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Baker's Dozen

Inhabiting The Music: Charlotte Gainsbourg's Favourite Albums
Jeremy Allen , April 25th, 2018 07:45

Ahead of her appearance on The Quietus' stage at this year's Field Day Festival, Charlotte Gainsbourg takes Jeremy Allen through her favourite albums, from Portishead to Bach, Lou Reed to her dad

Charlotte Gainsbourg’s albums are a lot like tattoos, souvenirs that evoke strong memories of important moments in her life. She’s recorded four so far in just over 30 years, and the latest is her most resplendent. Rest is also the one where she’s ultimately exerted the greatest control as designer as well as artist.

“The first one was done with my father, by my father,” she says of her 1986 debut Charlotte For Ever, recorded with her legendary paterfamilias Serge. “I wasn’t in control of anything, but that was the way he did music, and I’m so happy that I got a chance to do it.” The next album was recorded 20 years later with Air, at a time when she “was an adult” but “wasn’t acting like one.” Jarvis Cocker penned the lyrics. “I tried to be as personal as I could, giving him an idea of who I was, but it was his vision of me”.

Things gelled artistically with Beck on a 2009 album inspired by her experiences with an MRI machine (in France it’s called IRM, the name of the album). Not only was it hitherto her best record, it was also Beck’s best record for a long while too. “I went to Los Angeles each time and it was very much his environment and his influences with my input,” she says, talking over the phone from London. “I had many IRM scans because of an accident, and I wanted to talk about that. That spoke to him, but again it was his vision of a troubled mind he encountered at the time.”

Charlotte Gainsbourg’s story is woven into the fabric of French popular culture; indeed she was present on the cover of Histoire de Melody Nelson, albeit as a bump in her mother Jane Birkin’s tummy covered discreetly by a toy monkey. But on Rest she’s stepped further out of the long, eclipsing shadow of her folks.

Charlotte Gainsbourg appears on The Quietus' stage at this year's Field Day Festival. For tickets and the rest of the line-up, visit the Field Day website. Click the image below to begin reading her selections