Vincent Delerm: “I wanted to create something a la Barbara or La Souchon”

Not yet recovered from the theft of his Leica, which had accompanied him everywhere for so many years (“At first I thought I had lost it, and then I understood”), Vincent Delerm looks with barely concealed concern for the bag that contains the new camera he has since had to buy (“It’s the same, but new”). Don’t panic, the device is there, in its dressing room at the Sébastopol theater in Lille.

The rehearsals have just ended, the next day’s performance is in place. November 2022: after celebrating his twenty-year career at the European in early spring, he is ready to extend the experience as he wishes. about ten datesfrom Lille to Lyon, before coming full circle on December 13 in Paris.

Two years earlier, on October 15, 2020, Vincent Delerm had already passed through Sevastopol. That night he must have played twice. All the tickets having been sold before the French government decided to impose half gauges in performance halls due to the Covid-19, the singer then offered two rounds of singing. No, two shows. Because anyone who hasn’t seen Delerm in concert knows how far his performances are from being just piano-voice recitals.

“I cried between the two shows”he explains. “I completely cracked up. I had played twice the day before, I had to do the same the next day. It all shook me up quite a bit.” Behind his image of Elia Suleiman of French song, tongue-in-cheek with burlesque accents, some would almost forget how much the singer is only feelings, sensitivity, desire to give and receive.

like a story

Meeting the public is an appointment he wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Moreover, during the show of this tour, he sings “We are not alone”a short piece in which Michel Berger recounted the hours leading up to the show, the artist alone in his dressing room while so many people extricated themselves from their daily lives to converge on him. “I am in the same spirit as when I started, when I told myself that what is important is not necessarily that there are many people who listen, but that for these people, it counts. .”

Finally, Vincent Delerm had the butter and the money for the butter. Not only are his records and his tours successful, but he leaves a deep imprint on the lives of the people who listen to him. For twenty years, he has signed the soundtrack of their lives. Did he imagine his career like that, when his first record came out in 2002?

“Not concretely”he explains. “But I liked the idea that it lasts a long time, to have a lot of shows that follow one another, to have tours to do. I wanted to create a small character who walks on stage containing everything he has done before. Something a la Barbara or La Souchon. But that implied having a minimum of success.

“’Silence’ sounded a bit like a moral lesson; now it still is but a little less so. And then they would have spoken to me only about that.
Vincent Delerm

However, success came immediately, almost by surprise. One song is particularly talked about: “Fanny Ardant and me”. Two decades later, can he still see this almost tube in paint? “It’s a founding song. By the way, in this show, I start by playing the whole first album in order. If I had a problem with this song, I would have a problem with the first album in general.

It is moreover the voice of Fanny Ardant which opens the first of the two discs that Vincent Delerm has just released for his twenty years of career. Available in a generous box, filled with stickers and photographs, like a story brings together new songs and little-known versions, but also sound clips (testimonials, promotional clips) that make up an audio making-of of the artist’s journey.

Like the artist, humor is mixed with emotion. He evokes the people and places that matter to him, from Jeanne Cherhal to Jean Rochefort, from Rouen to Malmö. He also tells why certain sublime songs have been excluded from his albums.

The silence

For example, if «Bergen Strasse» was rejected, it was because it sounded too much like a song by Dominique A. Et si “The silence” did not appear in any disc so far, it is because this song written in reaction to the attacks of November 13, 2015 (and especially to the comments they aroused) would have attracted too much attention. Extract:

“The testimony
La double page
The comment
Sometimes not necessary
You saw the parade
The upset artists
The cameras the indecency
The guest philosopher
Come get your makeup done
It was better to be silent
The silence”

When NowVincent Delerm’s sixth album, was released in October 2016, the song is not included. “When we make an album, we want it to be balanced. “Silence” sounded a bit like a moral lesson; now it still is but a little less so. And then they would have spoken to me only about that. A disc such as like a story allows the song to live all the same, but in a parallel way.

“I don’t say to myself ‘I absolutely have to collaborate with people from the new generation.’ But I try not to get stuck in it.”
Vincent Delerm

After twenty years of song and seven studio albums, we inevitably begin to have a little perspective on what we can now call a work. Asked to name the record he likes the least, Vincent Delerm scratches his head for a long time, then resigns himself to giving an answer that could seem like wooden language:

“I wish I could have really answered that question. But each record corresponds to a particular moment in life, and then it varies enormously from one moment to another, depending on the encounters I have, the people who tell me that such and such an album was particularly important to them.

Same answer about the songs. “We tend to remove pieces a lot for a lot of reasons; and therefore, if those who remain have remained, it is undoubtedly because I thought that they had their place. And on the side of the lyrics? In “It’s so nice out”he sings this:

“It’s so beautiful this morning
That I could court Christine Boutin”

A regret? “Yes. Especially because it’s too much in the news. It corresponds to the rise of Sarkozyism, it’s really linked to an era. I have no pleasure in singing this passage. These are undoubtedly the limits of name-dropping, to which it has too often been reduced at the start of a career: “In “Tea time”, I’m talking about Mozart and Laurent Voulzy. At the beginning I had added André Rieu. I’m glad I didn’t put it on, it wasn’t very poetic and it would have aged badly.”


It’s a fact, songs age, and that’s not always a bad thing. “I love to sing “The girls of 1973 are thirty years old”a song with planned obsolescence.” On stage, he enjoys manhandling the chorus. Just as he modifies without blushing the words of “Already you”in which he sang “I ran like a Kenyan”, a somewhat unfortunate formula (“but I know why I wrote that”) which he now replaces with “I ran like a Norman”. “It creates a form of complicity with part of the room.”

Faithful since its beginnings with the label Tôt ou Tard (“I absolutely wanted to be there”), Vincent Delerm is also to those around him. Besides, we would not necessarily have imagined that the Delerm of the beginnings would be as friendly with Aloïse Sauvage as with François Morel, or that he would appear in the French version. from “Sixty”the show produced by Kyan Khojandi and Navo, mainly led by young comedians. “I don’t say to myself ‘I absolutely have to collaborate with people from the new generation.’ But I try not to get stuck in it.”

“From the moment there are barriers at the bottom of the stage, it becomes impossible to talk to two in the room.”
Vincent Delerm

Those who don’t know him have often caricatured him as a piano-bar singer with a Parisian bobo sauce – remember that he is from Normandy. But Vincent Delerm is much more open than that; his appetite for photography, as well as the singularity of his film I don’t know if it’s everyone, are there to testify. He is the unresponsive observer of a changing world, on which he often takes a sharp, not to say political, gaze.

The piece «Vie Varda»one of the highlights of his latest album Panoramais its symbol: it evokes a life “away from the spotlight”the essence of which consists in “talk to two in the room and feel an emotion”. Insofar as the personal is politicalthen “Vie Varda” is a political song, like it or not:

“I always have the impression that we are more ourselves when there are not too many of us. That’s also why I’ve never done Zénith, or even Bercy, which is nevertheless a fairly pleasant room. From the moment there are barriers at the bottom of the stage, it becomes impossible to talk to two in the room.

The second disc that accompanies “Comme une histoire” is called “Without words”. He replays twenty of his titles, alone at the piano, as if to remind us once again that if words are fundamental, balance is only possible if we also know how to be silent.

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