Parisian Marie Seyrat styled Michigan-born Bruce Driscoll (formerly of Blondfire) on the set of his music video in 2011. Fast forward several years later and now the two comprise Freedom Fry, an LA-based indie band. They also happen to be married. We met with the duo at Cafe Stella in Silverlake to learn more about making danceable melodies and dreamy hooks, being Franco-American ambassadors and the gritty delights of Hollywood and Highland.
We also have an exclusive premiere for their latest track "Napolean." Listen below and read on to learn more about the indie-pop duo:
Your name, Freedom Fry, refers to a time when the US had a bit of a bad reputation abroad. With the recent election, it seems like that bad reputation is making a comeback. As a multicultural band, where do you situate yourselves?
Seyrat: I think it’s great when people take advantage of their social status to be a voice for something, but I think it depends on who you are and how you approach it. If it’s not who you are, it’s not going to come out well. I think Bruce and I are such pacifists, that we don’t want to isolate anyone.
Driscoll: [Marie’s] an immigrant and my mom is from Brazil so we’re an international band in that way. The way we think is more international, too. I love traveling and I see many places in the world where I could live.
Any upcoming travel plans?
Driscoll: We’ve been talking about Morocco, Marrakesh.
Seyrat: We might go this summer. I love going to the souks (markets) and just getting a bunch of rugs and stuff.
Instead of putting out an album in the traditional way, you’re releasing songs individually. What steered you in that direction and how it is different?
Seyrat: We have a studio in our backyard and we love spending time together, just writing. So we had all these songs, and we thought, let’s release one or two per month and we’ll see how it goes.
Driscoll: We get to see which ones people respond to more. It’s all building up to us honing onto what will be on our album (that will come out later this year). It gives us direction in terms of what we should be focusing on. What’s funny, as we’re releasing the songs, is that oftentimes it’s our favorite ones that don’t get the most attention. Those are always the ones that get 1000 plays, and I’m like, what the fuck, man, that’s my favorite!
What’s your process for choosing covers?
Seyrat: When we did “1979”, we were writing music for Grey’s Anatomy and they asked for a bunch of songs from the 90s. So we went through the ones we liked a lot, the ones we thought were historic and captured a moment of the 90s.
Driscoll: They didn’t end up using that one. Instead, they asked us to do a Britney Spears cover, which was “Oops… I Did It Again”.
Seyrat: Which would have been my last choice. I never thought of singing that song.
I like unlikely covers, though.
Seyrat: Yeah I think the cover sounds more recent and current. It was nice, actually. You [Driscoll] thought about “Linger”.
Driscoll: It’s her favorite chord progression. Every time there’s a song with that chord progression, she’s like, I love this song.
Seyrat: It just gets me. I don’t know why. The Cranberries were one of my favorite bands. I feel like covers sound really good when they’re simple. We’ve done some that are more experimental.
Driscoll: We did “It Smells Like Teen Spirit” in French.
Seyrat: And we’ve done Simon and Garfunkel, “Scarborough Fair”, that is one of my favorites.
Do you perform with a drummer, or just as a duo?
Driscoll: When we did our tour with Stromae, up until that point, we had a drummer. But we thought, what if we just did drums on the laptop? People responded well to it, so she’s been triggering the backing tracks with the drums. Our friend Johnny plays bass. It’s a hybrid. We’re a bit folk and a bit dance, so it’s a good hybrid for us. Kind of DJ vibes but also with the acoustic guitar on top, it doesn’t feel inorganic.
When you’re efficient as you can be, it helps you get creative in other ways.
Seyrat: Also with the three of us together in front, it actually gives us a better energy, rather than two in front and one or two in back.
Driscoll: Having that one extra person when you’re doing a show makes you feel less like it’s just you.
Seyrat: Now he’s like a brother to us.
Driscoll: All of our good tour stories start with him.
Do you have favorite venues in LA?
Driscoll: The Echo… Or the Troubadour.
Seyrat: Or the Wiltern. Sorry that’s a lot.
French music has a legacy of couple music, like Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Do you ever feel like you have to differentiate yourselves from them?
Seyrat: Gainsbourg is one of my favorites, I have to say. He’s one of the artists I’ll always listen to, I go to him throughout my life. He’s such a character.
Driscoll: I feel like so many people are inspired by his production from Beck to Air… those really small dry drum sounds, big strings. Such a good vibe. That’s another vibe that if we did, no one would listen to, but maybe someday. French people love disco, side note… it’s like the 70s never ended in France (laughs). It’s fun collaborating with Marie because she has strong opinions and I trust her when she says something’s cool or not, musically. I let her steer the ship.
What’s your favorite French restaurant in LA?
Seyrat: Probably Cafe Stella, to be honest. Oh but at Le Figaro, they have all these desserts… I’m going to go with Le Figaro, because they have a bigger dessert selection.
Favorite late night haunt?
Seyrat: To be honest, man, we go to Mel’s.
Driscoll: We’re kind of strange because we really like Hollywood a lot. A lot of people hate on that tourist area, but there’s something seedy about it I like.
Seyrat: We do go to Hollywood and Highland.
Driscoll: We go bowling there, Lucky Strike.
Favorite outdoor spot?
Seyrat: Hotel Erwin rooftop. You can see the ocean and the sunset is really nice.
Driscoll: Point Dume, it’s really beautiful.
Seyrat: Or our backyard.
Driscoll: It is pretty rad.