Where does your name come from ?
The name comes from the seventies. At that time we lived in the Parisian
suburbs. We were very young, about 16...We used to go to the café close to
our secondary school to play pinball and drink water with grenadine ! A man
used to sing here and he also sang with soul bands. When we first heard him
sing we were astounded by his great voice, which was an absolute gem ("un
Bijou") So the name of our band comes from that ! With my friend Vincent
Palmer, who was a guitarist, we played the blues, so little by little we
became friends with this man. We worked together dozen of hours, on the sly,
there was an osmosis...
Can you sum up Bijou's history ?
Yes...We created the band in 73. Our songs were written in French and we
rehearsed in a cellar for one year and a half. In 75 we got the chance to
sign with Philips' records, so everything followed on from there, our first
album which was a success, the second, third, and the fourth, a string of
successes...In the years 80-81, we were still lucky because we met Serge
Gainsbourg and we often played with him on stage in Lyon, and in Paris. Then
we issued other albums till 84, and after this year everything collapsed
...Bijou's story ends.
When are you going to publish a book about Bijou ?
I thought our friend, Jean-William Thoury, who was also our lyric writer
and manager would do it. Better than one of us. Unfortunately he didn't. It's
one of my main regrets...But maybe one day...It is never too late..
What is Vincent Palmer up to these days ?
This is the question a lot of people ask me when we are on tour. Where is
Vincent Palmer ? I tell them that he is still alive ! He has been working for
Rock & Folk since 1989.
Can you introduce BIJOU svp in 3 words ?
Yes. A great drummer, I call him the metronome, it's the main thing for
Bijou svp, no need to do complicated things but having a "hell beat" is
essential ! A great guitarist who has charisma and a bass player, moulded in
the same way, a metronome too. It seems very simple but sometimes simplicity
is complicated !
I read that you took part in a film, in 1987, called "Tant qu'il y
aura des femmes" directed by Didier Kaminka. Would you like to be in films
Yes, but I am going to contradict you because we didn't play in this
AM : You didn't participate in this film ? However the band Bijou is
mentioned...but I didn't see the film, so...
PHIL : Maybe it's a documentary ?
AM : I don't think so..
PHIL : The title of the movie "Tant qu'il y aura des femmes" suits us
well, I don't deny it ! No, I am baffled, I don't know, unless there is an
appearance of Palmer...There are at least two movies in which we acted, the
first one is a film directed by Claude Berri called "Je vous aime" (1980)
with Serge Gainsbourg, Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu, we played
Depardieu's musicians and did the soundtrack with Gainsbourg, and the second
is "Tapage Nocturne" (1979) directed by Catherine Breillat and in addition a
7-inch single was released...
Why have you chosen to sing in the language of "Molière" rather than
in the "Shakespeare" one ?
I don't know Molière...or Shakespeare ! My general knowledge doesn't take
me there ! I am no classicist...We chose the French language for the very
good and simple reason that, at that time, everybody sang in English, even us
in 65-66 with Vincent Palmer when we played some adaptations of English song
bands. We thought singing in French was an opportunity. Over the years a lot
of people did everything and anything, mainly in rock'n'roll, so we guessed
it was a good way to bring musicians to sing rock in French, for good, that's
why we made this bet and we were right because the band Téléphone followed
and other ones after that..
Why are women so present in your albums ?
Damn...I am going to be in trouble with my wife !...When we began, we were
teenagers, 18-19 years old, we quickly signed a contract and when 22 years
old we played music to have fun without a professional goal, and wanting to
rise to fame, we have only two things in mind : cars and girls, nothing
else...so it was a free-for-all, we met a lot of girls and we were no
Which topics do you prefer to approach in your songs ?
Girls...Approaching girls in the full sense ! We sang a lot of songs which
mentioned girls. I wrote a song called "Tu me manques b b", it was a little
wink for my wife cause her nickname is b b. We talked about Elvis Presley's
daughter with the title "Lisa Maria", we made a song about "Marie-France" who
was a famous Parisian travestite. We were hanging around in both unhealthy
and healthy circles, it was our life...
What's your best memory ?
