A year ago, when we asked to interview Pierre de Maere, we sensed that we would not have finished hearing about him. At the time, he was promoting an EP, One day I, and assumed his wish to become famous. Notoriety, he said, is the sign “that you have succeeded in reaching a lot of people. If I make music, it’s not for my father and my mother. “When we find him, at the beginning of January, in a bistro in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris, we say to ourselves that he is well on his way to realizing his dream. At the next Victoires de la Musique, he will be in the running among the male revelations. He is also competing for the song of the year trophy with One day I will marry an angelhis first hit.
The 21-year-old Belgian warns us: he doesn’t want to be a fashionable artist. “I don’t like the trend, because the hype is falling off as quickly as it came. I would love to build a solid career, pick people up as I go along in a healthy, organic way, take the time to build audience loyalty,” he explains. He is well on his way to this: his first album, Look at me, which comes out this Friday, is a success from start to finish. We insist: you really haven’t finished hearing about Pierre de Maere.
Winning two nominations for the Victoires de la Musique on the strength of a five-track EP is not trivial…
I am super happy. To be honest, two years ago, I didn’t know about the Victoires. It was when I signed with the label that I understood that it was a priority for everyone. I was aiming for the male revelation nomination. The song of the year is rather a good surprise, a bonus that we take with great pleasure. Finding yourself facing Stromae, Orelsan, Clara Luciani and Juliette Armanet is very flattering. It gives credibility, it puts the project in a more serious sphere, even if I don’t want to get serious.
The success ofOne day I will marry an angel, does it help to calmly consider the release of the album? Or are you worried that the other songs won’t receive the same reception?
I don’t put too much pressure on myself because the album was written before the title was a hit. So there was no influence in the creation, I didn’t say to myself “I have to make a song like One day I will marry… », I was not parasitized by that. I think the album, production-wise, holds up much better than the EP, musically way above it – I don’t know if it’s more effective, time will tell. There is something unifying in the text of One day, I will marry an angel and it can be difficult to find that.
Title the album Look at meis to risk being accused of narcissism, isn’t it?
It is not “Look at me, I am beautiful” but “Look at me with love and find beauty in me”. It’s a desperate romantic appeal. The song, which gives its title to the album, speaks of an artist who is not recognized, who performs on small stages. I imagined Lady Gaga before she was Lady Gaga. She said in an interview that when she started without her finery, without showing off, she was performing in bars and no one was listening to her. Then one day she got naked and everyone started staring at her, I found that interesting. In the song, I am this artist who fails to be heard and seen and starts to do anything, so that it becomes pathetic. There’s this passage, which is my favorite from the album: “Tonight, I’m doing stupid things, I’m tearing myself up with tise, the crowd loves my sad comedy, tonight I’m stripping and I’m teasing. »
There is a lot of talk about violence, war, death, in your songs… Why do you draw so much from this lexical field?
It’s a romantic, theatrical, dramatic approach. I like discs generous in emotions. I am basically an exhibitionist of feelings. I like when it’s dramatic, going all out, exploring extremes. The songs have an epic side. I really like this passion. I find that in France, it’s lacking, we tend to be jaded. Me, I want to be enthusiastic and give much more than what is necessary.
Is it a drama queen or “drama queer” album then?
Queer drama, a little bit. Without it being pronounced, in subtlety. In One day…, I think people understand that the angel is a boy but it’s not expressed like that. I like to tell myself that I don’t make it the theme of the song and that the gender identity of the person I’m looking for will never be the subject. But I like to normalize the thing, speaking in “it”. I am not leading a queer fight because I have not been the victim of homophobia. It would have been hypocritical and pushy to make it my identity when it was never a source of suffering. On the other hand, if I can normalize things, express myself freely on this subject, be on the cover of Stubbornit is with great pleasure.
In Child of… you say you’re looking for a “girl from another galaxy”. Is it to cover the tracks?
