Meet the artist

Laura Cahen

#EALIVEINPARIS

Meet the artist

Laura Cahen is an upcoming singer-songwriter from Nancy whose musical awakening began as part of a family of music lovers. She learnt to play piano and guitar when she was younger and subsequently began writing her own songs as a teenager. Her first EP, “O” was released last year and was filled with haunting, romantic pop songs sung in French. Laura is currently working on her debut album which she is planning to release at the end of the year.

So far Laura Cahen may only have one EP to her name, but mark our words the Nancy native has big things coming her way. Currently working on an album due later this year Laura is a master of beautifully crafted pop that calls to mind great singers of a bygone era. And where others have abandoned their mother tongue to sing in English, Laura writes and sings predominantly in French – making her sound all the more romantic. We meet the rising star to find out why she’s a romantic at heart.

Talk us through your musical beginnings - when did you first fall in love with music?

I fell into it when I was young! I was lucky growing up in a family of music lovers and one composed of musicians. I attended music school when I was very young, about 4 years old. I’ve always loved singing, especially in the car when we were travelling and I still remember my father singing the Beatles songs in the evening to get me to sleep.

Where does your musical process start, and what inspires you as a songwriter?

I learnt to play different musical instruments when I was younger, piano and guitar in particular were what started my path to music. And when I was a teenager, I couldn’t imagine continuing to play music without writing my own songs, so I started writing. Today, I don’t have any particular rule when I write, I give myself different options - text first, chords first, melody first - it depends. What’s important for me if I begin to write a text for example, is to make it musical. I use text and voice like a real instrument, like an extra arrangement to my songs which is more important than the meaning itself. I find inspiration in what’s surrounding me - life, love, the sea, the birds and the wind. Most of the time I write instinctively - without thinking - like an animal. I really love the work of surrealist poets on automatic writing. I like trying this exercise, to launch a ten-minute timer that forces me to let my pen go on the paper. It often leads to strange and interesting things. I realize that there is always a bit of my personal story or of my family’s story hidden behind my tracks and I’m a great romantic so there’s a lot of love stories, often disillusioned ones.

You have so far released one EP and are working on an album, what can we expect?

The album I’m preparing right now is the sequel to the O EP and was recorded at the same time. There will be some tracks from the EP, so you can expect something quite close. I have loved working with Samy Osta and together with my musicians we have sought out the sound of a real band. All the rhythmic parts were recorded live, and I’m really happy with that. We wanted a sound between atmospheric pop and huge flights of lyricism like old Ennio Moricone’s westerns, Portishead inspired trip-hop and Barbara’s great emotion. Even if we can’t compare ourselves with those admirable peoples, they were our inspirations.

Your music is very romantic - where do you think this feeling comes from?

It comes from the bottom of the ocean, where the sirens drew fragile sailors…

Do you want your album to have an overriding message?

Of course! There is a big message of love and peace! Nature also touches me deeply in a very romantic way - it is really present in my songs. I really think that we should give it more respect. I hope we will manage to do that in the future.

In your opinion what is different about the French music scene to other countries? What is popular in France right now?

I feel that there’s a great desire in France to defend our national language and to use it for poetry. Musically speaking I feel that there’re a lot of different influences coming from overseas - far from the French borders. I am myself very influenced by Anglo-Saxon and Spanish music. Maybe this is the singular thing in France - a desire for artists to mix a lot of things while sticking to their mother tongue. At the moment we can notice a revival of the 60s and 80s. Some artists manage to cover their poetry in rock music and to reach the broader public; for instance, Feu. Chatterton also does this in a beautiful way.

How important is fashion to you as a performer?

In music, I don’t really pay attention to fashion because I try to create things far from cliché and do something as personal as possible. But I can’t help but be influenced by what’s around, so fashion comes in that way. If you want to talk about my stage outfit, I love Emporio Armani!

What is it about Emporio Armani that you admire?

Obviously, I admire the elegance and sharpness that always comes with the Emporio Armani look, sobriety and extravagance at the same time. I love the androgynous side of their collections too. And it's really impressive how strong and modern this institution still is even after all those years. I also like the dark side, there’s often a lot of black in the collections. Always chic!

For anyone visiting the city, what are your three hidden Paris treasures?

I don’t currently live in Paris but you can walk all along the Passage Brady, also called the Little India. It’s a really nice covered crossing in the 10° arrondissement. You also have to see the house of Serge Gainsbourg on 5 rue de Verneuil. It was recently renovated but still is a genuine work of art. Finally, even though I’ve never been inside, I love to look at the Cirque d’hiver from the outside on rue Amelot in the 11° arrondissement. Enjoy the tour!

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