French Shoegaze, Dream Pop & Noise Pop, a quick guide, Vol. 1
The country of smelly cheeses and great wines have produced great musicians over the ages: from Serge Gainsbourg to Daft Punk, with names like Air, Laurent Garnier, Alcest, Phoenix or Françoise Hardy.
The current Noise Pop scene is also very strong, with many bands doing music second to none. This first volume, like the ones to follow, includes past, present, big and small.
WELCOME TO JULIAN
Welcome to Julian is a French indie rock band formed in 1991. They released two albums "never so close" in 1993 and "surfing on a t-bone" in 1995. Their influences are Anglo-Saxon, like Wrinkle, My Bloody Valentine, and other noisy-pop artists such as Boo Radleys. They themselves say that Pavement, and more precisely their opus "slanted and enchanted" was a major source of inspiration.
Welcome to Julian has participated in the very first broadcast of Black Sessions, the program of Bernard Lenoir (French equivalent of John Peel), on February 23, 1992. Introducing some versions of his first compositions, here, it is especially the amazing recovery of " In Between Days "Cure that held the attention. The edition of the Printemps de Bourges in 1990 will be one of the first occasions to see Welcome To Julian on stage. The group also appeared on the second edition of the Route du Rock, the festival of St Malo, which at the time was played in the winter, in bars and in front of 2000 people only.
After that, the band was the figurehead of the French Noisey Pop / Shoegaze movement, signing with records label Rosebud and touring both in France and abroad, getting great reviews in the musical press (French, English, and American).
After their beautiful first LP, Never so Close, the changed their writing and were more alt-rock. Meeting one of their members by chance years later, I understand that it may have come from some of the members more interested in harder, more rock focused than Noisey Pop. The split came not long after.
I was also lucky to have met them when supporting them with my band at a music festival in Toulouse. We shared a few drinks and were in awe, as they were at the time the ultimate goal that every French indie band was trying to achieve. Following this great encounter, I wore their giraffe t-shirt on stage I bought that night.
There is surprisingly little online in English on Welcome to Julian. There is a recent great interview with the lead singer, Lionel at the following link. You need to brush up on your French though. One of the things he says is:
"It's been 20 years since we split up. I am very touched by some of the comments on the internet from guys who say they make music because at one point they listened to Welcome.
I did not realize at all the impact that could be had."
I agree. I was one of the people inspired by their example.
The band consisted of:
Lionel Beuque, Guitar, vocals
Jacques Guamin – Guitar
Fred Gurnot – Bass
Philippe Deshaies - Drums
Their musical work is:
Surfing On A T-Bone, LP, 1995, Rosebud Barclay
Bob Your Head, EP, Rosebud, Barclay
Never So Close, LP, 1993, Rosebud, Barclay
Real Things, EP, 1993 Rosebud
Welcome To Julian, EP, 1991, Rosebud records
DEAD HORSE ONE
Founded in 2012, their music spans multiple genres including Shoegaze and Psychedelia. Inspired by Ride, The Telescopes, Swervedriver and John Barry soundtracks, the group formed in the town of Valence.
Their first EP, Heavenly Choir of Jet Engines leaned somewhat towards the dark and heavy. The group has performed at the Liverpool psych fest 2013 and has shared the stage with The Telescopes, and The Veldt.
Dead Horse One’s debut full-length, Without Love We Perish, produced by Mark Gardener of Ride. They have been touring lately as the first act in some of the European Ride dates and will be soon supporting Brian Johnstone Massacre.
Their music includes many influences of Noisey Pop (MBV, Slowdive) and Psychedelic Rock (The Doors, ...). They are going places.
The band's line-up is:
Olivier Debard - Guitar, vocals
Ludovik Naud - Bass, vocals
Antoine Pinet - Guitar
Rémi Moulin - Drums
Ivan Tziboulsky -Guitar, keyboards
The band's musical work to date (and to come) is:
The West is the best, LP, 2019, produced by John Loring & Dead Horse One, mixed by Mark Gardener. Record label Requiem Pour un Twister.
Season of Mist, LP, Feb 2017 (Great review from When the Sun Hits blog)
Without Love We Perish (Produced by Mark Gardener), LP, Jul 2016
Heavenly Choir Of Jet Engines, EP, May 2016
STUCK IN THE SOUND
Stuck in the Sound is a French indie rock band formed in Paris in 2002. They have Shoegaze influences ad their 3rd LP is named Shoegazing Kids, a name that many reading these lines can relate to. Hence their inclusion in this guide.
The band are presently signed to Discograph Records and have to date released four studio albums. They are probably one of the most famous French indie band around.
The name "Stuck in the Sound" came from the fact that when the band first started they locked themselves in a cellar and made music, so they were literally "stuck in the sound".
The current band line up consists of:
José Reis Fontão - lead vocals and guitar
Emmanuel Barichasse - lead guitar
Arno Bordas - bass guitar
François Ernie - drums and backing vocals.
Their musical work to date is:
Vegan Porn Food, single, 2018
Survivor, LP, 2016
Pursuit, LP, 2012
Shoegazing Kids, LP, 2009
Nevermind the Living Dead, LP, 2006
Toy Boy, EP, 2006
Stuck in the Sound, LP, 2004
"In the dark, all color melt together. In daylight, they are a divine radiance."
