Meet Raphaël, Romain and Simon, the Parisian trio who are far from your average band
- TextMarta Represa
Faire, meaning ‘to do’ in French, is possibly the least SEO-friendly band name ever. A quick Google search will lead you to all sorts of unusual content that has nothing to do with the Parisian trio. Not that they probably care – Faire is far from your average band.
Sprawled across a sofa backstage at La Boule Noire, Pigalle, Raphaël (the trio go by their first names) opens a bottle of wine, while Simon prepares to bleach his hair; Romain soon walks in – clad in bright orange 70s-style trousers, a short-sleeved jumper and silk bandana scarf – carrying a vintage shop bag. “I didn’t have time to pop home today, so I just got some clothes around the corner,” he explains.
Faire by David Ledoux
The trio are preparing for their first gig in several months; the launch of their new EP. Titled La vie, this EP is a four-track record defined by its eclecticism, encompassing electro, power pop, punk and surf-rock, as well as a healthy dose of French chanson-style word play. The record is released under their own label. “We decided to set it up after having more than 20 meetings with established ones, in which we were invariably asked to change our style,” says Raphaël. “One of them actually asked us how long our ‘punk phase’ was going to last,” adds Simon.
The ‘punk’ tag tends to stick to Faire – the band is known for its crazy shows, which have involved everything from mass brawls to members of the audience climbing onstage naked – however the trio prefer to call their sound ‘Gaule Wave’. “We’re inspired by all things French, from the current electro scene and Nouvelle Vague movies to the music of Charles Trenet and the little risqué songs from the 20s and 30,” says Raphaël. “And of course by the French art de vivre: good food, good manners, good books.” And yet their style is definitely not typically Parisian. “Starting with the fact that there hasn’t been a true rock scene in this city since the 80s,” says Romain. “From the beginning we felt quite alone as a band, but that led us to look for other things.”
The three musicians met in middle school when they were 12, and started making music right away – first playing DJ sets at friends’ parties, then collaboratively writing their own songs. “We all write, we all sing, we all play keyboards. We work as a collective. We don’t like leaders,” says Simon. A couple of years ago, a little bored with Paris, they decided to take a short trip to New York, which turned into three months spent improvising gigs “for about 12 people”, and a road trip that took them to Los Angeles, where they crashed at Charlie Le Mindu’s place (the hairdresser often works with the band, and is responsible for their colourful manes on the EP’s cover).
From there, they went to Mexico, which proved a revelation: “This guy just took us in and started finding us gigs. We met people in the D.F. scene, went to all these incredibly colourful vintage shops and tailors to get all our clothes customised and, on off days, we’d visit the little villages along the Pacific coast,” says Raphaël. “And we discovered all these amazing Latin American beats,” adds Romain. “We became obsessed with psychedelic cumbia groups like Los Destellos, Los Hijos del Sol, José José...”
Ever since, Faire has been playing with those sounds, integrating them into their songs and writing lyrics in Spanish, and travelling back to America regularly, including last March for SXSW. Their trips have no doubt enriched their music, but Simon, Raphaël and Romain have always jumped from musical obsession to musical obsession. “Anything that is not mainstream,” says Romain. “Actually, some mainstream things as well,” replies Simon. “I would be crazy about Afrobeat for a while and get everyone into it. Then Simon or Raphaël would discover psychedelia, then we’d all get super into Italo disco for a while... We’ve always been like this. I wonder how it will all end,” laughs Romain.
Meanwhile, back in their hometown, the trio can’t help but shock the locals with their wide-ranging musical references and their high-voltage looks. Raphaël goes through his phone photos: “Look at what Charlie did for us a couple months ago,” he says, showing a few pictures of the three of them sporting neon mohawks, electric blue mullets and intricately shaved motifs. “But then you get in the metro like that and people discreetly move to the other side of the carriage,” laughs Romain. Do they feel like outsiders in their own city? “It sometimes feels like that when we’re here. Some people even talk to us in English. It’s OK, we feel pretty international. But leaving town always brings the same realisation: we’re pretty damn Parisian after all.”