Cure is his first album, and was launched on the 2nd of March. Through it, Eddy de Pretto delivers an autobiographical piece to the public. The talented French singer is determined to explore his personal journey and youth in the most abrupt, truthful way. With the video Normal, which came out simultaneously, the Paris-based artist portrays his passion for the stage and aims to create the most intimate relationship with his audience.
France’s rising talent is a one to know. With an undeniable presence, de Pretto is redefining the codes of performance in a personal way. I sat down with the singer a few days ago and discussed his success at the early stage of an incredibly promising career. He definitely has something to say and is worth listening to it on repeat, which is easier with songs like Kid that brought him to light after releasing his first EP last year.
I would love to start with how have you been influenced by your childhood, your personal journey until becoming the artist that you are now.
I grew up in Creteil – the Parisian suburb –, in a social context where the omnipresence of rap music was confronted with more classical and French influences that my mother was listening to. At the time, she was very keen on pushing me into art, by enrolling me in singing and acting classes. I have developed myself with the relentless desire and dream to make the stage my life. I believe my influences come from my heritage as well as from my DNA; it is a mixture of something extremely rough but also retained and overly sensible. This, in fact, represents me well.
Which type of educational background do you have?
Following the baccalaureate, I went to a school called L’Institut Superieur des Arts de la Scene, where I took singing, dancing and acting lessons on a full-time basis. This was pretty much a training at all levels, a multidisciplinary course where I learned all kinds of styles – from modern jazz to hip-hop when it came to dancing.
Is this something that you are now taking with you on stage?
Of course, this has fed me to the core, it is how I developed my presence on stage as well as my body language. I am conscious of these techniques, which I also employ in my vocals. It is clearly essential.
What has been the most challenging thing/aspect for you in the process of writing your first EP, Kid, and the recently launched album Cure?
I always begin by writing; I start with the lyrics and then find the musicality. This is how I work today. It is extremely difficult, I do not follow a method. Writing is a slow and introspective exercise that matures within me. I observe and analyse a lot. When it finally wants to come out, the words are barfed on paper without interruption. I attempt to manage this the best I can, but it is not always easy. It took me a year to write this album, but there were also songs that I wrote a while back.
How did you work on the musicality of this album?
I have worked with a few collaborators on Cure – there have been different producers. We wanted to begin with the lyrics and then find the melody. We have sublimated and enriched it overall with the nuances I wanted to keep. Working alongside with them, the essential part was to respect the intention. I wanted every single coma to be heard and the narration to be strictly respected.
Kid was one of the songs that first came out last year with your EP. What did you desire to express with this first impression?
I wanted to question how we impose codes and attempt to mould ourselves based on the environment we evolve in. I grew up with a father figure that was overly masculine and a mother that also was so. She was in a constant restraint, with barely tenderness and weakness. In the streets, the male figures were also very imposing, it is almost like my youth was subtitled by “tu seras viril, mon kid”, which means “you will be manly, son”. I built myself with these injunctions. But I am skinny and gay, and despite I wasn’t part of these stereotypes, I grew up wanting to be this alpha male, as it was the only reference I had at the time.
How did you experience the success of Kid and having such personal matters brought to light?
Extremely well. The public has received it beautifully, so it can only be motivating and galvanizing to receive such heart-warming messages and hear people singing your song.
And how has this sudden mediatisation in France affected your personal life?
It is difficult to see how this mediatisation is affecting me personally now. I do not have time to walk around ordinarily anymore. I currently evolve in a close circle, which is nice to have. We shall see how this success will impact my personal life much later. This is a topic I explored in the song Ego – becoming crazy about yourself because everything is moving so suddenly and so quickly.
Is this something that scares you?
What scares me the most is to confirm this accomplishment in time. I do not want to be an artist who suffers from a sort of ‘reality show syndrome’. I want to last and be able to create.
How would you describe your album Cure to a more international audience, which would not be able to understand the lyrics fully?
I would not describe it; Cure is the essence of this album. It is a word that sounds tormented and is not nice to hear in French. It flays your ears. I did not censor myself in the process; from a disgusting word I want to transcribe the harshness of a story that is mine.
Normal came out simultaneously as your album, did you work on the direction of this music video?
I came up with the concept and developed the ideas with the producers and director. I worked with Colin Solal Cardo, who has previously collaborated with the Blogotheque, as well as Alicia Keys among others. I liked his way of capturing live moments; with this video, I wanted to translate the physical effort and the intensity of a performance. We have worked with multiple cameras, from iPhones to more cinematographic ones, which captured various angles to be as close as this live spirit.
With this music video, we have discovered a very personal approach to the stage. How did you develop your scenography?
I am working with a minimalistic approach when it comes to scenography, in the sense that I want the lyrics to be heard and received by the public in a precise way. It is also what I am putting forward visually on stage, where it is only me with an iPhone to play each track and a drummer to highlight its rhythm. I want the experience to be frontal, incisive and in direct discussion with those who are coming to my shows. Building this intimate interaction also comes with putting myself in this constant urgency and tension to relate the emotion in the most relevant way. This challenge is what motivates me the most.
When you approach a topic like Fete de trop, do you find in the excess of a party a liberating creativity?
I love to live everything excessively, totally, without having to preserve myself from these experiences when I party, take drugs and have sex, I want to relate it. With these moments where there are no limits, I find writing liberating, without having to be censured. I want to analyse this as an out of body experience where I can be in another human being’s mind.
With such themes, have you been surprised at how well these songs have been received?
Fete de trop, or even Kid, which are very subversive – with lyrics like “des rails en avance”, which talks about lines of cocaine –, are played in mainstream radios in France such as NRJ and are listened to and loved. It is incredible to hear people finding them interesting and fantastic. This is what surprised me the most: to find hope in being heard despite sending such strong messages.
Jimmy is so far one of my favourite songs from your album, could you tell me more about it?
Jimmy is a drug dealer. With this song, I wanted to question myself and work on the ambiguity created by addictive relationships that are coming close to love from numerous encounters with someone that visits you often. It is very subtle and it is difficult not to cross the boundary emotionally. This is why I dealt with the matter in that way.
What is next for Eddy de Pretto?
I am already thinking about working on a second album. I also have a tour starting in March with three dates at La Cigale and l’Olympia in Paris and across France; the bigger, the better.
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