Interview: Sébastien Tellier
"At the moment I'm trying to talk to you, and at the same time roll a joint. So it's very difficult — you know, a weed cigarette?"
A magic potion, a waking dream and a questionable shaman from Los Angeles are some of the mystical forces behind Sébastien Tellier's fourth studio album, My God Is Blue. It's a spiritual affair with a twist, complete with the curiosities typical of our favorite Parisian pop star. The track from which the title takes its name, 'Pepito Bleu', is named after a French biscuit, and who could forget the wacked-out orgy video for the first single, 'Cochon Ville'?
There has been some confusion on the internet regarding Séb's latest spiritual/artistic venture, L'Alliance Bleue, an online accompaniment to the album. Click through and you're greeted with an ominously glowing neon-blue 'Join Us' (also prominent in the music video for 'Pepito Bleu') and pics-a-plenty of Séb looking somewhat Christ-like. Potential subscribers are subjected to a personality test with questions like, "Do you practice magic with your family?" and "Are we the product of an imagination?" (NB the site is in French, so thank you Google Translate!)
Is it a cult? Is it a money-grabbing scam? Or is it just the dreams of a bored eccentric-cum-genius artist? We like to think the latter. It could also have something to do with the joint(s) he smoked during our interview…
Leesa Gallaher: Hi, This is Leesa from Oyster.
Sebastien Tellier: It's a pity you don't speak French.
I can say bonjour.
Bonjour [laughs]! We'll speak in English, I guess. My accent is really, really French — I hope you will understand me during this interview. I will do my best to speak English.
What are you doing right this second?
At the moment I'm trying to talk to you, and at the same time roll a joint. So it's very difficult — you know, a weed cigarette? It's very hard to do it twice [at the same time], but possible!
Good luck! What inspired My God Is Blue?
What inspired My God Is Blue? For me it was a shaman. I would like to make music of that spiritual side of life, so the first step was to say to our community to renew society, forget the religion way and the religion side of life. I think in our new society we are afraid of that religion, but for me it's a big, big, big mistake to be afraid of that religion. So I try to say to the community — don't forget the spiritual way of life. To find inspiration I went to Los Angeles and I found there a shaman, you understand 'shaman'?
Like, a voodoo witch doctor?
Shaman — yeah like a kind of witch. He gave me a magic potion and it gave me blue dreams. It was wonderful blue dreams, like magnificent, everything was beautiful, and I found some truth in these blue dreams. So when I came back to Paris I played cello thinking of that blue dream. All the music came to me and that was the birth of My God Is Blue.
Was the magic potion some kind of drug? DMT?
No, no, no. It's not a drug. Something like vegetables like mushrooms, and something special. What is inside the magic potion I don't know, because that's the secret of the shaman! I remember the effect, and I remember the color of the magic potion was green and it was very disgusting to drink. But after that, the waking dream was so wonderful. It was exactly what I tried to find and maybe the best trip in my life. Much better than DMT. Much better than everything. It was a good base for my new record.
I would like to meet this shaman.
OK! [Laughs] Wait, wait, wait — one day, maybe on tour, I will give the address of the shaman to everyone on my website.
What does 'God' mean to you? Are you religious at all, or is it in more of a spiritual sense?
It's more spiritual, because for me, one has to create his own god. I don't see God like a big master in space trying to control everyone. I think, like in religion, God is inside everybody, inside everything.
A shared consciousness or energy?
Yes! If you are the master of God… you can create your own God. For me it's really important. It's too hard to explain why, now. So I am writing a book to explain all my philosophies. I suggest to the community, "Don't forget to create your own God."
So can you tell me about L'Alliance Bleue? I'm not sure if I pronounced that correctly…
I tried to create a new community, that is L'Alliance Bleue. I think we think in a better way when we are artists, and so I tried to create a little place for freedom on earth. For that, I need money, I need time, I need scientists, I need architects. I need all of these kinds of people to help me to build this place. That's why I created the L'Alliance Bleue, to find people around me who are…
Yes, yes. I can't do it alone. It's really important… I [drive] to the shop in my car, and after that I jump in a big swimming pool of vodka, and after that I take a plane and I jump from the plane... I need freedom, but I have nothing to do. I spend my money in the shop but after ten times that's boring… It's always the same shop. It's always the same American movie. It's always the same French book. It's always the same. We need something new to feel free so I tried to create this place.
Where will this place be?
I don't know. I am waiting for a gift. I am waiting for a call. I would like to give to L'Alliance Bleue a wonderful land. Maybe that will be in Belgium, maybe in Ibiza. I don't know, I will go wherever the gift is waiting.
Say My God Is Blue were beamed down from another planet, which would it be?
It’s not a planet but... the universe to grow needs energy, and the universe eats energy from something. In French the name is la matière noire. It means 'the black matter' in English.
My God Is Blue will be released in Australia on September 7 via Record Makers. Also check out our interview with Sébastien from issue #94.