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Julien Clerc

Tête à Tête avec Julien Clerc

By Adrienne Benassy

Julien Clerc will be back in London on 8 May 2013 for an exceptional concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. Top of the charts for more than 40 years, the singer of "Ma Préférence" transcends musical trends and is getting prepared to charm his audience once again with his latest album, Fou, peut-être (Crazy, maybe). To celebrate this legendary singer's come-back, France in London portrays the artist who influenced a whole generation of French music-lovers. 

Julien Clerc - Fou peut-être
Julien Clerc - Fou peut-être

Melting pot

"I love many kinds of music, from Brassens to Piaf or classical music and pop". Julien Clerc has extremely diverse influences, which have given birth to innovative, original and captivating melodies. Not only is his music a delicate mix of genres but the man himself is a fascinating combination of different social backgrounds and cultures.

His father, an intellectual and former UNESCO executive, and his mother, the daughter of the Clerc family's Guadeloupian cleaning lady, divorced when Julien was only very young. He then spent his childhood between his father's comfortable house in one of the better off neighborhoods outside Paris (Bourg-la-Reine), where he spent his time listening to classical music, and his mother's small apartment on the southern outskirts of Paris (Porte d'Orléans) where he discovered Barbara, Brassens and television.

It is sometime believed that it is Julien Clerc's diverse origins which made him such an original and charming singer and ensured his long-lasting success, but he they are nevertheless a soured regret. He never saw his parents love each other, a frustration which inspired his the album Double Enfance in 2005 (Double Childhood). 


Femmes, je vous aime (Women, I love you)

« Femmes… je vous aime / Je n’en connais pas de faciles / Je n’en connais pas de fragiles » (Women… I love you / I don’t know easy ones / I don’t know fragile ones) sang the young star in 1982, immortalising his Don Juan reputation with his own words. At the time, he had already been with the French singer, France Gall, for who he wrote "Souffrir pour toi n'est pas souffrir" (Suffering for you is not suffering) when they separated. He then fell for the charms of the actress, Miou-Miou, with whom he had a child, Jeanne and he adopted the daughter (Angèle) she had with Patrick Dewaere after he committed suicide.

Hélène Grémillon
Since then, the 65 year-old singer has had three children with two different wives. Vanille (24 years old) and Barnabé (15 years old) were born from his relationship with Virginie Couperie, a horse rider and a direct descendent of Gustave Eiffel

Hélène Grémillion, his new wife is also the mother of his latest 4-year-old. Julien Clerc met her twelve years ago on Thierry Ardisson’s TV programme “Rive droite / Rive gauche”. She is a writer who is 30 years younger than him. They married quietly in 2013. They still use "vous" instead of "tu" when they speak to each other, to maintain old-school seduction games.

A lover of words

Without a doubt, Julien Clerc's talent is his ability to make words come to life with his inimitable voice tone. As a voracious book reader, Julien Clerc loves stylish writing and definitively has good taste when it comes to choosing his songwriters. "The French have a strong song-writing tradition, that's why I have always asked the best writers to put their words down for me"

He composed his first songs with Maurice Vallet, but he had a greater understanding and success with Étienne Roda-Gill (1941-2004). The trio produced his first album, La cavalerie (1968) characterised by its very harmonic style and Julien Clerc's vibrato, which set him apart him from the start. 

He then worked with some of France’s greatest songwriters, including Maxime Leforestier (J'ai eu trente ans) or Jean-Loup Dabadie who wrote some of his top hits, « Ma préférence » or « Femmes je vous aime ».

Always seeking to renew himself, Julien Clerc has recently been collaborating with new authors who write French in a refreshing way. Carla Bruni wrote his album Si j'étais elle (2000). Their complicity went so far that they sang in duo "Qu'est-ce que tu crois", an adaptation of Chet Baker's "I Get Along Without You Very Well". 

Fou peut-être (Crazy, maybe)

Three years after « Où s’en vont les avions ? »,  Julien Clerc is back with his new album, Fou peut-être (Crazy, maybe). "The idea of the title came to me when I asked Maxime Leforestier to write a song about fatherhood at 60 years old, because it seems quite mad to have a child at my age". Is he crazy hoping he will see his 4 year-old child grow-up as long as possible? Maybe, but most of all he is crazy to still be singing after forty years in the industry with the same strength and emotion. 

In this new album, his fans will recognise his long-lasting songwriters, such as Jean-Loup Dabadie, Maxime Leforestier or Gérard Manset. But Julien Clerc has also chosen to mix with the new generation and gathered together artists from very different backgrounds, such as Mike Ibrahim, Julien Doré, Alex Beaupain, Benjamin Biolay or Julien Doré. "These new talents write French in a diferent way, and I wanted to renew myself, be in phase with my time and discover new ways of expressing myself" explains the singer. 

Julien Clerc will come to London on 8 May for an exceptional concert at Shepherd's Bush Empire. For further information and to book tickets, please click here


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