Le SuperHomard have produced a beautiful, baroque, pop masterpiece called Maple Key. The band is the brainchild of Christophe Vaillant of Pony Taylor fame – and getting vocalist Pandora Burgess ( (El Botcho/The Leeds) on board really was a stroke of genius. They’ve delivered a perfect, wistful, hazy summer soundtrack. They’ve got the whole package too, great music, an excellent lead video and a simply beautiful album design that harks back to the golden age of vinyl, what’s not to like? As with a lot of the music we post here, it’s often the starting point of a journey – everyone (well, nearly everyone) has a history and Christophe has been making great music for some time now. We chat to him about the new record and we’ve lots of super tunes to listen to as well.
Firstly, can I ask why the name Le SuperHomard – I know it’s a reference to the film “Let Us Not Get Angry” but why did you choose it for the group?
I wanted to find a “French-sounding” name for my project. When I recorded it I already wanted to release it in Japan and the UK before France (and that’s what happened) and I thought that this name can be interesting for non-French speaking people. le SuperHomard was also the name of my home studio since a long time.
This project, and your previous work with Pony Taylor is suffused with the sound of the sixties – what is it about that era that you find so attractive?
I’m into 60’s pop since my teenage years (I was into this “mod” thing you know?) I especially enjoy bands from this period (psychedelic, chamber pop, mod, soul etc.) but it’s not my only influence I think.
Are you happy with the reception Maple Key has received so far?
Yes, for sure! I expected a small self-release only and now it has been released in Japan (Rallye), UK (Mega Dodo), Greece (Melotron) and in France and Switzerland (Le Pop Club/Echo Orange/Alter K). All this on CD, Digipack, cassette, white 10 inch & black 12 inch vinyl… A real choice! Much more than I expected in my dreams!
Now this solo project evolved with a real live band including Benoit on Keys/Guitars, Julie on Vocals/Keys, Laurent On Bass, Tomi on Drums and myself on Keys, Guitars and Backing Vocals and we are gonna start to tour to promote the record.
How did the collaboration with Pandora Burgess come about?
I wanted to have a female voice with a REAL English accent (not like mine). I tried to sing but wasn’t satisfied with the result, so a common friend named Marie Julie said why don’t you ask Pandora to come and sing? I asked her: she agreed to sing and write or correct some lyrics and I was very happy with the result. Her voice is fantastic!
The video for Maple Key, and the album sleeve design are beautiful and complement the music perfectly – how involved are you in that side of things?
Cyril Jean (one of my best friends) did both. He was the keyboardist in The Strawberry Smell, Pony Taylor, Cucumber, Stereoscope Jerk Explosion…(all the bands we did together since we are 17) and he’s a very talented designer, Also he was helped by Kimi Kimoki who draws some stuff in the artwork. They know me like nobody else and I know that they will do exactly what I expected!
What is your earliest musical memory or what is the first song you remember from childhood that you loved?
With my twin brother Olivier (who plays drums and some bass on the record) we used to listen an old Beatles tape from our mother (it was Abbey Road) when we were 9 or 10 I think, and we imagine that we were in the band.
What artist(s) has been your biggest influence? Why?
It’s hard to find only one but I will name Arthur Lee because Love’s “Forever Changes” is a really big influence for me (and a lot of bands I know even if it’s impossible to make better than this).
What song by another artist do you wish you had written and why?
“Pretty Ballerina” from The Left Banke because it’s the pop perfection that I will never be able to do unfortunately.
What is your favourite song that you’ve written yourself?
A song called “Footprint on the Moon” from my first band called The Strawberry Smell. We were young, and we didn’t care if the lyrics were only close to English or with French accents: it was real good times.
Name a song that makes you happy and why?
Eggstone : Taramasalata : I don’t know why.
What current music, other than your own, do you rate?
Many French bands: Tahiti 80, Dorian Pimpernel, Forever Pavot and Air are on my playlist these days.
What, outside of music, influences your art?
Love … and pop design too!
Is there anything intrinsically French about your work? I mean do you think your nationality filters through into your work?
I don’t know. Probably yes even if I listened to more music from UK or US when I did my musical education.
Do you collect anything?
Collecting vintage synths and drum-boxes is my only vice.
What songs would you like played at your funeral?
Rita and the Tiaras – Gone With the Wind Is My Love.