Title: Anne Pigalle
Author: Peter Martin
Source: Smash Hits
Publish date: 24 April 1985
She comes from a French town famous for walnuts and skiing.
She speaks strange English, sings great songs and is signed to Frankie’s label ZTT.
And, according to Peter Martin, she’s “mysterious”. Very.
Anne Pigalle is French, a singer, signed to ZTT Records and not very happy.
“People are not happy, people are rough, they are having a rough time, there is a huge class break, the rich stay with the rich and get richer, the poor are left behind… I can’t walk down the streets oblivious to that, thinking I’m on ZTT so things are cool. I see things and I can’t ignore.”
As you may have gathered, Anne Pigalle is not like most pop stars. In fact, she’s not a bit like a pop star — she’s a singer, more in the mould of the extravagant, classical, tortured artist of yesteryear who’s paid her dues, lived a little, has gone a bit eccentric but somehow has found herself on the verge of public acceptance. Of course she’s very charming, flamboyant and deeply confident, talks in a rather endearing broken English but has a strange air about her. Mysterious, even. She gives little or nothing away about her past — lots of sweeping recollections but no facts. Like she had a normal French upbringing, got bored, went to and fro to Paris, got bored, went to and fro to London, got bored, moved there permanently, did loads of boring jobs, decided to become a singer, made demos, took them round all the record companies, no-one was Interested, got bored, decided It might be best to give up on the Idea, was advised to go to ZTT as a last resort, did so, et voila!
12 months later her first single, “Hé Stranger”, is ready. Described as “a mix of German cabaret and opera”, it’s simply classical. Like all of her music, it is seething with golden qualities like “sincerity, honesty, purity… a rareness”.
As regards the charts, she’s unsure where she’ll fit in.
“I don’t know If there are other ‘proper’ things around. I wouldn’t know, I’m not really concerned with the industry, the business. I know I have something to offer. I don’t see myself as Jesus Christ, I just do my bit and do the best that I can. If I wanted I could have the better side of things, I could turn away and live that pop star life but,” she adds sternly, determined to get this point across, “I will not and cannot! It makes me sick, all these pop stars who say ‘If I can do this anyone can’ — it’s rubbish. I’m nothing special, sure, maybe just a little bit tougher. When people get famous they just sit on their fat ass like a big, fat vegetable. I will never get like that. You don’t have to end up that way, you just stick to what you believe in, your ideals, tell no lies, take no crap, that’s all.”
Still a bit of a mystery, isn’t she? I have another go at prying information out of her and, this time, she gives in a bit. I discover that she was born in Grenoble in the French Alps (famous for its skiing and “walnuts”); she first 16; it was 1980 when she decided that “stop fiddling about and do music as a main thing”; a few years ago she sung on her friend Nick Plytas’ EP-”Hot Sagas” under the group name Via Vagabond; and that Paul Morley signed her because he “understood exactly what I was about”.
But she’s still not giving much away.
“I’ve made one record,” she suddenly explodes, “why on earth do you need to start asking me about my mother?”
Better try a change of tack, quick. I ask her about her new records. The LP’s finished, she says, apart from the next two singles “Intermission, The Gods Are Bored” and “Why Does It Have To Be This Way” which producer Trevor Horn has got to finish off. Also in the near future she’s going to be singing at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club and taking part In a ‘ZTT Week’ at a West End theatre — featuring the Art Of Noise, Propaganda, in fact all ZTT acts apart from Frankie. It’ll take place around the end of May.
“I can’t stand going out to clubs and things,” she says (sounding very Morrissey). “There’s nowhere nice anymore. If it is nice it gets crowded and then it’s not nice anymore. It’s just death to go out in London, to walk the streets, such a trauma! And then, when you leave, you never feel as if you’ve gained anything. I want to find a way round that… I just haven’t thought out quite how yet.”
I think at that point we’ll just leave her to get on with it.