From her native Switzerland to the Trianon stage in Paris, Charline Mignot, better known as Vendredi sur Mer, has conquered many listeners with her soft, exquisite tales of female desire and late-night melancholy. Her wistful whispers, along with her sensual, theatrical videos have contributed to a new brand of French music, which sounds unique and is almost impossible to define. Read on and let her take you on an emotional journey of longing and teary recollections.
To start with, could you tell me a bit about yourself and how you started Vendredi sur Mer? While we’re at it, what does this name mean?
Vendredi sur Mer was born a little over three years ago now. It’s the name I chose to embody the project: I needed an unusual name, which makes wander and wonder. It's the first introduction you get from an artist and I needed for people to journey with me through it. Vendredi sur Mer is like a bubble, my own bubble, a world of its own. I really wanted the journey to start with the name.
You are originally from Switzerland but have been based in Paris for several years now. How did Paris and this transition play their part in creating your signature sound? Where does the ‘melancholy’ that you often refer to stem from – your past or present experiences?
I've been lucky to meet a lot of pretty important people since I moved to Paris. Everything has moved rather quickly since I got here. My first live experience happened here in Paris – it was a little less than a year ago. Today, I am a lot more comfortable on stage and I know what direction I want to go in and where I want to take the people who are listening to me. It was hard to start because I felt so vulnerable on stage. My songs are my whole life: my past, my present, but sometimes, also my fantasized future.
Tell me a bit more about your very singular aesthetic. In your videos, there is a lot skin, tongues all over the place, ‘eroticism’ one might say. How do these elements illustrate your songs?
There is a real coherence between my music and the visual aspect of it. It's almost impossible to fathom Vendredi sur Mer without its visual impact. It's a blend of different areas where each responds to the other. I often talk about resounding images. I suppose that’s the reason why my videos are so lascivious, almost erotic: I like the idea of pushing one’s fantasies, emotions and feelings to the extreme.
Because we are big fashion fans here, could you give me a bit of insight into your connection to your own image? By that I mean, how do you define your own style and where does it meet your music?
Like I mentioned previously, it's a whole: fashion is part of it because it defines (or at least accompanies) a style it tells a story (the story of an era), and can even define an atmosphere. Everything is layered, and that's what I like!
Your musical style isn’t easy to define. I feel like you are impossible to classify and that you have created your own form of ‘spoken word poetry’, which touches and speaks to a lot of people. I also read somewhere that you are a big fan of French rap, especially Nekfeu. Would you say that rap is the genre you identify with the most, in your own way?
I don't really like the idea of labelling everything. There isn’t a style to properly speak of, the proof that is that you can't even put me in a box! (Laughs) It's the same for every artist. Every song, every project has its own universe. Let's just focus on how and why it brings us pleasure.
When we talk about French music, it is often confined to certain labels like ‘French touch’, ‘French pop’, etc. Do you recognize yourself in these labels or have you created your own brand?
Why not refer to it as ‘French touch’? We can always use that label to reach out to hardcore music fans in America (laughs). Anyway, above everything, I just hope to contribute with something fresh and new.
“I often talk about resounding images. I suppose that’s the reason why my videos are so lascivious, almost erotic: I like the idea of pushing one’s fantasies, emotions and feelings to the extreme.”
You've had an extraordinary year so far and still have a lot of projects to look forward to, including your first album in 2019. Can you tell us a bit more about what you are working on at the moment, or a project that is particularly close to your heart?
I am in the final stages of the album as we speak. Otherwise, I'm going on a mini tour right now, which will finish with a date at the Trianon in Paris on December 4. Those are the kinds of things that I really cherish: meeting people and sharing experiences.
The Trianon is a very famous and important stage. How do you feel about this and how do you prepare for your shows?
It’s more than exciting. I’m kicking off this tour with a brand-new show, a new scenography with dancers, but specially, new songs from the album. I love the stage (actually, I often cry because it's so emotional), there are so many emotional moments. I’m realizing more and more how lucky I am to be living these moments and specially to see the venues getting bigger and bigger.
Before we say goodbye, can you throw in a meaningful anecdote from one of your live performances?
There have already been many unforgettable moments: I often quote my show at le Point Ephémère, which was one of the first, but there are so many more. I did a show in Lyon at the end of the summer – I cried even before getting on stage because the screams were so loud. Me and my mascara, thank you very much.