Growing up in Brittany, Julie Budet was immersed in ghoulish local customs that helped shape her adulthood, such as dolmen – stone houses for the departed – and the Ankou, a folk figure whose creaking cart wheels signaled l’morte.
“It’s also a tradition to have dead relatives lie in state at home, so when I was a little girl, I saw my grandparents, dead on their bed, with nice expressions on their faces. For me, it was a good moment, because they were at peace. So I’m not afraid of death, and I really like to talk about it,” says the electro-pop French singer, who – under the sobriquet Yelle – has included mortality-themed tracks on her three albums.
On 2011’s “Safari Disco Club,” Yelle and co-conspirators in her band of the same name, GrandMarnier (Jean-Francois Perrier) and Tepr (Tanguy Destable), featured a dirge imagining a day when the sun disappears, taking humanity with it. Her latest, “Completement Fou” – which she’ll introduce in The City this week – features “Dire Qu’on Va Tous Mourir,” which translates to “Say that we all will die.”
“It’s good to admit that yes, there is an end, and it’s OK,” she says. “But the most important thing is how you’re going to live your life – I always keep that in mind.”
Budet has blazed her own trail, singing almost exclusively in French and building a U.S. audience via her bubbly-but-intellectual dance music. For example, “Florence En Italie” on “Fou” is a treatise on the Stendhal syndrome (a psychosomatic disorder that can cause fainting) against the backdrop of one of her favorite cities, Florence.
“I think Americans are curious about French culture and French bands, and they’re totally ready,” she says. “And the Internet really helps. It’s simple to have a translation now online.”
Budet was delighted to learn that several U.S. professors are employing Yelle records to teach French. But she’s finding fans everywhere.
At a meeting two years ago with video-game developer Ubisoft, while discussing scoring a dance game, an executive told her that Dr. Luke wanted to meet her group. Her deadpan Gallic response? “Who is Dr. Luke? We don’t know that guy,” she said at the time, not kidding.
Katy Perry’s legendary producer went on to oversee “Fou” and issue it on his own Kemosabe Records.
IF YOU GO
Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 30
Tickets: $25 to $27
Contact: (415) 673-5716, www.axs.com