Why you won’t escape Mahaut Mondino, daughter of Jean-Baptiste Mondino, and much more…
With her sensual and exotic rhythms, Mahaut Mondino’s mutant R&B is influenced by the great soul voices. A portrait of a very talented young French lady born under a lucky star...
WHEN THE SPICE GIRLS BOTTLE-FED GENERATION TAKES CONTROL…
Twenty years later and this is what you get. The generation conceived to the harassing yet lively beat of the Spice Girls has now reached maturity. It’s starting to saturate the world with its early creations. For kids of the 1990s, the British girl band (Wannabe, 1996) and the cheesy R&B of R. Kelly (I Believe I Can Fly, 1996) formed the sound track to their first thrills, often embodying the ultimate musical horizon. Mahaut Mondino belongs to this generation. Born in 1992, the young French woman has no problem admitting this, even citing L5 (Toutes les femme de ta vie, 2001). But the little girl she was back then, cannon fodder for formatted music and videos, has been left well behind. Because although it fully belongs to her, Mahaut Mondino’s upbringing differs from her peers: “Thanks to my father”, she explains.
I was fascinated by the big voices of Aretha Franklin and Etta James. I would shut myself in my bedroom and wouldn’t come out until I’d been able to reproduce what I was hearing, even the most difficult notes.
DAUGHTER OF… AND MORE
The daughter of Friquette Thévenet and Jean-Baptiste Mondino, iconic photographer and music lover, and director of music videos for the likes of Björk, Madonna and Vanessa Paradis, Mahaut Mondino didn’t have to go through the same meanderings as her contemporaries contemplating reality TV and cheap mainstream pop music. “My father played vast amounts of music at home and in the car. So much so I was singing the choruses of Sly and the Family Stone at a very young age.” Soul and blues formed the other end of her musical culture. “I was fascinated by the big voices of Aretha Franklin and Etta James. I would shut myself in my bedroom and wouldn’t come out until I’d been able to reproduce what I was hearing, even the most difficult notes.” Her voice quickly became her instrument of choice, to the extent that she rather abused it for choruses and various effects. “I’ve learnt how to use it since then,” she reassures us.
A LANGUID AND EXOTIC R&B
Before the age of 18 she went to one of her father’s film sets where he gave her the opportunity to work on the soundtrack with Mirwais, formerly in the band Taxi Girl and producer of Madonna’s last great album (Music, 2000). “Deep down it was what I’d always wanted to do. But it took me a long time to admit it,” explains Mahaut. So she enrolled at sound engineer school, refusing to sign with the Because label: “I wasn’t a fool. I knew my name held a certain attraction - and still does. But I wouldn’t be shamed by anyone. At the time more than anything else I needed to learn, to discover what it was I wanted to do, and to have confidence in myself. I was so shy.” In her video, shot by her father, Mahaut Mondino sways audaciously to an exotically languid R&B.” I’ve worked really hard to get where I am today. That’s one of the values my father has passed down to me. There’s been no space for inactivity in our family. Even when I’m having a lie-in, I still leap out of bed when I hear him on the stairs.”
I have no desire to be experimental, arty or intellectual like James Blake or FKA Twigs, even if I get occasionally get close. I love commercial music. When it’s good, it’s the best music out there.
HER ALBUM PRODUCED BY EURYTHMICS’ DAVE STEWART
In Paris, Mahaut Mondino writes her lyrics and does her demos on her own. She wanted “to be in complete control”. But over recent months she’s been spending more and more time in Los Angeles where she’s been producing her first four tracks with Nick Van Hofwegen, of the band Young & Sick. An American ambition that goes well with her music. Just like her pop ambitions – “to write music that brings people together” that suit her generation bottle-fed on the commercial R&B of the 90s and early 2000s. “I have no desire to be experimental, arty or intellectual like James Blake or FKA Twigs, even if I get occasionally get close. I love commercial music. When it’s good, it’s the best music out there” concludes the up-and-coming star.
By Thibaut Wychowanok
Discover Summertime, Mahaut’s uninhibited new music video.