Before turning her attention to music Petite Meller studied philosophy in Paris, the city that she grew up in, and it’s a subject that still inspires her music.
But it was a trip to New York when she was touring with another band that started her career as a solo artist. Inspired by the city Petite wrote her first track “NYC Time”, secured a manager and began releasing music as a solo artist before landing a record deal with Island Records.
She now makes nuovo jazzy-pop and garnered a fanbase with tracks such as "Baby Love" and "The Flute" before releasing her debut album Lil Empire earlier this year.
To say that Petite Meller is unique is an understatement. The French philosophy student turned musician, who has been compared to a ‘post-modern Mia Farrow with a Brigitte Bardot allure’, is unlike any other artist that you will see in the charts, or on the stage, right now. Creating what she describes as nuvo jazzy-pop Petite’s angelic vocals yet eclectic influences have garnered her a devoted fan base across the globe. Pair that with an eccentric style and some of the most memorable music videos released in the last year and Petite Meller is a tour de force in the music world, and one that is only just getting started.
A string of singles in the last 12 months – including must-watches “Baby Love”, “The Flute” and “Milk Bath” – were most recently followed by debut album Lil Empire, the culmination of three years of hard work, travelling and locking all of her diverse ideas down in one place. And with tour plans on the horizon if you’re yet to embrace music’s most enigmatic new presence then we urge you to take a trip into Petite’s magical world.
Before becoming a musician you were studying philosophy in Paris, what prompted the change of direction or was music always at the back of your mind?
As a child I always used to have melodies and lyrics playing in my mind. Philosophy classes and ideas inspired me to write song lyrics and hide them behind my books from my professors. Life is very absurd and I want to emphasize the pain and joy in it through my music, to take people for a ride that maybe will make some type of sense.
I'm just doing my own thing. It takes time to build your own sound and my ear is my compass. I follow sounds that I love, they send me far away, like the visuals in my videos. For example a New York saxophone player made me remember all the jazz records of my childhood, like Dizzie Gilespie and Paul Simon's Graceland and African bongos and French chansonnier. They all have been used as inspiration on my album Lil Empire. For me it's not just the video or the music - it's a whole journey.
The term Jouissance, which is a pleasure out of pain, is something essential to music for me. Nietzsche's idea that life is short and absurd, that you can only laugh and dance life, marked a big turn in my life.
I've worked in this album for almost three years with different producers from LA, London and Stockholm. This journey started in New York, with the song NYC Time and ended with the a whole album - Lil Empire and that was inspired by creativity and people who joined me along the way through social media and through traveling. This journey has flutes, bongos saxophones - it has the touristic vibe of putting your backpack on and diving in with your mind.
My stylist Nao Koyabu and I visualised a whole collection in our minds, but had to wait passionately for the climate to go above zero, which took us a whole year.
We asked designers from Antwerp Royal Fashion Academy to Central Saint Martins to London College of Fashion to design with the Lil Empire folklore in mind.
I'm inspired by the chansonnier of Brell and Charles Aznavoor and the Chantal Goya soundtrack for "Masculine Feminine". What I love about French music is that it's not afraid to have a sense of humour.
Le Beaux Arts is the art university of Paris, and there I found a pretty secret ancient room full of classic statutes. I love to go and write songs there because it has an amazing sound.
Comptoir General is an Afro beat designed place that has shows and movies screening everyday. It also it has maps and compasses decorating it and the traveling around the globe aesthetic is one that greatly inspires me.
Hotel L'amour is where I love to write. It has only books about love and every room designed differently. I love to write songs in the bath.
I think Emporio Armani is very cinematic, the brand is very classic but also the woman of the future. It reminds me of a Parisian girl dancing in the streets of Paris!
I'm looking forward to getting out to America soon and playing some more shows across Europe.
When my songs are be hummed by London's truck drivers.