“Attention, Bowie Fans! Discover how Léonie Pernet is Shaking Up the Electro Scene with Her Tribute to David Bowie”.


A few years after the release of their second album, Le Cirque de Consolation, which defends epic and melancholic electronics, the French non-binary multi-instrumentalist artist Léonie Pernet is taking on a musical monument. In fact, on Monday, January 29, 2024, they will present a concert in honor of David Bowie at the Théâtre de la Ville, where they speak about it. Léonie Pernet by Christophe Raynaud de Lage. “A consolatory utopia, a collective sanctuary.” This is how the 35-year-old French multi-instrumentalist artist Léonie Pernet, who is just as comfortable behind a drum set as she is on synths or singing, defined her second album, Le Cirque de Consolation, unveiled in 2021. This beautiful piece, which speaks of “individual reconstruction, but also the hope for a collective reconstruction” reflects, with rare verve in the French electronic and pop scenes, today’s world. A world tinged by the anxiety of the pandemic, but in which life and celebration are slowly regaining their ground. This flamboyant circus is in line with the obsessions of the time and our need for consolation of all kinds. The non-binary singer with Tuareg origins – who became known ten years ago by organizing queer parties entitled Bodies vs Machines – speaks precisely about the body, sex, love, gender, farewells to addiction, the fragility of our existences, but also the passion for life. She has often spoken to defend various minorities in the media, expressing herself as much about refugees as about violence against women, and imagines machine songs that are deeply human. Through rich synthetic songs mixed with African percussion, Léonie Pernet reminds us of the powerful consolatory function of music, capable of healing wounds where all other areas – both social and political – have failed. As she presents, on Monday, January 29, 2024, a tribute concert to David Bowie at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, entitled Trilogie 72, let’s meet a young artist who, in beautiful contradiction, refutes the famous saying of the Swedish writer Stig Dagerman claiming that “our need for consolation is impossible to satisfy.”

Número: Can you tell us more about the tribute concert to David Bowie that you will be presenting at the Théâtre de la Ville on January 29th?
Léonie Pernet: This is a tribute to David Bowie himself, but also to his creativity. All the songs are rearranged, revised, with the complicity and talent of the musicians who accompany me: Yovan Girard on violin and Jean-Sylvain le Gouic on bass and keyboard. The singer Imany will join us and there will also be a secret guest who will come to improvise on a song, maybe two…

You are revisiting The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. How do you tackle such a monumental work?
Humbly, with my piano, a sheet of paper, and a pen (laughs).

A David Bowie street has just been created in Paris. What do you like most about him?
I love his queerness, his taste for the absolute, his marginality, and his deep creativity.

Trilogie 72: “Ziggy Stardust” (David Bowie) by Léonie Pernet (2023).
“Sometimes, you listen to a song and think: “Well, that might have done good for him, but he didn’t have to.”

We talk about the music and clubbing industries as a circus. But one could also see today’s society as a sort of arena populated by clowns. What does the title of your last album, Le Cirque de Consolation, mean to you?
Indeed, it can be connected to all that. I talk about the society of the spectacle, to paraphrase Guy Debord, which covers the grotesque part that exists in the way we live, the way we represent ourselves, including media and social networks. There is also in this circus the idea of a common place to live, which is a utopia, that is to say, it does not yet exist but, I hope, could one day become real.

Is music a source of consolation for you? Is there a therapeutic aspect to creating?
Yes. However, I don’t emphasize that word too much, because sometimes you listen to a song and think: “Well, that might have done good for him, but he didn’t have to.” The idea is not to inflict something not great on the listener. When a song does me good but its interest stops there, I discard it. I try to ensure there is sublimation. And it is when you are able to sublimate that you can share with others. Making music is not therapy, but there is this idea of reconciliation, of care.

In the eponymous song of your album, Le Cirque de Consolation, you sing “Will you hear me this time, rocking in the glow our illusions / Will you be among me within the circus of consolation?” Are we all invited to join your musical utopia?
Absolutely. This eponymous song is a helping hand and also a request for helping hands. I say: “will you hear me this time”, implying that maybe I hadn’t been heard properly before. The idea of a common, or to borrow from one of my favorite authors, René Char, a common presence, inhabits this record. I am not in prophet mode. This album is a proposal for an exchange.

Léonie Pernet – Mon Amour Tu Bois Trop (2022).
I read in an interview that your first album, Crave (2018), was written at night, under the influence of alcohol. On this new record, which speaks of sobriety (particularly in the song Mon Amour Tu Bois Trop), there is more light. Did you create it sober and during the day?
There was a long journey between Crave and this record. I became sober. But already during the writing process of my first album, which took place over a long time, I had already evolved. At first, when I left Châlons-en-Champagne for Paris, I was in my twenties, in post-adolescent mode, outgoing, going out a lot, and enjoying my youth. Today, I’ve left that way of life, that trashiness, and I no longer drink. I positioned myself differently in relation to life, be it in terms of relationships and, therefore, behaviorally or more personally. It opened me up, multiplied me. I am in a more sharpened state of consciousness.

There is a lot of melancholy on your two albums. Is good music necessarily melancholic?
I don’t think it’s necessary, there are so many forms of art and creation! But when you listen to African music, certain musical modes from West Africa, and purely percussive sounds, you can’t say if it’s sad or joyous. As for me, I am particularly moved when I see that joy is drawn out of something. That’s what touches me the most. After that, there are different levels in this vein. Joy can be drawn out to a lesser or greater depth. But between Nick Cave and fado, there is always that energy to draw out a little bit of light in the music I love.

“The state of mind of my tour could be translated as “make the djembé great again!”
Léonie Pernet
There are many African instruments on this album, including derboukas. Is there a decolonial intention, in a political sense, in this resolutely non-Western aesthetic?
I don’t feel like I’m making a political gesture because I’m a percussionist and naturally gravitate towards these sounds. But of course, there is something that excites me in the live performance that I’m working on, whose state of mind could translate to “make the djembé great again!” [Léonie Pernet strikes her djembé as she says this expression.] I like to say that it’s the concept of my tour. We have a slightly negative view of the djembé, so I wanted to rehabilitate it. It is also true that decolonial thinking infuses me. The path I took towards literature….

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Written by

Mary Aldreen

At 32, Mary Aldreen is an American content writer whose heart beats to the rhythm of music and the dazzle of celebrity life. Born in the vibrant city of Los Angeles, Mary was always at the epicenter of where music meets fame. Her passion for music started early, attending live concerts and music festivals, where she not only fell in love with melodies and lyrics but also became fascinated by the stories of those who create them.