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Don’t you wish you could just sing, kiss, drink, and eat all day? Sounds like the life, right? “Chanter, Baiser, Boire, et Manger,” or in English, “Singing, Kissing, Drinking, and Eating,” is a song by French duo Jo Wedin & Jean Felzine that encourages exactly that.
The Paris-based music act is bringing back the essence of ’60s pop. François Hardy, Nico, and Brigitte Bardot would be proud.
YouTube proved to be a matchmaker for the duo. Wedin heard Felzine’s band Mustang while browsing the Internet and she immediately clicked with his music.
Originally from Sweden, Wedin loved speaking French—a newly acquired ability she gleamed after moving to Paris. She wanted to write lyrics in the romantic language, but felt that her French vocabulary didn’t yet possess the desired wingspan.
Though her first language is Swedish, she is used to writing her songs in English. She speaks the language fluently and is not only influenced by American musicians, but also by her many English-speaking close friends.
Wedin foresaw a musical match with Felzine; in a sense they could combine their talents, and French-native Felzine could help Wedin compose the lyrics in a more articulate French. Her manager setup a meeting for the two, and it’s been magic ever since.
She started as a solo act, but experienced a rough time breaking into the music circuit.
“In Paris it’s been difficult,” Wedin tells BTR. “Just to play, and I think the people and musicians here are a bit pretentious.”
In Paris, the music scene seemed to be all about where you played and the people you knew, according to Wedin.
“A few years ago it was really slow here and I had a hard time finding people I could feel connected with musically,” she adds.
However, there was a recent music genre shift in Paris noticeable to any fan of the French music scene.
Just a few years ago, France was better known for house music or electronic acts that sang strictly in English, like Daft Punk or Air. However, recently new genres have begun to take hold. Rock bands like La Femme, The Pirouettes, and Requin Chagrin have gained crazy popularity and only sing in French–maybe translating one or two of their songs to English.
Wedin says singing in French has become a huge subculture in the scene there.
“Now, suddenly, it’s like more and more cool bands are playing really great music in France and doing it in their own way and their own language,” says Wedin. “I hear a lot of people talking about the French new scene in other countries…and that’s what I want to be a part of.”
Before moving to Paris she spent a few months in New York City, another bustling metropolis known for its excessive use of lights. It’s also renowned for its very strong underground music scene, which captured Wedin’s heart almost instantly.
“I loved being in New York,” Wedin says. “The different styles of music I felt closer to.”
She describes how musicians and venues in NYC were a lot friendlier and more welcoming. When she first arrived she simply sent out CDs or Bandcamp links of her music to venues and was effortlessly able to set up a small tour of gigs around the city.
She plans on returning to the Big Apple and touring with her partner Felzine, who has never been to the U.S. Currently, they are working on a full-length album that they would like to release by next month.
On November 13th of last year, Jo Wedin & Jean Felzine dropped their first EP the same day as the Paris attacks.
This tragic night of terrorism injured over 360 people and killed 130. The first of the attacks happened on the street that Wedin and Felzine were eating dinner on, in celebration of their first EP.
Wedin recounts the night, saying that her and Felzine walked past many places that just hours later were bombarded, laughing and talking about their release-party plans. They were down the street having dinner at a friend’s apartment when Wedin received a text from a friend warning her to stay indoors.
“I was like, ‘attacks…that must be some kind of alert. I don’t get it,’” recounts Wedin. “Then we just put on the TV and we saw everything that happened and that was still happening.”
Many places the duo used to play at are now gone, but Wedin says proudly that the attacks have not frightened them or any musicians, and certainly have not hindered the blossoming music scene in Paris.
“I think mostly people have been more aware of how important it is to continue, instead of being scared,” Wedin says. “I think we’re more just proud of doing it.”
Wedin recounts a touching story that shows the power of music in helping to overcome such dark times like these.
A girl who watched many die in front of her, including her best friend, was hospitalized due to the attacks. A friend of her’s messaged “Mustang,” Felzine’s other music act, saying that they were her friend’s favorite band.
Felzine and his group decided to make a special music video just for her.
“The fact that her favorite band makes a video gives her some kind of hope,” Wedin says, “that’s really great.”
Jo Wedin & Jean Felzine are very much influenced in their music-making by the stories that happen around them, so it will be no surprise if that dark time in Paris affects what they’re working on next.
It’s very unique the way Wedin writes her lyrics; she describes it as “cinema-graphic,” almost like a script. Felzine then takes her script and spruces up the French, while both of them work on the music together–a functioning dynamic.
Currently, while simultaneously working on their on their approaching album release, they are on a small tour of France.
They hope to have a NYC tour by September or October, hitting Brooklyn and Manhattan.
To hear the rest of the interview, tune into this week’s episode of The Discovery Corner.