The Rodeo is ready for a residency in Vietnam

"Arlequine" is a record that I imagined as a series of portraits of women, mixing the real and the fictional.


Singer-songwriter The Rodeo is about to begin a six-week residency at the Institut français of Vietnam's Villa Saigon, supported by the Institut français - IF Export. This will be an opportunity to collaborate with local artists and to undertake a concert tour in the country. 

Updated on 17/04/2023

5 min

The Rodeo
© Daguin Giamarchi

Could you tell us about your background? When did you decide to devote yourself to music?

I came to music by chance, I'm not from a family of musicians. But I've always leaned towards performing, I used to dance when I was little. When I was a teenager, my uncle gave me a guitar that was lying around in his attic and that was a revelation. I taught myself how to play it and I became a music obsessive, I went to a lot of gigs thinking that one day it would be me be on stage. I was in bands in high school, which helped me to come out of my shell, because I was a very shy person. One thing led to another and I was in my first band that released records, but had difficulty finding much recognition. Then I started a solo project under the name of The Rodeo, and was lucky enough to be signed to a record label. 


In May and June, you will be in residency at the Villa Saigon of the Institut français of Vietnam. One of your projects there is to record songs arranged with Vietnamese instruments mixed with ambient sounds (markets, motorbikes, urbanisation), and also to record with local musicians, in a studio in Ho Chi Minh City. Can you tell us more about this?

I've been to Vietnam before, in particular to promote concerts that I was supposed to perform there that were cancelled because of Covid. I often collaborate with other artists abroad, and this is something that means a lot to me. Beyond the fact of performing in another country, being immersed in a foreign culture is even more beneficial. I have worked with Taiwanese artists before, for example. In Vietnam, I will be collaborating with local musicians and recording ambient sounds, urban and natural, during a six-week residency. At the end of the residency, my touring band will join me and we will perform five concerts across the country to present our new album Arlequine.

"Arlequine" album cover
© DR
"Arlequine" album cover

What does this tour mean to you, given your Vietnamese origins? 

Asia is very close to my heart, partly due to my Vietnamese heritage, but also because I like to blend in with a country and live at the local rhythm, not just passing through. I recently spent six weeks with a family in Taiwan, and this gave me a lot to create with. The dialogue with people inspires me in my music. This residency at Villa Saigon is special for me because my family is half Vietnamese, and it will allow me to imagine what their life was like here. So a lot of emotions will come out of this residency. 


You started your career singing in English, before switching to French. How did this impact your international career? 

My first two albums were sung in English, which allowed me to play in many countries abroad. But when I switched to French on the third album, it unleashed something, a passion that I didn't have before. I realised that French, far from being a barrier, exports very well. There is perhaps a bit of my own vision in this, since my music evokes in a certain way the great artists of the past and French chanson. 


Could you explain the title of the album, and what the figure of the harlequin represents for you? 

I feminised the name Harlequin, which is not so far from my family name ("Hannequin", ed.). Beyond the character we know, who is both an entertainer and a jester, he is a figure with many facets. He is a multicoloured personality with many aspects, far more intelligent and sensitive than we think. He represents a record that I imagined as a series of portraits of women, mixing the real and the fictional. Some things are inspired by my own life and others are completely invented, as if from other possible lives. For example, there is a song on the album, La coupe est pleine, about a very jealous woman, the opposite of my personality. The women on the album are sometimes melancholy, sometimes strong, sometimes in love: they could all be the same person. 


What did you want to tell us with Arlequine? Where did you draw your musical inspiration for this album? 

As far as French chanson is concerned, it's more of a sixties and seventies inspiration, with quite warm arrangements, lots of strings and brass in continuity with the two previous albums. There are also Brazilian inspirations on a track like Praia Vermelha. There's also a touch of the eighties, with electro sounds that you don't usually hear in my music, and very upfront lyrics. There are some pretty delicate tracks and others that are much more hard-hitting. It's a bit of a rollercoaster, with very different emotions: flights of fancy, lulls, moments of power, all mixed together on a 35-minute record, quite short but very dense. 

The Rodeo
© Daguin Giamarchi
The Rodeo

What was the recording process like? 

I've been working with the same musicians for several years, who support me and are also my friends. I always start with a melody, which leads me to the lyrics. I've been playing the piano for several years now, and that's often how everything starts. Then I work on the arrangements, notably with Mathieu Geghre, who takes care of the brass and strings. I like to work with people who have been with me for a long time and whose work I admire. 


Would you like to add anything or tell us about any other news? 

I've been on tour since September. After an initial warm-up tour, we'll be back on the road this summer and in the autumn. We'll also be going to Canada, Germany, and hopefully other Asian countries. 

Vietnam Tour Dates

16.06.23 in Hô Chi Minh City - Institut d’Échanges Culturels avec la France
18.06.23 in Da Lat - Ana Mandara
21.06.23 in Hanoi - Polygon musik 
22.06.23 in Da Nang - Fête de la musique
23.06.23 in Hue - Académie de musique de Hue 


L'institut français, LAB