We chat with Sebastien Tellier
It is pure coincidence that Sébastien Tellier looks like a Renaissance Jesus, as he graces the cover of his latest album My God Is Blue. The French multi-instrumentalist and former Eurovision competitor was is a state of divine revelry talking to Tone Deaf about magic potions, George Michael and his spirituality.
Speaking from his sofa in Paris, Monsieur Tellier speaks with engaging passion when discussing his brand new album, which surprisingly was always planned from the beginning of his music career.
“I wrote a book when I was 20, and this book was talking about what I want to do with my musical life,” Sébastien said. “One day I want to make an album about politics, one day I want to make an album about family and one day I want to make an album about God and faith.”
“So for me, I just followed the book.” My God Is Blue seems to be the thematic opposite of Sébastien Tellier’s slinky former album Sexuality with tracks like the seductive ‘Look’ and Eurovision song ‘Divine’; and in a way the tour of Sexuality was the catalyst to “recharge and re-motive myself to make a new record.”
The creative propulsion of My God Is Blue however, came from an experiment the Gallic musician conducted with a shaman to investigate his spirituality.
“To try and find inspiration for this album, I went to see a shaman, to try magic potions. So I tried one of the magic potions… it gave me a blue dream throughout the night. It was a blue waking dream,” he says.
“It’s really hard to describe… it came to me and explained the solution of life. It was completely weird. When I went back in Paris, I played piano thinking about this blue dream. It was so easy to compose… so God came from my book and blue came from my dream.”
As different as the source material is, Sébastien Tellier is still as provocative and eccentric as ever. For instance, the video for the first single from My God Is Blue, ‘Cochon Ville’, is frightening, erotic and utterly surreal.
The messianic performer plays alongside a dark cloaked band (their robes akin to KKK members) for an audience involved in a demented humiliating and sensual orgy featuring milk, trampolining and the anal insertion of fire crackers. The clip ends with Sébastien unleashing a macaw from under his silken garments and releasing a shower of golden glitter.
When Sébastien states that these songs are based off dreams… he means it.
It is no surprise that he completely covers all angles when it comes to his albums. His past two records – 2004′s Politics and the aforementioned Sexuality - were both huge thematic concept albums which Sébastien manipulated into investigating his own ideologies about politics and sex respectively. With My God Is Blue, Sébastien insists that the experience has made him far more in touch with his faith.
“When I did my album Politics, for two or three years I was a kind of guy who had a very political view of the world. After I did Sexuality… my life for two or three years I was always talking about sex. And now I talk about God almost all day long. That has an impact on me … I feel closer to God now.”
In an additional touch of nostalgia back to post-disco; Sébastien decided to use the type of divine revelry people held of pop idols and discoteques to create the blue world of positivity on his latest LP. And to do that, Sébastien worked hard to develop his voice into a far more flexible emotional instrument; like that of his key influences – Michael Jackson and George Michael
“The goal of my life is to sing like George Michael,” affirms Tellier. “I think he has the perfect voice. It’s something fantastic between deepness and something light.”
“I was not proud [of my voice] on my previous album. Now for the first time I am proud of my voice because I work so much. Now I think I’m a better singer than before.”
After developing demos in his Parisian apartment, Sébastien recruited French DJ and producer Mr. Flash to bring to the songs dimension and more importantly solidifying the visual narrative.
“There is a song on the album, ‘Magical Hurricane’ – I was explaining to Mr. Flash, ‘I’m alone in the jungle, and I see my little song in the jungle’. And he asked me, ‘Do you want to sing the song during the morning, at noon, during the afternoon or at night’?” details the Frenchman in his endearing broken English.
“Mr Flash puts a special light on your music. It is wonderful to work with a guy like that.”
The resulting production is magnificent, drawing from the haunting echoes of the pew to the deafening pulses of the dancefloor. My God Is Blue is in no way a critique of Christianity, religion or faith. It’s a fictional arena, where Sébastien is the prophet of eternal happiness.
In a way, he wishes to make this dream a reality; with the creation of his community, The Blue Alliance (L’Alliance Bleu). However Sébastien said it was the alternative to something much more elaborate: a theme park for grown-ups.
“I think as an adult it’s really hard to have fun… You can go to a restaurant you can go to the disco club, but if you do that one thousand times it’s boring!”
“I just want to create something where it’s possible to have fun as an adult. Like it would be possible to crash the car in the corner shop for example. Or you can make your own action movie. That kind of thing.”
It is with slight disappointment that he adds, “to do that I need a lot of money. That’s why I created L’Alliance Bleu. It’s a connection between me and the amusement park.”
Last year Sébastien wowed the crowds at Parklife, converting many to his cult of seductive electronic pop, however – unlike the coming of Jesus – Sébastien is pretty sure he’ll be appearing in Australia as soon as the end of the year.
“Yes yes for sure…” he confirms, before adding confusingly “I’m coming at the end of this summer. But it is not completely sure. But almost completely sure…I’ll be in Australia soon.”
When it comes to Sébastien Tellier, you can’t help but be a believer and you’re bound to become a convert to the religion of My God is Blue.
My God Is Blue is out now through Warner Music, you can read the Tone Deaf verdict here, and you can view the uncensored version of lead single ‘Cochon Ville’ below: