Born in 2010, perilously little is known about Fauve. Literally translating as “wild animal”, they are an open, collaborative group of musicians, photographers, videographers, and judging by the pelt and persuasion of their rhetoric and intellectual grounding, thinkers.
Formed in the ashes of the broken Parisian society that they experienced every day, the project became a symbol of resistance, sticking steadfastly to the hope that elemental optimism and hope can be a transformative solution. Coming to be represented by the crossed equal symbol in their logo (≠), their belief in equality comes thrillingly filtered through a gritty paranoia, resulting in a spirit that feels positively revolutionary. Their curious blend of style sits somewhere between the post-rock guitar and piano lines that draw many of the tracks together, pulsing hip-hop beats, the cast of strange characters that populate their soundscapes, and most prominently the urgent, visceral spoken word that drive Fauve’s polemic skew. It makes you wish you’d paid more attention to French GCSE lessons. For a proper introducing, we caught up with the band ahead of their performance at OohLaLA! Festival.
Online searches for “Fauve” bring up the names of everything from the early twentieth-century Modernist art movement, to the former name of Holly Golightly, to a lingerie company. What does the word mean to you?
We were introduced to the word by the French film “Nuits Fauves” (which means “savage nights” in french) by Cyril Collard. We hadn’t seen the movie when we chose to baptise the project, but the word to us was so strong, colourful and filled with images. Fauve to us is something that is spontaneous, that comes out as it is felt inside.
You’ve been characterised as representing a bleakness and identity crisis brought about by the French situation. Do you intentionally respond to this situation with your music?
Absolutely not. At the start, the project was nothing but selfish. We did Fauve for us and the ones around us. Our families, friends and entourage. We use Fauve as a way to scream, put words on things and express our disappointments and stuff we fantasize about.
What’s the inspiration and meaning behind your logo, the crossed equal? How does this relate to the above?
It’s simply the vertical bar from the letter F that was diagonally to cross the other two. (It’s simpler when we draw to explain). That’s how we came across the logo. To us today, it represents the fact that everyone is different. Not in the sense where people are compared to each other, but simply unique.
What would be the main elements of the Fauve manifesto?
Fauve is the right to weakness. The right to say things how they are and how they’re felt. No filter.
Can you tell us anything about the origins or history of Fauve? What drives you to preserve your anonymity?
Fauve was created by 5 long-time friends, some even from childhood. Anonymity wasn’t even a debate amongst us. It was simply a question of discretion. We aren’t very comfortable with having our pictures taken, or doing photo sessions like real musicians. The fact that the project is made-up of people that come and go (we are never the same number of people and faces), was also something that pushed us to remain anonymous.
Although I speak very little French (un petit peu!), there is an urgency and charge behind your long, spoken word sections that resonates very strongly with me, even though I don’t know what the words mean. What artists are you inspired by in terms of your vocal style?
We have very different inspirations because we are so many in the project, ranging from hip-hop, to african music, to californian punk rock! If we had to choose in terms of vocal style, I guess it would Gil-Scott Heron and The Last Poets. The fact of having no constraints in terms of rhymes, steps, etc… was a breakthrough for us.
Similarly, you have a very fresh production style. What influences the way in which you piece songs and found fragments together? How do you decide what to sample?
Honestly, I really don’t know where the “fresh production style” comes us, because we do everything by ourselves in our rooms! The fact that we sample things is because we listened to a lot hip-hop growing up.
What role do videos play in the Fauve aesthetic?
Videos/Images are as important as music in Fauve. That’s why we don’t call ourselves a music group. Our video maker is on stage with us and VJs images that are projected on us as we play.
OohLaLa! Festival works to promote French music abroad. What are the differences between playing in France, and in the rest of the world?
Well, we haven’t been to the rest of the world yet! What we know is that when you compare Parisian crowds to crowds outside of Paris, the difference can be, and most of the time is, huge. So we can’t imagine what it’ll be like playing in London. We’ve never played in front of a non-French speaking crowd. We’re excited.
What are the most exciting things happening in the French music scene currently? What are the struggles in finding international success as a French band?
Lots of things are happening in the French music scene actually. We’ve met lots of very different groups on the road that produce some very original and inspired music. Artists that we listen to today such as: La Femme, Georgio (the rapper) or Superpoze (young DJ from Caen). In terms of the difficulties for us – it’s the fact that we speak/sing in French I guess.
How important has the internet been to the development of Fauve?
Inestimable. Internet is how we published our first songs and videos, it’s how we reached out to our first listeners and how we came to meet the people that follow our music.
What does the recurring image of the blizzard resemble in your lyrics?
The Blizzard to us is the image that represents everything that we despise. It represents the things that we fear, our anxieties and the everyday routine. Everyone has its own blizzard, it can be a sickness, it can be the fact of losing someone, it can be all sorts of things. It’s something very personal, but something that you fight off to keep marching.