France’s former first lady Carla Bruni is no stranger to the public eye. The supermodel graced runways in the ’80s and ’90s, but now her musical passion takes her to Berklee Performance Center on Feb. 15 to perform from French Touch, her new album of covers. We chatted before the World Music/CRASHarts show.
What are some of your greatest musical influences? In terms of folk music, I was very much influenced by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. I was also quite influenced by country music. That’s why I put a Tammy Wynette and a Willie Nelson song on the album. I love country music.
Do you prefer singing or songwriting? I like songwriting very much. I like singing too, but I never would have become a singer without songwriting. I wanted to write my own songs and I needed a singer for those songs, so that’s how I became a singer. [Laughs.] This album is such a new thing for me to be able to just be a singer.
Do you ever get stage fright when you perform? I get so nervous performing. I get so frightened. It’s so moving to go on stage. No matter how many runways I’ve been on as a model, that’s only your body. There’s nothing emotional about being on the runway. You’re not the one who is creating anything. But singing is completely different. It has something to do with your soul. The voice so much relies on the soul. It doesn’t rely on your appearance. It relies on something that is very hard to control—your emotions. So yes, I’m so scared when I go on stage, but I like the fear.
What lead you to transition into the world of music? Actually the other world—the world of fashion—was more like the transition. Both of my parents were musicians, so music was really the beginning for me. I went into fashion and started modeling when I was 19 years old, but I never really left music behind. I would play music almost every day and I would actually travel with my guitar. Then when the modeling years started to fade away, I sort of naturally went back to music.
How did you choose the songs on French Touch? David Foster came to my studio in Paris, and I played him maybe 15 or 20 songs—just little bits of them—and that’s how we chose them. [It was] very spontaneously and without really thinking about it. … We had a lot of fun doing this album because we didn’t approach it as a serious thing at all, it was more like, “Let’s choose something we really like and record it.” It wasn’t very complicated.