Album Premiere: Champagne Superchillin' "Destino!"
Interview by Alexandra Graber
Photography by Alexandra Peace
A week ago, on September 20, a friend and I confusedly stumbled into what may have been a dry cleaners, brightly lit with white neon lighting overhead and a solitary dark-haired girl sitting at a white table in the back next to a freezer door. She asked us for our I.D.’s. Once she made sure we were of legal drinking age she motioned us to the freezer door. We carefully pulled at the latch. What was on the other side of the door was not a freezer, but instead, a dimly lit, quite crowded, small, yet trendy bar, with a band setting up in the back.
Positioned in the back of the speakeasy was Champagne Superchillin,’ a fairly new trio, hot on the heels of a move from Nashville to New York City. The lead, Juliette Buchs, is not a Nashville native and it seems overtly obvious that she isn’t upon a first glimpse of her. She’s tiny, with dark bangs framing her incredibly angelic face. Her style alludes to that of another continent, but clearly that’s due to her being born and raised in France. Buchs' decision to move to the States came once she met her American, musician husband, who was based in Nashville at the time. In Nashville, Buchs was introduced to her bandmates Ben Trimble (keys/guitar) and Charles Garmendia (drums) and the trio decided to take the plunge and move to the concrete jungle of New York City together.
Buchs sings in her native language which adds elements of sexuality and mystery to the music, even if her musicianship is still juvenile. The band acts as the glue that binds all of the elements together. They meld psychedelic tones with sixties era French pop to create a bubbly back drop against Buchs soothing vocals.
Listen to the premiere of their debut album, "Destino!" below while learning how the newcomers are adjusting to life in New York and their taste for good wine.
POND: Hi Champagne Superchillin', how was your record release party at Baby's All Right?
Champagne Superchillin': We love Baby’s. We love the vibe of that venue and it always feels pretty good to play there because the guys kill it on the sound, [especially] after playing at so many places that don't give a damn. And let's also note that the margs are pretty on point.
POND: How did Champagne Superchillin' meet?
CS: In Nashville, TN at our favorite hole in the wall karaoke joint, Franz. I was embracing the southern culture as they were dreaming of going to France, so they decided to make a French album and called me out on my karaoke skills to try it out. The rest is history.
POND: What is the artistic concept of Champagne Superchillin' that leads people to believe that you are or come from a family of winemakers?
CS: We're big supporters of "Coupe de Vie" and worked in a vineyard in Tennessee together. In the spirit of that experience we made our own. Destino! is Champagne Superchillin's first Grand Cru.
POND: I used to live in Nashville myself. It was such a tremendously strange time in my life, but I feel it nearly impossible to compare Nashville to New York. Do you agree, why or why not?
CS: There's no comparison to me. Each of them have their charm for different reasons. I love the South. You can smell the humidity, take the time to sit in your rocking chair on your porch listening to the old train passing by. You have room to make art, play house shows, and I miss driving by old abandoned motels frozen in time. We also know ourselves, and moved to New York because it pushes us to explore. Every corner has a new story, the city electrifies you and you don't have time for your ego when you're hustling.
POND: Out of all the cities you've lived in, do you draw inspiration from each of them equally, or has one or two of them allowed space for a more creative time in your life?
CS: [Juliette] Paimpol is a sailor town by the coast in Brittany, on the West coast of France, that’s where my roots are. Lighthouses, old sailors, very rustic and rainy! We actually recorded part of our second album there. Also every time I work on a film project, I go hide there.
[Charlie] I feel like any place you live gives you a sense of inspiration. I haven't thought about it but I guess Nashville forced me to be a better musician technically. I hold New York close to me because I learned how to live here and that definitely sticks to my creativity no matter where I am.
POND: What separates Destino! from the second album you're releasing in the winter?
CS: They are so different, Destino! is French pop, to new wave, to jazz influenced. On the next one there is definitely more cohesiveness. We recorded the whole album by the water in Brittany and most of the vocals in Rockaway, NY. You can feel that beach thread underlined. It's also quite melancholic and dark.
POND: Was the recording process very different between recording Destino! at Electric Lady in Greenwich Village versus recording the follow-up record in Paris?
CS: When I met the boys they had already written almost all the songs for Destino!, and that was the beginning of our family affair. On the next one we had spent so much time together that most of it just poured out very easily.
POND: What factors helped sway your decision to work with Nashville based record label Soft Junk?
CS: Soft Junk is the reason this band exists. Nicholas (head of Soft Junk) has been with us each step of the way and believes in everything we have done. He is our spiritual warrior.
POND: France has some super cool music coming out of it right now, like Dr. Chan, Bryan's Magic Tears, and TH da Freak. Are there any band's from your native country that are consistently circulating throughout your personal playlists?
CS: I like Dr. Chan but I'll definitely check out the other bands you mentioned. I like Flavien Berger, Cheapster, Requin Chagrin, Guadal Tejaz
POND: Do you guys have a particular super cool or weird rock and roll story since you've become a band that we have to hear?
CS: We're keeping them for the Champagne Superchillin's made for TV movie.
POND: Since moving to New York, what is your favorite NYC staple food to eat?
CS: Joe’s Pizza and Punjabi
POND: Besides a second LP, what can we expect from Champagne Superchillin' in the future?
CS: A musical film and most definitely time travel.