Interview: Le Prince Miiaou (Paris)

Photo Credit: Emmanuelle Brisson

Photo Credit: Emmanuelle Brisson

Le Prince Miiaou is that one of a kind fighter that emerges from frustration and desolation-the sign of resilience. Self-producing her own albums throughout her career, she now is ready for another round joining ranks with Antoine Gaillet (producer/mixer of M83) on the upcoming Where is the Queen? Had Maud-Elisa Mandeau been on the circuit in the late 90s, her name could clearly have been in the lineup of Lilith Fair alongside Natalie Merchant or just threatening to rile The Pretenders off stage with the help of rocker Pat Benatar. First single “Happy Song for Empty People” opens the album with a unconventional, subdued horn section before drums drop heavily into imposing electric guitar. Noticeably darker than Fill The Blank With Your Own Emptiness, the petite French woman doesn’t demand your attention but beguiles it until it’s clearly too late.
To give people a sense of where you are coming from, describe Charentes. What’s the town like? How did you get along with your brother?
Well, there are different landscapes and moods in Charentes (it’s an area), so I’m gonna describe what I can see from my windows 🙂 I bought an old house in a little village called Chalais (where there’s pretty much nothing, no neighbours, no movie theater, no venues etc.)  and around my house there are corn fields. But as it’s winter there’s no corn anymore, so it’s only a field of mud! There are woods, little valleys, rivers, and fields and fields and fields.
I heard your early beginnings were in a metal band when you were merely 15. How did this moment mark you years down the road when you started Le Prince Miiaou?
At the time I wasn’t into music at all. I wanted to be in my big brother’s band just to seem cool, but very quickly it became the way for me to express things I couldn’t express somewhere else. So I guess this experience revealed to me that music was the right artistic medium for me. Without this experience I guess I wouldn’t make music today, but I might be wrong…! But I started to learn how to make music and how to play guitar after with the other band I had between 18 and 22 years old.
There’s a noticeable difference between your 2011 Fill The Blank with your Own Emptiness and your new album. Where did the rift come from? How did Brooklyn effect you musically and personally?
Ha! thank you for having noticed the differences! I think that it mostly comes from what I was listening to when I wrote the album, which were James Blake and Alt-J. And also, I really had the will to make something more modern, less 90′ than my previous album. I was fed up with the automatisms in my composition so I changed the software I compose with on my computer. The three months I spent in Brooklyn gave me the distance I needed in order to feel the urge to write again (urge that I lost during two years) because I was all alone in a complete new environment and that put me in a good state of mind to write.
Did you happen to notice any differences between musicians in New York versus musicians in Paris? What struck you most about the music scene in New York?
Most of the bands I listen to come from Brooklyn or New York like Twin Shadow, Son Lux, St Vincent (from Dallas but living in NY), etc. I would say that the biggest difference is that I like their music! But the musicians I hung out in New York were not really different from the ones in Paris, some of them were very talented. I had the chance to jam with Nils the guitarist of the band Wilco. And some of them are less good 🙂
This new album is far, far more rock and upfront than the previous. One song that stands out to me is “Alaska.” What’s the allure of that enormous state to the north? Care to share what inspired a song about the sparsely populated state?
In that particular song, I just picked a place very far from where I live, very far from what I know. I never went to Alaska but in my imagination it must a place astonishing maybe like Iceland might be. I’m talking about the fact that nothing excites me anymore, that I’m very hard to be satisfied and surprised. I thought that if someone could send me to Alaska maybe there was a chance that the landscapes and the northern lights could wake me up…I don’t know if that makes sense!

How did you meet Antoine Gaillet? Where did he come in and influence this new album? (Side note, I nearly want to say on “Hulrik” just because it’s pure experimental loveliness.) 

I’m a big fan of M83 whom Antoine worked with, that’s why I picked him. Antoine biggest “parti pris” was to keep a lot of things from the demos rather than doing it again to have a cleaner version, to keep the intention but also because he liked it. The demos I make are a draft of the album version, so the biggest work in studio is to do it again with a better sound but with the same intention, the same emotion. The idea of the production is already there when I get in studio because to me making a song include the effects, the sound etc. : on “Hulrik” I recorded some drums with my iPhone,  then I stretched them (it’s the same on the song “Bro”). I pitched them etc. I put some pitch on my voice because I was fed up with my own voice, so this kind of things where already on the demo. Antoine with me at least didn’t really move the songs but he decided for example to record the real drums on the second part two times to put them stereo which is great!  He also totally got how to sublime the demos during the mix.

And finally, what’s one resolution you have for 2014-something you want to achieve, but not related to music?

My life turns around music, so it’s complicated to think about something not related to music! But my resolution could be to learn how to enjoy more of what’s happening to me, to not let the fear get to much in my way, fear of going on stage, fear of what people are gonna think about me and my music! Less anxiety more happiness!

Thoughts?