A MEETING WITH SEBASTIEN TELLIER FOR CHANEL AT COLETTE
By Crash redaction
On the occasion of Chanel’s residency at Colette, in Paris, from October 30th to November 25th, numerous events are programmed as well as stage designs presenting Chanel’s latest ready-to-wear collections, visible in the shop windows and on the first floor. Throughout the duration of the project, journalist Daphné Hezard meets, every Tuesday and Thursday, an artist from music, cinema, dance or literature, close to Chanel’s aesthetic for a discussion about creativity and the search for inspiration.The podcast 3.55, whose name refers to the house’s legendary 2.55 bag, welcomed Sebastien Tellier on November 14th.
Sebastien Tellier, whimsical musician, who navigates between dreamlike pop and electronica, is not as sure of himself as he looks. He confides: “I am rather uncomfortable. When I walk down the street, I’m uncomfortable, when I go to a restaurant I’m uncomfortable, when I go to a bar I’m uncomfortable… Where I’m most comfortable is in the studio.” He channels this discomfort by throwing himself into music, a medium that has the effect of a protective bubble for an artist who likes to flee reality. However, Tellier did not always evolve in a cocoon-like atmosphere. Before becoming a musician, he was a construction worker and even participated in building the Stade de France. An experience he refers to as “horrible”.
“Creative” is an adjective that could easily be associated with Sebastien Tellier, whether it be in the composition of his tracks, his way of conceptualizing them or simply his way of seeing the world. However, for him, creativity can cover many other fields where he excels a little less: “One can be very creative without doing art. For example, how do you entertain your children? For that you have to be super creative. Some have children and manage to entertain them every weekend. I am incapable of doing that.” For Tellier, creativity is also less bright than it seems. It can come from contradictory feelings and can demonstrate a certain rejection of society. He confides : “Creativity sounds good, there is a noble side to it. But actually, it’s a lot more creepy than that. Creativity is a rejection. I create by rejection, not love. I create to run away. I don’t accept the world as it is.” It is with his delicate brooding poet vocabulary that he depicts a world that is “rough”, in which he tries, as best as he can, to make a place for himself.
In 2001, Tellier releases his debut album L’ Incroyable Vérité, an imperfect first try but not void of charm: “It’s very clumsy since a first album is not taken over by 16 producers, as could be done in the US. It was really an amateur album, which I still am.” he says. In 2004, he followed up with the album Politics, which was a notable success. One can’t really talk about “hits” because even his most popular songs only had an alternative fanbase. “It’s an underground success, quite relaxed.” he says.
Some will remember the Alliance Bleue, a bizarre spiritual movement created by Tellier for the release of his album My God Is Blue. Promotional tool or real concept? “When you listen to a record, you are under the influence of the creator of the record. When I was a teenager and listened to Pink Floyd, Robert Wyatt, I was under their complete control. I was really like a puppet. Suddenly there was a drum break and I went crazy. During a short moment, you’re the master. I wanted to reproduce this pattern but without talking about music.” Tellier thus posed as a spiritual leader, but as he never stays in the same costume for very long, his character has evolved since then. The look is inevitably an important question in the musician’s life. “You’re used to yourself, so you get bored. I can be sophisticated one day, but the next day I can be more relaxed. At school it was very upper-class : just white Reebok’s, a Ralph Lauren sweater, a Schott jacket. Sometimes I like to dress like that. It reminds me of the past. Maybe with a Hervé Chapelier bag. A pair of Van’s or Converse because it reminds me of the late 80s. I often say I don’t dress, I dress up. Hide but stay visible : this is what many guys have been doing for a long time. They’re all hiding but still want to be seen. I am a bit like that” Tellier confides.
Provocation is also an integral part of his vocabulary. Why go crazy on stage? He says: “I am so stressed out, overexcited by the fear, that I transform myself. It’s kind of like happenings because I’m afraid of not giving people enough. I’m constantly thinking of the price they paid for the show. This concert system is very strange, people pay to go and see artists, but it’s really the artist who enjoys himself the most. I went to see the Stones at the U Arena. Standing up, sweating… it’s hard to go to the bathroom, to get a beer. It’s complicated being the audience in a concert. On stage, there are no constraints. The artist should pay for the chance to play in front of people.” This kind of reasoning, completely sincere and zany at the same time, is one of the reasons why Tellier is so charming.
Tellier is a lover of pop culture. Since his early childhood, he’s been immersed in music, radio, TV shows… to such an extent that he could no longer define his tastes. He says he loves everything from Mariah Carey to SebastiAn. “When I was 12 years old, there were the Guns n Roses and Run DMC at the same time. Both were just as cool and I never knew if I was a rock guy or a rap guy. My whole musical life is like this. I would like to belong to a musical family. In fact, all musical styles appeal to me. I find it very difficult to define myself, to associate myself with a tribe. Loving everything is complicated.”
Daphné Hezard ends with a quote from Gabrielle Chanel: “Beauty begins when one has the audacity to be oneself.” To which Sebastien Tellier answers, with his amused sarcasm, that according to this statement he would be very ugly.
Find all the 3.55 podcasts right here.
Written by Alice Butterlin.