INTRODUCING WOODKID

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(YES HE IS).
TEXT Paul Bruno
ILLUSTRATION Yoann Lemoine

 

My introduction to Yoann Lemoine was one of his illustrations, a self portrait, sort of like an early Egon Scheile drawing, sans the sadness. It was a very simple line drawing, done in multiple strokes, just enough to depict his shoulders and face (and a mod pair of plastic framed eyeglasses) above the brown paper. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time, but his work was flawless, simple and extremely current. Beautiful. It left an impression, as did Yoann when I first met him in person – and what a surprisingly gigantic impression he left for such a compact guy.

Yoann has very powerful sense impressions. He relates deeply to feelings, possibly something tender, or passionate, or angry, but there is always a deep emotional connection and reaction to his experiences that seems to drive his work. It seemed to me, that he broke things down that way; down to a bare feeling or impression or detail. Yoann, has an intuitive understanding of human nature & emotion, that thing that people try to imitate or recreate in their art or their music. His work goes straight for the emotional jugular.

Yoann began to move more into photography, which I also thought was incredible & next to film direction, directing a number of music videos for bands like Moby, Yelle, Berry and Cansei De Ser Sexy. By the time I found out that he was pursuing a side project writing music under the name WOODKID, knowing the amount of himself that he pours into his work, I said to myself , “Side project… It’s only a matter of time now before this kid blows up.” I reconnected with Yoann recently to shoot the shit over his childhood, recurring dreams and Bob Dylan.

 

DIRTY: WHO / WHAT IS WOODKID?

YOANN LEMOINE: Woodkid is my musical project. I compose, write and sing under this name.

 

D: WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

YL: I grew up in France, in a couple of places, and I’ve been influenced a lot by Eastern European culture, where my family roots are. I spent time in Poland with a part of my family when I was a child too.

 

D: WHAT INSTRUMENTS DO YOU PLAY?

YL: I originally learned to play the piano and keyboards, but I also play banjo, pipe and ukulele.

 

D: HOW PRESENT WAS MUSIC THROUGHOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD?

YL: Very important, a big part of my family plays instruments; my cousin is a high-level cello player, my uncle is a music teacher, I went to the conservatory to play pipe (recorder in particular) when I was a kid, then I learned piano for a long time. I listened to a lot of music too, my father was listening to Gainsbourg and Simon & Garfunkel, my mother was listening to Barbara, a famous emotional french singer, and Vivaldi.

 

D: WHAT IS THE FIRST SONG YOU CAN REMEMBER FALLING IN LOVE WITH?  HOW OLD WERE YOU?

YL: I was really impressed by Barbara, by her voice, by the emotion of it. I was maybe 7 or 8. We would listen to it again and again in the car to go to school, I really liked it.

 

D: HOW OLD WHERE YOU WHEN YOU WROTE YOUR FIRST SONG?  WHAT WAS IT ABOUT?

YL: I wrote songs when I was a kid on my piano, I think they were really bad and cheesy, I think I was 13 or 14. The only thing I remember is that I built them the same way I build them today, always on a series of 4 chords. They were love songs, like today – maybe they were more innocent!

 

D: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A BAND?  WHAT WAS IT CALLED?

YL: I never had a band actually. I am a very solitary person.

 

D: WHAT IS THE TITLE OF YOUR DEBUT ALBUM?

YL: I am not sure about the title yet. I wanted to call it Wood and Crystal, because it’s a nice definition of my personality. Organic versus mineral, emotional versus shiny.

 

D: IS IT A SOLO ALBUM?

YL: It’s a solo album but I have a couple of good musicians to work with me, on the album, and on stage too.

 

D: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SONG ON THE ALBUM?

YL: For now, my favorite track is ‘Baltimore’s Fireflies’, it’s a love song where I murder my lover. It’s very dark and romantic at the same time, very epic. It describes a very intimate sensation of guilt that I feel in my dreams sometimes.

