INTERVIEW: L’Imperatrice Turn Up Their Live Performances, Focuses on Dance Elements

When L’Imperatrice was booked to perform at Coachella in 2020, the Parisian outfit only had their debut album and a few EPs to their name. The new wave disco sextet had garnered critical attention and a growing international fanbase off their debut LP, ‘Matahari’ and toured extensively after its release in 2018 and 2019. After the lineup for Coachella was announced and subsequently put on hold due to the pandemic, L’Imperatrice kept busy and released their sophomore album, ‘Tako Tsubo’ in 2021. The material saw the band expanding their sonic palette with songs in English and subject matter that tackled societal issues with tongue-in-cheek humor against the fun and playful tunes.

Before their first of two performances at Coachella, B-Sides spoke with L’Imperatrice about their initial reaction to finding out they’d be playing the iconic festival. The group’s founder and keyboardist Charles de Boisseguin shared that the band had been in New York to perform for the first time four years ago- “It was a really small show in a venue called Berlin and we sold some tickets but it was like maybe the capacity was like 150 people. Tickets sold in like 15 minutes so we had another show and we sold that in like in 15 minutes too.” Soon enough, the band was playing bigger venues not only in the US but internationally and eventually got the call to play Coachella in 2020.

During the two year hiatus due to the pandemic, the band was separated during the recording process of ‘Tako Tsubo’. They built a new studio to facilitate new sounds and prepare for a new live set, L’Imperatrice had laid down the music for vocalist and songwriter Flore Benguigui to add in the lyrics. Topical subject matter such as sexism and an ode to feminity in “Peur des Filles” was something that singer/songwriter Flore Benguigui wanted to express. “I was more into writing about emotions more than I would say political subject because feminism is not necessarily political. I’m in a band with a bunch of boys and so it wouldn’t be fair because i have to speak for the whole band so i can’t talk only about this kind of stuff.” The band was keen on the supporting Benguigui and acknowledged the appropriateness of the song.

With other songs, the band noted that singing in English was something they found fit better for certain songs, versus their native French. Benguigui noted how the song “Voodoo” was one example where the melodies and lyrics just fit perfectly, stating “it (French) was the very first melody
because we were i remember we were saying that it would be a bit too much if the lyrics were in English because the instrumentation is very groovy. So we we tried that first and the melody was in French, but in the end we switched to English and it seemed so much better and it was fitting way more on the song.”

For the live interpretation of the new music and enhancements to their older songs, L’Imperatrice is excited to perform them for their American fans and took the time to rearrange certain songs and to convey a danceable set. Bassist David Gaugué acknowledged this stating, “we try to do totally different things during the live shows. basically we keep like the lyrics and the harmonies but all the other parts can move and can change, it’s just about like how the audience will react.” It’s this variation makes L’Imperatrice an exciting and fun band to watch live while simultaneously appreciating the recorded material.

After their North American dates, L’imperatrice will head out to Europe for headlining shows and festival dates.

L'Impératrice — Peur des filles