With his new record out today, we review Petit Biscuit's sophomore album Parachutes, and chat to the musician himself!
In 2015, at the age of fifteen, French producer, composer, and songwriter Petit Biscuit catapulted himself to international stardom with his smash single, Sunset Lover. With over one billion streams across platforms, the song is universally known whether you’re an avid listener or not. That song placed Mehdi Benjelloun, the mastermind behind Petit Biscuit, on the world stage. Sunset Lover was followed up by an EP and the musicians debut album, Presence. Featuring an array of collaborators, Benjelloun brought his epic production to each track. Now, on his sophomore record Parachute, the producer is stepping behind the microphone and taking on the role of lead vocalist throughout his new body of work.
The record conceptually comments on love, war, and death across nine tracks, with the musician bringing a quality of storytelling songwriting to each track. Commenting on the themes from his own point of view, the introspective nature of the record documents Benjelloun's experiences whilst travelling the world. Opening with the title track, Parachute, the record kicks off with a bang. Bringing his signature flawless production, it’s Benjelloun's vocals that take centre stage, sounding like a veteran singer. Burnin has a fresh vibe for Benjelloun. Structured more like a traditional pop song, the sensual track navigates the division between lust and love.
Standout tracks Take Cover and Constellation form the middle section of the release. Take Cover conceptually comes from the perspective of a child who finds themselves amidst warfare. The vulnerability of the lyricism and more demure production highlight the idea of growing up too fast, due to the circumstances a young person finds themselves within. Constellation is lyrically symbolic and features some stellar guitar riffs that exemplifies the sonic soundscape of the track, and takes it to a whole other level. Those guitar riffs cut through, drawing similarities with the overbearing feeling of losing someone you’ve stuck by through thick and thin.
With only two collaborations on the record, the first comes in the form of Pick Your Battles. Teaming up with Diplo, the song uses echoed vocal acrobatics and exhibits the versatility of the singers vocals. You could almost think you’ve heard three different vocalists by this point. The second collaboration sees the musician join forces with Shallou on I Leave Again, which documents the nostalgia of a relationship felt post-breakup. The production is more pared back compared to the record as a whole, building up into a euphoric soundscape with higher vocals before landing at energising electronic sounds.
On Parachutes, Benjelloun brings a new level of maturity and directness to the body of work. The tracks feel more considered and curated to create the best soundscape for the record to exist in. The conceptual threads of love, war, and death are touched on without overtly being forced upon the listener, allowing for individual interpretations to arise and create a more engaging listening experience. Benjelloun’s vocals are the star of the record. There’s an effortless quality to each performance, highlighting the tones of his voice. Having already conquered the electronic music scene, Petit Biscuit is on his way to taking over the world.
Parachutes is out now! Read our interview with Petit Biscuit below.
Tell us a bit about how your musical journey began…
It all began when I was 5, asking my mom if I can start to practice cello. I aesthetically loved this instrument. I’ve learnt so many instruments by myself and I knew inside out that production would be the last step of my learning process. I knew that I will, someday, create art.
Congratulations on the new record!
Parachute conceptually comments on love, war, and death across nine tracks. What drove you to explore these themes?
When I’m writing, I can tell stories that I have experienced before or that I’m experiencing right now. But I also love to give my point of view on many things that I see in my life, trying to introduce myself into someone else's soul to know what they're thinking about. I will always find something to say about those there themes, they are some of our most incredible experiences and fear, for us, humans.
On the record, you begin to express your own emotions and perspective through the lyricism as opposed to the more instrumental nature of your debut. How important was it for you to take that leap into more personal, uncharted territory?
When I was touring, I felt like I put my brain off for two or three years long. And when I came back home to produce that second album, I had so many introspective periods. I travelled by myself around Iceland and the U.S. and I’ve learnt so much about the world and about myself. I’ve learnt about all the traumas that I had, all the pressure that I used to minimize. I needed to write all those things down and lyrics were the best way to do it.
