“I do not like to stop my artistic impulses, I’m very polyvalent, open and fanciful.”
Wife of Olivier Lapidus, the pretty Yara with a smooth voice, has released an eponymous album in pop style and variety, with slight highly refined oriental influences. In her Paris apartment, decorated with lavish sculptures created by her father architect and sculptor Robert Wakim, we met Yara, woman and child of a beautiful creativity and wisdom.
“I find that writing is a great way to get all the love and passion inside us.”
Yara, you also have a stylist formation, how did you get the passion for singing? I have studied to be a stylist. Music has always been part of my life, I started playing guitar at the age of 6 years. My mother, in addition to being a painter, is a guitarist. I then learned 10 years of piano, then I stopped all instruments. Upon my arrival to Paris to pursue a career in fashion design, I secretly enrolled in singing lessons. So I had avowed passion for styling and unspoken passion for music and performing. I joined all possible courses of theater. In Lebanon, I had the opportunity to follow the course of Kamal Salame and in Paris, the Cours Florent, and the Actors Studio, with no intention of being an actress one day, but I thought it would serve me … I do not like to stop my artistic impulses, I’m very polyvalent, open and visionary, I have this little grain, this artistic fiber. Often I work in shorts in my office at home … In France we tend to divide into sectors a lot, to stay in a single field, if you are stylist, you stay all your life, it is to say that it is important not to be good at something else. In the US, it is not at all the same: you can register at the same time in singing lessons, at a dance class and a course of physical expression, it is quite another state of mind to which I feel closer.
In which circumstances did you meet your husband Olivier Lapidus? When I met the man of my life, Olivier, I was in internship. Olivier was artistic director of the house Ted Lapidus. Before this encounter, I followed several other courses, at Dior, Balmain …
Which style have you adopted for your creations as a stylist? In terms of styling, I started with the dresses. I created some thirty pieces for each collection. Little dresses of the day and evening dresses but not couture dresses, rather evening dresses, ready-to-wear chic enough. It was the concept that I had chosen. Later I switched to a limited edition collection of jeans after a trip to China where I discovered a brilliant concept with silk embroidery. After this collection, I made jeans with jewelry then I switched to music.
Why have you chosen to take the song “Salma ya salama” in your album, it is a song that yet has been sung by countless performers? As a Child, the first trip I made was to Egypt. I was four at the time. My father ran and was one of the founders of Dar Al Handasa. During the two years I lived in Cairo in this beautiful city, I discovered the famous Dalida through her songs, I saw her in black and white films, in pictures and it stayed in my memory as on a hard drive. I discovered the sweetness of this sexy but never vulgar woman. Beyond the character, beyond the artist, I loved the being she was, her fragility and sensitivity. I had the chance to read her biography that touched me greatly. I sympathize with her, I understand her suffering. On the other hand, I really appreciate the Egyptian language. We can still find with my parents recordings of my voice speaking Egyptian very commonly and without accent. Salma ya salama is a tube that has been taken over hundreds of times in the world by many more or less known singers. By taking this song, I launched a challenge: to make something new again and again. And I think I succeeded. I presented the model and everyone loved my remake. It was a real little challenge …
Beautiful picture of Yara on the Corniche in Beirut at the time of a gorgeous sunset.
What is the role of writing in your career? Five years ago, I decided to devote myself entirely to this world that fascinates me: writing. In fact, I have only done this after the presentation of my latest collection of jeans. I wrote the songs myself and I looked for composers. I find that writing is a great way to get everything we have in the inner self, especially all this quantity of love and passion that is in us.
One of the songs in your album is called “Cedar”. You mention fruits and grenades from Lebanon. Do you see a reference to the famous “Song of Songs”? There is not actually a direct and close connection with the text of the Song of Songs, but if you say, why not to notice and point out … Lebanon is a real part of me, just like my spine. Lebanon is a little my father and France is my mother. I see in fact these two countries as two caring parents. Besides, I wanted the cover images of this album to be made in Lebanon. I also insisted that the style of music that I have developed is a kind of bridge between the West and the Orient, as a constant back and forth. Your fruits are pomegranates, here I see a little allusion to the war, but I am a very shy person, I also like the second level of things and words, I did not use crude words like the word war, hatred and death. I do not like the explicit songs … I read a lot, I like metaphors, delicacy, subtlety in the lyrics.
