is the latest offshoot of the French chanson new wave that sprung up in the mid-2000s. The singer’s dreamlike universe, characterised by her gravelly voice, combines folk with humour in a clear display of her Anglo-French double culture.
Emily Loizeau was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine just west of Paris on 7 February 1975. Her father worked as a newspaper copy-editor and her English mother was a homemaker. She grew up in a French and British environment and an artistic, cultural atmosphere. Emily Loizeau is the granddaughter of British actress Peggy Ashcroft and younger sister to the journalist Manon Loizeau.
From a tender age, she started to learn piano, and spent hours interpreting compositions by Bach, Schuman and Schubert. Along with her teenage dreams of acting and horse riding, it was chamber music that seemed to be her destiny. The death of her father inspired her to composer her first song, in which she matched her music to a poem he had written as a young man.
Her influences from the English-speaking world are Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, with French inspiration from Georges Brassens, Barbara and Jeanne Moreau.
La folie en tête
During her university years studying philosophy, a new chapter unfolded for the young Emily Loiseau. She set off for London to learn acting and on her return to France took up a position as assistant director. She was already performing in cabarets and used the time between shows to test out her first compositions. In 2003, she won the La Poste Foundation prize, which gave her the means to self-produce her first 6-title disc, "La folie en tête".
The critics started to notice her the following year at the La Rochelle Francofolies festival. In 2005, she took part in FAIR and won the SACEM award at the Chorus des Hauts-de-Seine Festival.
Emily Loizeau was the first French singer to sign up with the folk label, Fargo.
2006: "L’autre bout du monde"
Her first album, “L’autre bout du monde”, marked her entry into the new wave of French chanson at a time when the singers Camille, Jeanne Cherhal, Anaïs, Pauline Croze, etc., were on a roll. The disc, which makes a bridge between humorous song and folk, was recorded with the help of Franck Monnet, and features a duet with him and another with American songwriter Andrew Bird. It was released on 27 February 2006 and became a golden disc the following year.
After an artists’ residence in March 2006 at La Comedia in Paris, Emily Loizeau embarked on a tour that included some of the major Francophone festivals. She was nominated for the Prix Constantin for the first time in 2006, and in April the next year participated in a concert on the work of Neil Young at Printemps de Bourges.
2009: "Pays sauvage"
2008 saw her first nomination at the Victoires de la Musique and a winding-down period. The singer appeared several times playing with the group Dionysos – she was Dr Madeleine in the show "La Mécanique du Cœur"- but off stage, she mainly focused on putting a second album together. The original soundtrack of the film "King Guillaume", which she also composed, went on sale in early 2009.
"Pays sauvage" came out on 2 February 2009 on Polydor, her new record label. The album, which was thought up as a response to “L’autre bout du monde”, included significant contributions from David-Ivar Herman Düne and the group Moriarty, and guest appearances from Danyel Waro and Thomas Fersen. Loizeau’s gravelly vocals were more rugged than ever. A more polished production than its predecessor, “Pays sauvage” was recorded by the fireside in the singer’s new hideout in the Ardèche, and on Réunion Island. It received mixed reviews from public and press alike.
Emily Loizeau was awarded the Prix Constantin on 9 November 2009 at the Olympia in Paris.
Alongside her tours, she made one-off appearances (like a tribute to Boris Vian, or the original soundtrack of the Gainsbourg film, “Vie héroïque”) and participated in numerous creations: “Les Françoises” at the 2010 Printemps de Bourges, a tribute to Brassens at the Cité de la Musique in Paris in March 2011 and, from January to June 2011, a “carte blanche” at the Louvre Museum’s auditorium featuring projections and concerts. For the 2012 Printemps de Bourges, Emily Loizeau was also in the line-up of “A Walk for Lhasa”, a tribute to the Canadian singer Lhasa.
2012: "Mothers and Tygers"
After preview presentations on 14 June at the Parisian venue Studio 28, and the 2012 Francofolies de La Rochelle, “Mothers and Tygers”, Loizeau’s third album, was published on line and available in the record shops on 10 September 2012. Along with further collaboration with David-Ivar Herman Düne, the singer Camille joined her for a duet on a much more personal album that touches on themes like maternity, William Blake’s poetry and the stories her grandmother used to read, along with more difficult subjects like the murderous war in Syria. With its heavy accent on folk and Anglo-Saxon culture, “Mothers and Tygers” is an introspective album with a gentle atmosphere.