Not in love with Piaf


Oriana Curls talks about not being a fan of Edith Piaf when she was young…

As I grew up my musical taste led me directly away from the music of Edith Piaf. I developed a love of what you might call ‘operatic’ voices with lots of flexibility and range, and Piaf always sounded the exact opposite. Her voice was too raw, and for me she represented a very old fashioned kind of France, a pure French Parisian cliché, with a baguette and accordion in hand – which is not cool when you’re French! I was also very attracted to singing in English, and didn’t pay much attention to French singers or musicians, so I didn’t know much about her… Obviously, when you grow up in France you know a few of Piaf’s songs, they are unavoidable, and are planted deep within everyone’s subconscious. But I didn’t feel any connection with her, I knew only that she had written and sung some very well known songs that everybody was supposed to love… And then I moved to London, and funnily enough, while I was working on my own projects, people started to compare me to her. They commented on my physical appearance (they pointed out that I have a natural resemblance to her that I had never noticed), my ‘vintage’ style, and the instrumentation I choose for my work. I found myself becoming more interested in her life and my connection with her as a woman: her story, her impossible love, the way she grew up. I began to see all the beauty and power of her emotions and interpretation, the gorgeous arrangements and the perfectly written songs. I also grew to love the accordion, and now I think of it as one of the coolest instruments ever! Ha! I wanted to have some accordion in my first album (I had  also been influenced by composer Yann Tiersen). I subsequently started to add ‘La vie en rose’ to my setlist at each gig, and the rest is history. The story of my relationship with Piaf is like the story of starting to enjoy coffee or red wine at a later age – it’s a bit more bitter than you are used to, and though you might need more time to understand or connect with it, when you finally get there you know you’re going to love it forever.