When La Femme embarked on their first U.S. tour, they were barely on the industry’s radar back in their home country of France. They had recorded all but a single EP for a small label there before taking $3,000 each and heading to the U.S. to play about 20 gigs. After returning to France and signing to Universal Music Group’s France-based label, Barclay, the band is now in bona fide rock star territory. So, how did a French rock band become so enamored with Colorado that they wrote a whole song dedicated to our state?
La Femme was formed in 2010 after keyboard player Marlon Magnée and guitarist Sacha Got met at secondary school in a small seaside town in France called Biarritz. The duo moved to Paris as quickly as they could with the dream of starting an effortlessly cool rock band. After meeting singer Clémence Quélennec on MySpace and pulling together the rest of the band from various corners of the internet, it was off to the races, or so they thought.
The band reached out to 50 French clubs to line up some gigs and only got two responses. It was then that they turned their attention to the U.S., in a move that catapulted La Femme into the international spotlight. “We just met some friends, and they told us to come to California,” Got said. “We found out there was a big underground scene, and I think we went at a good time, the right moment.”
Since then, they’ve seen their debut album, Psycho Tropical Berlin, win a Victoires de la Musique award, the equivalent of winning a Grammy award, and their second album, Mystère, peaked at number eight on the French charts. Now, gearing up for their third album, the band has released their second single, “Cool Colorado.”
In 2014, the band played a show in Denver, staying only two days, and the impression our state made upon them was so great, they decided to write a song. The song sat in the band’s hard drive for six years, and then when the concept for their new album was created, the band felt it was right to include the song in the mix. “Even if we wrote it six years ago, we thought it’s a good song for this new record,” Got explained.
When the band came to Colorado, they felt as though they were transported back to the San Francisco of the ’70s, a time period and lifestyle they say is “so rare and precious to us, even if we never lived this period.” The psychedelic influence of the ’60s and ’70s is heavily felt in the song with hazy guitar licks and heavy reverberation throughout. The music video, directed by La Femme and Aymeric Bergada Du Cadet, is the next chapter in the band’s visual component of their forthcoming album. It’s a parody depiction of Beatlemania-type “teen idol” fanaticism. Got explained the band’s inspiration for the song.
“There’s this feeling of freedom, because Colorado was one of the first states where [recreational] weed was legalized. There’s this feeling, with the fresh air from the mountains, that nobody really cares. We only stayed two days in Denver, but, you know, I just had this feeling.”
The feelings of freedom that the band felt whilst in Colorado are a part of the romanticized notions of America some Europeans still hold. Since the song was written six years ago, current events have challenged that view of America, but Got considers this song to be a bit of a time capsule and a reminder of a simpler world. “It’s not the world of now, you know, the world has changed — it’s more complicated,” he said. “I know the world is not like it was in the ’60s, and now everything has changed, but I try to keep those vibes in this song.”
Got says he hopes to return to Colorado when he can and experience more of what our state has to offer. Until then, the band hopes this song will take Coloradans back to a simpler time and provide listeners with a bit of an escape. When it’s possible to once again, Got encourages people to travel to get a sense of the feeling that inspired this song. “Take your bag and go far,” he said. “It’s good to see what is out there, and feel the vibes of traveling in freedom.”
All photography by Jean-François Julian, courtesy of the artist.