serge interview
(February 2004)

It's like the end of 2001 (the film, not the year) when we find out that the aliens have been watching us and trying to copy what they can see, but it's all superficial. In this musical scenario, Serge are the aliens (the green men, not the film) and their view of earth seems to consist of old copies of the NME circa 1995 with Elastica and Stereolab on the front. Oh yes, and France.

The debut demo was beamed down to us a few months ago, and we beamed:

On the one hand, they're just crap. Two French in London making music on a beatbox, synth and guitar mixed through a dirty sieve. On the other hand, the preferred hand, there's something magical about the louche, gauche manner in which their bon mots (sample: "girls should not have to wait") are delivered. New Elvis shatters an amateur Kraut groove with a shoehorned-in chorus while Martians is just silly brilliant Devo over a couple of looped bars of something half-romo. It's a mixture of Stereolab precision and Elastica slackness with second language charm. Encore! Serge, je vous aime beaucoup.

So we cranked up the intergalactic telegraph and spoke to Jerome Lessard about France and the first Serge release, the playMeLoud 10" (I love it - 9 tracks in 20 minutes) on Miss King records.

SERGE FLYERSo tell us about Serge.

Serge is a bedroom band, and comes from my room; it is no more exclusively me but it is still mainly me and about my life and experiences. Serge is a convenient name cause it worked both for the original solo project and allowed friends to join and collaborate. And so did Denis Ducasse and Nia Evans.

As a band, I write the songs and then we go in to the studio - i.e. my bedroom - add some, edit some, without too much rules but aiming for something simple, spacious. The band is now around 18 months old, since Jan 2003 we played 15 concerts in London, started our label Miss King Records, recorded, mixed and produced playMeLoud between Denis and mine houses.

Are you all French?

Denis, Eric (the other half of miss King) and I are French. We met at university in Grenoble, France. Nia on the other hand is Welsh.

Were you in other bands in France?

Eric and I had a band - Lolita - and later a radio show "c'est pour votre bien mon ami croyez moi". So every Saturday we were waking up Grenoble with the song the Rentals, Kim Deal, the Beach Boys and the Smiths while telling them all about the Avengers and our favourite football teams (Auxerre for Eric, Nantes for me, and for the girl Carole Marseille. Lolita was a four pieces band, Eric was already looking for the perfect pop song, and I was writing about my life without any filter. Anyway songs were both in French and English when listening to them recently I was surprised that I was actually good.

One day, Denis told me about his bass player broking his arm and having a concert the next week. And so I joined. Mouts was a pop-rock band. That was band number 3. Cause band number one was LG2215 - named after a brand of corn seeds.. Oh yeah I am coming from the countryside, and at the time my taste in music were a bit dubious. Anyway we sang in French about the sea and other very clever 17 years old's philosophy. Humm..

SERGEWhat sort of dubious taste did you have?

No big brother or sister and no records at home, I ended up listening to Indochine, Telephone, Stephan Eicher, Wham and A-ha and also Etienne Daho and Depeche Mode - but they are good. Around 16 I was introduced to the Sex Pistols and Bauhaus but that was a big shock and when both Telephone and Indochine released Best Of.. I was back to square one. This is when band number one started.

So when you started Serge did you have other bands in mind? And why make all the songs 2 minutes long?

When I started Serge I was obsessed by 70s - from Bowie to Wire, via Kraftwerk, Eno and Gary Numan and Neu - and old favourites like Depeche Mode and the Breeders. So I thought you got it right with Devo, Elastica and Stereolab. I started Serge by myself and often found it often hard to know if I was going in the right direction or not, so I would checked those records for advice/ confirmation/ approval.

This is also what happened for the length. My songs were getting shorter and I liked it that way because I was like a concentration of ideas but in the same time it could have been me being a bit lazy. I then remembered an interview from Black Francis where he said the perfect length for song was 2'30. Listening to Wire confirmed it. I was in the right direction.

Why did you come to London?

5 year ago after graduating, I moved to London for a job. It was a good opportunity and thanks to it I did not have to do military service so I did not lose too much sleep over it and between London and somewhere in France crawling for 10 months I chose London. At first it was not too exciting - weekends were spent getting records and listening to them lying on the floor of the living room - but eventually I joined the band Chicano, and 6 months later Denis had enough of Paris and moved to London. Times were getting better.

"Serge" is the same word in English and French, was that intentional?

The original name was Tea-Cup, but then Serge sounded much more like the music made from someone who happened to be French and living in London. The French things was nothing like "France is number 1" but an acknowledgement I grew in France and my music what tainted by that a lot. The London thing being this is where I live and after 5 years, I now speak French with an English accent, light but enough to have my sister and her friends laughing at me.

You said that the songs were about your life and experiences, but something like Martians doesn't sound so everyday..

When looking for a melody/lyrics on top of the music I am creating a story around what comes to mind at that time. So eventually the songs are about random events that happened to around me.

Tell us the stories behind the tracks on the 10".

C: C is just my idea of a stupid little joke. I a thought: usually, the sound of backing vocals is "aah.." C was going to be different, my contribution to have "C"s to get a place in the musical landscape.

Girls: a bit insecure and cheesy here but hey.. I remember thinking of being nothing to persons important to me, and yeah I had just watched a documentary on skateboarding and surfing.

SERGETorpedo: the one Mojo I bought had an article about song with car metaphors. I hated the magazine but hey there is beauty in everything.

Social: I have a dry sense of humor, very sarcastic and fast. That does not always make a good mixer and I had to work on if my next party was going to be better than the last one.

Tune me like Cyndi: My moog refused to be tuned for 2 weeks at the end of which arrived a mail from a friend telling me, she and Cyndi Lauper had been at a the same party.

Elvis: I bought my first Elvis record and I am spending all my time on music … and I am going to be 30.. What am I doing? Time to move on?

Back fast: Back Fast: slow it down enough and an alternative version of Martians will be playing. Not surprisingly this came from a mistake but this triggered several of the silly things on the records.. and hey that could be a great introduction for our radio show back in Grenoble

2Ghz: in a coffee shop saw a girl with her laptop on her skirt. Days later I had a laptop and remembered her.

Martians: I met a space she, we went to Mars and it looked really different from the pictures recently seen on the cover of the newspapers.

Is there any reason why you write in English? Are there French versions of all the songs?

No French version for the songs, and there was only one French song last year. No good reason for that.

And finally, tell me about Miss King records.

Miss King is the final touch to Serge and Initials DC [Eric's band] records and a name to our collaboration. When we put in place our plan to make the records, we included finding the sound, write, record and mix the songs but did not include time to look for a label and be signed so we eventually had to do it ourselves..

Miss King was for us the opportunity to make our first records for a dream label, I mean, people at Miss King people LOVE our music, we LIKE our label mates and the name of the label is PERFECT.. It did not take us too much time to realise we were not up to scratch but we are learning but it is part of the experience and it will be easier for the next records, be they ours of the ones of other bands who joined the party.

Let's hope there's plenty of them. Contact Serge at


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