With 40 film appearances and three albums under her belt, you’d think the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg would be comfortable performing in front of a crowd. But, Charlotte Gainsbourg says, it took work — and few pointers from “Loser” singer-songwriter Beck. Thanks to his guidance, she’s currently touring the states to produce her latest album, IRM, which was produced by none other than Beck himself. To mark the addition of a selection of music videos and rehearsals from her album on Hulu today, we spoke to Charlotte about the collaboration with Beck and her tour, and even asked her to highlight a few of her picks from the world of online video. — Rebecca Harper (), Editor
Hulu: Before you share your picks, can you tell us a little bit about your new album? What was it like working with Beck?
Gainsbourg: It was quite intimidating at first. I think I was a little shy, but he made everything so that I would be comfortable. We recorded a lot of things in his house. It was very warm and so the whole process was quite amazing for me. To come back and forth, to go back to Paris and think about it, come back, being a different person … so the whole thing was quite incredible for me. And just to watch him invent the songs, to decide on a beat and gradually build it up and think of every instrument … I mean, he was just wonderful to watch. That was part of the pleasure for me, to learn something from him.
Do you have a favorite track from the album, if you could even pick just one?
I have two that are very different — I’ve got “Trick Pony,” which means a lot because my son plays the drums on that song. And I love the fact that it was upbeat and all that, and it came at the last minute. The other one is completely the opposite. It’s called “La Collectionneuse.” It’s sort of a very dark song, which was the state I thought I was in at one point; just about connecting your memories and being overwhelmed by them.
And you’re on tour right now, aren’t you?
Yes, I’ve just started. It’s my first time for me, because on the last album I did, I didn’t feel I had the courage to do it. It’d been 20 years since I’d done anything music-wise, so I wasn’t prepared at all. And also, Air had recorded that album with me. Because they went on their own tour — they’d just released their own album — I felt I needed them to be with me if I was going to perform live. This time, it was a bit different because Beck helped me to find a band and he helped me put all this together. Also, we talked about live shows while we were recording the album, so I sort of got used to the idea that it was something that I would like to do. We had the time to rehearse quite a lot with the crew. Yeah, we started in Vancouver [on Saturday]. [Monday] was Victoria and [Wednesday], Seattle.
And you’ll be at Coachella this weekend.
I’ve never been, so I’m a little nervous of the crowd. Also the people performing are so incredible. It is a little intimidating, but I really want to perform there and also just to listen to Thom Yorke and the Gorillaz and the people that are going to be there.
I always remember the heat.
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s what they said. Unfortunately, I go on at 5:30, which I imagine is going to be boiling hot.
And will Beck be there?
I know he’s coming, yeah. I asked him to come on stage, but I’m not sure he will.
How long will you be touring?
We’re just touring North America first, so the west coast until Coachella and then the East Coast until the 25th of April. Then we take a break in May and start again in Europe June and July.
So it’s going to be a busy summer.
Yeah, yeah, it’s exciting. My children [who are 7 and 12] are going to be able to come with me since it will be the summer, so it all makes it quite incredible to look forward to.
Do you have any acting projects lined up for the future?
I hope I’ll be able to do it, but I should be able to do another film with Lars von Trier next summer, just after the tour in Europe. Then do a film with Yvan Attal, my boyfriend/husband/partner. It will be our third film together with him as a director. It’s a beautiful script. I’m still crossing my fingers because you never know, with financing and all that, if it will really go through. It’s been a long time since we wanted to do this, so I really hope we’ll be able to do it in September.
So what does a beloved actress and musician watch when she’s online? Below, Gainsbourg shares her picks — all found using Hulu’s search tool.
Some Like It Hot
You have a clip where Jack Lemmon is engaged. I love this film. It’s a film that I discovered when I was quite small, quite young. My father used to love this film, and so we watched it together. I can still watch it — I think I must have seen it more than a hundred times, so I know
everything, every bit of dialogue, everything.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I remember seeing that film and then knowing that Michel Gondry was going to call me because he wanted me to shoot in his next film [La science des rêves]. And I was really excited because I just adored this film. I thought it was the most original piece I had seen in a long, long time.
City of God
Then there’s City of God [link goes offsite], just because it’s a very, very strong film. I saw it not a very long time ago, I just discovered it. It’s just one of those very, very powerful films.
I’m a huge fan of Woody Allen, and of course especially Annie Hall. [Link goes offsite.] It’s just one of the classics that you can watch again and again and again.
Then there’s a film that came out quite recently called Fish Tank. It’s difficult, when you love a film, to know what to say about it. You thought that the performances were incredible, the way the filming was incredible. Everything was quite amazing. I think it was when I was in Cannes, I think they got an award. It was very well-deserved.
Then I went to music. There’s a live video of Neil Young playing “Heart of Gold.” [Link goes offsite.] It’s a wonderful clip. It’s Brian LeBarton who’s playing the keyboards in [my] band. Before we started rehearsing live, he said go and have a look at Neil Young singing. He showed me different pieces, but this one was so… He’s such an incredible artist. Just to watch how he can be charming and so easy. And to think of yourself performing, it’s a little overwhelming because you think you’ll never be able to be as obviously brilliant, of course.
I found Beck [on IFC’s] From The Basement. [Link goes offsite.] I think Radiohead did [this show], too. There’s both Beck and Nigel Godrich, who’s the producer I worked with on the album I did with Air — I just love his work. This concept of a TV show that has no [audience]; it’s just done in a basement … it’s just beautifully done. If we could do more recordings like that, it would be wonderful. And then you’ve got Beck and everything I admire about him. His way of performing, again it’s like Neil Young. It’s seems so easy and so natural. There’s something also about his voice. I just remember that when we recorded together, he used to sing the lyrics that he wrote to see if they worked. Just listening to him, I admire his way of singing very, very much. I thought it was a pity not to have him more on the album. I’m happy that we did this duo together, but he has a very, very special way of performing.
Next, Radiohead and the song “2+2=5“. [Link goes offsite.] It’s just an album that I loved, and it’s a song I love. It’s a band that I love seeing live the most, really. It’s the always so intense. Thom Yorke has a way of getting into the songs. His intensity is quite incredible to watch. He’s performing in Coachella with Nigel Godrich; I’m looking forward to that.
The last one would be anything to do with Elvis, because I’m a big fan. I can’t say a song in particular. There’s a recording that I have, I’m not sure it was filmed, when he cracks up laughing. Anyway, I’m not sure it was filmed, but the recording was so incredible. What can I say? I’ve been listening to him since I was a child. It’s like Some Like It Hot, it’s one of those things that accompany you all through life. It’s always reassuring to go back, to listen to him. No one really comes to his level. It’s sentimental.