France's multi-talented Woodkid releases debut album
He shot to fame as a music video director, framing some of pop's most notable names including Moby, Katy Perry, Lana del Rey and Rihanna.
Now, France's multi-talented creator Woodkid has turned the spotlight on himself, releasing a widely anticipated debut album set to merge Tolkien and Bergman as much as it does electro and classical strings.
With "The Golden Age", Woodkid, or Yoann Lemoine, spills his heart out in an ambitious and personal four-year musical project that will begin to hit the shelves as of Monday.
And the album has not only been awaited in his native France.
His first two singles "Iron" and "Run Boy Run" have already sold 300,000 copies world-wide and the video for the latter was even nominated as Best Short Form Music Video at the Grammy Awards.
In an interview with AFP, the 29-year-old classically-trained pianist from Lyon says Woodkid was born after he mixed pretty much everything that inspired him: sounds, texts, and visuals.
"And I realised a story was being created."
"This is the story of a being -- you don't really know if it's a child, an adolescent, an adult," he said.
"This album talks about the moment when you walk out your parents' door, the one when you have to create your character," the bearded musician explained, forearms tattooed and sporting a baseball cap on his shaved head.
The music, romantic and much reminiscent of a childhood spent "listening to a lot of movie soundtracks and imagining the images", could almost have been a Hollywood production considering the finesse and work put into it.
The French National Orchestra, the Paris opera, DJ SebastiAn and electro-group The Shoes have all contributed to the project that "confronts wood and marble, (the) organic and digital, past and future, classic and avant-garde".
But Woodkid has not just made an album. He has also made videos and written a book to go along with it.
The music videos, shot in black-and-white, bear hints of films such as "Metropolis" and "The White Ribbon" and movie-makers like Michel Gondry and Guy Maddin.
The most personal fragments of the story -- homosexuality, being in exile and war -- have been brought together in a book available with the album's limited edition.
Written together with his cousin Katarzyna Jerzak, a literature professor, Woodkid embarked on the project tracing his eastern European family, Poles whom he said "denied their Jewish roots after the war".
"With this project, I almost did an archaeological psychoanalysis, (and) I managed to answer some questions," he said.