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Jungle Mix Published on 27/09/2016

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Jungle Mix

Bonnie Banane and Lafawndah are two of the most exciting French artists at work in music at the moment. They're also friends. To launch our new series highlighting great music talents, we asked them to chat about their work. French photographer Priscillia Saada shot them wearing the iconic tiger print from our Fall-Winter show.

Listen to Ally by Lafawndah

Lafawndah: so I woke up this morning and I did some vocal warm up as a little ritual you know because nothing else is a routine in my life at the moment so I did that
and because they are very boring I always read stuff

Bonnie: in the meantime?

Lafawndah: yes at the same time that I do the vocal thing I read on my computer. It’s probably not very pro but oh well

Lafawndah: what do you do when you wake up

Bonnie: when I wake up I do that weird stuff

Lafawndah: which one

Bonnie: I lift my private part
sorry but

Lafawndah: please

Bonnie: that’s the first thing I do

Lafawndah: just lift it? or? to like wake it or something?

Bonnie: no just lifting, from the bottom to top, to wake it exactly
and THEN
and THEN
either I look at him either I look at my oh so alienating phone, depends
what about you

Lafawndah: mmmm
I guess it depends if I'm alone or not

Bonnie: exactly

Lafawndah: if I'm alone, computer is the only way I wake up, sadly

Bonnie: and the only way you go to sleep

Lafawndah: if I'm not I curl up and I try to not take it for granted if I'm waking up next to that person and I try to be gentle and soft even though I'm already boiling inside and I'm so ready to start the day
you know how some people have this thing in the morning
they are in the animal world
they don't feel human
they can't talk really, they need time to realize they are human or something
you know what I'm talking about?

Bonnie: yes I do

Lafawndah: well yeah I don't have that, when I wake up it’s like I'm already in the middle of the day. I almost feel guilty every day for sleeping too much and I'm already 100% on. so when I'm waking up w/ someone, I'm tryna keep it cute and chill. it’s not natural though
language is such an issue

Bonnie: I mean there’s different ways of expressing

Lafawndah: which situation are you thinking?

Bonnie: two human beings for example, it’s very necessary to use words, very necessary to make things clear, they’re tools, here to help us make it clear
but it’s like it’s taking all the space; how we formulate stuff
sometimes I just like to guess
I believe a lot is previously guessable, expected

Lafawndah: mmm it could be another kind of language that would make you guess
it wouldn't necessarily be outside of language it would just not be words
cause I've been very frustrated with words lately when it comes to the music I've been making

Bonnie: very frustrating
that’s what I mean by saying language is an issue
it’s just not enough
and all we do is formulate stuff with words

Lafawndah: I've been playing these songs in Persian and a lot of people come up to me after the shows and they say we don't know what you were saying but we did know though
and so when people tell me that their favorite song is a song they don't understand the meaning of but that the words still convey a feeling then I’m thinking wait maybe I should worry about words a little less
or at least for them to be meaningful. maybe I should worry about that less and more about a non verbal form
what about language in your music?

Bonnie: you mean writing lyrics

Lafawndah: yeah writing lyrics, how they contain emotions and feelings. I guess it’s just not enough
maybe we should just consider it as the first layer

Bonnie: upon which we add the unnamable
I think both are important

Lafawndah: or at least for them to be meaningful. maybe I should worry about that less and more about a non verbal form
that’s true
there are layers when you write
there are the words then the way you say the words and the melody you build for them and the music
so it is only a layer PERO it still feels too small sometimes
Lafawndah: my friend nick sent me the music of this woman Sussan Deyhim
you should listen to her she's my other half it’s crazy but anyways she is singing Sufi songs
and there are a lot of parts that are not words
just loops of sounds
and I feel like these are the parts where I understand best what the song is
it’s liberating or something

Bonnie: you can put any pure intention on a sentence like "you can be under my umbrella" it maybe will sound ok but won't dip as far as you wanna go far

Lafawndah: I think you make me wanna write in French

Bonnie: o yes? well go for it
it’s just so hard tho
you make me wanna have your vocabulary in English
I lack of it
it’s a barrier
for me

Lafawndah: hahahaha SWAP
babe my vocabulary comes from dictionaries and books it’s not mine
I don't HAVE it
I borrow it
mmmm I feel like some musicians use words as vectors for something bigger and deeper, just like a container a vessel
Lafawndah: they can say whatever it doesn't matter
they transcend it
I think Rihanna is like that for sure
yeah and you know sometimes I envy this detachment
like how the use of words is lacking any complex
any inhibitions
don't feel that way
and from my experience writing with you
I feel like you don't either
am I wrong?
yeah like words are not that deep it’s like playdoh or something
pate a modeler
in music specifically I mean

Bonnie: thank god for your precise brain

Lafawndah: like sometimes I'm in a cab and we listen to the radio
and it’s fascinating
it’s like sacrilege everywhere
and it feels very free
well here is the thing I've been thinking


Lafawndah: there are not that many words that sound good
and that’s the thing
there are not that many words that sound good in a way we know how to sing
does that make sense?