 

D: DO YOU KILL PEOPLE IN YOUR DREAMS?

YL: Haha no, not really, but I’m fascinated by passion and passional crimes, I really like the very subtle frontier between extreme love and extreme hate.

 

D: DID YOU TEAM UP WITH ANY OTHER ARTISTS FOR YOUR UPCOMING RECORD?

YL: I can’t say the names yet, but you might be surprised!

 

D: WHAT IS THE ALBUM ABOUT FOR YOU?

YL: Honestly, it’s a joke for me, it’s still hard to believe it’s been so easy to sign a deal and have somebody interested in my music. I have this job as a film director which I really enjoy and I think am successful at, and singing was really a side project, a side art to me. Now it’s beginning to be very serious and I am still very relaxed about it. I think it’s great because it gives me a lot of freedom and spontaneity.

 

D: WHEN IS / WAS THE ALBUM RELEASED?  WHERE CAN WE BUY IT?

YL: The album still requires a lot of work, I think it will be finished by the end of the year. We are on the EP right now, and it will be released very soon.

 

D: ANY UPCOMING TOUR DATES FOR WOODKID?

YL: As soon as we finish the EP I probably will, my tour manager is working very hard on it, he is very confident about the project.

 

D: WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?

YL: These New Puritans, a lot. Yeasayer, Crookers, a lot of Beirut, too.

 

D: BEFORE WOODKID, WHAT WERE YOU WORKING ON?

YL: I’ve just directed a music video for Moby, I’m working on a project with Crookers, on some commercials too.

 

D: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES?

YL: A lot of folk music, Dylan, Cohen, Cash, Drake, classical music too, film scores too, instrumental music, any music that tells stories or has a very strong imagery linked to it.

 

 

D: YOU’RE GOING ON A LONG TRIP AND YOU CAN ONLY BRING A PLAYLIST OF 10 SONGS WITH YOU.  WHAT WOULD THEY BE?

YL:
Nantes – Beirut
9 to 5 – Dolly Parton
L’aigle Noir – Barbara
Over and Over – Hot Chip
A Nervous tick motion of the head to the left – Andrew Bird
Two Weeks – Grizzly Bear
Dinner at eight – Rufus Wainwright
It’s not over yet – Klaxons
River man – Nick Drake
Some Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater sung by Andreas Scholl

 

D: BEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME?

Y: Five leaves left – Nick Drake

 

D: IS THERE ANYONE YOU HOPE TO MEET SOMEDAY?

Y: I’d love to get to meet Bob Dylan.

 

D: DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THAT STORY IN THE AMERICAN NEWS WHERE A WOMAN IN NEW JERSEY CALLED THE COPS BECAUSE SHE SPOTTED A STRANGE LOOKING MAN WANDERING AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD – THEY ARRESTED HIM & IT TURNED OUT TO BE BOB DYLAN?

YL: Well, no. Maybe he was looking for inspiration to write a song about jail!

 

D: WHO / WHAT INSPIRES YOU CREATIVELY?

YL: Cinema, a lot, I’m very inspired by Gus Van Sant, Wes Anderson, all these very creative directors of the american independant movement. I love paintings too, Singer Sargent, Rothko, Hopper, photographers, I love Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld. Images in general are a very good source of inspiration to me.

 

D: IS THERE A DECADE IN WORLD HISTORY YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE BEEN ALIVE TO EXPERIENCE?

YL: Well, I like my decade, I’m not that much of a ‘it was better before’ fan. I like computers, I like technology, I like internet. Visually, as a film director, I really like the aesthetic of the 70’s to 80’s

 

D: WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE FILMS?

YL: I love Elephant, Paranoid Park. I REALLY loved Tetro recently.

 

D: TELL ME SOMETHING THAT NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOU.

YL: I am really not a fun guy.

 

 

WOODKID.COM

YOANNLEMOINE.COM

 

 

 






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