While listening to Yelle, you may sense a loose combination of urges to laugh, cry, and slap an ex-lover. The confused feelings can be frustrating (disregarding the fact that all of the songs are in French), since whatever your state of mind, you will not be able shake off the urge to dance. The French synth-pop trio—singer Julie Budet and producers GrandMarnier (Jean-François Perrier) and Tepr (Tanguy Destable)—delivers stretchy keyboard sounds punctuated by a steady booming beat and the occasional crack of a whip. Budet’s youthful, silky voice ties it all into a neat package that is at once playful, rebellious, flirtatious, and meloncholic.
After the success of Yelle’s first album, Pop Up, in 2007, the group is back with Safari Disco Club, reminding us that it can pack a mean punch despite being in a genre that is often taken as seriously as bubblegum and pigtails. Some American fans have already likened the 28-year-old Budet to Madonna, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga—minus their overwrought drama.
Onstage at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom this past Thursday night, Yelle was a refreshing change. A petite-and-well-sculpted Budet, clad in a skintight red leopard-print body suit, danced around happily, unbound by choreography, in that girls-just-want-to-have-fun-gone-femme-fatale manner. Every now and then she donned a matching animal-print hood to create an air of mystery, and give a nod to her ’80s hip-hop/Fresh Prince of Bel-Air phase. At the end of the show, she excitedly invited fans to meet the band outside.
Off stage, Budet was as comfortable and familiar as an old friend or a worn-in pair of jeans. Below, she takes a break from her pre-show sound check to talk about living the “simple life,” baking, and Yelle’s new video.