I will disappoint you. To be honest, it’s purely musical. A matter of syllables and rhymes. It was going too well, so I thought it had to be written that way. “I’m looking for a guy”, it didn’t work, there weren’t the right number of feet. Now the full sentence is “I’m looking for a girl from another galaxy who could make me love everything and its opposite.” So that makes a little more sense. The song is about opposites attracting and the fact that, in my opinion, true love is about being able to make sacrifices and to make the other person make sacrifices.
The “fuckboy”, that is to say the gigolo, of Nice friend who sleeps with “fortunate fools”, is it a reference to the novel or to the gay porn studio?
I almost wrote “I promise, I won’t go on BelAmi anymore”, so I had the idea in mind. But, in fact, the text was born from my reading of Maupassant’s book. I stopped at page 270 because I had found what I needed to do my piece – I am very profitable in my reading (laughs). The social climbing coach tells the hero that the first thing to do when arriving in Paris is not to have a nice place to live, but a nice outfit. It spoke to me a lot because I moved here six months ago and, in my 9 m2 room, I still have no bed but two mattresses on top of each other. On the other hand, I have a luxurious wardrobe. But everyone is free to interpret my texts as they wish. I think many will think that Your mother is crazy is about a woman who does not accept her son’s sexual orientation. But in reality, I wrote the text having in mind a great friend of mine whose mother is austere, reactive to death and above all crazy, in fact. She would forbid him if she could to sleep until he was 35 years old. I think the interest of my songs is that they leave the listener freedom of interpretation.
If each song tells a more or less fictional story, which speaks the most about you?
Look at me is the most personal. I found myself doing showcases in private concerts where I went for money. No one listened to me or looked at me. You feel a bit like the court jester. When I go to sing in villages where no one knows me, with an average age of 65, and where people move around because there is rarely a concert, you have to go find them. On the first four songs, it’s difficult, I rely on my interventions, my jokes, to seduce them. In concert, I look for a smile in the audience to reassure me. When I look a spectator in the eye and he’s stone cold, it’s horrible, I wonder what he’s thinking…
Your way of singing, with rolled “r”, soaring in the treble, is very particular, how do you approach your interpretations?
With a lot of naturalness, without asking me any questions. When I recorded my first piece in French, Absurd gossip, I didn’t think of anything and these rolling r’s came suddenly. I didn’t invent anything, you can find them at Piaf, Brel or Stromae. I always think musicality. A text, before having meaning, must be musical. I really like Zed Yun Pavarotti: we don’t understand anything, but that doesn’t bother me because everything is fluid. Conversely, there are people who write divinely well but whose musicality does not affect me. I will also look for treble. I like to play with my voice. Without necessarily assuming in concert, it’s complicated afterwards. In the studio, when you do fifty takes, it encourages me to try things that I wouldn’t necessarily do again.
So the public who come to applaud you on tour will not be sure to hear you roll the “r”?
The rolled ‘r’s will still be there, but don’t expect every note, among the highest ones, to be in tune (laughs). I am not a vocalist. I work there, but I come from afar. I started a year ago, I sang very very badly and even today it’s complicated. My big complex is that I don’t think I’m a great singer. I may be the best producer, lyricist, melodist. I am aware that I have a pleasing voice but the vocal performance is difficult. However, I had a click in May. I went to see Hubert Lenoir at La Maroquinerie and I loved it. He has a hyper punk spirit, free, in the energy and emotions he transmits. Musically, it’s great. He has a crazy charisma. I realized that in concert, what matters more than anything is the interaction with the audience. I tell myself that I have to go all out, stopping to fixate on the notes. My singing is improving, I’m taking lessons. La Cigale was fake from start to finish, Le Trianon wasn’t bad, I think at L’Olympia I’ll be right all the way.
What does L’Olympia, where you will sing on May 12, represent for you?
I want to offer a show at the height of the room. We are going to integrate a bass player. We will be four on stage. Bass, drums, synth will be very pleasant for me because it will give me more freedom, I will be able to improvise. I’m not thinking so much about the myth of the room, nor about the accomplishment that it can represent until it’s filled and the show hasn’t taken place. The Olympia is great, but it’s not the end, it’s the beginning. Afterwards, it is the Zénith, Bercy…