Coeur de Pirate: 'when I grow up I will be like Mathieu Chedid!'

Article published on Nov. 19, 2009
Article published on Nov. 19, 2009
Beatrice Martin, 19, was discovered on Myspace in Quebec and is attempting to conquer France. We meet at Cébazat in the Puy-de-Dome region for the opening of the Sémaphore en Chanson festival

Why the name 'Coeur de Pirate' ('pirate's heart')?

It's not really original! It's mostly because it represents both the romantic and the vengeful side which comes about when you are growing up - in your infancy, as a teenager or even as a young adult. I also find that I can do things now which I wouldn't want to do under the name 'Beatrice Martin'.

How have you coped with the success?

Personally I hadn't really waited around for success, I had begun to write songs in my bedroom. It was like a personal therapy, like turning the page on a teenager I had cared for a lot. This allowed me to really understand and to analyse certain situations. When I wrote songs for this album it was to demonstrate the idealistic images we have for acquaintances and friendship. You believe that when a relationship breaks down you can never go out - you listen to music which you can relate to and stay at home. But that is untrue. I just put these songs on Myspace and a nightclub sought me out. They asked me if I had a demo tape. I said yes, although at the time it wasn't true. I had plenty of songs I had written though and I sent them these. They were like ok, we will take them, and that was it.

You were involved in music at a young age. Did your parents encourage it?

My mother is a pianist and she thought that it was important to show her children (even when they were small) how to play an instrument. She wasn't wrong - it went really well!

At what moment did you say 'I would love to be a singer'?

I never said that to myself. I didn't think that normal people became singers. When it was suggested that I should record a track I said to myself 'perhaps I could sell 500 singles and maybe I could sing in bars or at small gigs in Montreal. That would be cool!' In fact it happened on quite a grand scale.

To kick off a career in Quebec and then restart it in France - isn't that difficult?

Not at all because everything went well in France, just like in Quebec. But not the same way of course! In France it happened very quickly - the track 'Comme Les Enfants' Like Children was a great success whereas it hadn't been in Quebec. It was a real shock for me that my first French song made it's way onto all of the radio stations and the compilation albums. And then I participated on a TV program for the channel Taratata and I was number 1 on the itunes. Being on TV and the radio in France had a huge impact on my record sales. In Quebec my music only really became popular by word of mouth.

Do you still have time to write songs?

I write all the time as I don't ever want to lose this impulse. Of course, I don't want to rush to bring an album out but maybe in eighteen months to two years.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I come up with something 'unfortunate' all the time! So I stay in that frame of mind even though I am lucky - it is difficult to write. However, I try to remember experiences which went badly in the past and this allows me to continue writing songs. At first I wrote two songs - one in English and then Like Children in French. I came up with the eventual melody in the shower. I used to sing something and I'd go 'WOW! Cool! I want to be able to write songs.' I would record the tune quickly on my mobile and then run to the piano and perfect it. After that I wrote the words and voila!

You used to say that there was a lot of friction between the people with French and English backgrounds in Quebec. How do you find yourself in relation to this?

(Image: © It is a sensitive subject for me because I chose to write in French, although I think it is a language which is slowly killing itself. Some people express themselves better in English. That is fine, but if you know French, if you are capable of writing in French then I do not understand why you do not prefer to do it. In Quebec there are a few opportunities when you sing in French and that is good. You also have media support, which is great! Everyone in Quebec knows how to speak French so there is a feeling of belonging. I don't know, it is hard to explain! Personally I wanted to sing in French because it is the language in which I express myself the best. Also, French is one of the most romantic languages that I know. I don't see why I have to stop using the phrases and language that I like.

Music and writing are both important. Is the music scene secondary?

The concerts are very important. I couldn't do without them. At first it was really hard for me because it was really really really hard to do concerts when I didn't know how. It's something I chose to learn slowly but surely and even today I am still unsure. At times I made jokes which weren't funny and sometimes the crowd didn't understand me - even in Quebec. But then it isn't that important. I keep going, I persevere. I say to myself that one day I will be like M - when I am grown up I will be Mathieu Chedid!

Does this turmoil scare you?

Yes! Especially when you find yourself on the cover of Voici magazine. That's very scary! Then you ask questions of yourself and learn about you as a person. When I was at school I was a small girl and when I was growing up I didn't have many friends. Now my picture is in the papers! People recognise me in the streets and come over to talk to me. That scares me but I try to stay grounded and also enjoy it. I'm not another celebrity. When I'm like Patrick Bruel I will be a celebrity but at the moment I am just normal. I play music - it's just a job which is different to most other peoples.

More from the local team in Clermont-Ferrand on their blog Le Puy de Babel