The singer, composer and guitarist Louis Bertignac is the exceptional guest, all this week, of Le Monde d’Élodie. Musician, lyricist, singer, guitarist, producer, the co-founder of the rock group Telephone or Visitors began a solo career in 1986. He took advantage of the pandemic to write, in collaboration with Guy Carlier, his autobiography Jolie petite histoire editions of Cherche-Midi. This book allows him to look back on the highlights of his life. From his musical sessions with Telephone and the Rolling Stones to his tumultuous stories with Corine Marienneau and Carla Bruni. Louis Bertignac recounts his whole life without filters.
franceinfo: cute little stories, published by Editions du Cherche-Midi, tells your story. You have sometimes taken small roads before returning to the right path, the true path. Did it take you long to make your voice heard?
Louis Bertignac : Yes. Within Telephone, I was already singing a few, but not many: 2000 nights, Cinderella, etc.. But I’m here on Hygiaphoneon It’s really you in second voice, like that. We had always thought that my voice, mixed with that of Jean-Louis who sang exactly the same melody, sounded good. So I often sing, but I’m not the leader.
There were a lot of collaborations and you became, at some point, official producer and “midwife“of musical talent. That’s what you’ve been called for a very long time.
I loved the job of producer which consisted in making arrangements of course, but also to reassure you, to make you want to sing well.Louis Bertignac
Yes, it was by chance. I’ve always loved the work of these producers, whether it’s Visconti or Bob Ezrin, all these guys I’ve met, the greatest. It must be said that with Telephone, we could afford the best. I loved their job. And one day, Carla Bruni comes home. I had known her for a long time. We are invited to dinner at her place with my sweet, Julie, and we arrive, we eat and she says to me: ‘I have something for you to listen to.
After dinner, she takes me to her room where there was a tape recorder. She makes me listen to models. She asks me what I think. I tell him that the songs are absolutely brilliant, that his voice is brilliant, but that his production is rotten. Maybe I tell him a little more delicately! And she said to me: ‘That’s exactly what I thought. What can I do ?’ Just take a producer, I’ll give you Visconti’s number, for example, you ask him and you’ll see that it’s going to be ten times better. And still, I had fallen in love with his voice and I didn’t dare introduce myself as a producer. So I just tell him: ‘Won’t you re-record them for me? You just do voice, acoustic guitar’ and I embark the band. She makes me Everybody et Someone told me. Obviously, I add false violins, small percussions, a guitar and the next day, I make him listen and Carla says to me: ‘That’s it, it’s great, it’s what I dreamed of’.
I send her back to Visconti, telling him: you’ll see that it will be even better than that. She replies: ‘No, no, it’s you I want. I’ll take care of the lyrics, but you’re going to produce my album and I promise it won’t take more than two months’. I’m interested and so I get to work.
From the first take, Carla Bruni was really excellent.Louis Bertignac
We’re like crazy, we can’t wait for it to end. After about a month of work, a bit on her own, with just these approvals, she comes to record voices. She sang royally well on what I had prepared. I didn’t tell her that she was excellent, from the first take, I told her: ‘Warm up your voice and I’m not recording and I’ll adjust your voice while you wait.’ In fact, I had nothing to settle. It was settled from the first second and each time I recorded, it was royal. She said : ‘But no, wait, I haven’t really sung yet! I will really sing!’ In fact, she knew that I was really cunning, that I was a fox.
She fell in love with you. There was a real big story. Telling it to you in this book, it’s still very funny. One day you pick up to call someone, there’s a phone on every floor, and then you hear him say “The other of the moment“, which referred to you.
A little story, it didn’t last long. Yes, actually, she was talking to her ex who I liked. I didn’t know what she meant and afterwards, I thought about it, but I’m “the other of the moment”!. And I found it weird when she was talking to me about marriage and children and all that. And so I said to him: but what did you mean by the “other of the moment”? She answered me : ‘It’s a mistake, it was a mistake, forget’.
And suddenly, you were very tough. She left you but you did not live well elsewhere.
Yes. It was okay. I expected that.
It’s still a great story and this record even saved a record company!
Yes. Naive. When the boss came to see me, he said: ‘Listen, I really like the work you’ve done, but I can’t give you money. We are on the verge of ruin’ and so I tell him, it’s okay, give me a big percentage! He thought he would sell 50,000. So he wrote that from 100,000, it will be so many percent, from 500,000 so much another figure… and we sold 2 million! I think he would have done better to give me a good lead and keep the money he would have won!
Louis Bertignac will be in concert on July 8 in Divonne les Bains, on July 29 at the Festival du son in Civray and on September 10 at the Lysfestival in Comines.