Autour De Lucie

By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1998

Autour De Lucie’s self-titled debut album was a strong collection of French-language rock-pop, but their follow-up, “Immobile,” is nothing short of exquisite. Vocalist Valerie Leuillot’s angelic vocals cover a greater range this time around, and musically Autour De Lucie is a much tighter and sonically daring band.

In addition to Leuillot, Autour De Lucie is comprised of bassist Fabrice Dumont and guitarist Jean-Pierre Ensuque.

Fabrice: “Before, I had a band with the guitar player from Ivy, here in New York. We shopped to every record company in the world — you name it, we sent a tape, and it never went anywhere. I suppose what I’m doing now is a logical following to that. It had some kind of baggy side, a bunch of wah-wah stuff.”

Jean-Pierre: “I was playing in bands before, since I was a teenager. A lot of punk bands, rock bands.”

Valerie: “I was not playing in a band before. I just played by myself and then decided to meet people. I was not thinking about making a band, but just met people to make music.”

One reason “Immobile” is stronger than its predecessor is that it was conceived as an album. When many of the tracks for the first one were created, Autour De Lucie didn’t have definite plans for a record. However, the group didn’t go into making “Immobile” with a concrete idea of how it would sound.

Valerie: “You do records all your life, and I don’t think you can ever have an idea of what you’re get. This is why it’s fun making music. You want to do something, and when you listen to it, you go, ‘Wow, it’s not exactly what I wanted, but I like it.”

In creating “Immobile,” the members of Autour De Lucie simply talked about what they wanted to hear in their songs and then set out to see what they came up with. The group is “paranoid” about indulging in jam sessions and carefully works out arrangements in the demo stages. On their next album the group said they will make greater use of samples “to keep things fresh,” and are not worried about alienating fans of their more guitar-based work, or, as Valerie said, “fans who quit because we didn’t make the same album. I think those people need to be more open-minded, and if they’re not, then it’s not our problem.”

Autour De Lucie continues to release on their own Le Village Vert label, having quickly realized in the beginning that they didn’t want the lack of independence and added pressure of being on a major label. Valerie said, “They put a lot of money into you, and if you don’t sell a lot, you’re like dead two years after.”

Their music is licensed out to Nettwerk in North America. Although they tried doing one English-language song, “Simon,” on the last album, Autour De Lucie now perform in their native French. Valerie said she often feels like a French teacher when performing outside of France but find that people “[understand] what it’s all about,” even if they can’t make out the words.

In addition to “Immobile,” the group has another recent release on Nettwerk: a remix EP of the track “Chanson Sans Issue.”

Fabrice: “There was no control. We just sent out DAT tapes. It’s kind of funny to hear someone else’s vision of your music, though I think some of them cheated, just kept a couple of samples from the chorus and put them into the intro and do whatever they want. It was not their version of the song, it was more like one of their tracks.

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