Your vocals also take centre stage on the album. What prompted the decision to step behind the mic and how did you find that experience compared to your usual production duties?
I’ve always loved singing anywhere I was. It was just that I’ve never felt comfortable and legitimate to tell stories, write lyrics and be behind the mic. The second album writing process was so much different that I’ve forgotten all those former issues to make something just very personal.
Could you give us some insight into your personal top three tracks from the record…
Constellation is my favorite. It’s a story about when you’re losing someone that helped you a lot through life, and how you can deal with it. Every line on that track is symbolic and is related to the astronomia to bring a lot of sweetness and poetry. I love Burnin as well, as it’s a very fresh theme. It's talking about a man falling in love with his sexfriend (friends with benefits). It’s very hard to find a frontier between complicity and body contact (because that’s how sexfriends act like) and what real love is. My third one would be Take Cover. I tried to introduce myself into a war childs mind, with all his vulnerability. I think all the children of war are just growing too fast. They don't have any time to live as a child should, because of the reality they are facing.
You were only 15 when you released Sunset Lover which catapulted you to worldwide acclaim. What have you learnt and experienced since then that has played a part and influenced the creation of this record?
I was a teenager while touring all around the world and, you know, it was hard to build myself. I thought that I was strong enough to face the music industry but I was not, and I have been hurt a lot. I’ve learnt to take distance from this industry. But always evolving as an artist. I’ve learnt that I can try to break the rules. I have nothing to lose now.
You’re a classically trained musician, playing piano, guitar, cello and more. How do you think your classical training and understanding of music has influenced the way you produce and create electronic music?
It just helped me a lot because when I started composing, I already had that musical logic that you need to acquire (and it can take a lot of time). But you know, I had to dislearn many things to be able to get 100% free on the way I’m creating.
What messages do you hope listeners take away from the album?
I just hope that my listeners will feel something while listening to this album. Nothing else.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording songs?
It depends but most of the time, it all starts with a simple element that touches my mind. It’s 80% of the time an organic melody that I made with my guitar or piano. But sometimes it’s a texture or a melody that I made on my moog. I need a loop to start finding a good theme and develop it. And I just build around it, having fun with my instruments and synths.
Are there any other genres and avenues of music you’d like to explore in the future within your releases?
I’m already exploring so many genres to blend them together. That’s obviously what I’ll do in the future!
What has been the most challenging part about creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Creating music is even easier during that period because I have more time to spend in the studio. Less promos and less concerts help a lot. But I miss touring.
You were scheduled to perform in Australia this year at Splendour In The Grass which was unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re hoping to see you on next year's line up! In the meantime, do you have any post-pandemic touring plans?
I hope I’ll be able to come next year then! I’m sure I will tour a lot once the pandemic’s over. I need to share that part of the project where I’m singing a lot and embody what I’m producing and saying through my songs. I need to show that on stage. But also, the pandemic was good for asking many questions. I know that I want my tour to be way more clean and green than it was before.
What can audiences expect from a Petit Biscuit live show?
As I told you in the last question, many more singing parts. I want to feel closer to the humans that are facing me. I want my concerts to be way warmer that it ever was before.
Dream collaboration? James Blake.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
The 1975 - Notes On a Conditional Forms.
Best song of 2020?
The 1975 - The Birthday Party.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
The most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Zénith de Paris, 2017, one week after the release of my first album. The crowd was on fire and all my friends were here.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Day Wave - The Days We Had.
Best concert you have been to?
Porter Robinson x Madeon at the Olympia in Paris.
Last concert you went to?
DJ Snake, La Défense Arena, Paris.
Guilty music pleasure?
Cassie - Me & U, I’m digging a lot of 2000’s vibes to be honest.
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
The 1975 haha.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
The Weeknd, he’s literally telling in every new album how the next vibes will be.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, a year from now?
Stay distant from the industry.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I was 5 years old. I always felt like I was a musician.