Bonnie: of course yes
and we don’t want to repeat the same words again and again right

Lafawndah: if you would like to introduce new words you would need to find a new way to sing cause those words are gonna be virgin territory no one has tried to sing them before because they don't fit the metric of a formatted pop ear or something
and THAT'S exciting
I think you do that actually
especially in French
you sing in French in a way I haven't heard and it has to do with your choice of words
did I ever tell you are my favorite lyricist along with Emily King??

Bonnie: you know what I tried 2 days ago
I tried to write in French in a way that’s rebondissant
rebondissant et douillet

Lafawndah: what do you mean?
choosing words that feel that way?
love it
douillet like ravioles making love
aaaaaaa you know how to talk to me
raviolis making love while dancing
it’s hard in French
French is a melancolique language
it doesn't dance

Lafawndah: woooow I've never started a song with an idea of how I want the
words to sound

Bonnie: you never started because the words u use are d’office guiding you

Lafawndah: mmm sometimes true sometimes not
which words did you come up with that feel that way?

Bonnie: chat

Lafawndah: magnifique

Bonnie: mangue

Lafawndah: molecule

Bonnie: mmm

Bonnie: molecule is good

Bonnie: I like planete too

Lafawndah: then there are 2 kind of words
the ones that are perfectly aligned meaning they sound like what they
and the others

Bonnie: donalds and baracks?

Lafawndah: donald is chubby yeah I guess

Bonnie: you’re on point
saying that
thank you for that

Lafawndah: mmmm

Bonnie: sex sounds like sex for sure

Lafawndah: true

Bonnie: pain

Lafawndah: plum

Bonnie: fart

Lafawndah: fart is soooo aligned
it’s a masterpiece
of alignment

Bonnie: hahahahahahha

Lafawndah: but don't you think it’s funny that a sound translates a feeling there must be a neurological explanation to that
do you remember what the gong teacher said to us?
I remember she said something we both loved
but I don't remember what

Bonnie: brain paths?
I don’t remember much except we were screaming

Lafawndah: well yeah trying to scream

Bonnie: and it felt slightly uncomfortable
like we were shy or something

Lafawndah: yessss
one day I read an interview
with courtney
and she was talking about how she was very surprise people making music today were not angry
she was saying we have much more reasons to be angry than she did at the time
and they she said
I think every singer should have a scream
you should FIND your scream
she said it’s very important
I tried once
and I got scared
but yes it's very hard to scream
of course we were shy

Bonnie: LOL

Bonnie: I’m more into the kinda scream Prince found

Lafawndah: what’s his scream like?
why do you like it?

Bonnie: mischievous

Lafawndah: mmmm

Bonnie: and sexual and awakening
like a morning alarm in the middle of the song

Lafawndah: yeah his is playful it’s very true

Bonnie: like “wake up”

Lafawndah: hellooooo

Bonnie: it’s like “feel me”
it’s a dynamic let’s go, not smooth

Lafawndah: mmm
yeah I like the wake up call

Bonnie: as for courtney love, what she said, I think she s very right to say that

Lafawndah: yeah I think so too you should try sometimes
if you haven't
it’s a very special experiment with yourself
for a time you might feel speechless, voiceless before it comes out
or maybe not

Bonnie: although she has this rock n roll point of view, makes it way more easy to express a scream, an anger
it goes with it

Lafawndah: maybe it’s easy for some people to scream it really wasn’t for me
I don't think it should be linked to the kind of music you make though

Bonnie: me neither

Lafawndah: and maybe a scream is not necessarily anger
I think we should be able to scream in the middle of any song

Bonnie: I just say it’s within the music she loves and make

Lafawndah: it might actually be even more powerful if the music is not asking for it
yeah for sure

Bonnie: agree

Lafawndah: maybe you and me could try to scream together one day
once we found our screams

Bonnie: unexpected scream
dans l’absolu
all of the unexpected is what I care about the most
in the editing of a movie, in a story, in a song

Lafawndah: I know you do

Bonnie: when everybody thinks it’s about that one subject, but then there’s this breaking point

Lafawndah: yes

Bonnie: and you realize it was all about that secret matter
and that feeling is my favorite I think
le sursaut

Lafawndah : jolt
I think you master that in leonardo
actually in a lot of your songs
but leonardo might be the master example

Bonnie: do you know about lou andreas salomé

Lafawndah: non

Bonnie: this woman, writer

Lafawndah: I don’t
what about her

Bonnie: major thinker of the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th, free woman, inspiration for nietszche, rainer maria rilke,
traveler, philosopher, psychanalyste
a lot of correspondances with other penseurs

Lafawndah: what made you think of her?

Bonnie: when I was young I remember I read by accident a biography of her
and I wanted to rehear about her

Lafawndah: LOVE "read by accident" it’s sooooo real

Bonnie: she’s an inspiration
she always stayed in mind

Lafawndah: what do you like about her?
besides the fact that everything about her sounds bomb

Bonnie: when she was really young in russia she already was thirsty to learn, travel,

Lafawndah: THIRSTY!!!

