TEEERS - Redefining the French Music Scene
interview by Isabel Padilla, shot by Théophile Boutin
Groovy, electronic tracks? Check. Catchy hooks with lyrics that encapsulate the feeling of a fun and carefree outlook on life? Check. Four stylish and talented band members hailing all the way from Paris, France. Check! Teeers is undoubtedly a one stop shop when it comes to curating your playlists this summer.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the members of Teeers, about the creation of their recently released second EP, ‘After the After’. These gentlemen have created work that separates them from the rest of the French music scene, and in the process, transports you to a simpler time when running through sprinklers in your backyard was the only thing on your to-do list.
Introduce yourself! Who are the members of Teeers?
TEEERS: Hi ! We are Clement (drums), Odilon (bass/vocals), Victor (guitar/vocals) and Adrien (keys/vocals), we come from Paris in France.
When did you guys meet? How do you know each other?
Clement, Victor and Odilon met at primary school when they were 10, they quickly wanted to play music together so they each picked up their favorite instruments and started to play in their school's rock club. TEEERS exists since this era which is crazy to say. Clement later met Adrien who had a band on his own when he went to another high-school. We then all became close friends and played together in small bars and events with our two bands which encouraged musical emulation in our small entourage. Adrien's group didn't make it through post high-school with everyone going separate ways so we asked him if he wanted to join us to continue to play and create and he immediately said yes, it was very natural.
How has the dynamic of your group informed your creative process?
The fact that we are really good friends and that we know each other very well is the key to our creative process. We are free to speak of anything we want to do or even not to do (which is sometimes more helpful) and we developed our style thanks to being close and having stories together, sharing the same interests in music, cinema etc.
What inspires your electronic, funky upbeat sound?
We developed this sound pretty late in the band's existence considering the fact we started to play at a very young age, when The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys were dominating the alternative Pop/Rock scene. I think we were influenced more and more by funk and disco through our common french touch heritage, mostly Daft Punk or Justice. We dug deeper behind Michael Jackson and discovered Quincy Jones, Prince, James Brown etc. We were also inspired by the energy of bands like Blur. We essentially picked out what we liked the most in every decade of pop music's history since The Beatles, never focusing on a specific genre or artist. Of course we're also very interested in contemporary pop music, closely paying attention to artists like Toro y Moi, Blood Orange, Mac Demarco and even rappers like Kendrick Lamar or Tyler The Creator who have strongly identified musical universes and who always impress us from a producing standpoint. French music is not what we listen to the most however, outside of the electronic masters (Daft Punk, Justice, Cassius) or newcomers like Flavien Berger or Jacques. If we had to pick a French band we look up to almost as models in success, finding their audience and being Frenchmen singing in English, it would most definitely be Phoenix, not only for their music but for their career as a whole.
You have a very bright and colorful “look” and aesthetic; where does that come from and how is this an extension of what you guys stand for as a band?
We think that through color there is a notion of infinity : infinity of taste, infinity of change, being able to convey something different each day by showing an aspect of you that people don't already know. For example, our EP After The After was very green because it's a color that reminded us of electronics, machines and screens (check our music video!) and thus was very fitting to its universe. We also like to give songs a color when we compose, it gives a whole, synesthetic feel to what we do and this later transpires in how we dress, the pictures we take and the videos we make. Colors are one of the most effective tools to stand out as a defined entity.
What does it look like when you guys sit down to write a song or create an EP such as your most recent release After the After?
We have lots of different ways to come out with a new song but in most situations we like to consider a base we can work on when one of us brings up chords, a melody and a small rhythmic pattern that can identify the song more. We then try to play it live together for a few minutes, letting our minds wander and familiarize with the song and when we feel we have enough to go deeper into producing and arranging it, we go and record the demo on Ableton. However, we sometimes start from scratch directly on the computer which is what we did for most of After The After's tracks. This led us to a more electronic feel, something we wanted to explore for this EP. Which is interesting is the time we can spend on a song varies greatly from one to another : for example we spent almost two months with twenty versions or so to finish Flavours while it took us only two weeks for New Friends. When we were happy with the demos we had (after throwing away some of them), we went to record them properly and finish the EP with Pierrick Devin, a french producer we love working with. We spent one month together getting the tracks to sound like what we wanted them to sound. It's good to have someone like that helping you because it helps provide perspective on the demos. Two weeks in us working with him, we realized we din't like one of the songs we brought anymore and decided to replace it with something fresh and new. That's when we composed New Friends, we're really proud of how things turned out.
What was your inspiration for the songs and sound on the new EP?
The inspiration for the songs was broad for this EP because it was most of the time targeted from one song to another. We had different ideas in mind coming from a wide variety of music that matched the universe of sometimes only small parts of the songs. For example the end of On Time is partly inspired by Twin Peaks' intro produced by Angelo Badalamenti. At this time we also discovered artists like Daniel Caesar whose slow R'n'B vibe influenced what we did with Flavours. We have lots of different specific musical experiences who helped us get through the production of the EP.
How does your music compare to the current French music scene?
We think that what we do is pretty far from the current French music scene, at least from a mainstream standpoint. First of all, we sing in English, something that isn't really well received by French industry. Second of all, we identify more to Anglo-Saxon culture in terms of music and we'd love to be able to get to do what young artists in the Anglo-Saxon world have done. We noticed that there was a lot of people like us in France who loved the works of musicians like Steve Lacy, Rex Orange County or even MGMT and we wanted to bring this musical freedom in France, adding of course our secret neo-French touch ingredients to the mix and then hopefully get to play all across the world, which is very rare with pure French pop music. We've seen bands like Papooz emerge this past couple of years which goes this way but it still much inspired by the "tropical groove" scene that is very strong in France.
What is your favorite part of your live performances? Do you have a fun/memorable story from one of your shows?
In the summer of last year we played in a music festival called Musilac in Savoie in France. All was going really good, we were offered a small boat trip across the lake to a jumping spot, we enjoyed ourselves and it was great. 10 minutes before going on stage, a huge storm hit the whole festival and our scene was one of the most vulnerable. The whole structure was shaking, instruments were falling and we had to get all of our things back in a small space near the stage. We were devastated because it was the third concert in a row which was cancelled due to dumb reasons like that. We went to eat to the catering spot and thirty minutes later we received a call from one of the persons in charge telling us we were going to play in 10 minutes. In the end we went on stage and it was one of the best shows we've ever had.
Why did you guys decide to sing in English?
Singing in English was very natural for us mainly because the music we listen to is almost all in English. This comes from a musical heritage dominated by English and American culture. We feel very globalized as human beings and English has almost become a second language for most of us, watching YouTube videos in English, reading international news etc. We even sometimes think in English. We strongly feel both French and citizens of the world, a world where anglo-saxon culture is omnipresent.
If you could add a fifth member to Teeers who would you want it to be and why?
We never thought of something like that, of course there are lots of artists we'd love to work with but to add a fifth member to Teeers is really unlikely or it would have to really mean something for us to do something like that.
Where in the world would you really like to play a show?
Anywhere there will be people excited to see us play!
Since you guys present yourselves very vibrantly with many colors...if Teeers was to be Pantone color, what color would it be?
Since we just released After The After, let's stick with a green 361 C, but things are sure going to change!
A huge thank you to TEEERS for being as excited to be interviewed as I was to interview them. The biggest shoutout to my friend Jared for showing me ‘After the After’ and putting me onto one of my new favorite bands!