10 things you need to know about Parisienne triple threat Yseult
The singer-songwriter-model is one of the most captivating French artists of the moment, dishing out tracks that mix pop with trap.
Photography Bettina Pittaluga
It was 2013 when Yseult, an 18-year-old aspiring singer, ascended the stage of Nouvelle Star (the French equivalent of X-Factor) to perform a heart-breaking rendition of Ne Me Quitte Pas -- her voice husky, powerful and captivating. Fast-forward a few weeks and Yseult made it to the finale. She didn’t win but bagged a contract with Polydor anyway, going on to release a debut album of pleasant but bordering mainstream pop under their supervision. Then she all but disappeared from the music scene.
In 2019, all of a sudden Yseult re-emerged -- this time with Rouge , closely followed by Noir , both EPs released on her own label YYY. It’s as though she made a 180-degree turn: this time around, her lyrics were raw and unapologetic, the sound an experimental combination of pop and trap, her videos artistic and immersive. ‘The Billie Eilish or Rosalia of France’, as one Belgian music platform dubbed her -- two very different artists united by the game-changing way they broke onto the music scene.
Now, at 25 years old, Yseult has re-established herself as a bold and independent artist, which manifests itself in a variety of ways: not only in her sound, which she’s coined "Y-trap", but also in her appearance (in her last couple of music videos for Corps and Noir she doesn’t shy away from bearing it all). Her message is clear: in an industry that demands women fit in, particularly in terms of one's body type, she refuses to comply. Yseult is on a quest for self-confidence, independence and emancipation -- and we are here for it.
Currently Yseult's self-isolating in her Paris hometown, having had to return from a tour across France, Canada, the US and Belgium. Not that she’s any less busy: last night she was live interviewing Kiddy Smile, taking over multiple Instagram accounts and chatting to her fans wrapped up in nothing but a towel. The perfect moment to squeeze in a quick chat to get to know Yseult better through these 10 fun facts…
1. Her favourite music memory stems from last year
“I can’t remember the first song that I ever performed but my very first thrill was last year when I sang my single “Corps” for the first time on French TV.”
2. She booked her very first concert herself
“It took place at La Bellevilloise in Paris on 6 June 2015. I did everything by myself, because I had just parted ways with my tour manager who didn’t believe in my project. The concert was completely sold out and the room was filled with love. It was intense -- I will always remember it.”
3. Yseult is very open about the financial struggles facing independent artists
“Speaking up about it is still very much a taboo in the music industry. But for me, transparency towards my fans is what’s most important to me. It’s tough as an independent artist to take care of my own image and promote projects -- but I want the public to know.”
4. She loves collaborating with artists from different disciplines
“I’m a woman who loves art. I spend a lot of my time finding out who the new talent on the block is: whether it's designers (Esmay Wagemans), directors (Colin Solal Cardo), contemporary dance groups (Kvd.danse.ensemble) or photographers (Anton Reva). I am lucky to manage, produce and run the artistic direction of my projects, which gives me the opportunity to be in direct contact with my creative partners.”
5. If she wasn't a singer, Yseult would probably be a nurse
“My mum is also a nurse. I like to help other people and nursing is a noble profession that is really vital to humans.”
6. Her first modelling gig was for ASOS
“They contacted me via DM on my Instagram. It was a love at first sight and I had the opportunity to be their muse for several campaigns across TV, online and their magazine. The environment was safe and caring. The ASOS team is a big family and I am very honoured to have been part of it. It was a really great experience, which gave me the opportunity to sign with a mother agency that represents me as an artist and model. I love to strike poses whether I'm fully dressed or not, because I love my body and love being a spokesperson for inclusiveness.”
7. She has a unique idea of what it means to be a modern day "popstar"
“For me, the definition of a popstar would be to not be blameless and to be free to be yourself without filters.”
8. The thing Yseult is most proud of is her body
“I am proud of my body, but I’m also proud of my skin colour, proud of my hair texture and proud of myself, because I give myself the means to carry out my project on a daily basis.”
9. She has her own definition of success
“Success is freedom, because freedom is primordial when you are an artist.”
10. Yseult calls FKA Twigs her musical mum and Sevdaliza her father
“I really admire those two but I also love Christine and the Queens's strength and the fire that burns inside her. I like to see her dance, to see how she fights with herself on stage and I really like what she embodies. It would be an honour to be able to collaborate with her, to create beautiful things between strong women.”
Photography Bettina Pittaluga