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April March

Feb 19

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Thursday, February 19, 2009  RssIcon

Do you remember our recent trip to the edge of the world (i.e. a remote Paris satellite town) to see cult French electro-chappie Bertrand Burgalat in concert? And how we mentioned his special guest that night, April March? And how we’d write about her in more detail, such is her all-round interestingness?

Well, your memory is better than ours. Your blogger had to be viciously prodded by an impatient reader about following up that one. So anyway:

April MarchYou might know April March (right) for a song called ‘Chick Habit’. This hipswinging number featured on the fine soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’, thus guaranteeing it cult status, and has since been used on a TV ad for the Renault Twingo (a quintessentially Parisian car). The song is March’s English-language adaptation of ‘Laisser Tomber Les Filles’, one of Serge Gainsbourg’s many hit compositions for France Gall.

But who is April March?

Well, we’re disappointed to say that April March is only her nom de pop; her real name is Elinore Blake. But she has a definite talent for names – before becoming April March, Blake was in bands called The Pussywillows (whose live line-up featured Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo) and The Shitbirds. Yes!

As a schoolgirl in California, Blake became obsessed with France and spent time here on a school exchange programme. Transforming herself into the pop butterfly that is April March, she has maintained this infatuation. ‘Chick Habit’ comes from a 1999 album called ‘Chrominance Decoder’ (here she loses her naming talent a little) that revisits Gainsbourg’s early-‘60s yéyé period of innuendo-laden twist-pop written for the naïve young Gall, who still admits that at the time she never realised what ‘Les Sucettes’ was about. An earlier March album, ‘Gainsbourgsion’ (okay, she’s clearly better with pseudonyms and band names than album titles) features both ‘Chick Habit’ and ‘Laisser Tomber Les Filles’, as well as other Serge artifacts from that era.

March is signed to Burgalat’s Tricatel label, which explains why she’s a guest in his concert. Thin and frail, she seems quite nervous and unsure as she walks on stage to join Burgalat and his band. But she acquits herself well. Her part of the show ends with a cracking performance of ‘Chick Habit’; the sparse crowd can go home happy.

(Trivia: Blake is a cartoonist and was once the principal animator on ‘Ren and Stimpy’, and she drew Madonna in the title sequence and video for ‘Who’s That Girl’. And let’s not forget that she was in a band called The Shitbirds.)

You can check out more retro French pop on April March’s MySpace page. There’s no official video for ‘Chick Habit’, so we’ll show you one of her other songs. A loving recreation of both ‘60s French pop and ‘60s French ‘scopitone’ pop videos, here’s April March with ‘Mignonette’:

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Aidan Curran, based in Paris, has been writing for CLUAS since 2004. More info about Aidan...

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