other. We also watched a lot of 2001: A Space Odyssey during the recording of our record so it was important that all videos looked quite cinematic to us. And a video is just another tool to communicate on the universe and mood of your record.
Your “Coming Down” video is the result of a partnership with Francesco Carrozzini. What was that process like?
It was great to work with him; he is very talented and has a real aesthetic. He wanted to show the loneliness of a an actress in a city like LA, looking back at her dreams, her hopes and the buzzing city, she now feels quite detached from. Since our song is a sort of tale about a person looking back at his life in the city, the streets, the memories in them, the disappointment but also everything he's learned and that made him grow, we thought it would work well together.
“Coming Down” was also created with Bally, so you’re clearly a fan of their work. What is it about the label that you love and what other stores and labels do you love?
Bally has completely reshaped itself with Pablo their new designer and they have been collaborating with a lot of musicians, we like their philosophy. We also love Saint Laurent that is very musically driven. I also like Iris van Herpen, each piece looks like a journey to space.
You act and compose music. For you what is the most fulfilling form of artistic expression?
Both, I also like directing and script-writing. I think when you are creative, you never stop creating, so I am fulfilled with whatever comes on my mind that I can turn into something concrete that I'll eventually be able to share. Whether it's film or music, it has to do a lot with the collaboration I think too. I need to be charmed with the people I work with by their vision and vice versa, them by mine.
If your new album was a movie, what kind of movie would it be? What song on the album would be the movie's theme tune and why?
It would be Chungking Express meets Blade Runner meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. “Ursus” would be 2001: A Space Odyssey because there's something of alien about how we mixed my voice and Alex's one—we're siblings so we have the same tone except my voice is more high pitched—so it sounds like one voice. “Coming Down” would be Chungking Express because of the nostalgia it expresses about a city with the love of its discovery, the poetry of the streets and the corners of it, the bar etc. Blade Runner would be “Can You Hear Me.” I know it's a reggae beat, but still there's something retro-futuristic about the mood of it. It's about my best friend who passed right before the recording and it's a kind of upbeat celebration of him with a lot of tenderness and nostalgia, but a lot of hope in it, Blade Runner is our world that looks like tomorrow with a lot of elements of yesterday if that makes sense.
What does the next year look like for you?
A remix of “Can You Hear Me” is on the radio at the moment made by Alexandre and Dan Black, another single will come out, and then touring and festivals this summer. Voilà.
Aliza Abarbanel is on Twitter.