Laurent Voulzy: “My days with Kim Wilde”

[Translated for Wilde Life by Pierre Mathis]

Laurent Voulzy used to have nightmares about his “Nights without Kim Wilde”. From now on, thanks to his song, he’s used to spending days with Kim Wilde. And so does he again, this time for the shooting of his video. Salut has met them…

It was hardly two days since Paris and its suburbs had endorsed their winter coats. Not me. I had remained stuck to the indian summer which, a few days earlier, still allowed me to play the late holiday makers along the “Champs-Elysées”. But the “Avenue de la Republique” in Arcueil [A far away suburb of Paris – MR] has got nothing to do with one of the most beautiful avenues of the world. Always gray, sad and gloomy. In addition, the flic floc of the rain falling on the bitumen punctuated our walking across the pavement… Sad day, bad start for our report. Just at the beginning of weekend, moreover!
The “Studio d’Arcueil”. A large red brick masonry. Behind an iron gate: a sort of a hall, encumbered with cinematographic hardware. We are reassured. At least we’re on our way! Round the corner, people standing with a camera. And who says camera, says something to put in front of it, something to film : according to our confidential information this “something” is Laurent Voulzy… You must have understood by now that the Salut commando was, during this rainy Saturday, on the trace of the terrible curly-haired french songwriter making his first videoclip.
Obviously, we were on the good track… However, to our great surprise, as we already had been crossing the hall, another room full of anything, and a long corridor, we hadn’t met the inevitable bodyguards yet; you know, the kind of people you’d only be able to communicate with your fists! Thus, of two things one: either we went the wrong address, or the hiding-place had be considered good enough not to barricade the entrance gate. As we walked across the corridor, the second hypothesis appeared to be the right one.
In the middle of a large cinema studio, lays a luminous and fairy electronics decoration. In the heart of the decoration, in a halation of lights, Laurent’s silhouette is immediately identifiable by his hair and glasses. Strange : he’s asleep on a chair. The sleeping beauty! Somebody suddenly shouts: “Cut off”. Shades then start agitating in the dark. Laurent opens his eyes. People begin to talk. We’re in a film shooting atmosphere. Somebody turns to our direction and finally notices our presence. He moves towards us with anger in his eyes. Oops! The film pros hate intruders to come and spy them during their work. The guy, wearing glasses and not quite engaging, is almost at us! I am ready to escape. Soubiran, the photographer, hits my kidneys with his teleobjective. Bastard! It’s too late to run back, the guy is standing in front of me: he’s gonna chase us away! Suddenly, his face enlightens: “It’s you! It’s a pleasure to see you! How come you’re here?”. It’s my turn to recognize him. The young hilarious guy is George Barman, Jeanne Mas’svideoclip producer, thanks to whom I had had the chance of being in front of a camera! Everything is okay, we are not in a hostile territory. George always works with the same team: Bernard Malige, director, and Marc-André Batique, chief operator. A reactive and motivated team, composed of twenty-five people, who’s been shooting since last Monday Laurent Voulzy’s new hit video: “Les nuits sans Kim Wilde”. The adventure started four months ago when George was contacted to produce the first videoclip for the famous singer. At once, the young producer and his team proposed three scenarios. Laurent choosed the one with the truck. It’s the story of a young misanthropist man (Laurent) who lives in the arranged trailer of his truck driven by a robot (of course, this is only a short summary!). Then the job did actually start : finding the financing (700.000 French francs) and all the essential accessories. Imagine how hard it can be to find an American truck and a Jaguar XK 120 as well as its exact reduced model. Finally: D-day, October, 28st, first turn of crank. On the foreground: the truck runs in the urban night. Two full nights, from 6 PM ’til 8 AM; those 35 mm adventurers wandered all along the expressways in the neighbourhoods of Cergy-Pontoise and Gennevilliers Port. A tiring shooting but which brought its reward on this rainy Saturday. Cause at 11 AM, incognito, between two planes, the one without whom this song and the videoclip would never have been the same, just makes her appearance. And the light which emanates from her makes all the tired faces of the team find a new energy. The song was written for her! And there she is, of flesh and bones: Kim Wilde! And everyone tries not to howl like a wolf! From 11:00 to 17:30, with hardly a small pause for a sandwich and an orange juice, Laurent and Kim will not leave the furnace of the projectors. At the program: two scenes, only one of them involving the two artists. A wink for the fun. Kim tries and awake Laurent; the latter, persuaded that he’s dreaming, will keep on sleeping. Between two catches, no stress at all. Everyone is cool here. Starting with the blond English girl; for proof: she’ll be heard speaking French a lot, something that she only does when feeling really confident. And she’ll be using Molière’s language to declare at the end : “I’m absolutely happy”. What about laurent? Just watching his delighted face could make you understand how happy he was about this almost fantasmatic appearance in his videoclip. But how did the story begin?
“It all started in front of my television. I had already been hearing Kim’s songs on the radio but I never had really seen her. And then, that day, there was this videoclip [Dancing in the Dark – MR] on the small screen. I immediately turned on my videotape and recorded it. It was a year and a half, or two years ago. Thereafter, each time Kim was on TV, I recorded her. Thus I found myself with an entirely devoted to her tape. Where did that fascination come from? I don’t know, she meant something very important to me. And one evening, while I was composing with Alain Souchon, I played my Kim Wilde videotape. He then asked me why I would not compose a song about these “nights without Kim Wilde”. I found that it was a splendid title. It was exactly the kind of song I had wanted to compose at that time. A while later, I even started dreaming: “And what if she agreed to sing on the track!”. I succeeded in making her listen to the song. She liked it. She agreed to take part in it as guest star. We recorded her voice in London. It was marvellous. At this point the idea of making a video clip appeared. Which I submitted to her. And once more, she accepted! Working with her is as fabulous as if Peter Pan had come and kissed me goodnight when I was a child! She’s got mysterious and moving aspects. She’s distant and cordial at the same time, simple and natural. This first videoclip is a great experience in itself, but it turns to a wonderful one working with Kim. Any other collaborations? Kim asked me to write a couple of songs for her. I’m working on that. Locked up in my studio and playing her videos over and over… “
Saturday October 28st, 18 PM. Night falls. Soubiran tries to close his trunk, wedged by the early frost. I’m cold on the pavement. A comfortable Mercedes starts. It brings back Kim to the airport. The star makes us a sign of her hand. I’m falling down to the ground. Still weeks to be passed without Kim Wilde.