SESBASTIEN TELLIER (NUIT BLANCHE DE BYBLOS)
July 12, 2008 - 9:30 pm
2001. The Sébastien Tellier story begins with L’incroyable vérité. A record filled with sorrow, made for crying by candlelight. A carefree album, mixed by Quentin Dupieux, entirely devoid of drums and percussion. An introspective journey to the boundaries of the universe, of the intimate, that sees a drowsy and bedraggled Sébastien embarking on a search for lost time without leaving his bed (Pink Floyd, Robert Wyatt, a certain 70s mindset…). An entity borne out of meanderings in the gardens of French music. At the Record Makers HQ (Air’s former label), the singularity of the record is thoroughly endorsed.
2004. Sébastien Tellier opens his bedroom window and discovers something crazy: the outside world. With his second album, Politics, (with Tony Allen on drums and Philippe Zdar on production duties), he covers the globe in huge strides (Africa, the US, South America …) to try and make sense of it all. ‘La Ritournelle’, an epic, romantic piece, causes a real stir and convinces every listener of one thing; Sébastien Tellier is an important artist.
2006. After Sessions, a process of catching up and reinvigorating his repertoire (as well as Christophe’s sublime ‘Dolce Vita’ ) with the help of Simon Dalmais on piano, Sébastien locks himself away into a Parisian recording studio, with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (one half of Daft Punk) behind the controls, to produce the next installment of his adventures.
2007. Summertime in Biarritz. A bar on the beach. Sébastien Tellier, immaculately dressed in a white suit, is leaning on the bar, sipping a Martini. In the distance the sun is setting, tanned girls are heading nonchalantly towards The Blue Cargo. Sébastien clicks his fingers: the sounds of Sexuality, his third album, fill the room. Eleven tracks which cover the whole night in less than an hour, from dusk till dawn. He whispers a few words in our ears about each track.
– Roche: “I always used to spend my holidays there. I always wanted to return, play my music and say to myself “Tonight, I’m the king of the night”. In this song, the sun is beating down and I’m having really intense fantasies about girls in bikinis. If I wanted to seduce them I’d play this song, which is a European or French twist on the sexual enchantment that you’d associate with American R’n’B.”
– Kilometer: “With this song, you should try and think of a Justin Timberlake from Berlin– a mix of American sensuality and cold Teutonic precision. It’s my vision of German love: the motorway which runs for miles.”
– Look: “This is a song about the Latin style of seduction – completely based on appearances. I like knowing that a woman has taken the time to look attractive. I’m talking about sex in a wise and serious manner here.”
– Divine: This is my tribute to the Beach Boys and the Juicy Fruits from Phantom of the Paradise. It is a time of innocence – when having fun was more important than picking up girls. I visualize a bunch of kids playing on the beach and I’d really love to play with them.
Let’s stop for a second. With Sexuality, is Sébastien Tellier really turning on the charm? Situated somewhere between film soundtrack and digitized soul, is this latest incarnation meant to bring to mind an electronic Latin lover? Sexuality can be conceived as the carriage of Casanova mounted on Hummer wheels. Here we find the old Europe of Christophe, Ennio Morricone and Giorgio Moroder flirting outrageously with the new school of contemporary R’n’B, bringing Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé or Timbaland to mind for 51 minutes of intense, technological sensuality. Time to regain consciousness:
– Sexual Sportswear: “The first single. An instrumental. This track represents best my relationship with Guy-Man: my own, touching harmonies mixed with the efficiency and lightness of Daft Punk. ”
– Elle: “Composed with Guy-Man, it’s the ‘Fox and the Hound’ song of the album. It’s a very pure song which resembles heaven. ”
– Fingers of Steel: “This song is about the Kubrickian fantasy of a machine that is self-aware. The computer touches me sensually with its fingers of steel. From our union comes this song. ”
– Manty: “I love classical music; it’s a huge inspiration for me. My starting point here is the universe of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette: a mix of discretion and glitz.”
– L’amour et la violence: “It’s the title which sums up what I’ve lived through, in the most profound way. It shows that the rest of the album is a huge fantasy where I’m searching for intensity in the superficial. With ‘Love and Violence’, I’m finally revealing myself – I am neither a stallion nor a virgin, I am naked and only ask that people judge me as I really am.”
The last piano notes, so pure, so light of ‘L’amour et la violence’ drift off into the warm air, like little propaganda leaflets jettisoned from an airplane. On each note, printed in golden letters: SEBASTIEN TELLIER – SEXUALITY. The sun can finally rise.
- L’Incroyable Vérité (Astralwerks, 2001)
- Politics (Record Makers/Source/Virgin Music, 2004)
- Rough Trade album Club exclusive (Record Makers, 2004)
- Universe (Lucky Number, 2006)
- Sexuality (Lucky Number, 2008)