ITW // CROCODILE & THE ZOOKEEPERS
I open the gates to this luxurious zoo and present to you four youngsters aka Crocodile & The Zookeepers. This is not a group of ethnologists, but a group of enthusiastic music lovers. Originating from Nancy and its surroundings, from the independent French pop folk scene radiates this talented band. A soft cool music vibe where the strings and beats blend together with a bittersweet nostalgia makes it difficult to ignore, all accompanied by a charming rock voice that would capture the heart of a gorilla. Make no mistake….listen! Listening to their songs via their Bandcamp, my curiosity left me wanting to learn more about this unique project.
- First, tell me a little about yourself …strong>
Blanche : I’m in my 20s, and I play the drums.
Clémentine : I’m the lead singer. I also play (or rather I try) the guitar. I am at the end of my baccalauréat studies (UK A levels)
Loann : I’m 21 and I’m the guitarist.
Nico : I take care of the bass and I prefer: mayonnaise, baseball caps and chilling in my bed.
- Essential question, how was the group formed?
Clémentine : By accident. Let me explain myself. Loann and I for a long time had wanted to do something together, and I told him we could join the FML using the songs that I already had. Meanwhile, I was asked to do a concert. At the time, I was not very confident on stage alone. So I asked Blanche to accompany me. Everything went brilliantly! We soon had other proposals. The machine was launched. In the madness Nicolas was added to the project. Once we created our Facebook page, we had some pretty crazy requests like participating in the first part of Balthazar L’Autre Canal (Nancy). Pretty amazing since Nico, Blanche and Loann hardly knew each other, it was all completely fresh.
- Why Crocodile & The Zookeepers? What does this name reflect ?
Blanche : : ‘Crocodile’ is the first fake name Clementine used to post one of her songs on the web. When the group was formed, we were looking for a little thing to put after the famous ‘Crocodile’ and ‘The Zookeepers’ sounded pretty good.
Clémentine : Blanche answers this question better than anyone haha. Indeed, ‘Crocodile’ has no special meaning. When I decided to put Tomboy on Youtube, I needed a pseudo name. Perhaps out of shyness I didn’t want to use my own name, With a friend we started looking. You could say it was random but then when we became ‘Crocodile’ it all seemed obvious. It was a relief to have finally found it.
- Tell us about your world, from your “animal” aesthetic ” to your expectations…
Clémentine : I think our “animal” aesthetic as you say, is still working. The group is young. Until now we have been focusing on music and rehearsing. However, our visual presence and image are equally important. Personally, I live like that. This is what first attracted me to the aesthetics of a group, the clips or album art. We did some pictures with Antoine Foré , who has the AucuneExcuse site. In keeping with the theme, he wanted to go to the Nancy Aquarium Museum. The idea immediately seduced me and the finishing product is excellent.
- We feel the pop folk scene influence in your music. A slight nostalgia, sadness and sensitivity in the tracks. Where does this inspiration come from ?
Clémentine : This is the style of music that I mainly listen to so that obviously has quite an influence! Joan Baez, Simon & Garfunkel, Bon Iver, Lucy Rose … All these groups that I listen to inspire me, intentionally or not. I love the sweetness that emerges there. Even in a more upbeat song, I love the moments of calm, it makes the rest even stronger.
Loann : Before joining the group I listened to some folk pop artists, but now things have changed. I discovered sounds and ambiances that I can not find in any other style of music. Before starting to work with the group, I amused myself by replaying songs Clementine had sent me. I gradually began to familiarize myself with this new world that was beckoning me!
Blanche : It’s funny because between us we all have very different influences and it’s interesting to see how we use it all. The result of this mix is very nice and greatly benefits our music.
- How do you deal with the composition? Is there a defining mechanism or does it spontaneously emerge, more “in the moment”?
Blanche : The first songs were all composed and written by Clementine. With time, each of us have entered our arrangements, our grain of salt as they say. Now the band is in place, we try to compose together, according to the ideas of eachother.
Loann : Clementine’s compounds were all already made. Seeing what we could add was enough.
Clémentine : Some were over a year old. Until then, I had played them just for me, and I was a bit fed up. Rearranging the group was good for them as indeed it was for me.
Nico : Rearranging the compositions was the main task of our rehearsals in the beginning. Now they are well calibrated, we can be more free and creative. It is easier to drift into our delusions and finally say “hey, we have keep that.” It is more spontaneous and alive than at the beginning as we all know each other well now.
- And the lyrics then?
Blanche : We leave Clementine to it and hope she doesn’t just say anything!
Clémentine : This is actually just what I do. It’s about anything and everything . The lyrics are very simple and modest. There are no large complicated sentences because my English is quite limited and actually in the end, I find it much more natural. Some of the lyrics come from a single word that I find amusing. Then a story becomes itself. (see Tomboy). However some songs are more personal like To My Friends in which I talk about hard times in life when you know you’re going to take a different direction to that of your loved ones, and in the end you have to get used to the idea . I also do lovers songs (laughs).
- The passage requires the stage. I think you have started to get a lot of dates under your belt. What can we wait to see ?
Clémentine : It all happened quickly and although I’m glad, the stage scares me a little. I’m still not as comfortable as I would like to be…a little too static and shy perhaps. But little by little I am learning and insuring myself. I think the Galaxie Amneville scene healed me a little bit. I think we did good the four of us to play there.
Loann: We need to build our confidence. This will come with experience! The last dates have already given us some great memories.
Loann : We need to build our confidence. This will come with experience! The last dates have already given us some great memories.
Nico : So far the public have always been receptive to our “smooth” sound. I think that the music is fairly accessible and the audience likes that. So we are rarely disappointed when we get on stage, we just take our lead.
Blanche : And we try to reassure Clemence on stage. But there’s still a lot of work to do there!
- Concerning desires, projects … The release of an EP has been considered or possible ?
Clémentine : This is possible and has been considered. Nevertheless, we are taking our time to do something that reflects us. We don’t want any regrets about our tracks. We have to also pass our exams and so this has been made a priority.
- The albums and artists you listen to at the moment?
Blanche : The album Torches by Foster The People and Can Be Late by Skip The Use are on replay at mine right now.
Clémentine : The album Melody’s Echo Chamber that I have only just discovered. I’m madly in love with this girl, from her album, the videos. Special mention for Bisou Magique.
Loann : Albums Latitude by David Lemaitre and Random Access Memory by Daft Punk are in my opinion the albums of ambiance. Otherwise artists such as Alt-J or Devendra Banhart.
Nico : The album People by The Burning Hell which I discovered when we did the first part not that long ago. I was hit with the feeling and immediately bought their vinyl (very nice guys). Then there’s the dj S.MOS which I quickly heard about and who I saw in concert during the last Jardin du Michel festival. I’ve been a fan ever since.
- So I’ll speak now about special headwear and shirts. How do you find the Olow collections? ?
Nico : I’m a fan of 5-panels since I had my first Supreme so then you know that I like yours: it’s just quality and style together! I also saw that there was a model of a skate deck which I found great. The spirit of the rider is no longer limited to the sport itself, it’s also a matter of style, fashion and appearance! I think I’ll be breaking the piggy bank for an Olow x Antiz board when mine has passed away!
- A final word?
Blanche : Hurluberlu // Clémentine : LOVE! // Loann : Nuts // Nicolas : Aperitif.
A big thank you to Loann, Blanche, Clementine and Nicolas for their contribution.
Interview by Julien Catala