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In , Gainsbourg underwent brain surgery to repair a hemorrhage that should have left her dead or paralyzed. Although the doctors gave her a clean bill of health, she insisted on repeated MRIs, fearful she was at death’s door. Only when she went back to work was she able to reclaim her life. Written with Beck, Gainsbourg’s third album IRM (the French spelling of MRI) is bundle of pulsing rhythms fused with winsome, orchestral pop. ough Gainsbourg’s alarm at her own mortality continues to scare the bejesus out of her, it makes for some damn fine tunes. Your parents, especially your father, were great provocateurs. Most teenagers go through a rebellious phase, but your parents were such rebels themselves. Did you have a rebellious period? [Laughs] I had it very late. Everything I do is never quite in time. I’m a very slow person. I had a very rebellious time in my s. But it’s true that with my parents, I could do whatever I wanted. I was completely free, so I would make up lies to my friends, saying, “Oh, I need to get back before midnight,” and it was completely false. I needed the limits—that’s for sure. I think that’s why I asked to go to boarding school. It’s nice to feel the limits. What particular ways did you rebel? Heh heh heh, that’s too intimate. [Laughs]

is, I find, quite rare. I think he did everything so that I felt comfortable, so that I felt no pressure, because I’m quite a nervous person. The music is very evocative, and there’s a lot of anxiety that comes through. I just reacted to the rhythms when they were a little chaotic, a little aggressive. e African rhythms—I don’t know why I was quite compelled by those sounds. ere’s just something physical that happens with those kinds of rhythms, and I think it made sense. e whole ambiance of sometimes African rhythms—sometimes something more mechanical was a good reference. The song “IRM” has the clanging MRI sound and lots of factory noises. Did that ever freak you out? [e MRI noise] was something I asked Beck to put in the music. It’s a real MRI sound. When you go through an MRI, you have a whole sequence of disturbing beats and sounds, and that’s only a short sample of it. I was the one who asked for those sounds. [Laughs] Since the accident, how has your approach to life been altered? e thing is, when you go through something quite traumatic like that, you do wake up feeling completely different and feeling life will never be the same, et cetera. Everyday life comes back very very quickly, and I

The only reminder I have [of brain surgery]is the little hole on my skull, and now I have the reflex of touching this hole. – C H A R L O T T E G A I N S B O U R G Your character in Antichrist dealt with the death of her child. Was that a cathartic role for you after your accident? It was very helpful because it meant that I could forget about my own problems about my head. Before starting the film, I was always panicking about my health, something going wrong, having to do MRIs again just to persuade myself that I was okay, so I was always just in a panic about myself, and I couldn’t stand to be focused on myself like that. When I was able to focus on someone else’s character, especially something as hard as that project, it meant that I was free again. It set me free. How did Beck make you a better artist with IRM? I think we had a very instinctive collaboration. We spent entire days together, but it wasn’t like we were going into heavy, profound discussions or anything. ere was a communication that happened with no effort, which

forgot. I forgot how important it is, how beautiful it is. You know, you go back to normal life. It’s good to see how banal it could be again. e only reminder I have is the little hole on my skull, and now I have the reflex of touching this hole. So, it is a reminder, but I can’t say that I’m transformed. Do you find yourself frequently contemplating the afterlife? I thought I was quite fearless and that I wasn’t that preoccupied with my own death, but when it was nearly there, I did panic and I was so scared that it wasn’t a good surprise. I felt a little bit a coward, and I didn’t like that about myself. What I have understood about myself is that I’m very scared. I imagine when you’re actually faced with your own death, you have a completely new perspective on it. Yeah, I wasn’t ready. [Laughs]

[

MARCH 2010 + RECORD STORE magazine + 15

]

Dimple Record's In-Store Magazine, March 2010  

In-store magazine for Sacramento independent retailer Dimple Records, featuring Drive-By Truckers, Jimi Hendrix, Charlotte Gainsbourg and mo...

Dimple Record's In-Store Magazine, March 2010  

In-store magazine for Sacramento independent retailer Dimple Records, featuring Drive-By Truckers, Jimi Hendrix, Charlotte Gainsbourg and mo...