Through the title “Paris Plage”, a song from the album, we feel that Paris sticks to your skin … Paris is a city that adopted me since fifteen years. I confess that at no time I felt as a foreigner in this city. This title is a tribute, a kind of nod to this city that I like. Ironically, I’ve never been to Paris Plage. I go to the beach in Lebanon. I like poetry that emerges from this compound word “Paris-Plage”. I also like the fact that Paris in summer dresses in Mediterranean clothing, this moment of eternity when people lie down, forget a little bit about themselves.
The famous TV presenter and writer Patrick Poivre d’Arvor-wrote one of the songs of the album. Can you tell us more about this successful collaboration? Patrick is a long-time acquaintance. I know him for about twelve years. It’s a character that I love a lot. One day, at the turn of a conversation over lunch, he finds the idea of making a great album and immediately suggests to write me a song. Thinking he will surely forget, being overwhelmed, I shelved the proposal. Patrick calls me a month later. I offered him a song title that inspired me by my girls and I could not develop: Mes poupées d’abord. Patrick took over this personal title that I wanted and that’s how the song Mes poupées d’abord was born…
“Lebanon is a little my father and France is my mother “
What do you think of the Hadopi law against downloading that has provoked many reactions in France? I assume that, from the moment you are downloaded, this means that your music is good. Today, who can release a record in five minutes? Star Academy, New Idol or the artists who made a ten years career? And so for those coming out of this network of known singers, it is very difficult for them to emerge. Personally I have been struggling for five years to get my album. It’s extremely hard today and I find that there are many and more and more abuse on this issue. Personally, I like having the CD with me on my shelves, I like to buy a CD or thumb through a book, I am passionate about opera, I flip through a lot and often register annotations. On the other hand, it can happen to me legally download some tracks on itunes but it’s not what I prefer … So in a way, long live the legal downloading, but I find that artists may disappear if this continues…
In which language do you prefer to sing? I love to sing in Arabic, my native language. I am told that it is much more touching and much deeper.
What can light you up today, Yara? My life as a wife, my beloved Olivier, my daughters, my parents, family, relationships I have with humans, anything that has to do with human beings. I do not attach myself to the material side. I do not wear a ring or a watch, I cling to people, not things. What lights me up today is to love and be loved. What does not make me happy above all, is malice and indifference.
Your CD celebrates love. Love at “high dose” … Yara, you have a passionate temperament in everyday life? Even if my lyrics and songs are not all autobiographical, they include pieces of me … I seethe from within and this is not always noticed. I’m not the nervous type, I do not tend to burst, to scream … Yes! I am a passionate and excessive woman, and I assume this very well.
“My wish is to come and sing in Lebanon with my team.”
Do you have some advice to give to young people who want to get into the music business? I think it would be presumptuous of me to give advice because I myself started, I’m arriving in small steps … Let’s say I advise patience and perseverance. On the other hand, I am the person who is bent at work, I do not like the things that fall on me. I have no guarantee that this album will be a success, but one thing is sure is that I put all my strength and all my soul.
What is your philosophy? Keep on … It’s hard to say, but always keep a little bit of hope with a small light at the end, in spite of the disappointments that you can face in life and can sometimes discourage us. Something else too: Seeking who really are people before criticizing them or “smashing” them freely and without reason. Sometimes you can have a preconceived or wrong image of someone, I find it regrettable.
An upcoming project? Coming to sing with my team in Lebanon, my homeland. The record was released in Beirut at Virgin. Singing Lebanon is a decision I made and in all my future albums, there will always be a small or a great tribute to Lebanon. Interviewed in Paris by Diana Kahil