Photographed by Thomas Braut.
Lucien Gainsbourg cuts a striking figure with his signature felt fedora and a full head of wavy hair that cascades just past his shoulders. His voice, especially when accompanied by his soulful piano-playing, is like a refreshing drink of water.
We first met the soft-spoken Lulu through Ara Starck, the artist and childhood friend-slash-collaborator of the songwriter. If Lulu inherited anything from his father, it’s his relationship to music. The only son of inescapable French icon Serge Gainsbourg and the model and actress Bambou, Lulu grew up playing the piano from the age of 4.
Inevitably following in his father’s footsteps, the musician began his career with a debut album that paid tribute to the legendary Gainsbourg, whom he lost when he was just 5. From Gainsbourg to Lulu is a cover album of Serge Gainsbourg songs put together by son Lulu. On it, Lulu sings with family and friends like Scarlett Johansson on “Bonnie and Clyde,” Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis for “Ballade de Melodie Nelson,” Iggy Pop on “Initial B.B.,” and Marianne Faithfull on “Manon.” Collaboration is an important word in Lulu’s world: His second album, Lady Luck, featured a song he wrote for family friend Lily Rose Depp and had friends like Ara and Anne Hathaway on duets, the latter who came to participate in the album after publicly confessing that she was a fan. This support from his peers is not only testament to Lulu’s endearing qualities as a friend, but to his own undeniable talent as a musician.
To the French, Lulu Gainsbourg is a household name, introduced to the country when he was just 2 years old by his father at one of his last concerts; to the world outside of France, he remains to be discovered. That’s set to slowly change. Lulu is ready to step out from his iconic father’s shadow, beginning with the global release of his eponymously named third album, Lulu Gainsbourg, in 2018. We catch up with the artist and his ingénue girlfriend, Lilou, in Paris for a quick chat.
Hi, Lulu! Tell us a bit about yourself for DAMDAM.
My name is Lulu. I’m a songwriter and musician from Paris. I’ve been passionate about music since I was a kid – I started piano when I was 4 years old.
“My inspiration comes from many different artists from the ’70s and ’80s like Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, U2, and my father Serge.”
Lulu Gainsbourg at a performance. / Blood runs deep: parents Bambou and Serge Gainsbourg; Lulu sharing a cover with sister Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Where do you get your inspiration for your music?
My inspiration comes from many different artists from the ’70s and ’80s like Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, U2, and my father Serge as well, to quote a few.
Name 3 songs currently on repeat on your playlist.
“Blackstar” – David Bowie
“Every Breaking Wave” (From Acoustic Sessions) – U2
“Variations sur Marilou” – Serge Gainsbourg
Do you have a daily ritual to start the day or unwind from the day?
Yes. Every single day I wake up, give a kiss to my girlfriend, and tell her I love her.
This or That
Tequila or vodka? Tequila !!!
Bath or shower? Shower.
Piano or guitar? Piano.
Night or day? Night.
What are your favorite destinations to escape to?
I really love Tokyo – one of my favorite cities in the world. I have been a big fan of manga since I was a kid and I love Japanese culture. The other city I like to escape is New York. Even if the energy over there is quite intense, I love being there. I go there to work, write music, or spend some good time. One of my best friend lives there – we work together all the time – and I have family there as well such as my sister, Charlotte, and my other sister, Ara Starck.