French Singer Yelle Doesn't Want to Always Sing Pop Music

Who knows why Americans have such abhorrence to foreign languages. Someone says '¿Cómo estás?' you'll hear 'English, motherfucker. Do you speak it?' Movie spoken in some other mother tongue? Let's just have David Fincher remake it. But France's Yelle defies that, saying her native vocabulary is all she feels comfortable expressing herself. It's that kind of dedication and honesty in poppy, dance music that you don't often find.

"I really like to speak English, I do love it, but I'm so bad at it," Yelle, known by her mother as Julie Budet, tells us over Skype. "It's so hard for me to express myself clearly and find the good words to be precise and everything."

And yet, Yelle's sensibilities are truly universal. Her sound isn't cookie-cutter and her production (courtesy of producers GrandMarnier and Tepr) is wrapped in sticky, colorful plastic, stimulating in a way that doesn't feel prepackaged. On "Moteur Action" Yelle is delicate and effervescent, but she shows her dark side on the Deadmau5 vs Mellefresh-inspired "A Cause Des Garçons," while songs like "Safari Disco Club" prove Yelle has enough of a weird streak to stay ahead of the curve. And no one needs Rosetta Stone to hear that.

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But if you do want to learn some French, well, there's an app for that. Specifically, Yelle's Translator App that transforms the lyrics off her third album, Complètement Fou, into English. You can toggle between the two languages, so you'll learn that Complètement Fou means "Completely Crazy." For Yelle, what's crazy is having audiences who "don't really understand what you are talking about, but they are enjoying [the music]."

"There [are] different levels of listening. You can just having fun, and just listen to the music, you can understand some little French word and kind of understand the meaning of the whole song and you have some people who really try to understand and find the translation," Budet says. "We said, OK, maybe we can do something for them and simplify the research."

Given the eccentric way she dresses -- orange onesies or Karen O-inspired tights -- it comes as no surprise Yelle is equally inspired by Beck and Katy Perry. Regarding the former, Budet says she had to re-buy Midnight Vultures because she wore out the album so much.

"The way he's exploring music and the way he's reinventing himself is really impressive," Budet says. "I will try to do different music in my life. I don't want to stay just in the box and just do pop-electronic forever."

And it follows that Katy Perry tweeted at the band, inviting Yelle on her 2011 UK California Dreams Tour. Watching Perry onstage for months helped Budet really appreciate how much of a 24/7 gig being a pop star is. But that doesn't mean she's inaccessible -- she says she makes a conscious effort to meet her fans after a show.

"I'm so glad to meet really nice people every night and have the chance to communicate with them and exchange and feel a deep and strong energy. It really makes me feel in a good moment, at a good place," Budet says. "Don't hesitate to say hi after the show. I'm always trying to spend some time at the merch tent to meet people. If you have the chance, come say hi."

Troy Farah rarely uses French on Twitter.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah