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After tackling Politics, Sebastien Tellier gets deep into Sexuality

Back in 2004, French singer-songwriter Sebastien Tellier released Politics, an album that took on what most people see as a critical topic. But with the release of Sexuality, his latest recording, Tellier says he's found a more important one.

"I have no more interest in politics, because politics is not the biggest subject possible," Tellier maintains, his accent thicker than the filling in a gourmet cream puff. In his view, "Sex is about humanity, about life. So it is impossible to find a deeper subject."

This theme didn't simply materialize out of nowhere; Tellier came up with it before starting to compose. "I choose a concept to have a line to follow," he says. Then, once he'd assembled his material, he reached out to producer Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, who partners with Thomas Bangalter in Daft Punk. Tellier feels that de Homem-Christo's technical skills are rare among European studio mavens. "He is a very smart, very modern guy," he notes — and as a bonus, "he doesn't listen to music with his head. He listens with the middle of his body."

Good thing, since Sexuality pays a lot of attention to that anatomical zone while giving free rein to Tellier's personal turn-ons. In "Une Heure," for example, he portrays a bisexual — a lifestyle he doesn't practice, but one that titillates him nonetheless. "In the song, I say that you have more pleasure if you have sex with a guy and a girl," he points out. "You can have more pleasure than anybody. So for me, the winner is a bisexual." A similar notion surfaces in "Sexual Sportswear," which is built around a fantasy involving two male coaches putting a woman in a track suit through various workouts, so to speak. He isn't sure why this scenario lights his candle, and he prefers it that way. "I like to keep the mystery," he says. "It's better to feel like you're in a dream and you don't know what's true or not."

No doubt many of Tellier's fans have been demonstrating their fondness for his new album in a horizontal manner. But not him. When he's having sex these days, he prefers the sounds of nature — wind rustling in the trees, the ambient noise of a river — rather than tuneage. "When I listen to music, I think about grooves and rhythms and bass, the sound of the synthesizer and what kind of microphone the singer is using," he says. "It's my job, music. So when I listen to music and make love, it takes away the pleasure."

And if he's not going to please himself, he might as well go back to writing about politics.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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