La Femme
La Femme | Laurent Chouard

La Femme: “We Didn’t Know Nothing Back in the Day”

La Femme is the most commercially successful band to emerge from Biarritz, a small city in French Basque Country. The surf-influenced psych rock band formed in Paris around the turn of the 2010s, with Biarritz locals Sacha Got and Marlon Magnée at its core. The group’s self-titled debut EP came out in 2011, giving rise to the breakout single ‘Sur la planche’.

‘Sur la planche’ was later included on La Femme’s debut album, Psycho Tropical Berlin, released in 2013. A handful of albums have followed, including 2022’s Spanish-language Teatro Lúcido and last year’s Hawaiian-indebted Paris-Hawaï. But the group’s debut EP has largely been lost to history.

Eager to rectify this, Got and Magnée have remixed and remastered the four track EP, which will be reissued under the name La Femme Ressort on Friday, 19th January. The group is in Australia for So Frenchy So Chic and we caught up with Sacha Got to talk about life in Biarritz, the inspiration for Paris-Hawaï, and revisiting La Femme’s debut EP.

Music Feeds: You’re originally from Biarritz. Has La Femme also been based in Paris? Or always in Biarritz?

Sacha: Kind of both. Most of the band is in Paris and we started the band in Paris but me and Marlon, who started the band, we are from Biarritz. And me, since three years, I moved back here and set up my little studio.

MF: Did you grow up speaking multiple languages in Biarritz?

Sacha: No. We are very close to Spain but I always was bad in [Spanish].

MF: You released Teatro Lúcido in 2022. Do you now speak Spanish?

Sacha: Yes – now yes, but after a long time.

MF: What do the people of Biarritz think of La Femme? Are you seen as local heroes?

Sacha: It’s funny because when I was at high school, people was like, “You’re dressed like a hippy.” I was coming to school, dressing like 60s and playing harmonica, you know? They liked me but they didn’t take me seriously and they made fun of me.

But I still like to see all those people. Biarritz is like a little village. It is very chill, I go out, I say hello to everybody, but nobody bothers me too, you know? I think so many people, they don’t even understand what I’m doing but they just saw me on the TV, so they’re like, “Oh, okay, he’s doing this, it’s cool.”

MF: What it’s been like revisiting the songs from your first EP? Have your writing and recording methods changed a lot since then?

Sacha: I don’t think the way that we write was very much different, but the way we’re producing music, yes, because we didn’t know nothing back in the day. We didn’t know what was a good synth, what was the sound of the drum, what was a microphone. We just recorded on GarageBand with a small interface, so it was a very minimal set-up.

Now, for sure, we’ve got way more experience of the recording process. But I think the writing… I would say most of the songs now, we are maybe more classic in the writing. If you listen to the last record, there is a lot of songs like chorus, verse, chorus, like traditional kind of songwriting.

Maybe when you listen to those first songs, it was very weird. If you listen to a song like ‘Télégraphe’ or even ‘Sur la planche’, it was more like weird structure and it was more like surrealistic lyrics. I would say now we’re doing more – I don’t know how to find the word – but maybe more adult [songwriting].

But if you listen to a song like ‘Fugue Italienne’ on Teatro Lúcido, it’s very crazy too, the construction of the song and stuff. So we’re still doing this kind of stuff, but it’s an evolution.

MF: You’ve now released three versions of ‘Sur la planche’ – the original, the one on Psycho Tropical Berlin and the new mix for the La Femme Ressort reissue. What compels you to keep returning to this song?

Sacha: I still like this song, I still think it’s a great song, but there was a few reasons to make this reissue. This first EP was never released on Spotify and stuff, so we thought it was good. Even for the song ‘Télégraphe’, that wasn’t even on [Psycho Tropical Berlin], so it never was released. Also, ‘Sur la planche’, we always thought we could have a better version and a better sound and now it was the occasion to do it better, so it’s cool.

MF: Who sings the lead vocals on ‘Sur la planche’?

Sacha: There is Clémence [Quélennec], who was our old, original singer, and another singer called Marilou [Chollet].

MF: Clémence and Marilou aren’t in the band anymore, right?

Sacha: Clémence used to be our main singer for many years. She left the band but she comes back sometimes. Now we have two singers: we have a new singer called Fanny Luzignant and Ysé Grospiron, who’s been here for three years.

MF: Your latest album is Paris-Hawaï. What’s your connection to Hawai’i?

Sacha: There is not really a connection. Maybe [being] from Biarritz, because it’s kind of the main surf town in Europe, and always, since I’m a kid, people told me about Hawai’i. Like the “Spirit of Hawai’i,” you know?

I remember they did a surf festival here, called the Biarritz surf festival. It was all the longboard guys from all around the world, like Joel Tudor, all those guys. And they used to do this kind of Hawaiian ceremony, with the Hawaiian flower.

So, I heard a lot about Hawai’i and then I begin to listen to some Hawaiian music too and I really love some of the guitar, the steel guitar. And it’s come from that, but I’ve never been in Hawai’i in all my life. It’s the magic of music, right?

La Femme Ressort is out on Friday, 19th January – find it here.

So Frenchy So Chic 2024

  • La Femme
  • Laure Briard
  • Kill The Pain
  • Malo’

Dates & Venues

  • Sunday, 14th January – Werribee Park Mansion, Melbourne/Naarm VIC
  • Saturday, 20th January – Centennial Park, Sydney/Gadigal Land NSW

Tickets on sale now

Further Reading

Romy: “I Just Want People to Feel Free and Safe and Have a Great Time”

La Femme, Laure Briard to Headline So Frenchy So Chic 2024

Nabihah Iqbal: “I’m Confident in Myself Because I Know People Appreciate What I Do”

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