Charlotte Gainsbourg Deftly Juggles Music, Film, Family and Her Father's Legacy
Charlotte Gainsbourg doesn't balk at stretching herself or her time. She recorded her latest album, 'IRM,' her first working with Beck as producer, in Los Angeles while simultaneously filming the Lars Von Trier picture 'Antichrist' in Germany. Gainsbourg and Beck explored that experience, among other things, including her hospital treatment after a near-fatal Jet Ski accident in 2007 ('IRM' is the French acronym for an MRI machine), and processed them into hard-knock pop noirs veiled in her breathy sing-speak voice.
The 38-year-old's dual acting-singing career dates back to her childhood. By the age of 13, she made her film debut and her first record (the scandalous daddy-daughter duet 'Lemon Incest') under the tutelage of her father, French crooner and pop provocateur Serge Gainsbourg. The gamine Parisian beauty is as candid as she is difficult to pin down for an interview, both of which add to her moody, alluring complexity. Gainsbourg, whose mother is English actress and singer Jane Birkin, speaks in a crystalline British dialect, yet her phrasing remains French. "I have an English accent because it's fake," she pronounces as we start the interview. "Well, it is my mother's accent, but I worked on it 15 years ago for a film, then I never lost it."
As a singer, what was the most valuable lesson your father taught you?
Oh, God! Well, he always told me never to take a singing lesson, because I, and other actresses, we didn't have real voices. Real singing voices. There was no point in making it perfect. What was good about it [to him] are all the imperfections. But I didn't listen to him [laughs]. I went and got some singing lessons just because I was so panicked in the past. I needed to learn to breathe, anything that would