Marina Kaye takes a vacation from fame

by Justin Joffe

“When I listen to each song I can see different colors, hear different songs and smell the smells of the cities,” she says, “I can perfectly remember where I was. L.A. smells like the beach! Smells like the sand, smells cool.”
In May, 1968, anger seethed through the Paris streets. Students from the Paris University at Nanterre marched to protest the state-dictated classism and bureaucracy funding the school. One work of graffiti seemed to sum that anger up succinctly—“Sous les pavés, la plage!” It appeared out of nowhere on Paris’ Place du Panthéon, but it’s message, a blunt assertion of liberation, became a hallowed statement of surreal rebellion. Recalling a Situationist’s mayhem unleashed on the stifling bourgeois, the graffiti translates roughly to: “Beneath the cobblestones, the beach!”

I mention this to Marina Kaye, 18, because the rising French artist owns the spirit of those words—consciously working to distinguish herself from being written off as just another commoditized pop chanteuse. Kaye’s voice may have been what propelled her to win France’s televised talent contest, La France a un incroyable talent when she was only 13. It’s Kaye’s personality—her resolve, her laments, and her wanderlust—that transform her songs into living emotional soundscapes. This realness propelled her 2015 debut LP Fearless to go two-times platinum in France, and with the official American release of her Homeless EP last March, she’s ready take on the US too.

“When I listen to each song I can see different colors, hear different songs and smell the smells of the cities,” she says, “I can perfectly remember where I was. L.A. smells like the beach! Smells like the sand, smells cool.”

Los Angeles is just one of the places where Kaye recorded Fearless. She cites Sweden, Paris, New York, and London at various points in our conversation, emphasizing that “Freeze You Out”—written for her by Sia—was the hardest to record because she recorded it in Paris. “One day, I was so pissed off and so angry and so tired,” she explains. “When I hear it, I can hear I recorded it in Paris because it’s so sad, and so tiring.”

For all the cautionary tales levied at young stars growing up under the lustful glare of Hollywood, Kaye has already lived her own, guarded story back in France. Hence, her love of travel became her joie de vivre, revealing to her an L.A. far more accepting and less hung up than most of us give the city credit for.

“It’s the coolest part of America,” she says. “People there are so kind, and no one is judging you. You can feel this very cool and calm energy. You feel like, ‘Yeah, everything’s possible, I’m gonna take my time to do what I wanna do.’”

Photographer: Alex Brunet.

Stylist: Elin Bjursell.

Hair & Makeup:Camille Siguret.

Styling Assistant: Justine Menard.

Location: Sébastien Mehal Studio.

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