Thérèse Sayarath (La Vague)
Thérèse Sayarath is a singer/songwriter from Paris, France.
In 2016, Thérèse joined forces with John and formed the explosive duo called La Vague.
Thérèse (Lead vocals / Chinese drum) and John (backing vocals / multi-instrumentalist) first introduced themselves through covers and then revealed their first EP Serotonin, entirely written in English.
The French duo has garnered a great fanbase across the country with their authentic sound made of colorful and energetic records.
As the band regularly plays shows around Paris and France, Thérèse also strives to be a figure of empowerment in the French-Asian community.
“I am very proud to take part in it and help the construction of another image of the French "universality". A universality that includes all the people, with any kind of colors and origins. Moreover, I am a woman. So I have this "double fight". It can be exhausting sometimes but most of the time, it is quite exciting actually,” expresses Thérèse.
La Vague will be releasing their new EP this Fall, which will include records performed in French, English and Chinese (Mandarin).
Introduce yourself - where are you from?
My name is Thérèse Sayarath, from Paris. I see myself as a rainbow. The encounter between the sun and the rain. Visible but uncatchable. With many shades but no real borders between those different colors. You never know where it starts, never know where it ends. I love Patrick Roger Chocolate. I cried eating at Atsushi Tanaka last year. I am synesthesic. I still have a teddybear. I love people, they help me understand life. Gaining my trust is hard. I love self-mockery but am easily hurt. I have a bunch of crazy lipsticks. I am impulsive and impatient. I love fashion. Hiking soothes me. I love being in the Parisian Metro. I can't drive. I am afraid of drowning.
What's your story?
I was born and raised in Paris surburb. I studied in Lyon, went abroad many times for internships, travelled a bit and came back in Paris. I have been living here for 10 years now and still love this city from the bottom of my heart.
What can you tell us about your roots and background?
I am half Chinese, quarter Lao and quarter Vietnamese. My parents arrived in France in the late 70's (they met in Paris). They had small jobs, got married, ran many small businesses and gave us everything they could. I grew up in Paris surburb (Villejuif, Saint-Ouen, Bagnolet, Vitry sur Seine) and escaped from it when I was 17.
Could you describe us a little bit your childhood? Any favorite memories?
As far as I remember, I had a quite ordinary happy childhood. Loving parents and brother. A huge family, lots of good food and noisy gatherings with my whole family playing cards or mah-jong. I also remember that I loved playing soccer and lego when I was a kid, I was a real little tomboy. School was my best playground.
If you could say something to your younger self, what would you say?
"Trust life" (that's what I repeat myself everyday - but it's tough). Don't be afraid of being different and flawed. Differences and imperfections are strengths. Allow yourself to be fluid, multiple, complex.
When did you start feeling connected to art and music in general?
I don't know exactly when it started. My mom told me that I started both talking and singing at the same time. I also always loved painting, drawing, writing, taking pictures, watching movies etc. My first musical serious crush was "Wild world" from Cat Stevens. My father offered me the CD when I was 7. I started playing piano at 9 and studied about 8 years at the conservatory. I enjoyed writing poems when I was a kid, but I wrote my first "real" song at 17 and never really stopped since. Many artists had a huge influence in my life, in the construction of my identity. Musicians of course, such as Radiohead, Portishead, Björk, Eminem, Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, MIA... I widely opened my heart and mind to art when I was in highschool. I had an amazing art teacher, Mr Ely. He passed on a lot to me. I've been shaken up by painters like Soulages, Basquiat, Miro, Kandinsky or Rothko. Niki de Saint Phalle and Rebecca Horn too. Writers like Salinger, Bukowski, Murakami, Houellebecq, Pessoa or the genius psychoanalyst CG Jung. There were so many films too... Sorry but this list is endless... :)
At what point did you decide to pursue music as a career? What did your friends and family think of it?
Late. But not "too late". Life had lots to teach me before I felt ready to jump into the music industry. I was 28 when I decided to quit what my parents considered as a "proper" job (I was Product Manager at Kenzo Parfums, LVMH). In 2015, I suffered from burnout as my job really didn't make sense anymore. I discovered a couple of years before that I was a "gifted adult" - god damn, what a relief. I realized that I was not living my own life, but the life my parents and our society wanted me to. So I decided to switch and draw my own path. As Missy Elliott recently said "as long as you are breathing, everything is possible". That's the motto I want to follow.