My best memory, without any doubt, was when I saw Gainsbourg, and when we
met each other again. I told Serge "You know when I was a little boy, 8-10
years old, I watched TV with my Dad". It was dreadful because we watched
popular music programmes which were retro for me, always with the same
singers.... so when Gainsbourg was on, from time to time, he was appreciated
because he was a great composer, and at that time he sang his hit "Le
poinçonneur des Lilas. I told him "You know Serge my dad thinks that you are
ugly". My father was an opera singer and almost sang with Luis Mariano, he
didn't have the spirit of adventure and was a conventional man. Each time my
Dad saw Gainsbourg on TV he was exasperated. When I told this to Serge he
laughed and said "Tell me what your father says about me" and I answered that
'my father doesn't like your face, he thinks you're hideous'....and
Gainsbourg laughed again saying that "I played with my look and I won"...and
I told him that you're right Serge, and my Dad is wrong about it !
What is your worse memory ?
There is only one. I left home at 16 years old, or I should say, when my
parents threw me out !..they told me that 'long hair, short ideas, we don't
want to see you anymore, you don't exist for us anymore. It was very hard, my
father was a regular, he couldn't bear the fact that I was one of the first
teens with long hair, and it was not very welcome where I lived either, so I
left home. I didn't have any money so life was difficult for me. I caught
tuberculosis and was in a sanatorium so I knew the descent into Hell and it
really freaked me out. I told myself if life is like this, it's no good...but
as one often says after misfortune, there is often happiness, so thanks to
this disease Bijou was born. As a lot of people came and visited me, Vincent
was one of them, and we talked about our band "Bijou" and singing in French,
it gave me the strength and I was in good spirits, so off we went again
What was going on between the two albums "Hit Pop" in 2000 and
"Redescends sur terre" in 2006 ?
Less than 10 years I think !...A desert...It's an odd story, like my whole
life ! I got in touch with Dynamite Yan (my first drummer) and Vincent Palmer
(my guitarist) because we always said that we were going to play together
again one day and re-formed Bijou. Dynamite agreed with me but Vincent
didn't. So with Dynamite we did "Hit Pop" in 2000 without Vincent, quite an
intimate album. I liked it very much but the press didn't, the rock
journalists wrote that the album didn't sound like Bijou, so it was a
Dynamite and I parted the best of friends because he didn't want to go on
in the music business and he told me "Dauga go on Bijou's way, I think you're
right". So I found new musicians (Patrice Llaberia (guitarist) and Franck
Ballier (drummer) but it took me some time because it's very difficult to
find a good guitarist in France, and I did Bijou svp (which means without
Vincent Palmer) and the album "Redescends sur terre" in 2006".
You recorded a DVD and a CD live at the Zénith in Caen in May 2007,
can you tell us about them ?
Yes, it's topical, they are released...It was an idea of one of my friend
called Jacques Perotte. He works for France 3 TV in Caen and has been a
backup for us for years. He is great and always cheers us up. He offered us a
team, rented TV cameras and people from Canal TV came too. They said they
wanted to make a DVD about Bijou svp, so they came to see us and suggested
the project, of course we were very happy about it, so we jumped into it with
both feet !
You're in Lyon to record a new album...
Yes. Lyon is my second happiness, the first one is my wife. I married a
Lyonnaise ! The city is fantastic. When I first came here in 78 I fell for
Lyon. I didn't know the city before and for a Parisian the only thing we know
about Lyon is...
AM : The Fourvière tunnel.
Phil : The Fourvière tunnel yes...But the worse trouble is when you take
the motorway A7 going South or coming from Marseille (South of France), you
follow the Rhône river, you reach Feyzin, the oil refinery, with its huge
tanks, it stinks... So you think : "what the hell is that ?" Is it Lyon ? If
so, we have to leave immediatly to drive to Valence...This image of Lyon is
wrong because when my wife showed me around the city, I understood that Lyon
is a beautiful city...I forget everything (Feyzin refinery, Fourvière tunnel)
and I told her : "it's great". I fell in love with Lyon and I want to live
here.... And could you please remind me of the second question we were
AM : The question was "You're in Lyon to record a new album..."
Phil : Yes, there are two things in Lyon which are always under favourable
auspices : my wife and our marriage, and now the raising of Bijou svp, thanks
to Benjamin Delosme from DBR studio who is also Lyonnais, and takes an
interest in me. He is one of my very young fans and I was surprised that a 35
year old could be interested in Bijou svp, as I thought it was more for the
50 year old fans who know my records, but Benjamin knows everything about
Bijou. He knows all the songs by heart and can sing them all ! He said to me
that he has a recording studio and would be delighted to record my next
album. I was very happy with this offer, so now we record all our albums in
Lyon. We first recorded "Redescends sur terre" here, and now we are recording
the second one..