Photo credit: Sterling Andrews.
Chanteuse Jessica Fichot, is not your average French Chanson style performer. With her 2007 debut album, Le Chemin, Fichot is set to sate her fans with some expected and swoony chansons, like “Si,” and rouse them with her upbeat gypsy jazz numbers, such as “Je Sais Que Tu M’aimes.”
Based in Los Angeles, and back from a brief West Coast tour, I caught up with Ms. Fichot and a couple of her musicians, Dave Wilson (clarinet, sax, flute) and Brandon Turner (bass) at the Downbeat Cafe in Echo Park, a day before one
of their rehearsals, in preparation of their upcoming performance at Pasadena’s Make Music Pasadena, which is inspired by France’s Fete de la Musique.
“It’s not exactly a democracy right now,” Fichot half-jokingly admits. “But I take input from all my musicians, because they know
their own instruments best.” In fact, the loose collaboration produced
some positive arrangements and it’s evident in the new album. New listeners
would might also be surprised that Fichot has the ability to convincingly cover an
international and eclectic mix of Portuguese, Russian and Spanish songs seemingly without
“I don’t actually speak Portuguese, Russian or Mandarin, but I do try to mimic the accents as best I can.” She writes her own songs. At times, Fichot’s vocals seem to channel Edith Piaf, Tori Amos and French First Lady Carla Bruni.
Photo credit: Andy Sheng
Like ingredients in fine French cuisine, Fichot’s vocal stylings can be
described as liquid butter: smooth throughout and rich in
melodies, poetry and emotion. Her performances are polished and lively. Through her music, the audience is often transported to the far reaches of Europe. After attending a couple of Fichot’s past performances in 2007, I can attest that this lady is going places.
While on tour, Jessica travels with her accordion, merchandise and her jeans. “I wear jeans practically every day when I travel; however, I do have stage clothes like dresses that I pack.” Bandmate Turner says of Fichot’s dress style, “The music is so organic, and I think the way she dresses on stage really reflects and complements that.” In terms of fashion, Fichot plays down her fashion sense. “I don’t pay much attention to labels, and I tend to shop at local, interesting boutiques, rather than at malls.”
In reference to life on the road, Fichot tends to rough it. “For any
artist who is not a big star, it’s very hard to tour in the traditional
sense, like rent a bus.” Jessica has had to get creative sometimes and
catch rides with local musicians that might be playing at the same
venue. “We stay at our friends houses a lot wherever we go.” With
Jessica’s talent, she won’t need to crash on too many couches for much
Catch Jessica Fichot live this Saturday, June 21 (2 p.m.) at Make Music Pasadena. Early arrival is highly recommended.
More information on Jessica Fichot and upcoming performances can be found online at MySpace or JessicaSongs.
L to R: Turner in Gap jeans; Fichot in France’s tres chic Morgan jeans with embellished back flap pockets; and Wilson in Imperial Denim’s Duke Raw Japanese Selvedge, from Self Edge in San Francisco.
– Kathy Ng Hassan