Charlotte Gainsbourg is not only an amazing songstress, but a Balenciaga model and the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Nowness interviewed the French singer as she debuted her album, Stage Whisper (released Dec 2011)
How was the process on Stage Whisper different from previous albums?
This time I was able to go from an electronic piece with Beck to something completely acoustic with the Villagers. It was lovely. Iâ€™m very slow. I like to take my time. And this was the opposite. Working with people, I’m gradually beginning to understand my voice and what I want, where I want go.
And where is it you want to go?
I want to be less embarrassed by who I am but not aspire to be someone different.
Many artists have to struggle with that, yet you carry the weight of inheritance as well.
People live better if they can really tear down their parents at one point. I couldn’t do that, I wasn’t able to step on them and crush them.
Were they just too larger-than-life to do that?
No I loved them. I couldn’t find faults with them. Even their faults had great charm.
Were there many boundaries to rebel against?
The thing is, I was very sensible child, whereas they didn’t care if I had my baccalaureate or whatever. I was very stubborn. I wanted to go to the end. My sisters were not the same, they were much more artistic from the very start. I liked maths, everything that was reassuring. I had this on one side and on the other I realize that at 12 I started going on films. They left me completely free to have my own life. It was so important, I realize now, for me to build up who I was through those experiences.
And the experience of being a muse for Balenciaga?
When I met Nicolas [Ghesquière], it was ten years ago, that’s when I started having fun dressing up a little bit and using his silhouettes that fitted me. It was a nice way of combining what I really enjoyed doing, which was [modelling for] the pictures, with something that I was curious about. I like fashion but I am not passionate about it. I love being a little bit far away.