By David Michael Conner
Originally published on Advocate.com November 18 2009 1:35 PM ET
Don’t hold it against Sliimy that he was hand-picked by the infamous Perez Hilton to be the first artist signed to Hilton’s Perezcious label, an imprint of Warner Bros. And don’t hold it against him that his name — pronounced like “Slimmy,” not “Slimy” — looks slightly gross and requires phonetic explanation. Or that he’s popular in France. (He is French, after all.)
Sliimy has garnered comparisons to Mika and Prince, but he is too openly gay to be too much like either, and with a close listen, it’s clear that Sliimy’s music is too personal to tie him too closely to any of his influences.
Advocate.com: You were recently spotted at Paris Fashion Week with Dita Von Teese and Katy Perry.
Yeah, that was great. It was the second time I’ve been to Paris Fashion Week. I think there is a big link between fashion and music, so it’s really interesting to go and see some shows and to get in touch with that. I really love fashion too. It’s a great experience. It’s really marvelous to see such beautiful clothes, and it gives you inspiration, I think.
Speaking of inspiration, how would you classify your own style?
Um ... that’s a little bit hard. My style ... is a kind of language. It’s like my personality. Sometimes it’s really colorful and sometimes it’s not. My style is in link with my music, and it’s really important for me to express that with clothes.
It’s interesting that you said “sometimes it’s colorful and sometimes it’s not.” Your first single, “Wake Up,” has a colorful, maybe even childlike, sound, but a lot of the songs on the album have a darker feeling, which isn’t necessarily something people associate with you.
I think it’s a part of my personality. I am from a little hometown in France and I need to be like this on my first album. It was important to me to be happy with the music. I remember when I was younger and I was listening to lots of bands and lots of music like the Beatles, and I think it was the same for me for this first album. “Wake Up” is one of my personalities — the fun part, the colorful part. But there are also sounds on this album that are a bit darker. In France my new single, called “Paint Your Face” — you can watch this on [the] Internet — it’s very different than “Wake Up.” And I think that the creations for the second album are going to be really different.
Are you already working on your second album?
Um ...I think I’m ready, but [laughs], but I think I’ve got to slow down a little bit. Yeah, because I think it’s too early at the moment, but I’ve got some new creations in me. I mean, it’s really different because one year ago I was in my hometown and that was a little bit routine and I was always singing the same stuff. So this first album is in link with that. And that’s great; I accept that. But this second one is going to be different. This year, it was intense for me, and I’ve ... I’ve had lots of different experiences, lots of different cool stuff, some vices also ... I think it was really inspiration for me. For some artists, it’s hard to write a second album because maybe you’re scared ... but for me, it’s different. The first album, I was scared because I was in my little hometown, but I think the second is different because I’ve got too much inspiration, maybe. [Laughs]
How would you describe your relationship with Perez Hilton?
Perez saw my cover of [Britney Spears’s] “Womanizer” [online] and he put this on his blog maybe one year ago, a few months ago, yeah? And after that, he tried to get in touch with me ... and I really appreciate that. I already [had] a contract at Warner Music in France, and it was a contract for the world, so that was cool for me and Perez created a label for the United States, and it was a great experience for me. I accepted to do that with him. I met him in July. I went to L.A. and met him for the first time to talk about music and ... stuff.
And how did that go?
That was great. I was there just for maybe two days, so a little bit tiring. [Laughs] I think it’s a great experience. I think it’s important for people in the music ... [pause] ... oh, my English is so bad today! [Laughs] People work with you and you have to explain your music and ... who you are, really. You have to explain where you come from when you do that. It’s really important to explain that to people.
Speaking of language, you’re French, but you sing in English. Did you ever sing in French?
Umm, yeah. The English was like a passion for me when I was young. I started to sing when I was 9 years old, in a choir and in [a musical] ... and that was with other people and we were singing in English. I was really attracted by the English culture, also. I appreciate lots of different artists with lots of big personality — David Bowie or Boy George and lots of different artists who take part in this other culture. When I was young I was really attracted to that. I was like a geek, and I was watching lots of different series in English, movies, I was listening to lots of music. I was like a sponge ... when you’re ... you’re listening to lots of English and you try to talk and try to do the same intonations, and I think it’s like this.
You’ve been compared to a couple of people, especially Mika and Prince. Would you compare your style to anybody else?
Um, no. [Laughs] No, I think it’s important to draw comparisons to other people early on to put some link with the artist, but I think the comparisons just ... you have to do some other creations. You have to show onstage that you are different. I’m different. I really appreciate these artists. I really appreciate Prince, Mika, but I think that we are all different. It’s just a ... we have different lives. I don’t think that Mika comes from Saint-Etienne [Sliimy’s hometown in France] and that I come from London or something like that ...
You’re quite different once you really listen to the music.
