My French Playlist: Barbagallo

5 min read

My French Playlist: Barbagallo

Drummer for Tame Impala, member of the great Aquaserge and author under his own name of one of the shiniest pop records in recent times, Grand chien, Julien Barbagallo is a brilliant songwriter, capable of painting the good old chanson française with brand new colors: here’s a commented playlist of his French roots and influences.

Serge Gainsbourg – ‘Variations sur Marilou’

He’s a reference for everyone who sings in French. For more than three decades, he was the one who broke all the rules of writing chanson française. I love his adventurous side, sometimes so close to opportunism. He was very clever. His career spanned from the 1950s to the 1990s and embraced all genres, such as jazz, reggae, pop, rock, funk… Amongst his many projects, he also wrote beautiful albums for his girlfriend, Jane Birkin. His discography is an endless source of wonder.

Boris Vian – ‘Le Déserteur’

He’s one of the most popular figures of the St-Germain-des-Près district, the core of Parisian intellectualism in the 1940s and 1950s. I admire his eclecticism – he was a novelist, jazz trumpeter, composer, poet, singer… a true free spirit. His songs could be very politically engaged, anti-militaristic and anti-consumerism.

Mathieu Boogaerts – ‘L’impact de nos ex’

I have religiously followed his carrier for the past 20 years. He has a way of using the French language that is unique. His music is a mix of diverse influences, such as African or Caribbean grooves. He has a very subtle way of developing deep themes beneath an assumed naiveté.

Bertrand Belin – ‘Aller sans but’

He sets an example for me with the way he uses words. His style is very economic, very precise. I’m inspired by the way he controls the evocative power of words. There’s a real literary force in his lyrics, and the timbre of his voice actually matches them perfectly. He also writes novels that I find very good.

Bertrand Burgalat – ‘Ma rencontre’

He’s the classiest composer/arranger/producer in the country! A real gentleman who loves music, a goldsmith, in fact. He put out a few albums and movie soundtracks under his own name, and he also wrote and produced music for other artists, such as April March, for example. I was lucky to be his touring drummer for a while, as well as on his album Toute Directions.

Katerine – ‘Jésus Christ mon amour’

His career is really interesting. He started with a very niche type of jazzy music and ended up becoming a mainstream hit with an electro rock album. The one constant in his work is his beautiful, poetical and non-sensical style of writing. I really enjoy both aspects of his career. He’s also an actor and a director. A very inspiring character.

Léo Ferré – ‘A mon enterrement’

The greatest poet in French music, in my point of view, or at least the most exuberant one. He turned the French language into a wild torrent, beautiful and revolutionary. He inspires you to push further and harder, get out in the streets and build barricades.

Gérard Manset – ‘La mer n’a pas cessé de descendre’

I see him as the introverted brother of Ferré. He has the same literary audacity, but with a more mysterious aura. The lyrics are written in the manner of absolute freedom; he paints a dream-like world, always with a tinge of madness. His music takes us to the unknown corners of our subconscious.

Richard Gotainer – ‘Tout foufou’

I think he’s the one who succeeded the best in mixing poetry and humour in lyrics. The music has very catchy melodies and arrangements, written together with his sidekick Claude Engel (ex-Magma). His voice is one of the most recognisable ones in French music. He also wrote the most iconic commercial jingles during the 1980s, all classics! You can still hear people today sing 10-second songs about cheese or insect repellent, written by him 30 years ago.


Barbagallo on tour : 25/3 La Rochelle, 8/4 Six-Fours, 12/4 Clermont-Ferrand, 20/4 Bourges (Printemps de Bourges), 23/4 Saint-Ouen, 15/5 Bruxelles (Nuits Botaniques) , 18/5 Liège, 3/6 Lourmarin (Festival Yeah!), 5/6 Lyon (Les Nuits de Fourvières), 24/6 Bourg-sur-Gironde (Festival Vie Sauvage), 13/7 La Rochelle (Francofolies)