Edited from a conversation at The Duchess, York, on 10 May 2009 (interview conducted for The Yorker).
…his new music
I always wanted to write songs with a really acoustic part and a really electric heavy part, and the next album has songs like that. I love the contrast. The album will have a lot of vocals too, very long tracks with instrumental parts and vocal parts.
A reinvention? No, it’s a slow switch, an evolution.
I try not to think too much about public perception, but of course it’s good to have a response. I love playing live, more than ever. I used to be quite boring on stage with piano and accordion. I wanted to move around more freely, so I use guitars now, even on the albums. In the past, I would start writing a lot of songs with guitar, very simply. It feels most natural.
I don’t mind being known for that; it caused a real change when it was released. The soundtrack was like a combination of all the things I’d done before, so people were suddenly, without knowing, getting into my old stuff. As soon as Amélie was released, I’d already moved on musically.
I don’t listen to a lot of classical music. My parents were listening a lot when I was very young, but I grew up with bands and the radio. I particularly liked the Velvet Underground’s album, and Astral Weeks by Van Morrison.
…French rock music
France, not good for rock music? I agree! I’m not from France, I’m from Brittany, it’s quite different, haha. Brittany has more musical tradition, more venues. When I was young I saw a lot of bands, mostly not French bands. It’s a very strange part of France. It’s not very French; I went to London before I’d been to Paris.
…life in Brittany
I have a house on an island in Brittany, and I always start the albums there. I have a lot of friends nearby. It’s a tiny island full of crazy people. Artists? No, everybody’s just mad there. Even the old guys are like that. We have a lot of fun, we drink a lot; it helps to avoid the pressure to start new stuff, and allows music to grow.