We can draw comparisons and you can see that, even if we are from different cities and we have different lives, we’re in link in some ways, and that’s great. The thing with France, you know, when you have some person who likes your music, you are in link with them because you understand their personality and their music. That’s why music is beautiful, because you have to share it with different groups of people.
One thing that sets you apart is that you’re openly gay. Was that ever in question for you, whether you would talk about that in public as a musician?
One time a journalist asked me that question and I was like, yeah, and what else? Because it’s not a problem for me. It’s a part of my personality. I don’t want to be a ... a role model. It’s just a part of my personality and it’s important to be sincere with the people, and some people do not like this because they are ... homophobic or, I don’t know, they don’t respect each other? But I don’t care. [Laughs] There are a lot of people who are really open-minded, I think, and I really trust in that. Some people are straight and they’re open-minded, some people are gay, some others are black, some others are big, skinny, tall. [Laughs] And yeah, I just do music for people who are open-minded. Or who just like listening to the music; that’s the most important thing, I think. And some people just forget that. They just talk about some shallow stuff, some superficial stuff. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or black or I don’t know what ... the most important is the music.
It seems important to you that people know that the music is what matters most to you.
Yes, I think it’s important to be sincere with the people. I think that some artists are not sincere because they want to be attractive for boys and for girls. But it’s important to be sincere, because when you are sincere with your music, you are a human being and you express yourself. It’s not like when you are acting in a movie and you’re a different character. Because the music, it’s just true, so you have to be sincere with the people and I don’t want to lie to people, and that’s all. And maybe I’m going to be straight in 10 years and ... but I don’t know [laughs], now it’s like this, and that’s all.
It’s really hard that some people are vain ... I think it’s important to be true because nobody does that. Lots of people are going to be narrow-minded ... lots of people are going to be scared to say they are gay because they say, you know, nobody say that I am gay! They are scared. But lots of artists are open about that — Boy George, George Michael — so it’s cool.
Do you think there’s any more or less pressure to be open about your sexuality in France or Europe than in the U.S.?
No, I think it’s the same all over the world. I just want to do songs for everybody. You can do that in France. You can be gay, you can be black, you can be ... I don’t know, another person, and you can do songs for everybody. Not just for a community or something like that. And right now it’s like this in our society — if it’s not for you, then it’s boring.
No, no, très bien.
You don’t speak French, do you?
Un peu. I took French in school…
No, no! Why didn’t you tell me that? Next time you have to speak French!
Although you make music for everyone, your song lyrics are very personal, so the questions are bound to come up ...
Yeah, exactly ... but I think it’s important to do music for everybody. But I think that, most important, if you’re gay or eccentric, if the music is great — music is all about feelings — then people don’t care about that. It was the same for black people in the years when there were racists and all that stuff, it was really hard for artists like James Brown and Diana Ross. But even white people who were racist appreciated the music because they ... liked it and they were dancing to it, and that’s beautiful, I think.
Do you think that people get stuck on certain things about you, like your image or that you are gay? Are people listening to your lyrics?
I hope. I hope that people are listening to the lyrics and they’re not just seeing.
What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
Um ... [Pauses] Oh, that’s hard. It’s an odd question. I think I want to ... in the beginning, when you do music, it’s to share it with lots of people. And that’s it, in fact: to share it with people all over the world.
So what’s next for you?
Maybe a second album and lots of other creations. I’m really excited about that because it’s gonna be different and ... it’s great to change and do some different stuff. And it’s important for an artist to do lots of different stuff because you learn. To learn about you and share it with lots of people.
Do you have any other favorite artists?
Recent, or ... ?
Anyone. Who inspires you?
Boy George, David Bowie. I really appreciate recently Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, and Kate Nash. I really appreciate those artists because I think they are sincere. And they’re natural. That’s what I like.
Lady Gaga leaps to mind when I think of you because of your distinct personal styles.
Yeah, I just saw her in concert. She’s really, really great. I love her. She really impressed me when she was doing some acoustic stuff. She has a nice voice and she writes some beautiful songs. She’s one of the most important artists of this century, I think, right now. She’s going to be huge, and it’s great to have an artist like this.
Would you do a duet with her?
Oh! Yeah, why not? But when you are going to work with another person I think it’s important for it to be natural. You don’t have to meet the person in a serious hope [of recording with them].
You seem like a serious musician — like you’re not just about selling records.
Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, it’s important for me. I think it’s the most important thing in this business. People right now are always thinking when you’re different or eccentric or something like that, you like marketing, you know what I mean? [Like] Lady Gaga. Right now all these people are telling me that Lady Gaga likes marketing because she looks different, but I think she can be ... she’s also sincere, even if she is different or eccentric or something like that. So it means a lot to me. I am different, but I am sincere. [Laughs] I am sorry that my English was so bad. [Laughs]