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French Pop!!
Alright I know, France is not renowned for being a country specially inventive and interesting in the field of pop music... Ok, but hey, what do you really know about french pop? Vanessa Paradis and Plastic Bertrand isn't everything! So here we go, back in the early 80s, a great time for french music, i reckon, when we could be proud of a certain originality. Good electronic and minimalist music (that Red Sleeping Beauty fans would enjoy) and great lyrics were the keys of success for Elie et Jacno, Taxi Girl and Lio. Not "exactly" pop, but a great influence for lots of bands now.

In the 80s, a couple of bands managed to create a good and fresh pop music while being very popular and successful in the charts: Luna Parker, les Calamites and their "velomoteurs" (from my hometown Rouen), Oui Oui, Gamine. All these bands were of course eventually signed on major labels. At this point, i must admit that there's always been a problem with french music. French people are proud, you see, proud of their culture and proud of their language. There's not much room for bands openly-influenced by british pop music, and no interest at all for english-singing bands. Which is quite fair, i suppose, considering the poor level of our english! I personaly can't remember any english-singing french band getting any kind of attention in France, but the problem is that most of the french indiepop bands still carry on singing in english... the language is not important for us international internet surfers, but in france it is!

Anyway, it's only at the end of the 80s that appeared the first real indiepop label: Karen. Nicely political and well-influenced by the british indiepop scene (and sarah), Karen put out two great Compilation-tapes, Heol 1+2, with lots of brit+french bands, including the early materials of some of the now most popular bands: Little rabbits, Dominic A and Katerine. It was time France took part in the game. Quickly, a couple of labels started putting out flexis and 7"s. The people form Glam Rcds released the first flexi for Des Garcons Ordinaires and the infamous flexi of Solace, which is still played on indiepoppers'turntables in europe and further (a song about bobby Gillespie, i was told, going like this " i love my body more than anything else in the world"!). Lithium Rcds jumped on Dominic A (virtually) and Candle (now Carmine), while Rosebud put out the first records for Katerine, Lighthouse (ex-Solace) and Chelsea. These two pioneer labels still exist! A couple of very limited edition fanzines also appeared; you might find that some of these are still around, if you're lucky (and if you speak french): Happy, Hope, Tagada, Bonjour chez vous and the most recommendable Fairy Tales. And that was only five years ago! But then went the Big Boom! Some bands started getting some sort of national and, in a smaller scale, international interest. Bernard Lenoir started playing The Little Rabbits and dominic A on his hugely successful radio program, and Les Inrockuptibles (the then very small pop music magazine) suddenly became the most popular french music magazine. Jumping on the bandwagon, lots of new indiepop labels were born: Cornflakes Zoo, Alienor, Lo-Fi, Anorak, Ad Libitum Pop... and lots of bands that you might even have heard of (yes!): Diabologum, Peter Parker Experience, Meek, Superdrug, Stephen's Library, Poissons Solubles, Caramel... In June 1991 and 1992, Alban (from Des Garcons Ordinaires) organized a big indiepop festival/football tournament in his parents fields,where several hundreds of people were invited. That was dead cool! Everybody had a record or a fanzine to sell or swap (some cool fanzines: Chimeres, hyacinth, Onion Soup, Tea time...) and if you want some gossips I've got loads!

So, what about now?... Well, to be fair and honest, I'd say that the atmosphere wasn't so much fun one or two years ago, clans have appeared, people started hating each other, fanzines were more like battlefields than anything else... Sadly, I also have gossips about that, but whatever, hey, because I feel that there is some sort of new generation of very young indiepop kids now, starting off their own record labels (Disco 2000, Aquavynile, Biscuit club, Nessie,Loaded...) and their own bands (Kim, Evergreen, Pamplemousse, Yachines, Spring...) and hopefully CornFlakes Zoo 100 will be as important for some people as the Sarah 100 was for us!...


by Denis Pasero for TweeNet in October 1995
Last updated: 1-Oct-1995 © 1994-2024 TweeNet Creative Commons License