Foé, is the uncompromising solo project of a little prodigy the likes of whom we only see rarely. What is it about this kid that’s so contagious? His free spirit, the energy of youth, the insolence of excellence. He’s already placed himself pretty high on the songwriting scale: author, composer, co-producer. A brilliant polymath.Read more
Chad Boccara, producer and manager, stumbled on one of his YouTube vidoes. Immediately curious, and with the feeling that he’d discovered a real gem, he took the kid from Toulouse under his wing. Before this decisive encounter, Foé had followed a fairly standard musical path: piano lessons at home from the ages of 8 to 15, learning the guitar in a local youth club, a school alternative rock band, for whom he wrote lyrics in English. At home, there was lots of classical music. He was more into AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alt-J, Stupeflip and American rap. Very little, or no, French music. He soon expressed a persistent desire for musical escape.
But no speed, no hurry. In any case, his parents made him finish his studies. Which he did last year, getting a degree in mechanical and production engineering, specialising in aerospace.
The story of his stage name, these three punchy letters, is the story of a family compromise. Young Nicolas asked his mother for a baseball cap. In return, she insisted he read the whole of Robinson Crusoe. It was both a literary and emotional shock. At the heart of this initiatory journey, the gradual discovery of his own inner world. The author of this cult novel was called Daniel Defoe, so it was just a case of cutting off the first syllable.
Long reluctant to express himself in his native language, Foé finally gave in to the inevitable truth of those close to him. Because he has a taste for a challenge, initially. But later with real pleasure. If the musicality of the English language inspires him in his composition and in the energy of his choruses, French propels him to the heart of an intimate truth.
Recently, he has mainly been playing with the unexpected changes in the instrument that gives him his very particular identity: his voice. Deep, virile, sensual, penetrating, warm and cold in the same breath, it has a dark beauty. An urgent flow that grabs hold of a whirling range of emotions, sometimes giving way to sharp stresses and sudden moments of rage. In his room, a den that is also the backdrop to his live sets, a homebody’s self-denial, he goes overboard with his inspiration. His computer’s hard disc is full to bursting. In less than twelve months, he dreamed up a strikingly modern cathedral of an album. Then he turned to Valentin Marceau to help with its construction.
These tracks impress, astonish, disturb. They slip into a troubling intimacy with the listener. There’s no point in trying to put a label on him.
This kid’s enthusiasms are too rich and overflowing to put him into a pigeonhole. If piano gives the ensemble energy, musical styles (ballads, hip hop, synth-pop, airy electro) like changeable emotions, pass or blend with one another. He does not deny himself the fruitful complicity between instruments - including his trusty guitar, bought in a discount supermarket and which, after an essential break for repairs, is back in action – and production styles.
Foé escapes to get a better hold on himself. To become more himself. And to affirm his identity as a musical juggler, a hybrid, a lover of textures and colours. His production speaks of the composition and writing to come. His well-ordered outbursts dominate this album of startling richness.
At random and in no particular order, we move from a visceral lyricism that conjures up the ghosts of Brel and Ferré (Bouquet de pleurs, a track in which he warns his little sister about romantic disappointments) to an epic breakout in the style of Woodkid (Edgar, the portrait of a man who is totally lost). The whole is so cohesive that there is no point in ranking tracks. You have to accept everything in this intrepid act of conquest. Incisive songs, rich with multiple motives, with the guarantee of melodic invention and free expression. Songs built up in layers, blending elegant sensitivity and raw energy. They take a winding, steep path; grow in intensity in the choruses (Nuria, whose lyrics describe his Catalan great grandfather’s Alzheimers, Coma Idyllique). An abundance of sonic material mixes with varied and forceful melodies.previous page next page
At the heart of this ardent inferno, Foé faces up to romantic disappointment, a state in which he shows himself variously understanding (Alors Lise), cutting (Fais-le) and angry (Qu’est ce que t’as là). He confronts his grandmother facing death (Mommy). Creates a subtle, powerful existential metaphor under pressure (La Machine). In the uninhibited style of Stromae, he tackles a serious theme – a careless physical encounter with fatal consequences – with a swaying Latino rhythm (Le mal a dit). Watching a documentary on the battlefields of the Second World War inspired the martial, implacable Running.
Here there is no conflict between audacity, ambition and the listening joy.
No limits. Just a path straight to wherever the heart leads.
And that’s a long way.