Her head in the clouds, a pen or paintbrush in her hand, she has always written and composed her own songs, drawn and hummed her way through life. The death of her father in her early childhood imprinted upon her the precariousness and preciousness of life. The urgency to appreciate the everyday.
At seven years old, she wanted to learn the piano – she already had a thirst for music. She had to wait until she was 12, at girls' boarding school, to get access to an instrument and have piano lessons. It was during the wait, and the frustration of the realisation of this desire, that an urgent musicality bubbled up inside her.
Music is like a gift from heaven and composing, for her, is the evidence: " It just comes to me ... it comes from above." After five years of boarding school and much loved piano – Chopin's stirring waltzes – she landed up in secondary school, at once freed from her prison, but deprived of her piano. There, she was out of sync with the young people of her own age – an alien lost in time. "The boarding school was stuck in the 19th century and I found myself suddenly faced with today's adolescents, with their crude sense of humour and preoccupation with the brand names of the clothes they wore, whereas that didn't interest me at all! On the other hand, I was probably listening to the same music as them." Michael Jackson, Midnight Oil, Tears for Fears, Kate Bush, Talk Talk, Depeche Mode, Everything but the Girl, Cocteau Twins... These were her priceless refuge, and from the time she got her first Walkman at 12, they were always with her: under the covers at home, at school, on the train and everywhere.
She left for Lyon to study law, to 'please the memory of her father', a great academic and researcher in economics. "I wanted to prove to him and myself that I was intelligent." But without music she was lost. "Every morning I asked myself what I was doing there. So at the same time I started writing songs, hiding them away in a shoebox."
Marina finished her studies and sought a new path – she wanted to escape the law... She worked for a year in journalism, writing small articles on family law, then returned to Paris where she finally decided to be herself. She was 23 years old.
Marina took lessons in jazz harmonies to accompany herself on the piano and composed freely. A few freelance commissions later she gradually let go of the traditional lawyer's path...
Following the well-worn musical route, she evolved initially as an amateur, at music festivals and small bars. It was not long before she came across Marc Collin, who heard her piano-vocal arrangements. Captivated by the almost devilish charm of the melodies of this as yet unknown composer, Marc decided to produce her first album Acidulé. Alongside that, as producer of a group which was set to take off in 2004, he offered her a track to perform on the first Nouvelle Vague album. Then a further four tracks on the following one. But most important of all an opportunity to take part in the group's world tour, alongside Camille, Mélanie Pain and Phoebe Killder. Here Marina developed and discovered her inner stage performer.
Acidulé came out in 2005 in Japan and in 2007 in Europe, while Marina was bang in the middle of the Nouvelle Vague tour. Acidulé was well received by the press (L'Express, Marie-Claire, Vsd, À Nous Paris, Open Mag...) and sold 10,000 copies. Success for the trial run. From there, Marina Céleste began to perform abroad where she was invited to play her own material, under her own name – Moscow, St Petersburg, Amsterdam, Iserlhon (Germany), Brighton, London...
"Her unforced voice has the nonchalance of a summer caress and the sweetness of a forbidden fruit" Marie-Claire
The visionary Marc Collin picked up in Marina's voice a filmic dimension, the capacity to express an exceptionally wide range of feeling, and proposed the idea of her recording a second album, Cinéma Enchanté, in which Marina performs a collection of elegant renditions of the most beautiful songs from 1960s French cinema.
He judged well: somewhere between Anna Karina and Marilyn Monroe, Marina has the physique and beauty of the 1950s and 1960s: elfin or doll like; child woman or femme fatale.
From that point on, encouraged by this series of successful experiences, Marina decided to devote her talent to a new work, THE ANGEL POP.
Her sights were higher this time. To be simply a performer was not enough. For a start she could not survive on it financially, and felt reduced to a mere instrument. But also she had a burning desire to speak her own words, to bear her own message of hope faced with an inhumane world where everything remained to be done. Producing offered the chance, maybe, not only to support herself through music but also to help other artists to get started.
Her vision was long-term. At 33, she threw herself into the ascent towards the heights of pop. She set up a label, Cam-Ly Records, both because "one is never served better than by oneself", and also out of contempt for the unapproachable record companies who cling to their existing catalogue, without taking any risks to give genuine new talents a chance.
She set up the label and she met a gifted arranger-producer, Bruno Ralle, who recognised her talent and decided to throw himself into this album. They have worked tirelessly together for almost 3 years to give birth to this angelic pop.
"Her lyrics sparkle with poetry and love" A Nous Paris
Bruno Ralle constructs around her lyrics and melodies a universe like the case around a diamond. He brings to the project his experience as a globetrotting producer, having collaborated with musicians from all over the world (Mali, United States, Central Europe, Guinea...), as much as his passion for beautiful English melodies.
Together they venture to the outer edges of pop, including the idea of covers from the Midnight Oil album, Beds Are Burning, or Accroc aux Bimbos, a French adaptation of the risque Orgasm Addict by the Buzzcocks.
So a few cover versions, like the easy listening Da Da Da by Trio, a nod to Nouvelle Vague who launched her and homage to punk rock, but mainly her own creations in both English and French.
"Her impish voice has a certain je ne sais quoi... sexy" Open Mag
TERRY HALL, singer with the cult group THE SPECIALS, met Marina when they recorded a duet together for Nouvelle Vague 3, Our Lips Are Sealed. He returned to Paris and recorded four more magical duets with Marina for THE ANGEL POP: La Femme Chat, Beds Are Burning, Two Loves, Do You?
These songs examine the place of women in society and how they are treated. In La Femme Chat, she responds to the street insult "toutes les mêmes, toutes des chiennes" (all the same, all bitches ie dogs) with the counter, "I am beyond that, I am the queen of cats." What would the world be without otherness? Women shouldn't allow themselves to be badly treated. Marina is also a romantic who sings her dismay about trashy sexuality in Accroc aux Bimbos. She would like to encourage women to value themselves, to have high self-esteem and not to accept a lack of respect.
Marina sings about love, in which she still believes, but which can be 'open to reinvention', as Rimbaud put it. In Love Is she writes, "I need a new romance... something unusual... to make the difference... to find a new world..."
Enthused, she hopes that these songs will be injections of hope in the face of the trials of life. For example L'Appartement is an almost autobiographical song – Marina lives metres from Montmartre. "In becoming an artist I've lived in smaller and smaller apartments!" she laughs. Philosophical, in L'Appartement, she sings: "You've known good times too..." Optimistic, she resumes later: "There are more good times ahead..."
So, Marina Céleste aims to write songs to make you want to get up in the morning. Sometimes to slap you across the face, as in Watching You Naked; sometimes as solace in times of despondency and depression – La Corde Raide.
"A true tenderness" L'Express.fr
Finally, THE ANGEL POP is an album which is very like her: rhythmical, full of humour, at times rebellious, as in Do You? Because music touches hearts and the rhythms of the body, a song can be a vehicle of hope and carry a message, spreading reverberations of human tenderness in a world which remains, according to her, yet to be civilised.