Music & Entertainment  An interview with Vianney
20/10/201700:00 TV5MONDE
One of the biggest and brightest star in the Francophone music scene, Vianney took home the award for performing artist of the year in 2016’s Victoires de la musique 2016, amassed massive record sales, and is increasingly sharing his music with fans worldwide. He was in Hong Kong during the last weekend of September for the last leg of his Asia tour. Alliance Française Hong Kong and MUSIHK connected TV5MONDE Asie Pacifique with the young singer, and we spoke to Vianney about his work, inspirations, goals and more. Here’s an excerpt to our interview.

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Vianney, you’re a singer-songwriter. What are your sources of inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from daily life. This can happen at any given moment: a trip, an encounter, a human or artistic experience - there are no limits. Sometimes it’s these moments in life, sometimes it’s a word, a phrase, a little musical tune. When an idea comes to mind, I write.

So were you inspired to compose while on tour?
Yes, definitely. I can’t really wait till I get home to write, you know, since I’m never home (laughter). For sure, I was constantly jotting things down.

If you were not a singer, what would you have done?
I would have become a fashion designer. If I didn’t sing, perhaps I would have opened a small boutique for ladies’ fashion which I’d design myself.

Your songs often contained references to Disney. We have Dumbo, of course, but there’s also “Beauty and the Beast” in Je m’en vais, one of your biggest hits. Could you tell us more about that?
It’s subconscious, really. I’ve watched a lot of Disney films when I was a kid. Perhaps sometimes it just resurfaces, but I certainly did not do this on purpose. That’s really a part of my cultural lexicon if you may.

Can you summarize for us how things have been like on your Asian tour? You were on 10 shows in a month, with 7 in Asia. It's a very intensive schedule, no?
We’ve had much busier tours, actually. This summer, there’s a month where we did 17 concerts in a month. This one is less intensive but I felt a huge energy, one which is very different and offers daily discovery and insight into cultures which I’ve never known until now.
 
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Vianney performed in Hong Kong's MOM Livehouse ©
Sophie Rouillon

Did you experience any culture shock since being here in Asia?
Most definitely! This happened to me in each city, in fact, I can’t just speak of Asia like that as it’s really a conglomerate of different cultures and customs. There are too many different identities to be grouped as one. Very briefly I’d say I’d come across a few of these. The one which has left a more lasting imprint on me - only because I stayed there the longest time - is most definitely Japan. There, it’s really as if you’re on a different planet. Human interaction and the social fabric in general are just so very different. Notably I saw how respect towards others was a big part of Japanese culture, one which translates to a politeness so great it’s almost larger than life. Modesty and kindness is easily seen.

You’ve travelled extensively for your Asia tour. Have you had days where you’d wake up in the morning not having a clue where you are?
This happened to me while I was in France. This was because in France, I was changing cities all the day. I did not experience this in Asia and I constantly wake up before the alarm clock goes off. There’s a sense of excitement for me as I am in a new country. So, the short answer is no. In Asia, I’d say I'm much more alert to my surroundings, the land on which I walk, on a daily basis.


Vianney in Hong Kong © Sophie Rouillon
  
Is there a difference between this Asian tour and the one in France, or in Europe? We’re talking about the way concerts are organized, the set for your show, general ambience, etc.
The biggest difference is in the concert itself. In Asia, we do two smaller concert where in France we do massive shows. Here, there were only two shows where the French outnumbered the locals within the audience. It strikes you when you realize that you’re playing in front of an audience who might not necessarily understand what you are saying. This changes the way we do our shows. I’ve had to really work to adapt myself to the audience and to the local languages. The biggest difference however is the technique to how things are done. In terms of the set, sometimes a French spectator may request a song and I am obliged to hit it right away.

What about the concert locations? Are you asked by the audience to sing something specific, or is it usually the French who’d ask?
I remember this one Taiwanese girl who asked me to play a song with the cutest of accents. She said she wanted to hear “les filles aujourd’hui”, which isn’t the correct song title but close enough. It was definitely a surprise. I feel very lucky when I see the local audience is interested in my repertoire.

How do you adapt your show - and yourself - to your audience, which changes for each show?
I always ask, in English, if anyone in the audience does not understand French and I do this at the beginning of every concert. Even if only one person raises their hand, I’ll do all my “talks” in English. In Singapore, everyone spoke French, so I did it all in French. As you know, interacting with an audience can be quite different when you speak in French or in English.

Vianney in Hong Kong © Sophie Rouillon

You've mentioned that a large number of your audience are non-French. We're curious to know if you might have dedicated time specifically in reaching out and promoting your work to Asia? To give you an example, whenever TV5MONDE Asie Pacifique promotes a show or program (in English) which features you, reactions usually come from a non-French audience, and overwhelmingly so.
Is that so? Well, you've mentioned that those promotional messages are in English, so that explains a lot. Frankly though, no, I've never really been to Asia before and for us this has been a surprise for sure. I've been very lucky where I've had local audiences interested in my repertoire without ever having stepped foot in the country.


Vianney in Hong Kong © Sophie Rouillon
 
Hong Kong is your final destination in your Asia tour and your new shows will take place in November in France. Where will you be touring in France? What are you going to do for the month of October?
I’ll be home in France in the beginning of October. I’ll try to stay in the same place for a month because it’s been months where I change locations once every 2 days. I'll love to stay put within a 2 km radius (laughter). In October, I’ll be writing and recording songs.

Are there any Asian or international musicians who you’ll like to collaborate with?
Off the top of my head, it’ll be Sakura Fujiwara, a Japanese singer who I’ve come to know. We’ve exchanged a few messages and I would love to work with her in the future. We’ve sung together once at the French Embassy in Tokyo.
 
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Vianney in Hong Kong  © TV5MONDE Asie Pacifique

 
You were in a free, open-air concert in Seoul, Korea. Could you tell us more about your experience?
That was an amazing experience, really. I really didn't have any idea what we could expect. When we arrived in the afternoon for sound check, nothing was ready. Everything was very messy. When I was about to play, they told me that the audience was supposed to be 50 meters away from the stage, but when I look out everyone was seated. When I went on stage though, the audience was very attentive, listening to what I was playing and speaking. I felt very blessed when I was on stage and started building a connection. At the end of the concert, the mayor of Seoul came on stage and started dancing with me. She was super funny and she went on the mic saying "encore! another song!" So I was like "OK, if you want me to"!

So great to hear that! From what we know, French music just isn't quite mainstream yet in South Korea. It's a rare occasion for a French artist to perform there.
Yes, I could tell that they weren't quite used to this, but it was clear that the audience was very open-minded and I really appreciated that.

We're sure you've seen K-pop in action then. What did you think of it?
Oh, I filmed it! (Laughter) A 4-member boy band came on stage after I performed. It's such a specific form of entertainment. Their stage appearance, choreograph, everything - it was very good and interesting to see. I felt a need to film as it was just so very different. You can tell each act has been preparing it for a very long time. The tempo they use is very quick and dynamic.
 
At the end of the interview, Vianney offered a message to our viewers across the Asia Pacific region. All the best, Vianney!
 
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