Zazie

Born : 18/04/1964
Country : France
Language : French
Category : Composer / Female Artist / Songwriter
Style of music : Chanson
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  • Zazie's website
  • Thanks to her engaging and exuberant personality and her original lyrics, Zazie quickly made a name for herself as one of the leading female stars on the French music scene from the 90s onwards. The French pop diva has proved her songwriting talent, penning hits for herself and other major artists, and has also committed herself to numerous fund-raising albums and events.

    Isabelle de Truchis de Varennes - better known to French music fans as Zazie - was born in 1964. Young Isabelle/Zazie grew up in a highly creative household. Her father was an architect, her mother a music teacher, so she grew up surrounded by the sound of classical music. Zazie also discovered French chanson stars such as Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Barbara at an early age.

    Inspired by the music she heard around her from her childhood onwards, Zazie soon took up several musical instruments herself. She began playing the violin at the age of 10 and soon went on to try her hand at the piano and guitar. But what interested Zazie above all else in the music world were lyrics and songwriting and it was not long before the talented teenager set to work penning her own songs.

    After leaving her lycée, Zazie went on to study foreign languages and also began training to become a physiotherapist. But, in spite of her heavy workload, she continued to devote all her free time to songwriting. It was around this time that Zazie bought herself a synthesizer - which she baptised "Valentin" - and started playing around with tunes to accompany her lyrics.

    Zazie's striking looks and impressive height (1,80m !) soon led to her being offered a modelling contract. Over the next ten years Zazie would go on to become a familiar face on the French showbiz scene - which would prove most helpful when she chose to launch her own singing career in the early 90's.

    Zazie flew to England in 1992 to record her début album in the famous studio owned by Peter Gabriel - the young French singer had long been a passionate fan of Gabriel's music and production work. Zazie chose to call her first album "Je, tu, ils" as a special tribute to Howard Buten, an American clown/psychotherapist renowned for his work with autistic children. (Zazie would remain especially interested in the problems of autism throughout her career, frequently working on fund-raising projects for children in need).

    "Sucré salé", the first single release from Zazie's album, soon went on to prove a great hit, both with the record-buying public and French music critics. Indeed, Zazie's brand of fresh-faced pop would soon earn her a prestigious music award. In 1993 the young singer would be voted "Best Female Newcomer of the Year" at the "Victoires de la Musique" awards.

    1995: "Zen"

    Encouraged by the success of her début album, Zazie would return to the studio two years later to record a highly-accomplished follow-up album entitled "Zen". Zazie wrote all the lyrics on her new album and was also responsible for many of the musical arrangements. But the young singer/songwriter also enlisted the aid of French singing star Pascal Obispo, who happened to be a close friend of her brother Phil Baron and of the album's producer Vincent-Marie Bouvot.

    "Zen" - which was musically-speaking a much richer album than Zazie's début "Je, tu, ils" - featured witty, intelligent lyrics and an innovative fusion of modern pop grooves with traditional instruments such as the accordion and the djembé (an African drum). Zazie's album also included a special tribute to the legendary French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg on the track "Je t'aime".

    Zazie's second album was soon riding high in the French charts and hundreds of music fans turned out to watch the talented newcomer perform in concert in Paris (at la Cigale on 6 and 7 November 1996).

    Despite her lightning rise to fame on the French music scene, Zazie has not forgotten the interests of her early days. The singer remains firmly committed to children's charities and in June 1997 she was involved in a series of fund-raising concerts at the Casino de Paris. Teaming up with French singers Catherine Lara, Michel Jonasz, Alain Souchon, Maxime Le Forestier and Francis Cabrel as well as Belgian star Maurane, Zazie gave an impressive performance on behalf of the French children's AIDS charity Sol en Si (Solidarité Enfants Sida). The group then set off on an extensive tour, raising money in the French provinces.

    This prestigious award proved that Zazie had left the rank of 'talented newcomer' behind and established herself as a major name on the French music scene. Lest there should be any doubt about her new status, Zazie returned to the recording studio in the spring of 98 and began work on an excellent third album entitled "Made in Love". Released on 11 May 98, "Made in Love" confirmed Zazie's talent as an extremely sophisticated songwriter. Zazie's songwriting talent has not failed to impress other French stars either - indeed, after writing material for her old friend Pascal Obispo, young Zazie went on to write for legendary French music veteran Johnny Hallyday.

    In 1998 she penned three songs for Johnny Hallyday's album "Ce que je sais", including "Allumer le feu" which proved to be a huge hit in the French charts after Hallyday performed it non-stop at his live concerts. Zazie and Hallyday joined forces again the following year when Zazie penned a track ("le Poids de mes maux") for Hallyday's new album "Sang pour sang". Keeping things in the family, Zazie also contributed a song to Johnny's son David Hallyday's album "Un paradis, un enfer". Later that year the young singer/songwriter also went on to contribute songs to several leading French stars' albums including Jane Birkin, Patricia Kaas, Florent Pagny and the Quebecoise diva Isabelle Boulay.

