Charles de Boisseguin

photo by Parker Day

If you take a look at their social media profiles on Facebook or Instagram, you would probably be surprised by the overactive and restless lives they make. Talking about the French L'Impératrice, a band, or better a company, that was set up in 2012 by Charles de Boisseguin, and since then has slowly grown today at a stunning point, in which filling concert venues with frantic young (and older) audiences, who are faithfully following them is somehow a cool routine. In the year review of 2015, we were dealing with their very special vintage space pop and cosmic disco sound back when they released one of their EPs, which brought their work beyond the French border. This March, the band ended up our waiting for a complete album, releasing one of the most outstanding and original sounding LPs of the year. "Matahari" follows the same philosophical logic as the very name of L'Impératrice (The Empress) is advocating. It essentially represents the idea of freedom, sensuality, and femininity through music. A strong and almost indomitable feeling, really inspired. Like the legendary life of Dutch Mata Hari, when in the early 20th century wandered around Europe as an Indian dancer and eventually was executed for spying. A life truly mythical and enigmatic ...

This imaginary, mysterious and mystical element, always accompanied L'Impératrice's work, as back 2015 when the "Odyssée" EP spoke of the story of Theodora, the Byzantine Empress, a whore and a magical dancer, all of whom were found in one decadent travel. The lyrics of "Agitations Tropicales" narrated the story of a huge jungle sex. The most beautiful European disco of the 70's and 80's, was written in France and these songs contain the priceless DNA of that era, which is now come alive again with artists like Charles de Boisseguin. The warm melodies of mood synthesizers, the bounded bass lines, and the eroticism, also exist in their new work, "Matahari".

The album was recorded at Studio Ferber in Paris under the watchful eye of Renaud Létang (producer of Feist, Connan Mockasin and Manu Chao) and will probably remain in limited edition at least for the vinyl format. Inside its 11 songs, the band takes us with them to a lunar safari full of pleasures and tropical cravings. Those who have an eye on them since their beginning back in 2012, will surely notice that their full-length debut does not contain the “hit” tracks like their EPs. L'Impératrice has replaced dancing pop and disco with an aesthetic avant garde pop, adapted to the vocal capabilities of Flore who has singing roots from the jazz side of music. The sense of escaping, this lightness and sensuality are always present and particularly noticeable in tracks such as "Dreaming Of You" and "Balade Fantôme". Much of the beauty and atmosphere of the album is due to the elegant construction of its tracks. A great escort for summer sluggishness and relaxation, "Matahari" can easily play on terraces, beaches and cruises and become the discovery of this summer! Bravo L'Impératrice!

Below, you can have a closer look at what Charles told us about them and their debut...




The Basement: Hello L'Impératrice ! First of all, thank you for joining us for this internet interview. Outstanding "Séquences" EP in 2017. This was your third EP and the last one before the LP that came in 2018.
It has been indeed ;) Except for a remix version of those two tracks, included one by the Australian band Parcels.

The Basement: All of your members come from Paris? Let us know more about how you met and formed the band. 
We all are from Paris except Flore, the lead singer, who comes from the south of France. At the beginning I was alone to release the first EP (2012), then I needed musicians to create the show. I first met Hagni (keyboard) who introduced me to Tom (drums) who introduced me to David (Bass) who introduced me to Achille (guitar) ! Domino's game, in a way. We played instrumental only for three years before I met Flore, who joined the band two years ago. 

The Basement: What does "L'Impératrice" means? You gave a female name to the project, what you had in mind?
L'Impératrice means the empress, it was a way for me to hide myself as I wasn't a musician. I was a journalist back then, and a bit ashamed to make music. So I invented this character as a screen to stimulate people's fantasy. L'Impératrice represents a certain idea of freedom, sensuality and feminity through music. A powerful and almost indomitable feeling, really inspiring. 