It has been quite hard for my parents, more particularly for my father. We argued a lot, he was upset (so was I). At the beginning, they were worried I guess. Then they noticed that this was not a whim. Now, they don't really understand but they support me. It means already a lot to me. My friends’ reaction was quite different. Some of them told me I was brave to leave my well-paid job for passion (and financial insecurity). Some others just did the same :)
You are the lead singer of the band La Vague. When did the band form? At what point did you know you had to form a band?
The band formed about 3 years ago, with John (we are a duo). I met him in 2011 at a jam session. We decided to play covers together and few years later, we started La Vague. I guess it was the right moment for us to try something.
How would you describe La Vague?
"La Vague" means "the wave". So as a wave, "La Vague" is unpredictable, uncatchable, fluid. It can be small and calm as much as huge and violent as a tsunami.
What can you tell us about your first EP Serotonin? What's the story behind this project?
"Serotonin" is the hormone of happiness. The name of this EP was obviously ironic. I wrote these songs a bit after my burnout. It was a way to heal myself and unconciously and indirectly heal my friends and all our generation. The world we live is fucked up. Everything goes too fast, we are organizing a kind of massive collective suicide (frenetic consumption, climate issue, economic wars etc.). Sometimes I just don't know how to handle it. Should we keep on fighting or just let go ? I still don't have the answer. But for the moment I am just not able to let go...
What are the different topics you are talking about on this first project?
White collars boring life, love as a remedy, our burnout generation, the bad reasons to be with someone, the innocence of childhood, the difficulty of being an "adult"...
What can you tell us about your latest music video "Hardcore Melancholia"? What was the inspiration behind it?
That octopus smelled a lot. lol
Mmm... The rolling cheese was a perfect metaphor of our society and fits perfectly with the concept of "Hardcore Melancholia": running after something you don't really need, with the rules you didn't write and that you don't understand. You can fall down, hurt yourself for this object, just for fun or glory. When I say "you", I mean "We". I am not above the fray.
What made you want to write and sing in English?
I love this language. I mostly listen to English and American artists, so it was kind of natural for me to do so. But I have to admit that I was frustrated that people didn't understand my songs in my own country. These past two years, I've been started a reappropriation of my Asian culture. So for the next EP (planned for november 2019), I decided to write in English, French and... Chinese (Mandarin) !
Who's helping you build your artistry and your visuals?
Until this year, I built all this part by myself - exchanging with John of course. I drew the logo with my friend Marion Roux, found the photographers (Marta Bevacqua) and the beauty team, did the styling, did the community management etc. Now we are working with Charlie Montagut for the launch of our second EP.
What appeals you the most about being an artist?
Trying to bring a vision. Trying to make people think about life, free their mind through emotions. Oh and of course, gigs. I live for gigs. Feeling all these vibes in a same room, what a present !
How does it feel like to be an Asian woman in the music industry?
Lonely ? lol We are witnessing the awakening of the second generation of Asian people in France. The movement is slowly gaining momentum - in film, dance and music industries etc. And it's only the beginning. I am very proud to take part in it and help the construction of another image of the French "universality". A universality that includes all the people, with any kind of colors and origins. Moreover, I am a woman. So I have this "double fight". It can be exhausting sometimes but most of the time, it is quite exciting actually.
What message do you want to give to women around the world?
Be strong, we are crossing a stormy decade but things seem to move, finally. Love and cherish your feminine part as much as you love and cherish the masculine one. Believe in sisterhood. Don't fight against men. Fight with them. Humanity is a whole.
How do you want to be remembered for?
My blue hair ? Just kidding. I don't know. For the ideas I am fighting for I guess - some I mentionned above and below.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
Better education, a new governance system with real leaders, with a vision for the future. Art, spirituality and self love. We are facing a deep and major spirituality crisis, above all in the Western countries. I am not talking about religion. I am talking about spirituality. Trying to understand why the human being is on earth and everything could help this planet, a lot. We have to reset the humanity's paradigm.
What biggest lessons have you learnt as a human being and as an artist?
Fighting for freedom (intellectual and emotional) is the most difficult thing of our existence. But it's worth it.
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