Although his new album Easy, fragile, more accessible than her previous records, the singer and now French actress nonetheless keeps her authentic and lasting commitment. Interview.
A double disc is ambitious. But nothing really scares Camélia Jordana, strong of 12 years of career – already -, of a steel mind and an outspokenness which destabilized more than one. These 20 new titles are shared between unifying pop, where we hear duets with Dadju and Soolking (Easy) and more acoustic sounds, sought after, willingly orientalizing (Fragile). In parallel with her musical career, Camélia Jordana has become a (very good) actress, whom we have seen at Lou Jeunet, Yvan Attal, Emmanuel Mouret or even Frédéric Farrucci, passing with ease from comedy to tragedy. What serve the interpretation of very personal pieces on Easy, fragile, where she recalls, again and again, the importance she attaches to gender equality, all skin tones combined. For Cheek, she looks back on the struggles that have always animated her, from police violence to feminism, media misunderstandings and sorority.
This title, Easy, fragile, is it to show that Camélia Jordana, despite her struggles, is a vulnerable woman?
Yes! This is the magic of music: embracing personal evolution. I arrived at the end of this process which boiled down to just being a strong person. Including in the private sector. I’m tired of fighting all the time, banging my fist on the table, I also want to be supported, not to be the only one who carries and who supports. If the new generation is very strong in terms of self-esteem and acceptance of variances in their mental health, they must also know how to see their complexity, their weaknesses and their doubts.
Last May, you created a huge buzz in evoking police violence at Laurent Ruquier. However, it was not the first time that you broached this subject. How did you experience this sudden media coverage of your words on this burning issue?
These conversations, I had them with you in the past… But that had not had as much repercussion as a television broadcast on a Saturday at 10 pm! I have been politicized since I was 16 because I had the chance to meet people who transmitted values to me; thanks to this, I feel concerned about our world. I respect the artists who do not want to mix politics with their creation but me, my commitment is part of my daily life.
“Since my beginnings, I have had time to get used to the criticisms on what I say, what I do, on my physique …”
I exchange with associations, I organize events, I get involved in collectives or I give interviews on this subject. In this show, I was also talking about feminism, ecology, culture and intermittence. Christophe Castaner only reacted on one point, and did France a favor because, unwittingly, he offered a lot of value and weight to me. And it became a public debate again. Especially since, twenty-four hours after the broadcast, there was the tragic death of George Floyd …
This intervention won you as much praise as it did criticism. How did you experience it?
At the end of the show, Philippe Besson asked me if I was not afraid to express myself as I did. I replied that if 1% of spectators read the books or saw the films I had just mentioned, I had won! Since my beginnings, I have had time to get used to the criticisms on what I say, what I do, on my physique… If one can speak very badly of me, others will nevertheless take my defense. When you’re famous, others tend to imagine that it’s all glitter, but there are a lot of painful aspects to notoriety, especially when you’re a woman. So I try to take some distance.
Your commitment is felt, once again, on your new album …
In this disc, there are no songs about ecology or police violence, but titles like SOS Mediterranean address topics that have been close to my heart for a long time. Already present on my previous project Lost, they are expressed here in a more accessible way. In the meantime, I realized that I didn’t have to spend two years on one song anymore. It was the first time that I worked like this! This double album synthesizes my artistic identity. On the one hand, digestible pop, made thanks to digital technology, with the voice highlighted: Easy. On the other, songs recorded live, with West African and oriental echoes, because I am also African: Fragile.
“I am wholeheartedly with the creator of MusicToo, as well as the victims who testify …”
Today you are not only a singer but also an actress. In Night came, you play a sex worker, in What we say, what we do, you are one of the key roles in the script. How do you stay what you are by playing characters?
It’s very difficult. Either we have the same vision as the director and we establish a relationship of trust, or this is not the case, and we must then save the skin of his character. Even if you have to let go to be the subject of someone who chose you, you have to be sure of the common goal.
Is this duplication even more complicated to manage as a woman?
It’s trying to be a woman in any industry, and on planet Earth, the last I heard. When you evolve in an industrial circuit, even artistic, you become a product and it is complicated to impose your line of conduct. After a while you have to let go because you can’t always be successful in educating people. We must therefore take advantage of an openness to share our ideals, and when someone goes too far, set limits gently and firmly.
Unfortunately, this still does not prevent male impunity from reigning …
For sure. The number of sexual assaults is very high, and I wholeheartedly support the creator of MusicToo, as well as the victims who testify… Some men are not worthy to be in place, even less in positions of responsibility. What I see, luckily, is that the women of my generation educate those of later generations. Sometimes they are very reluctant, but most pay attention to what is shown to them. It is both sad and moving to see some of them realizing how fooled by patriarchy they have been.
“We are required to be slim and sexy, but men also have their diktats, which they themselves make all the more overwhelming.”
Sorority, is it something that always speaks to you?
More than ever. With Nadège Beausson-Diagne, Adèle Haenel, Aïssa Maïga, Mélissa Laveaux and Yseult, we are creating a collective of female combatants. In addition, I am very admiring of colleagues like Estelle Meyer, Louane, Apple, Angèle, Amel Bent, Vitaa, Jeanne Added, Sandra Nkake, Raphaëlle Lannadère, Noémie Merlant, Anaïs Demoustier… In the end, all the women in these arts and entertainment industries are warriors. If they are there, it is because they have necessarily had to face a lot of violence from men… and even women.
In the song, you sing that you love them, “those men”… Why this declaration of love?
When you hear a woman speak out publicly about patriarchy, you think she hates men. Which is wrong. I am even convinced that things will change when men truly understand that women are their equals, and that this message will also pass through them. It’s more interesting than being against each other. On the other hand, it is a love song to all the men that I have had and that I will have. Since they were little, we explain to them that they must be the brightest, have the biggest salary, the biggest car, the biggest rod. We are required to be slim and sexy, but men also have their diktats, which they themselves make all the more overwhelming. This is why there is competition between men, and a desire to dominate women. This song is my way of telling them that they are overwhelming when they are fragile, silent… and when they listen to us!
Interview by Sophie Rosemont