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Julia Jean Baptiste

What attracted you to this line of work? 
I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by music thanks to my music-loving parents - they literally bottle-fed me with new wave and bossa nova. I started singing when I was very young, then I had singing lessons, and I began playing the guitar when I was 14. I came to Paris as a student, where I was surrounded by musicians again. I began singing duets or as part of choruses, and then I was spotted by a label, and I released the song Confetti. I then joined the band Pendentif and went on tour with them. We released our second album in February.

What informs your musical style? What’s your source of inspiration? 
I write lyrics by watching the world and the people around me. I’m more inspired by reality than the fantasies and dreams that used to haunt me. I’m a storyteller. I can tell the life story of someone I’ve met or describe the fleeting moment the sun breaks through the clouds at La Villette park. There’s always a truth, an experience behind my sentimental emotions.

Which people or artists are role models for you? 
I’d say the first one was David Bowie, who I discovered at the age of nine, watching the film CRAZY. I literally fell in love with his character and the Ziggy Stardust glam rock era. So I grew up with him. It makes all the difference when you grow up with a genius. He has an incredible presence, besides the way he moves, that I’ve adopted without even thinking about it. He’s one of my points of departure. There’s Sade too. She’s an anti-diva and I really love her. She’s got a unique inflection. She never forces the emotion on you. Quite the opposite: she breathes it and leaves you to interpret it.

What compliment would you like to hear or hear again about your work? 
I like it when people listen to a song and say “that’s you” because the stories I tell should reflect who we are, otherwise you’re pretending to be someone else - that’s pointless and there’s nothing concrete about it. I think that’s the only way you can move people and send that shiver down their spine.

Is there a city or destination that inspires you or speaks to you? 
Brazil, even though I’ve never been, for its rolling rhythms and the smile people have. That’s why I wanted to write the song Sao Paulo. My father used to listen to bossa nova. I think I loved the country from the womb. I’ve always dreamed of setting off in a little boat from the Brittany coast and landing in Rio de Janeiro. I’d like to really live there rather than just visit it on holiday. For the time being, I’ve infiltrated the Brazilian community in Paris, and for now it makes up for not being there.

How would you describe how you behave and live your life? 
I grew up surrounded by music but also a lot of love. My parents allowed me to approach life in the best possible way. You need to live passionately without letting things you can’t control get to you. I always try to be happy. I’m convinced that things happen for the best, and that if it doesn’t work, don’t force it. My mother taught me to appreciate the little things that make us happy. I enjoy them without trying to make them happen. I choose to always look for the beauty around me rather than just looking straight ahead.

What are your favourite subjects when it comes to music? 
It’s not very original, but too bad: love, of course! It’s a subject everyone understands, and it inspires the world and art. It’s always about emotions - the ones we regret, and the ones we decide to hide behind a mask (I recently wrote a song about it). In terms of melodies, there’s the bossa nova, of course, for its slightly retro side, its structure, which reminds me of waves, its simplicity and immediacy.

Who do you dream of singing with? 
I’d say a duet with Mac Demarco. I like his compositions, his subjects, his self-deprecating humour, his humility. He doesn’t try to be glamorous at any cost.

Do you have any rituals? 
Before a concert, I breathe for a long time, alone and slowly. I meditate, in a way, on how lucky I am to be where I am, and the favour I’ve been shown. It helps me turn stress into excitement. It empowers me to be of the moment, to make the most of it, and help others do the same. For everyday purposes, I always travel around by bicycle, so I take in what’s going on around me, especially the architecture - my mother is an architect - and I’m always looking at the sky. Recently I even cried looking at it while I was riding my bicycle listening to L’important c’est la rose by Gilbert Bécaud for the first time in its Spanish version.

What music annoys you? 
A lot. But tastes change. Before I would have said rap, but I’ve evolved on that point. But I really can’t stand “commercial Latin” music.

Do you have a favourite place where you go a lot?
I moved to Pantin two years ago. We discovered the Brasserie Gallia, a former warehouse transformed into a social space. Children can run around there, and people mix. I can spend a whole afternoon there just watching people.

Your favourite object? How much does it weigh? 
My bicycle! I inherited it from my grandmother who used it for 30 years. I’m very attached to it. It’s a Peugeot, for men and women, from the 1970s. It’s wonderful. It must weight 12 kilos.

What has weight in your life? 
My family and friends. They’re the only ones who have an influence over my happiness.

Which LE GRAMME object(s) do you own? How do you wear them? What do you like about LE GRAMME? 
My wedding ring and my partner’s ring. A D-shape polished red gold wedding ring weighing 1g for me, and brushed white gold weighing 3g for him. I like how simple and streamlined they are. They go to the heart of the matter. They’re like a tattoo to me - something you wear every day, that’s part of us. 

If you had to write a song about LE GRAMME, what would it be? 
It would be a song about things you don’t part with, the importance of recognising what’s essential or a friend who never leaves us. 

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