Interview with enigmatic French rapper Thérèse

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M.I.A., Lizzo, Thérèse

Image credit: Lily Rault

Releasing her debut EP Rêvalité via Chancy Publishing / La Couveuse earlier this year, rapper extraordinaire Thérèse has shared the unapologetically bold music video for featured track ‘Skin Hunger’. Known to be body positive and aware of social ills that still exist in society, the artist’s latest video celebrates human anatomy in all of its various shapes and sizes. Since the release of the EP, it has already gained traction in the likes of DAZED and Sludge Magazine. Rêvalité dives deep into the rapper’s challenges of making her name known during the pandemic, and other problems she encountered as a female breaking into the French rap music scene.

We are inspired and delighted to present this interview with Thérèse today.

Tell us about your highlights for the year

2020-2021 has been a great year! Despite (or thanks to) covid, I had the opportunity to deeply connect with myself and rethink the vision of my artistry, what I wanted to offer to the world and how. I released my first solo single ‘T.O.X.I.C’ in 2020 (composed with my Adam Carpels) without any plan and things seem to move in the right direction. ‘Chinoise ?’ threw a small bombshell in France and I realized how my different activities (music, fashion and activism) were inseparable. Then I released my debut EP Rêvalité (the translation in English would be Dreamality, the contraction of dream and reality) for my 35th birthday. I did my first TV shows as a singer, national radios coverage, my first magazine cover (for Causette, with Pomme and Suzane), collabs with Savage x Fenty and other brands. And I also did a great editorial promo with Gucci Beauty and British Vogue recently. Now I’m ready for touring and finally meeting, seeing and touching my audience,  and all the fantastic people I met virtually during this strange year. I feel really grateful for that.

If you could paint a picture with of your sound, what would it look like?

A mix between a painting of Kandinsky, Soulages and Basquiat I guess. With Helmut Newton’s sense of humour. Melted with Yayoi Kusama’s spirit and Niki de Saint Phalle boldness.

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?

I’d say M.I.A. with Matangi / Radiohead’s In Rainbows / Rihanna’s  Anti / Portishead’s Dummy / Nicolas Jaar’s Time for us (the track ‘Mi Mujer’ is still one of my favourites). Actually, there a many many more!

What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?

If you put an eye on my Badass Bitch playlist on Spotify, you would see some like Princess Nokia, Noga Erez, Little Simz, Sevdaliza, Shygirl, FKA Twigs, Lexie Liu, La Chica, Skip&Die, Suboi and many other very inspiring and badass female artists from all over the world. Even if many of them are younger than me, I consider them as “big sisters”. They are these souls who struggled so much in the music industry to get their place and embody the feminity I relate with. And most of the time, these artists do crossover music (mix between rap/pop/electro/world/whatever). And of course, I like guys too :); Kendrick Lamar (waiting for your album!), Darkside, and so many others!

How did you get to your first gig?

Probably on foot haha. Seriously, it has been gradual. There were so many “first gigs” in my life. I played the piano when I was younger and I guess that my first gig was at the conservatory of Vitry Sur Seine (Paris’ suburb)… Then later I was in a band when I was in a business school in Lyon, and I attended some open mic nights like café-théâtre and played the leading role in a musical. After that, my first gig with my former band La Vague in an art exhibition of a friend. And finally, the first gig I had with my new project Thérèse was between the two first quarantines last year for Studio CuiCui’s (photography studio) 10th anniversary. My music has always been linked with other arts in my life…

Tell us one interesting fact about yourself that no-one would expect.

I can’t drive :).

What do you consider your biggest achievement so far?

Trying hard to know me better every day in order to take care of myself. Self-care is as poetic as political. It takes so long to become who we are and let ourselves have the room to evolve. But this work allows us to be us. It made me quit my well-paid job a few years ago, work with migrants, pushed me to create a band and stop it, helped me to start a new job as a stylist and a new project (my current one). It has also made me feel legitimate as a French Asian female rapper/singer/slasher in the French music industry. I finally accept my body, my fears, my humanity… I am living.

Famous last words?

Take care of your own shit first and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!

Follow Thérèse:

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / YouTube