PETITE MELLER ON CREATING HER UNIQUE MUSICAL WORLD – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Petite Meller photographed by Julia Fullerton-Batten for The Untitled Magazine #GirlPower Issue. Petite wears a playsuit with ruffles by By Sun, and a red hat with heart netting by Julia Clancey.
Petite Meller photographed by Julia Fullerton-Batten for The Untitled Magazine #GirlPower Issue. Petite wears a playsuit with ruffles by By Sun, and a red hat with heart netting by Julia Clancey.

“I come to the studio and stand near the mic, and the song is already coming out of my unconscious.” Such is how Petite Meller lives: by coincidence, and tapped in to her inner psyche. Befitting her moniker, she is small and pale with over-applied pink cheeks and a charmingly strong French accent. Petite grew up in Paris and moved to Tel Aviv when she was sixteen. She says she heard a lot of “French chansons, and also African music and jazz” in her house growing up. “My father used to have a collection of records. I was spending all my time listening to Paul Simon and Serge Gainsbourg.” When combined with her own music, she deems it “Nouveau Jazzy Pop.” The highly improvisational artist likes to merge genres of the old with the new. “I love saxophone when it comes on in my music. Like Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington.” The intro to her single, “Backpack,” features the sax to set the mood for a sultry theme. “‘Backpack’ is about discovering sexuality for the first time with little games, so it’s all about my own perspective.”

Her perspective is one influenced by her studies in philosophy. Currently she is writing her thesis for her master’s degree, focusing mostly on those who were influential early on in the field of psychoanalysis. “Jacques Lacan and Gilles Deleuze, Freud. Often, that’s how I felt like I [could] create my own genre, and I was writing during classes [in] philosophy… so it’s all about dealing with the unconscious and bringing that out. What I would like to do is take all these fantasies and bring them more into reality…it’s why I make videos around the world. I’m analyzing myself, so it’s like a ride for me.”

Petite wears a bodysuit with sequin shoulder pads by Ashley Isham and a turquoise hat with spotted netting by Julia Clancey.
Petite wears a bodysuit with sequin shoulder pads by Ashley Isham and a turquoise hat with spotted netting by Julia Clancey.

And quite the ride it is. For her videos, she likes to cast the characters by coincidence, people she meets on the street and online. In her video for “NYC Time,” she is carried from the suburbs into the city. “I was living in Bedstuy… I had this idea of someone carrying me like the music carries me, on his shoulder, from suburbia to the magical city of New York where it all happens…I found this – again by coincidence, I had met my directors at a Yankees game – and on the subway, we met this huge guy. I came to him and asked him, ‘Would you like to carry me in my video?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah…’ and he was so nervous. He said it was the best day of his life…and he’s my best friend now. His name is Justin Elephant.” In her world the line between reality and potential is almost non-existent. Those who are meant to be a part of her life will inevitably find her. “They just wrote to me, or I wrote to them. We never met before, we just met on location, like my stylist. She wrote me after she saw one of my videos. And she said, ‘I’d like to work with you,’ and then I brought her to France. We’d never met before. So I like all this destiny that connects you with things, that gives you your path in life.”

Another influence of hers is cinema. “Every video of mine is kind of an homage to a movie that I love. For example, “Backpack” is for the movie L’Enfer which is “Hell” in English, by Henri- Georges Clouzot, where Romy Schneider is doing a ski [scene], and I wanted to make an homage, and I came to the same location. I started to learn water skiing for a month for this video.” The strawberry blonde Petite pays homage to another blonde from the cinemas, bombshell Brigitte Bardot, from And God Created Woman. In her song “Baby Love,” which was filmed in Africa, Meller dances amongst a throng of local boys and girls. “This joyful thing, it really uplifted me from the broken heart and the pain, so it’s all about dancing the pain away. And the Brigitte thing is to show that, as the scene in the movie, it’s hysterical dancing of pain and releasing.” As a fan of cinema, especially French cinema, Petite‘s music videos are littered with film references. “I sprinkle movies I love into my videos!”

Petite Petite wears a pink dress by Ukulele and a hat by Amy Collette. Stockings are vintage from Painted Black, and heels by Sophia Webster.
Petite Petite wears a pink dress by Ukulele and a hat by Amy Collette. Stockings are vintage from Painted Black, and heels by Sophia Webster.

Nairobi was chosen as the setting for the “Baby Love” video because of an impromptu change during the recording session. “I started beat-boxing with my mouth, because I didn’t like the drums in the foreground. It was very African somehow, and we added bongos and congas.” It turned out to be a happy coincidence, just like so much of Petite’s life. “I’m really glad that we shot it in Africa, because this was heaven for me. It changed my whole point of view. Even in fashion. I used to wear only pale colors, and when I got there, we changed the whole wardrobe to scarves that we saw with strong colors just jumping out, with red and yellow.”

Petite performed at the L’Oreal Party at Cannes Film Festival this year and recently collaborated with the band Pnau on a new track. “It’s getting more and more and more busy, but I love it. I’m living my fantasy.” Currently Petite is teeming with excitement for her debut album release. “I’m going to call it Milk Bath. You know why? It’s a bath of milk… Because I deal with psychoanalysis, and the first meal a baby has in life is milk. That’s what needs and desires are about – it starts with the milk.”

Petite wears a pink coat dress from Painted Black Vintage with a red asymmetric hat by Amy Collette and heels by Christian Louboutin.
Petite wears a pink coat dress from Painted Black Vintage with a red asymmetric hat by Amy Collette and heels by Christian Louboutin.

Interview by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine #GirlPower Issue
Photography by Julia Fullerton-Batten 
Stylist: Pip Hamilton

Make-up by Celia Burton
Hair by Bianca Tuovi
Photographed at Courthouse Hotel, London

This article originally appeared in The #GirlPower Issue of The Untitled Magazine (2015), pick up a print edition of the issue today!

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