Singer Patricia Kaas:
I grew up poor but I had love
This is what I love about my profession: to see music’s therapeutic effect
14 July, 2017
Close-up: Patricia Kaas was born on 5 December 1966 in Forbach, France. She is the youngest of seven children (five boys and two girls) in the family of Joseph and Irmgard Kaas. Patricia exhibited talent for singing at an early age, already performing songs by Mireille Mathieu, Sylvie Vartan and Dalida. When she was 16, she signed her first ever contract, to perform in a club, with the help of her brother Egon. One of her first producers was actor Gerard Depardieu. Kaas made her cinema debut in 2002 with a starring role in the film And now... Ladies and Gentlemen, in which she partnered Jeremy Irons. Alain Delon is among her closest friends. At the end of June, Kaas gave a concert in Sofia as part of a tour promoting her new album.
- Ms Kaas, Sofia was the latest stop of the tour promoting your eponymous album. What stage of your life do the album’s songs reflect? Is there an intriguing story surrounding the recording process?
- I am at a point in my life where I want to sing about things that truly move me and touch me on a deeply personal level. I have never been one to use tested formulas in pursuit of commercial success or market niches; the soul and its explorations are at the heart of my music. The album seems to have turned out rather feministic without my planning for it. We live in a world where it is important for you to be open to discussing sensitive topics such as gender discrimination or domestic violence. I am adamant that when you sleep with the enemy and you are the victim in a relationship, it should not be a “family problem” discussed behind closed doors. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, hope at the end of each such dramatic track.
- What is the emotional transition between singing Piaf songs and Kaas songs? Did you feel the entire creative process as something of a homecoming?
- This is rather a nod to the fans who used to be impressed by the Piaf repertoire I sang but kept asking: “But when are you going to sing something of yours?” It was thrilling and motivating. The tour is going full steam and people are not just applauding, they leave the gig with huge smiles, happy. This is the reality, this is what I love about my profession - to see music’s therapeutic effect.
- Do you have a special ritual that helps you concentrate before you go on stage?
- I follow a series of simple steps - I go through sound check, then make-up and I have dinner with my team. I like to spend some time with the people I share the whole process with. I do a light warm up for 15 minutes because I wear high heels on the stage and my feet must be conditioned for it. I do not meditate or have a specific training regime. My fans love me the way I am.
- When on tour, you must often wake up in your hotel room, wondering “What city am I in, where is the bathroom?” What is the question on your mind when you wake up in your own bed and you know that you do not have a rehearsal to go to?
- Perhaps, “Where will I lounge today?” It is an extremely nice feeling because you have the luxury of being under the weather or tired and not having any demands on your time. I like waking up at home, surrounded by my favourite colours and items. It makes me feel centred, peaceful.
- On one of your birthdays you offered your father to gift him with a vacation and he returned: “Come have a drink with me. I’ll show you off to my friends.” Is he the person who has helped you stay firmly grounded despite all your success and fame?
- I lost my mother at a very young age, when I was still a child, and my father passed away recently at the age of 96. I grew up poor, we could not afford to go on vacations or buy nice clothes, but we were happy. I never wanted for anything because we had love. Once I had real success and had more financial means, I wanted to give my father what he could not have before and yes, he always refused. He did not care for luxury, he wanted to take me to a bar. It was the reality he knew and I was used to as well - cherish the little things and know who I am irrespective of the media attention.
- What is the most memorable moment you keep from the mining village of your childhood? When was the last time you went back there?
- I was there on 5 December last year, I celebrated my birthday with my family at a small restaurant there. We only met for dinner because I was in the middle of a rehearsal process and I had time constraints. You asked about a memory - I was far from a shy kid and when I was asked to sing a tune, I used to jump onto a table or rush to the middle of the street and proceeded to perform. The strange thing was, they always clapped, no one said “Stop that noise!”
- How do you maintain your voice?
- I do not smoke because I do not like it. I should take better care of my voice, I know, but I have been working from a very young age and I seem to know how to protect myself instinctively. I have no problem having a drink when I am on tour but I am always careful with air-conditioners and carbonated drinks.
- What type of role could entice you to go back to filming for cinema?
- I do not want to accept a role just for the pleasure of saying: “Oh, look, I am on the silver screen!” Music is my passion, acting is not a talent I boast about. The complexity of the character and the story are the main factors and I also think I would feel comfortable in a comedy. My songs are not that dynamic, you will not see me jumping and clowning on the stage and so such a role would present a nice challenge.