Shoot the stars at night refers to the love story between Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. With this title, you had no choice whether it was an album about love?
Yes, it’s true. But it’s above all an album about life, the whole range of emotions you have when you’re carried away by someone. And it’s not just about that, there are the troubles of the time, the war in Ukraine… I also wrote it in the middle of a pandemic, so there are little bits that talk about this period that we had collectively traversed.
The texts are very neat, almost poems. Is that what makes the songs so timeless?
Absolutely. Don’t underline things in red ink. You have to leave an opening, so that everyone can really get into the song and say: this song is for me.
It’s been six years since you released an album of original songs. What brought you to the creation of this one?
I took lots of sidesteps, lots of different projects, including the production of Jane Birkin’s album and the preparation of her tour. Writing an album is when you are suddenly overwhelmed by texts, bits of songs, melodies. On the other hand, there is the whole gestation, the period when one absorbs the world, the outside, and all that matures in the secret of the inner laboratory. It’s quite mysterious, I don’t even know how it works myself! (Laughs) There is a moment when you feel ready, that’s when it comes. The first that arrived was The last days of rain.
And she triggered the sequel?
Yes. The very first to be finalized, I said to myself: this one I will keep for the record. When you make an album, you have to have a choice. You have to write and compose a lot, to keep the 10-12 titles that are the most successful, consistent with each other. To make a set, something fluid.
There are sumptuous orchestrations, but also a groove very electro. How do we stay the course in all this to remain Étienne Daho?
I have been very eclectic since the beginning of my career. I tried all styles of music, under the banner of pop. Then I can do whatever I want! I’ve only ever developed one style of music on a whole record. I find that a record is like life, there have to be lots of things.
And there is your voice which makes the connection, which is your signature and which seems not to have aged. What is the secret of this voice?
I do not know at all. Excesses, perhaps! I don’t pay attention to him. I smoked a lot, three packs a day, and quit. I’m lucky to still have her, she’s special, she has a uniqueness, I think. I ended up realizing it.
From Vanessa Paradis to Italoconnection, there is a great diversity of collaborations. Do people sometimes say no to you?
Uh… it sounds pretentious, but it never happened! But you also know, I don’t show up like that, here, hello, do you want to sing with me? They are relations of friendship, almost a family in spirit. There is logic in these associations. No duet was made for commercial reasons, only for artistic desires, encounters. I could not work otherwise.
You have worked with long-time collaborators, like Jean-Louis Piérot, but also with people new to your world, like Jade Vincent, from Unloved. Is it important to work with today’s creators?
Oh, well yes! I really like what’s new. I’m very sensitive to that, and my arms are wide open for novelty! I’m tired of those who say it was better before. I’m sick of old people, actually. (Laughs) Do you know what I mean? The grumps who say it was better before… We are alive today, and there are plenty of good things. We have to move forward with that. There are lots of very good energies, people who have very good ideas. I like them, they like me, and we do things together. It’s natural. I don’t feel any age difference with the younger people I work with. I never think about my age, it’s abstract for me.
At 67 and after more than 40 years of career, is the challenge of relevance something that lives in you?
I try to stay consistent with myself above all, with my desires. Moving forward with the same freshness as when I started. It’s true that 40 years is quite a long time and that’s a lot of songs, at the same time it goes very quickly and each record is an adventure. We replay everything, we renew everything with each disc. For me, it’s the first every time.
Shoot the stars at night
On sale Friday
Who is Etienne Daho?
Influenced by Rennes rock and English pop, Étienne Daho made his debut in a group in 1979 and went solo in 1980.
During the 1980s, he became a huge star with titles like Fall for France.
During the following decades, he continued to make albums, multiplied collaborations and remained at the top. Released in 2007, The invite earned him the Victory for Pop Rock Album. He composes and produces the Jane Birkin album Oh ! Sorry you were sleeping in 2020.
SACEM Grand Prize for French Song in 2013, Victory of Honor in 2018, Grand Medal for French Song in 2021: Étienne Daho is reaping the fruits of his fruitful career.