Post Provocation – Interview with Femme En Fourrure

During every trend there’s an artist or group that will approach their craft slightly differently within the zeitgeist of said era. One such artist to have popped up in my periphery constantly in the last year is Femme En Fourrure. The Finish duo has been around since 2008, and their debut album, 36-26-36 was released last year through Convex. It is a stunning work of tech elements slowed down and drawn out to fit in with the bass influenced undercurrent, but never quite conforming to it altogether. Female vocals solicit their listener concurrently throughout their work and their new EP, The Beach takes this further into a melodic format. Their work is tied with a visual element that looks to be further exploited in their latest affiliation with Cocoa music. These elements make it hard not to get caught up in the immediacy of Femme en Fourrure. But, as always I soon find that there is much more to this group than what their first impressions would suggest.

Can you give us a short introduction?

Hey, we’re Sandra & Juuso and occasionally also Pekka, who’s our guitarist during live shows and sometimes in the studio. In the audio post-production, we’re also Tommi Langen, who has kindly mixed down, and at times mastered, all our tracks since 2008. I think he’s a big part of how our sound has evolved during the years. You could also say that we’re Miikka Lommi and Cocoa, because they’ve made the videos for us, which have also shaped our image. But in theory we’re just Sandra & Juuso.

Your name, Femme en Fourrure (woman in fur), strikes a provocative image and I believe your music perfectly reflects that too. Would you agree?

The name still provokes people, yes, which I find amusing in a way. These people don’t even try to look further into what it’s all about before sending all these insults and threats, for example. Some songs from 2008 were musically a bit more conceptual, naive, maybe even more annoying than now, but I guess our concept and expression has matured along the way and it’s constantly evolving. During the time that the project first started, I personally just wanted to contribute to the so-called “tech house” scene, because I sensed something fresh at then, but I felt that the majority of it lacked content or story. Or any kind of image at all, the songs were just tools. After we achieved that, at least in our own heads, the project has gone its way into exploring more, taking influences from the music of our childhood for example, and it’s definitely not only for dance floors.

It is quite difficult to look past that initial provocation with titles like Palms Glide up Thighs and especially your debuts title, 36-26-36. Is this practise something that happens naturally in combination with your music or is it an intentional concept thought out in advance?

I don’t want to break any illusion, but to this point it has definitely happened naturally. The name for the debut album came after the music was finished and it described the best combination of the initial anxiety and feeling of the songs.

With that in mind if we were to analyse the video for Pretty Boy from that album, what should we likely experience as an audience.

It is an overdose, repulsive, but sexy? Everyone’s free to have his or her view about it, but maybe it could be about how everything everywhere is so overly sexualised? I also like how some people have said that “the girls in the video don’t know how to twerk” or “they’re fat”.

It appears to be grounded in a feminist rather than an exploitive attitude. 

For sure, it is and always has been about the sex equality and I’m happy about that. I feel that we have succeeded when people can see past the so-called provocative front.

Lets get back to the music. According to the press release for your latest EP, The Beach, you’ve recently undergone a slight line-up change.

Yes. In the early days it was just I (Juuso). Like I said, there was the need to contribute to a genre, but with a content and a story. The initial intention was to create an imaginary character, the “woman in fur”, but to me it didn’t really work that well after all. I asked a friend, Bianca, to work on a couple tracks and those tracks happened to get signed for record labels. And then suddenly we had music videos and promo pictures, without that much of a discussion about it, or planning as to where we would like to go with it, or what we’d like to achieve. Of course I am, and I was, content with it all, but it all just started way too soon. I think the “36-26-36” album was the culmination of where we could get together as a musical duo with that way of expression. But I didn’t want to start all over again as I felt that I still had a lot of things to say through this guise, even though the other half of the group was done with it. Eventually I met Sandra who was really interested about the project and taking it to the next logical level.

Has this affected the Femme En Fourrure sound at all in your opinion?

Yes, it has affected a lot. But it was a needed change after all these years. For example the vocals aren’t only spoken word anymore, not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of way of expressing, but we did suck all the juices out of it during the debut album. Also Sandra isn’t only a vocalist, she’s written all the songs with me as well and on some tracks my part has been only the arranging process. Also Pekka’s role during the live shows has been really important and it has been a bit more interesting this way.

My personal experience of your new EP is concurrent with your logical progression from the album. You’ve chosen however to release this on Cocoa Music, a publisher whose focus falls on music with emphasis on visual content. What was the reason for your move from Convex?

That is really great to hear, not everyone seems to see it like that. I think it’s the most logical next step; I wouldn’t like to replicate our previous work to death. The people that I most look up to have always evolved and found a way to still sound like themselves. We don’t really have a home; we work with people who want to work with us when the time is right. It’s a long process, year or years after the actual music has been made to the point where it’s in the record stores. I would like to definitely work with Convex again and we will, but for this project Cocoa felt like the best option as they also made the video.

You’re playing at Eurosonic this week in Groningen. Does your Cocoa affiliation mean that there will be more focus on the Visual aspect of your performance?

No, but that’s a great idea. They’re probably more like babysitting us.

What’s next for Femme En Fourrure?

We have started to work on the second album, but it’s still a secret where and when, even to us.

* They will be playing at Eurosonic this Wednesday and Thursday. The audience can expect “the combination of (their) debut album and new EP, mixed with icy synths, space delays and distant ambient-y guitars from Seattle” according to Juuso.