Mystery. A girl with an ethereal, colourful and festive image she can’t dodge, even though her first two solo albums delved fearlessly into some darkness, an inevitability that comes with age. Apprentie guerrière (2012) was about grieving for relationships once believed to be eternal, and Pan (2014) was about the difficulty of leaving behind a past of wounds that take way too long to heal.
Liqueur could very well be Fanny Bloom’s first album to bring the peace. It’s tempting to conclude as much when – in a song like “On s’aimera,” about stormy weather lingering a little too long – the singer is begging herself to believe that true love will weather even the nastiest storm.
“I guess age does kick in, at some point,” says Bloom, a little bemused by her role as a young veteran, a title she’s earned with this fourth, post-Patère rose album. Fate being what it is, Bloom is celebrating her 32nd birthday on the day we speak.
“I would’ve loved to experience this peaceful state of mind earlier, but I guess I had no choice but to go through all that to get here,” she says. “This state of mind owes a lot to the solo album and tour that I did [Fanny Bloom, released in 2016, a compilation of re-recordings some of her best songs]. I was on my own, and it gave me a big confidence boost. It was kind of a re-set.”
Back in her cabin, alongside Patère rose collaborators Thomas Hébert and Julien Harbec (nowadays known as the duo TŌKINOISE), Bloom took advantage of the life-saving blank page to leave her old, tenacious angst in the margins.
“I was inhabited by a completely different energy than usual,” she says. “We weren’t only nonchalant, but we wanted to be nonchalant. We weren’t there to re-invent pop music. Our attitude was more along the lines of, let’s have a beer, write lyrics, I’ll sing, and we’ll have fun. It might sound weird to say this, but what I learned while creating Liqueur is that music isn’t such a big deal. I had a life before people knew about me, and I’ll have one after. I used to be motivated by being famous, making sure each album grew my audience, but that’s exhausting after a while, and I just let go of it.”
Joyful paradox: Fanny Bloom has never been invited to appear on TV and radio shows more than since she released “Petit bois” a few months ago, her ode to the creative fertility of the countryside, and a teaser single for Liqueur.
Bloom has written many an apparently immodest song – to wit, the songs on Pan – where she longed for her lover to slip under the sheets. Yet, she’s never written such an intimate song as “Lily,” a letter to her boyfriend about his departed mother, the very sober arrangements of which are in stark contrast with to the rest of the album, laden with electronic rhythms and synthetic sounds.
“Singing about me yearning for my boyfriend, wearing nothing but knickers [as in that song on Pan], is no big deal for me, it’s part of life,” says Bloom. “At the most, it makes a few older women giggle when I’m onstage. Singing about Thomas’s mom, it’s very engrossing, because it’s so precious. It was such an intimate song that I actually hesitated to release it. I wasn’t sure Thomas would allow me to release it. His mom’s death was such a taboo topic between us, for a very long time. But now, it feels like I was meeting that woman, who I never met, for the first time. And the result is, I can now mention his mother in a conversation without creating any awkwardness. His memories of his mom are no longer just painful.”
“Cache-nous le pire/ Dis ce qu’il faut dire/ Tu es trop sensible/ Parce que tu es une fille” (Hide the worst / Say what you’re supposed to / You’re too sensitive / Because you’re a girl), she sings, ironically on “Au réveil,” – as if to subvert the discourse that pigeonholed her as a child-voiced singer, and therefore impossible to take seriously.
Did she hear that kind of nonsense a lot? She answers unequivocally: “My God! So much!” she says. “People say girls are too sensitive. Friends tell us that, we even tell ourselves that, sometimes. It really irritates me when I feel something and people belittle that. It really pisses me off! It’s like throwing oil on the fire! Shut the fuck up!”
As straightforward as ever, but a lot less taciturn than she used to be, Bloom has never seemed so much… in bloom! As per these lines from “Château fort”: “Les étoiles éternelles/ Se donnent beaucoup trop de mal/ Pour qu’entre nous et elles/ Leur lumière émane/ C’est à croire qu’elles sont fidèles/ Et que c’est plutôt normal/ Leur goût irrationnel de briller/ Et je me sens un peu comme elles/ Éparpillée et loyale/ Et j’ai l’envie réelle/ De vivre mon âge.” (Eternal stars / Are trying way too hard / So that between them and us / Their light will emanate / It’s almost as if they’re faithful / In their irrational taste for shining brightly / And I feel a bit like them / Scattered and loyal / To live my own age)
What does living her age mean? “Well, it means many things at once,” says Bloom. “It means continuing to seize the day as much as you can, live truly, and not grow old too fast in your head. Sometimes I’ll look at friends on Facebook and be like ‘What’s that?’ I feel like telling them: ‘Seize the day, for God’s sake!’ Of course, everyone’s entitled to find their happiness where they see fit, but seeing friends you grew up with embrace such intense clichés as getting married and having babies and buying a new house in a treeless new development – and in that order! – makes me want to stay young a little longer.”
Choosing happiness without conformity; now there’s a wise bet to make.