Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Paris People ~ 'Mademoiselle London' ~ Interview

POSTED IN:  ~ PeoplePublicationsInterviews

Mademoiselle London
AKA Katya Jezzard-Puyraud & Franki Goodwin
Creatresses of 'Mademoiselle London Y Paris (sometimes) (quelquefois)'

"Once upon a time there were two Londoners who wound up sitting opposite each other in a Menilmontant café. Despite never having met before they soon realised they both felt as small as earwigs and as fidgety as ferrets as they waited for Paris to notice them."

Thus begins the little book of poems and pictures entitled 'Mademoiselle London Y Paris (quelquefois) (sometimes)' dreamt up by the same two Londoners, and whom I met in, would you believe it, a Menilmontant café a couple of weeks back.

I think it would be fair to say that Paris has now noticed them, thanks to the off-beat adventures of their literary creation, being "The graphic and poetic exploits of a boozy London girl lost in Paris" and it was a pleasure to meet them both. Here's what they had to say for themselves...


Paris If You Please: Does Paris please you?

Mademoiselle London: Paaaareeeees. Yes, it please us beaucoup. Little things.....The word Mademoiselle on our bank cards. Tiny windmills in flower boxes. A massive pig’s head in a butcher’s shop. Curly wooden stairs in apartment buildings. Curly haired sexy men in tabacs. Cheese that smells like someone farted in your fridge. School children greeting each other by kissing on both cheeks. (Instead of stabbing each other like they do in Peckham.) You know....the usual gubbins.

PIYP: How dare you produce a fully-fledged, raved-about, fancy-pants, cutesy-pootsy, proper little poetry-and-pics book-thingy in a matter of months, when other struggling artists take years to make a name for themselves?

ML: Nike’s motto is “Just do it.” Mademoiselle London’s motto is “Just fucking do it and stop hanging around in bars whinging about it.”

PIYP: The poetic slant notwithstanding, your take on relationships and drinking and stuff is sometimes pretty raw. Brits know where you're coming from, I guess, but are the French ready for that level of gritty reality?

ML: They’re ready. They’ve been ready for about six centuries. The French love a bit of sex and booze. They don’t make a big song and dance about it because it’s essential to their way of life. But they seem to have taken us to their hearts because we sing and dance about those things like a mad aunty at a wedding who’s rocking out to Boney M after a bucketful of sherry – we don’t care if we embarrass ourselves, we just hope we entertain you.

PIYP: What are the nicest and nastiest things people have said about your book, and do you care?

ML: We thank our lucky stars every day because the press reaction we’ve got for the book so far has been really positive. But our proudest moment was getting a fan letter from a couple of girls in Strasbourg. They were colleagues, one was French and the other English. They emailed us saying how they had read the book together and laughed together and related to everything in it but in different ways. That made us a bit teary-eyed because it was then that we realised we were touching total strangers miles away who were sort of bonding over our work. We couldn’t ask for anything more than that.

On the flip-side, the only slightly snidey comment we got was a blogger who said the poems were “on the naval-gazing side”. We laughed that one off because some of the world’s most famous poets have been very intimate with their belly button fluff. Funnily enough, that’s one of the reasons we created the Mademoiselle London character – to avoid using those self-obsessed words “I” and “me” in every poem.  Some poems need the intimacy of “I” but for all the naughty stuff we use Mademoiselle London.

PIYP: Why do you only love Paris sometimes (as it says on the cover of your book)?

ML: Have you experienced Parisian customer service?

PIYP: What's the biggest difference between French men and English men?

ML: Hair. They have much more of it here. It must be something in the water.

PIYP: Same as above, for women.

ML: If you say so. I guess they’re pretty hairy too.

Joking aside....everyone talks about the great British reserve but actually French women are far more reserved than us.  Just visit any British high street on a Saturday night where the tits-out-vomiting-in-handbags-shagging-in-toilets brigade is out in full force.

British girls aren’t known for their shy and retiring nature after a few pints. But maybe that’s why the French women like a bit of Mademoiselle London – we can get away with doing all the stuff they would secretly love to do because “It is not zeer fault. Zay are Eeeeengliiish.”

PIYP: How has Mademoiselle London changed things for you?

ML: She gave us a voice. A reason to be in the city. She’s made us belong, made us get out there and meet new people. We are connecting much more with French people, and with the translation of the poems and publicity we are connecting more with the French language every day. And if we’re feeling lazy, she kicks us out of bed in the morning and demands that we are creative.

PIYP: What's in the pipeline - Mademoiselle London 2, or something else?

ML: We’re bringing out some T-shirts designed with phrases from the poems. The T-shirts will be bilingual and reversible so depending on your mood and who you want to communicate with, you can either wear the English on the front or the French translation.

Plus we’re working on the second book in the series – a graphic novel charting one riotous Parisian night with Mademoiselle London.  We’ve had so many incredible nights in Paris that only a graphic novel could accurately contain all those bizarre and outlandish adventures.

PIYP: What's your philosophy on life, if you have one? (another of my standard questions)

ML: The answer to question 2 pretty much covers it. But the other philosophy we subscribe to is celebrating all that you have and not obsessing over what you lack.

PIYP: Macaroons or Marmite?

ML: Marmite. Smells like bum but you can’t beat it on toast with a mug of PG Tips at three in the morning when you’ve had a skinful and “danced your legs down to the knees” (to quote the worshipful master Morrissey)

PIYP: Stilettoes or Doc Martins?

ML: Stilettos when you’re on the pull and Doc Martins when you’re on the run.

PIYP: 7th or 20th?

ML: Most definitely the 20th. Who wouldn’t want Jim Morrison for a neighbour? (Granted, he’s a bit quieter these days) 

PIYP: Naive or cynical?

ML: I could pretend to be naive but that would just be cynical.

PIYP: London or Paris?!

ML: For now it’s Paris, but we need our little heroin-fixes of London every few months or else we get a bit up our own arses. London grounds us and Paris lifts us up.....

PIYP: (And seeing as you mentioned the Most Mozzed One) Morrissey or Madonna?

ML: Morrissey when you're feeling low and Madonna when you're feeling high, although Morrissey's song 'Frankly Mr Shankly' always makes me laugh, especially when he sings "I didn't realise that you wrote poetry/I didn't realise you wrote such bloody awful poetry...".
Note: Thanks a lot to Katya and Franki who took the time out to meet me and who were just amazing to talk to and photograph.
© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!


Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

What a totally fun interview! Completely captures the wonderful and generous spirit of these two creative ladies, whom I have come to admire very much for their "can do" attitude (love how they put it here, "Nike’s motto is “Just do it.” Mademoiselle London’s motto is “Just fucking do it and stop hanging around in bars whinging about it.”" LMAO!! I'm going to use that as inspiration!).

Lisa G said...

Such a funny interview - I went to primary school with Katya - she is as nuts now as she was back then. Well done to the both of you - go show those Parisians what it's all about!

Adam said...

Good interview Sab and very nice photos. I admire you because you somehow manage to successfully run even more blogs and sites than me!

Sab said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone!
I'm a big fan, in principle at least, of a just-do-it attitude.
Lisa G, I'm sure you're right :-D
Adam, thanks for the comment, especially on the photos. People often don't realise just what goes into making them! Cheers one and all.

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