    Following the phenomenal success of a long tour - which Zazie rounded off with a triumphant concert at Le Zénith in Paris at the end of '99 - the singer released a live album entitled "Made in Love". This album captured the ambience of her popular techno/chanson concerts perfectly. Zazie added an unexpected extension to her tour in the spring of 2000, heading off to Asia (from March 13th - April 2nd) to play a series of concerts in Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore. Asia is not an habitual port of call for French artists, but Zazie proved a big hit nonetheless, drawing audiences of ex-pats and enthusiastic locals who had not previously heard of her.

    2001: ‘la Zizanie’

    The beautiful Zazie repeated her cooperation with Axel Bauer a few months before releasing her own new album. Their duo—"A ma place"—featured on Bauer’s 2000 album.

    "La Zizanie" (discord), which was produced with Zazie’s soulmate Pierre Jaconelli and mixed by Tony Smalios represents the star’s comeback to the studio as a singer-song-writer. She wrote the music and penned the lyrics for all 13 tracks, except for "Adam et Yves"—a depiction of people’s difficult acceptance of homosexuality written by Joelle Kopf. On her own songs, Zazie was rather inspired by her own experiences and her conception of life. She tackled such issues as gender in "Aux Armes Citoyennes", worship in "La fan de sa vie", and quickly-earned money with "Rue de la Paix". The lyrics were accompanied by more pop and techno rhythms than before. This new tendency confirms the star’s growing interest in her stage performances, in view of which she now chooses rhythms and musical genres likelier to liven up her future concerts.

    At the beginning of 2002 Zazie announced she was cancelling all forthcoming tour dates because of her pregnancy. The French pop diva still managed to put in an appearance at the "Victoires de la Musique" Awards on 9 March 2002, however, where she carried off the award for Best Female Artist of the Year.

    Zazie gave birth to a baby girl called Lola on August 24th, 2002.

    Less than five months later, the new mother was finally able to kick off the tour she had delayed during her pregnancy. Zazie took to the stage at Le Bataclan in Paris (3 January - 22 February) where she recorded a double album/DVD released in April as "Ze Live." In March, the French pop diva hit the road, touring France, Switzerland and Belgium before flying out for a series of concerts in La Réunion.

    As soon as she had completed her extensive tour (which included almost 50 dates), Zazie got down to work on a new album with two of her musicians: Jean-Pierre Pilot (who has collaborated with the likes of Bashung, Brigitte Fontaine and Indochine) and Philippe Paradis (famous for his work with Christophe). For the first time in her career, Zazie co-wrote all the compositions on her new album, "Rodéo", released in November 2004. And while the music on the latter had more of an electro feel to it than on previous albums, her lyrics proved to be more personal and introspective than in the past.

    The release of the CD “Rodéo” was accompanied by the DVD "Rodéo Indien", a series of videos shot in India illustrating the different songs on “Rodéo.” In 2005, Zazie hit the road again on her "Rodéo Tour" which included two performances at Bercy stadium in Paris (16 and 17 September 2005).

    2007 : "Totem"

    Zazie devoted a large part of 2006 to writing material for other artists. Notably, she penned all the lyrics for Calogero's album "Pomme C" and four songs for Christophe Willem (winner of the French TV talent reality show "Nouvelle Star"). Meanwhile, Zazie also began writing a series of new songs for herself. On her new album, "Totem", released in Feburary 2007, the French star revealed a little more of her personal life than usual. "L'Ange blessé" revolved around a recent relationship break-up while "J'étais là" expressed her ideas about social and political commitment as a singer. Working with Jean-Pierre Pilot and Philippe Paradis, Zazie concocted a feistier rock sound on her new album, moving away from the more sophisticated, electro style of "Rodéo."

    Riding on the success of the second single taken from her album, “Je suis un homme”, Zazie set off on a new French tour on 1 June. From 13 to 15 of the same month, she was at the Zénith in Paris, and then again on 26 October. She also performed several concerts early the next year, including one in London in February. She was back at the Cigale in Paris on 15 and 16 February to conclude her “Totem tour”. The album “Totem” ended up selling more than 350,000 copies.

    In November 2008, the first compilation of her greatest hits came out, entitled “Zest of”.

    2010: "Za7ie"

    In 2010, Zazie worked on an unusual project around the number 7. She wrote seven times seven songs, split into themes related to the days of the week: “Ma quête” (my quest), “En images” (in pictures), “Les enfants” (children), “Recyclage”, “Collectif”, “On sort” (let’s go out), and “Relaxation”. The album was launched in phases. A first 14-track version was released in August 2010. The collection was added to each week with the release of a 7-track mini-album on one day’s theme, showing the artist’s day-by-day approach to the music. On 29 November, a boxed set came out comprising all 49 songs.

    The songs are about love, family and children, but also mention current events that concern the singer. She did some of the work and recording at her home with her partner and producer, Philippe Paradis. As Zazie herself admitted, her career and private life were overlapping more and more.

    November 2010

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