French psychedelic-rock band La Femme embarked on a shoestring budget tour of the United States about six years ago, after each member saved up around $3,000 for the occasion.
The bandmates visited several states, but one in particular, Colorado, left enough of an impression on them that they penned a song titled “Cool Colorado.” The fresh air was great, but they also enjoyed being able to smoke marijuana out in the open, because, well, who doesn't?
“It’s a song we wrote while we were on tour in 2014,” says guitarist Sacha Got. “We spent two days in Denver, and I had a specific vibe there — the fresh air from the mountains and the others who smoked weed outside without getting in trouble.”
Marijuana is still illegal in France and most of the developed world. At the time of the band’s tour, Colorado was one of the few states where pot was legal. It was an interesting sight for the bandmates to behold. Should they come back to the U.S., they'll be pleased to know it's now legal in more than a dozen states, and even conservative enclaves like Oklahoma recognize its medicinal properties.
"Colorado Cool" is a hallucinatory affair, with swirling, chorus-soaked guitar and lyrics in French and English that paint a picture of an idealized America that some Europeans still believe in. Muted jazz horns accompany the chorus, and the video for the single seems straight out of the dance floor of some drug-addled 1960s club in London or Paris.
The band draws sonic inspiration from the psychedelic music of the 1960s and 1970s, incorporating surf rock and electronica into its sound. Got says that 1960s Minneapolis garage band the Trashmen, most famous for “Surfin’ Bird,” is also an influence.
La Femme’s debut album,Psycho Tropical Berlin
, carries a distinct spy-music vibe, an idea the group expanded on and evolved beyond in followupMystere
. That album garnered the band acclaim in 2013 and a Victoires de la Musique award, the French version of a Grammy. Although the band's sound has a distinctive psychedelic bent, Got says La Femme tries to do something different on every album. “Cool Colorado” is expected to be included on an upcoming release.
“We keep the same musical background, music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, as a main source of inspiration,” Got says. “We twist it with different styles.”
On the upcoming EP, the band folded in sounds of New Orleans jazz and classic jazz singers like Cab Calloway; someone even showed up to play banjo on one track. The group also includes disco vibes, ballads and electronic sounds into its style along with 1970s Turkish psychedelic music.
“With the Internet, it’s easier to discover that kind of thing,” Gott points out. “We take a bit from everywhere we travel, and we travel a lot, so it’s a big mess of elements.”
Got says the bandmates would love to come back to the United States for another tour, but they can’t travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Live music in France, like most live music in the United States, is currently non-existent; La Femme is working on videos and other media to pass the time. Got expects the new record to be released sometime early next year.
“We are doing some digital shows,” he says. “We can do stuff like that, but all the venues are closed, and all the theaters are closed. We don’t know when we are going to be able to play anymore.”
He adds that the band hopes to return to Denver one day. In the meantime, he wishes everyone luck through this crazy year.
“Try to keep focused on the real thing of life, and keep doing art,” he says.
“Cool Colorado” is now available. For more information, go to lafemmemusic.com.