Autour de Lucie, or Around Lucie if you’re so inclined, in concert from the Benicasim Festival, recorded by RFI’s Le Mouv on August 6, 2002. Getting started in 1994 as a three-piece and featuring Valérie Leuillot on vocals. Leuillot, whose parents were both TV personalities in her native France, decided to pursue a musical career, leaning heavily on electronics and soundscapes, and Autour de Lucie was born.
Before releasing Autour de Lucie’s album, Le Village Vert decided to put out a trial sample of the group’s work on a 3-track CD. Released in January 1994, the mini-CD – entitled “les Ciels de traîne” – included a special bonus track which was not featured on the group’s album.
Meanwhile, Autour de Lucie concentrated their attention on their live career, performing their first concert together in the Belgian town of Liège in June 94. The group then shot a video to accompany their mini-CD, and “l’Accord parfait” was chosen as the first single release. The track generated a great deal of interest on the French airwaves over the summer, attracting the group a preliminary following of fans before the release of their début album, “l’Echappée belle”, in November.
Three months later, Autour de Lucie underwent a major change in their line-up when Olivier Durand left the group, and was replaced by the Toulouse-born guitarist Jean-Pierre Ensuque. (Interestingly enough, although Autour de Lucie were officially marketed as a trio, the group actually had a fourth member – drummer Bruno Saunier, who had accompanied the group from the earliest days of their career).
Autour de Lucie soon went on make a name for themselves on the international music scene. Their début album “l’Echappée belle” was released in Japan in March 1995 (on the Epic label). And around the same period Autour de Lucie embarked upon their first major tour, playing 30 dates across France and Belgium. The tour culminated on 6 June 1995 with a highly successful concert in Paris at Le Divan du Monde.
Autour de Lucie soon went on to become major stars in the United States and began to spend an increasing amount of their time there. Valérie and co. did return to France in the autumn of 1997 to perform a brief national tour, but as soon as it finished the group headed back to the States to promote “Immobile” (which was just about to be released in North America). Autour de Lucie went on to perform a short promotional tour in the States (14 – 27 February 1998), bringing the house down when they played the Luna Lounge in New York on 24 February.
A few days after the end of Autour de Lucie’s U.S. tour, drummer Bruno Saunier (who had been suffering from health problems for a while) left the group. The trio immediately auditioned for a replacement, and a new drummer by the name of Sébastien was recruited just in time for Autour de Lucie’s European tour in May 1998. This tour, which included dates across France, England, Ireland and Switzerland, proved to be another major success.
In June, Autour de Lucie returned to the U.S. to play three major dates in New York. The group performed at the Knitting Factory (on 17 June) and their set proved to be one of the highlights of the “Fête de La Musique” festival held outside the World Trade Center (on 21 June). Two days later Autour de Lucie brought the house down when they made their second appearance at the Lilith Fair Festival. In November 1998 the group also flew out to perform in Argentina.
Although the band went on an extended hiatus in 2004, they reunited as a duo and released their album in 2015.
Here’s a reminder of what the early part of this century was sounding like.