Lafawndah: so important

Bonnie: that’s the point of common every strong woman I know have

Lafawndah: for sure

Bonnie: every strong and free men too
she married that guy and insisted on staying married to him till the end but she left their home really soon after the wedding, she said to him we never gonna have children cause that’s not a part of my path
she said im not gonna be that woman

Lafawndah: wow

Bonnie: I have other things to seek
we were in the 1900s
avant garde

Lafawndah: mmmm damn

Bonnie: she wrote books I havent read yet
she was a big inspiration for all this international known men (nietszche, freud, rilke etc..) but she never got the recognition she deserved

Lafawndah: of course she didn't
sometimes I imagine being at the head of education programs in
France or in the us. and how SOOOO EASY it seems to change a society completely. To reshape all the fucked up dynamics. can you imagine how our life would be if we would be in contact with those stories from a very young age, if we had models like that? Boys and girls had to read in school and be aware of??

Lafawndah: I want a pantheon, a new set of references and heroes

Bonnie: for sure
I almost dont trust teachers like I dont trust doctors these days

Lafawndah: and you shouldn't
it’s funny
the first thing they say about her in the radio show you sent
is that "elle faisait tourner les têtes"

Bonnie: hahahaha

Lafawndah: lets make this very clear for yall

Bonnie: she was not a hoe at all, listen to the following

Lafawndah: ok well I think ummm I don't know I think picasso was fucking a hell
and I think he had mad charisma
and that a lot of women were falling for him
I don’t think the first thing I'll ever hear about him is that
just saying
but we already know
what about you?
what are you writing about these days?

Bonnie: I find it difficult to write these days
not satisfied at all with it
I can't seem to finish a song, to put a point to it
sometimes I just don’t know what I think or feel

Lafawndah: I rarely hear you being satisfied though

Bonnie: and I don’t wanna force my self

Lafawndah: you shouldn't
are you in love?

Bonnie: I’m in love yes
and I’m trying to find the right words that represent these new feelings I have
but it’s like I can't classify them, it’s all happening at the same time, I’m confused when it comes to breaking it down
and I’m tired of love songs

Lafawndah: mmm I understand

Bonnie: I just wanna do the purest love song and then talk about the rest

Lafawndah: do you verbalize it? do you talk about it with anyone? even in its confused state?
or you work alone?

Bonnie: I’m too alone yes in the working process
I talk a lot with my man
but writing is something I like to do with no interferences

Lafawndah: does that help? or is he too close from it all?

Bonnie: I’m in charge of the words

Lafawndah: I understand

Bonnie: that’s my responsibility

Lafawndah: I feel the same
writing with you was a great experience though
to lead but let someone else be in charge for a while
while you give directions
it’s very calming

Bonnie: yes I loved that too

Lafawndah: it’s like I’m looking at the map but you're driving

Bonnie: YES!
I remember I was trying out words
and you would say

Lafawndah: aaaahahahahahahaha yes
you were very abundant and generous with it all

Bonnie: like a sur mesure love song

Lafawndah: but yeah it’s like you give me a tool box and I get to pick
but wait you said you wanted to write the purest love song
Bonnie: that’s what I want to do
isn't that all your songs though?
the precise definition of the love I feel about this particular man

Bonnie: cause it’s like no other
I’m talking about a JOYFUL love song

Lafawndah: aaaa yessss
it’s true you haven't written about this man yet

Bonnie: all the songs I wrote previously were about heart pains and despair

Lafawndah: yes
I'm also in love
in a very special way
and I haven't written about it either
there is not one song about it on my album
it takes time

Bonnie: well you should cause you got that special B

Lafawndah: hahahahahaha

Bonnie: hahhahahahha
I loooove that you have no love songs on your album

Lafawndah: yeah it’s funny
cause they all sound like they are!

Bonnie: hahhahahah

Lafawndah: I want to it's gonna come but I'm not forcing it on myself as a mission
but yeah I understand I think in our psyche as people it's easier to find words that define the relationship between pain and love
I'm not sure why that is
it seems so much harder to write about it in a joyful way

Bonnie: right

Lafawndah: but I have to say
your song Statue
even though it’s about pain and breakup
it’s very playful
and in a way joyful
like in a way that’s like celebrating being over someone
getting rid of all the residues
it’s a celebration

Bonnie: of course it is

Lafawndah: and that’s a very amazing feeling for a song
when a song is inspired by life but then once it's written it helps you dealing with that exact thing it came from

Bonnie: it’s like I found this solution and my song is a tuto

Lafawndah: exactly!!!!
I think a lot about the idea of songs as tools lately

Photographer: Priscillia Saada
Stylist: Tom Guinness
1st photographer's assistant: Yannick D'Orio
2nd photographer's assistant: Anthony Seklaoui
Stylist’s assistant: Fiona Hick
Set Design: Manon Beriot
Hair: Yuji Okuda
Make Up: Anthony Preel