French is not my first language. Nor is it my second. Though elements of the language entered some of my modules at university, it has been a very long time since I spoke the language with any degree of confidence. Therefore interviewing French songstress Owlle (born France Picoulet) is an interesting event. English is not her first language. Like myself, she speaks elements of English but is far from fluent. Therefore a translator mediates our conversation, stemming the flow slightly but enabling an accuracy that would otherwise lead to elements being lost in translation. However, with the interview being conducted by telephone rather than face to face, the three way conversation is something of an interesting balance as to who is speaking when. However, with all three parties determined to enjoy the experience, Owlle opens by admitting she is relishing the opportunity to be releasing her material in the UK; ‘It’s very nice for me to be here as my heroes in music are from England.’
‘I am very proud to have an album’. A modest presence, Owlle seems blissfully unaware of the hype surrounding her material. While others sing her praises, she is focused solely on ensuring she learns as an artist. Having garnered comparisons to striking songstresses Lykke Li and Bat For Lashes, it is possible to sense a blush through the wires as she continues. ‘I think we have a lot of connection in our music. I listen to a lot of their music. It is not rare in this industry for comparisons to be made. I am happy for people to say I sound like them as they are cool company.’
While she is flattered by the praise she receives, she notes that her actual influences lie far from the artists he is often compared to. Stating ‘I love music and fashion’, it is unsurprising to learn that she has a real passion for both David Bowie and Madonna. Although she may look to two of the recording industry’s biggest success stories for inspiration, she actually looks to the era, the ’90s, that defined her youth for ideas.
Having taken two years since the release of her debut EP Ticky Ticky to arrive at the release of her debut album France, how does she feel about the release? Clearly both content and critical, she initially notes that she is happiest with the tracks ‘Fog’ and ‘Creed’, stating that the former is ‘my favourite song on the album. I love this song as it is my own feeling expressed. I love ‘Creed’ because it is just so danceable.’ However, she is equally quick to note, ‘I think there are a lot of imperfections on the album as it is my first album. It is always my goal to make things better. I want to learn from this so I can record an even better second album.’
With her recording ambitions clearly stated, how does she feel about live performance? Are the aforementioned tracks her favourite in a live forum? ‘No, live it changes. It is a bit different performing to recording and I prefer to change things on stage to create a surprise. If it is always the same thing then it is not interesting for me.’
With a clear passion for the freedom of live performance, would Owlle declare herself a performance as opposed to recording artist? She explains it is not as simple as being one or the other. ‘They are different things, it is not a case of preferring one or the other. It is more intimate in the studio surrounded by a small team of musicians. On stage everything is really fragile and people will either react or not.’
Acutely aware of public response, what is striking about our conversation is that despite her awareness, Owlle is far from motivated by the glory of a recording career. A passionate artist, her rewards stem from creativity. As such she is an exciting artist, always pushing herself further towards what she deems perfection at that point in time.
France is available from iTunes.