The Basement: Back in 2012, you gave us your first EP with "Baron Rouge" being one of our favorites and the track that you introduced you to Radios and audiences. What were your influences to get to that result?
At that time I was obsessed with funk music, especially with bass lines ! I remember overdubing all my favorite bass lines on my favorite tracks with a small Moog synthesizer and... the idea of 'Baron Rouge' came trough ! 

The Basement: Who writes the music? Are you all together experimenting to get to a melody? Tell us more about this process. 
I did until this album. The main topic of this band, which is more like a project, was to teach each other a unique artistic direction. I just showed them how I wanted this music : the sound, the groove, the color, the harmony, and on top, the sensitivity. Now that everyone has learned how to create that sound, everyone writes the music. Simple democracy!

The Basement: Flore Benguigui recently became the sixth part of the puzzle. Who is she? She doesn't look like a front-woman, she looks like one more of the instruments of the Band, are we right?
Yeah totally right. Since she comes from Jazz music, I wanted to use her velvet voice as a new breath in our music, just to make the instruments alive. She has this special gift to compose beautiful and dreamy vocal lines that perfectly feat on our music.

The Basement: Can you tell us the story of your EP covers? These collages look much like filmic, mind tripping and always trying to create a surrealism. Who had the idea?
They were made by a Belgian friend, an artist called David Delruelle. He is specialized in collages, and he is totally into 70's mind tripping things. I just bought collages that where already made, but they where made for theses EP!

The Basement: Charles, you also work as a Dj at some places in Paris. Do you manage to find time for your rehearsals, does this helps you?
I do, that's on top of my priorities! We are currently touring France and Europe with the band and we can't afford to not rehearse before the shows. I'm djing sometimes but that's just to play the new records I just bought!

photo by PE Testard

The Basement: I liked so much your continuously changing sound. You started with pure new disco sounds and now you're making some experimental pop like no other. What should we expect from you in 2018? 
The album has just been released so, you tell me ?! I think what we explored in this LP has been influenced by the typical 70's French song format : verse, chorus, bridge... But we also continued to write instrumental space pop or cosmic disco tracks, as you can hear in Matahari.

The Basement: Do you collaborate with other French artists? For example, Isaac Delusion was one of them and has similarities with your aesthetics. Any "dream" collaboration you have in mind for the future?
We'd love to collaborate withe some French rappers like Lomepal, or Americans like Chance, ASAP Rocky, Tyler the Creator... Maybe one day ! We had a new collaboration with Isaac Delusion's lead singer on a track called "dreaming of you". 

The Basement: Do the members of L'Impératrice have any free time? Any hobbies? How do you make a living?
We all make our living with Music, since this project allows us to tour enough to win money. I'd say our hobbies are focused on music and cinema. But one of us (Hagni) owns a Korean restaurant near Le Louvre, you really should come and taste one day!

The Basement: Do you have any contemporary favorite artists we must know about?
Not that much... Let's say we are really influenced by the 70's!

The Basement: What type of music is the mainstream in France today? For example, we know that Radio Nova gets more and more "black" and trap music. What is your feeling?
I'd say there are two kinds of "mainstream" in France. Either pop music close to Céline Dion (we call it "variété"), or French rap / trap, really successful here! I think Radio Nova has always been into "black music", or general groove. For me, it stays really truthful to its original artistic choices. 

The Basement: Propose us any new albums regardless of genres, that you think we must have a listen to.
I'd say "Matahari" from L'Impératrice, for sure! Maybe "Channel Orange" from Frank Ocean (one of my fav), "Malibu" from Anderson Paak (classic), and "Rust & Gold" from Isaac Delusion!

The Basement: Any gigs scheduled for the next few months?
We are touring the whole summer through France, Europe and Canada (Calvi, Montreux Jazz Festival, Roma, Venice, Dour, Montreal...). Very lucky to have so many gigs.

The Basement: Any long term plans? What are your ambitions for L'Impératrice?
We'll try to play as long as we can! So far we stay focus on the tour, then we'll be back with new tracks and maybe another LP! I think we are pretty excited to write new music. Summer is coming...

Thank you so much L'Impératrice. Good Luck !

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