Patricia Kaas is one of France’s biggest selling acts of all time. With over 16 million records sold worldwide, a film with Jeremy Irons and a Eurovision entry under her belt, Kaas is about to embark on a world tour featuring songs made famous by Edith Piaf. We catch up with the songstress mid decision on her brand new album cover, to talk about that Eurovision entry, lesbian rumours and the spirit of Piaf.
TGUK: So tell us Patricia are you excited about your new album and tour?
PK: Right now I’m stressed, but yes I’m very excited. It took a little while to make it, I started to choose the songs last summer, so it’s been a year in the making. The most difficult part was finding my place, my interpretation of the songs, what the songs are and where they go… to respect Piaf. To work out why she gave certain emotions to the song and at the same time I wanted to respect the musical arrangements.
TGUK: Edith Piaf… Big shoes to fill?
PK: It was difficult, but I like that, and I’m proud of the sound and the work.
TGUK: Did you feel the spirit of Piaf when making the album?
PK: Not the spirit of Piaf, but the spirit of the whole project. When I was thinking about the songs to sing for the album I was treating it more like a show, a performance in my mind. Getting the balance right – between the songs people know – but also choosing the songs with lyrics and melodies that touched me, but also choosing songs I knew I could make, I hope, great – Not just on the album but on the stage. I really want this show and album to be contemporary and urban, it’s bringing the street of the 30s and 40s to right now… Using hip-hop dancers on stage. I have a lot of images in my head and I brought that to the studio too!
TGUK: What do you think made Piaf so special to the audience?
PK: I think it was the way she interpreted her songs. She was one of the first who sang this chanson française. It was really Frenchie. It was a really authentic way of singing. She’s very close to the population. She gave emotion that the people understand and know. You need courage and to have experience of life to sing Piaf!
TGUK: The Olympia in Paris, The Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York – Those are massive venues. Are you nervous?
PK: I know these venues very well, I’ve performed at the Olympia (in Paris) quite a bit, The Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall around 5 times. I wanted to perform in places where Piaf had performed herself. What I didn’t know was that the Albert Hall was the first venue on this tour, so I try not to think about it. It’s one hour and 50 minutes of singing Piaf – so there’s no space to think about the stress of the first show!
TGUK: Chanson Française and French music seems very dramatic, intriguing and artistic. Do you think the French have a true sense of the camp and dramatic?
PK: Maybe in Piaf’s period of time, but I don’t think French music is now… Now you have French rap and rock. It sounded dramatic because of the type of music…
TGUK: How do you keep on top of your game and be the best at what you do?
PK: I don’t know if I’m the best – but I try to make albums how I feel. People like to be surprised – I’m very curious in life. I have my own way to express my emotions. I don’t know if I’m the best, but I always try to give the best of me.
TGUK: Tell us about Eurovision – How did it feel?
PK: It was special (laughs) and special in a good way. It was crazy. The pressure was immense. I was very sad, because when you enter a contest you want to do the best for yourself and your country. So I was sad and disappointed but I wanted to be how I am. Maybe the song was too slow? I think I did it the best way I could.
TGUK: Didn’t you beat us?!
PK: Non! The UK was before me!
TGUK: Really? We always get Nil Points!
PK: No, she was great (Jade Ewen), and I remember because England gave us just one point to France…
TGUK: That’s outrageous.
PK: (Laughing) But at least I had one point. I wouldn’t change anything I did – it’s done!
TGUK: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
PK: Guilty pleasures? What is this? I have to translate into French (mumbles to herself in French) Ooooo! Non! If I’m getting pleasure it’s not guilty.
TGUK: What is the funniest thing you’ve heard about yourself in the press?
PK: When you have success and notoriety people think, ‘she can’t have any problems’, ‘She can’t be sad’, ‘she can’t be lonely’… People have an image. That you’re not quite human and that you don’t have the same problems as others. The other is that I’m close to women, so people said I was a lesbian – which I’m not, so well… But it makes me laugh, because I’ve a lot of girlfriends and we laughed about it. I’m very discreet, there’s not another story about my love life every month, so they have to make it up!
TGUK: Celebrity Question from The Fab3 from Expedition Impossible
What’s your favourite Madonna song?
PK: Maybe… It’s “Ray Of Light” because it was a great melody and it has more emotion from an artist like her. It was surprising – and the production was quite avant guard for Madonna!
by Jake Simpson