Venera 4 is a French multifaceted quartet created in 2012. According to their social media, their universe "combines several sounds between female voices and shrill guitars, sensuality and strength. Two boys, two girls, meeting in noisy pop songs with a delicate sense of color... and darkness".
The band is named after the Venera 4 (Russian: Венера-4), probe from the Soviet Venera program for the exploration of Venus.
They propose one of the most stylish Shoegaze / Dream Pop around, beautifully crafted, that sounds amazing. Resolutely urban, the music is arty, clever, without ever being snobbish. It is one of my favorite bands around. Unfortunately, they have been on a hiatus since 2017. Let's hope that they will reunite soon.
The lineup is:
Morgane Caux, vocals and guitar
Annabelle Chapalain, vocals and keyboards
Yann Canévet, vocals and guitar
The musical work to date is:
Masked Dance, Single, Dec 2015
Eidôlon, LP, Mar 2015
Winter Sessions, EP, Dec 2013
Deaf Hearts EP, Oct 2013
Haunted Summer Single, Apr 2013
SUN single, Dec 2012
Seabed Terror Single, Nov 2012
SOON SHE SAID
Born out of a passion around reverberated guitars and ethereal sounds, Soon She Said was primarily a "bedroom shoegaze project". After a couple of months, songs were written, demos edited.
In 2014 a name was found and Soon She Said became a four-piece band.
In late August 2015, Soon She Said recorded an EP somewhere in Brittany. Four ethereal tracks drenched in dreamy guitars. Gazing at their shoes but with their feet on the ground, Soon She Said tries hard to craft "beautiful noise."
Gazing at their shoes but with their feet on the ground, Soon She Said tries hard to craft "beautiful noise."
The current line up is:
Laura Bruneau, Bass, Vocals, Backing Vocals
Marc Corlett, Guitar
Julien Perrin, Guitar, Vocals
The musical work to date is:
A letter to Elise, Cure cover, single, 2018
Sad Smiling Girls (Laudanum remix), Single, January 2018
The First Casualty Of Love Is Innocence, LP, April 2017
Reach Out, EP, September 2015
Automatic Fiction is a 3 piece band Formed, in 2015, in Bordeaux, a town renowned worldwide for its fine wines. The band prove that they also have fine music. Their EP was recorded in "a vast baroque salon and mixed in caves".
Their line up consists of:
Lise Data - Bass, lead vocals
Tom Data - Guitar, vocals
Dany Ladrat - Drums.
Their musical work to date is:
Lightness is A greatness, single, May 2018
10 knowledges, single, June, 2017
The gold of days, single, April 2017
I thought we were tomorrow, single, March 2017
Spring Inclination, EP, March 2016.
Candelabre are a French band from Toulouse. They do a beautiful indie pop mixed with elements of Cold Wave, Shoegaze and Post-Punk. They present their music as follows:
"Somehow we like to explore paradoxes with our music: it can be soft, sensual, aerial, warm and at the same time tense, heavy and cold. We play on those contrasts but we never preset or conceptualized it at the beginning of the band, we just do it naturally.
Cindy has this very aerial, crystalline, sometimes almost mischievous voice, at least very melodic, all in curls and arabesques. We sometimes play by contrast with that on tracks like “Fortress Of Salvation” or “Last Rites”, where the music is sometimes heavy and threatening."
You can find an interview and their music in our collaboration with them. Just follow that Link
Candélabre consists of:
Anthony Hérigny - guitars, bass, percussions
Cindy Sanchez - vocals, guitars
Michaël De Almeida - bass, keyboards, percussions
Their musical work to date is:
Carrion Season, single on TBTCI "the dark side of TBTCI", August 2018
Candélabre, EP, March 2018
THE SIGH (a lost treasure)
The Sigh was formed at the beginning of the 90's, near Toulouse. The music was clearly Shoegaze, with some beautiful melodies and superb guitar play. They were mainly doing local music festival and events in the area, thought their EP and Album ended up reviewed in "Les Inrockuptibles", that was at the time the French equivalent to the NME. They disbanded around 1995.
Unfortunately, there is very little online. I was lucky to know them and have seen them or play with them on several occasion. They are certainly one of the best Shoegaze outfits of the era, a lost treasure. There is no Bandcamp page but you can listen to them here.
While the songs were resolutely Shoegaze on stage, the band decided to experiment in their LP arrangements, giving different formats to some songs (ie more acoustic, or more metal) or using alternate instruments (ie cythar). As a result, the LP and the live version of songs were more often than not different.
The line-up consisted of:
Jean-Luc Damiot: Guitars and music writing
Sylvie Fratus: Vocals
Renaud Gindre: Drums
Eric Lamézas: Bass
Their music work is:
Wimsomness, EP, 1993
Bienveillance, LP, March 1995.
We hope you enjoyed this first volume. Look out for the next few France volumes. There is still a wealth of bands to come.
You can also have a look at our guides to other countries (Taiwan, China, Russia, Singapore, Italy, Spain to quote but a few).
Noise Artists Article, Bands Feedback, Personal knowledge, Bands social media (FB, Bandcamp mainly), Les inrocks, Collective NOTHING, Shoegaze Facebook groups, Internet research.