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The alphabet according to Woodkid

As a director, Yoanne Lemoine is known for creating visceral, ultra-stylish fantasy worlds for the likes of Katy Perry, Rihanna and Lana Del Rey. The Frenchman’s dramatic, HD-mythologies have brought budget and narrative back into music video cosmos, which had become a veritable financial desert amidst the music industry’s nosedive and the rise of DIY directing. Since 2010, Lemoine has also been releasing pathos-laden baroque pop under the name Woodkid. ‘Iron’, the single off of his eponymous debut EP, recently served as the inspiration for Dior Homme’s Fall-Winter 2013 collection ‘A Soldier On My Own‘. It’s a logical progression for an artist whose sound is as aestheticized as the images he creates. Woodkid’s debut LP, The Golden Age, is due out later this year.

A as in Advertising
Both my parents worked in advertising, so i grew up playing with Photoshop and hanging around their agencies. Of course, it’s continued to be a part of my life with directing commercials, like the new international Lipton campaign for green tea & white tea. I win awards for this stuff. I don’t feel the need to be especially critical of it.

B as in as in Bonjour tristesse
Françoise Sagan’s first novel . . . I like sadness. The best music is sad, and I would say there’s a strong sense of melancholy and nostalgia in what I do.

C as in as in Clubbing in Paris
I don’t go clubbing often in Paris. Not because I don’t like it, but because I usually don’t have time. However, when I get the chance, I usually go to David Lynch’s club, Silencio.

D as in Director’s Cut
They’re always better.

E as in Eiffel Tower
It was amazing: my first show in Paris and it was on the top of it! Well, first floor, actually. The show was supposed to be streamed live on Vice’s new Noisey platform, but an incredibly rare solar flare took place at the same time and put the satellite out of commission a while, so the show only got broadcast the day after.

F as in Firearms
People think after seeing the video for ‘Iron’ that i’m really into war, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m inspired visually and sonically by soldiers and war and weapons, but I’m not “pro” any of these things. Just because you talk about something doesn’t mean you necessarily endorse it.

G ??????as in The Golden Age
The name of my first album. It refers to the period in childhood when you’re still innocent. The album opens with the end of the Golden Age, the moment when you grow up and have to face society and responsibilities.

H as in Hardcore
I don’t know much about hardcore, but my sound engineer listens to lots of it. That means I often end up with
a really loud and aggressive live sound, which is cool. Believe it or not, there are a lot of metalheads who listen to my music as well.
I as in Iron
‘Iron’ is the single off my first EP. Thematically, it’s like a final sense of destruction that comes after you’ve been building up your character towards adulthood. It’s about when you end up walking by yourself. It’s the journey make where memories become vague and you start developing your own personality.

J as in John Galliano
It’s a sad story, but I guess that’s part of the deal when you’re famous. I don’t know if he meant what he said— I hope not. My friends from the band The Shoes have their drummers ironically calling themselves ‘Das Galliano’ ever since.

K as in Kitsch
Sometimes having bad taste is actually a sign of good taste.

L as in Lana Del Rey
Lana is one of the best singers I’ve ever met, her voice is amazing. I directed ‘Born to Die’ from her new album and most recently ‘Blue Jeans’. She’s really shy and delicate, almost fragile. And that’s something I tried to bring out when directing.

M as in Mythology
My favorite myth is of Icarus, although I also love myths about vanity—like Echo and Narcissus. I love adventure and anything about humans dying because of their own greed and vices. The world I create around Woodkid is a kind of modern mythology, I would say. I try to design new codes, from architecture to religion, and clothing to rituals.

N as in New Jersey
Only when I have to land in Newark.

O as in Occupy movement
I love the idea. You’re always stronger together, and what’s more disturbing than a silent revolution?

P as in Prayer
I’m not religious, not in a dogmatic way I mean. I was raised in a Catholic institution and had to pray every night. But this was bullshit. I’m very spiritual and I pray in my own way, because I do believe in something bigger. I just don’t like to think that this very intimate and crucial metaphysical question—the meaning of life—has to be answered the same way for every human on this planet.

Q as in Quo vadis, music video?
After years and years of having big everything in the nineties—lighting, images, props, costumes, sets, stunts—videos in the noughties became very lo-fi and very conceptual thanks to the Internet and people doing their own thing. The result was a generation of videos where the images were shit, but the concepts were good. Visually it wasn’t stuff you would remember. My videos were always about craft and technical quality, and thankfully, budgets are coming back. Thanks to digital sales, that is. And even if we might hate them, people like Gaga have helped bring back the impact of the video, and production value.

R as in Rock and Roll
There’s nothing rock and roll about what I do. There are no guitars and I’m pretty static onstage. It’s almost like a funeral. It’s not like I don’t like rock and roll, but I’m not much of a showman or a hardcore musician. What I do is more intimate. Also, I don’t take drugs or drink.

S as in Self-fulfilling prophecy
It’s maybe a little scary, but I truly believe that you can decide, thanks to things you believe in, good or bad, how your life will turn out. It would mean that if I am convinced I’m sick, my brain could eventually create the illness I didn’t have. The power of thought should not be underestimated.

T as in Tattoos
I have two tattoos, one on each arm. They’re keys which, when put together, represent my family. I love people with tattoos.

U as in Utopia
It’s good to want to reach things that aren’t attainable. I have managed to accomplish a lot just by believing it was possible.

V as in Video Game Scores
Well, I do play video games, my favorite ones are the Final Fantasy series. I absolutely love Nobuo Uematsu’s work there.

W as in Win-win situation
That’s the best part of being a director as well as a singer: each field informs the other and helps me meet new, amazing artists that help me grow creatively.

X as in Xenophilia
I love having sex with aliens. I often find partners that really make me feel this way.

Y as in YouTube
I watch it more than TV, for sure.

Z as in Zombie Boy
He’s great, and he’s actually really handsome. I met him once at a Mugler afterparty. I feel a little bit sad for him, because he’s been used so much for the Mugler and Gaga campaigns by Nicola Formichetti. Is it temporary? He’s not going to be a top model that somebody wants for a long time. I mean it when I say I think he’s really amazing, but I think he’s like a trend. I just hope he has the time and patience to get through it all. ~

Photo: Trago/Getty Images

Published July 17, 2012.