Parisian artist The Rodeo explores solitude and uncertainty in her fourth studio album Arlequine
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the music industry hard. With live shows and concerts being canceled, many small performing artists were struggling to make a living. This was the case for French indie musician Dorothée Hannequin, who goes by The Rodeo onstage. Despite the pandemic’s challenges, she has continued to create and release music, and her dedication and passion have kept her going through these difficult times.
Hannequin began her musical career at the age of 15 while she was still in high school. Growing up in Paris, she was influenced at a young age by her uncle, who gave her her first-ever guitar. She credits her Vietnamese and French heritage helping her discover a diverse plethora of music, influencing her love for the indie genre.
“I was really shy as a teenager and I met a bunch of people in high school playing music. It really helped me a lot to get out of my shell. I’m a self taught musician so we started a band playing with all these friends. I wrote a lot of songs and I proposed them to the band,” said Hannequin.
After nine years with her first band Hopper, Hannequin released her debut solo album Tale of Woe under the name The Rodeo in 2014.
When speaking with The Concordian, Hannequin revealed that the indie music scene in France is much smaller than Montreal’s.
In France the main genres of music people listen to are Rap and a lot of techno. According to Hannequin, there are around three bars where you can listen to indie music in Paris.
“Everyone knows each other here. So maybe a good thing is that there’s maybe less competition than in bigger cities.”
In June, Hannequin will be on tour in Vietnam, where she will be working on songs with local artists.
Her fourth and latest album, Arlequine, focuses on Hannequin’s struggles throughout the pandemic, isolation and a recent breakup. When asked if hard times helps artists be more creative, she jokingly replied: “I’d almost recommend that to other artists.”
The pandemic gave her a lot of time to create. Her newest album represents not just Hannequin’s experiences, but also stories, phrases and ideas from things she’s read, watched or observed.
It’s a mix of loose facts and her own life. “There’s a song on the album about a jealous woman, which I’m not. But it was interesting to have this character on this album. It’s a fictional character, but it’s interesting to be in that skin.”
Hannequin says that she wanted different portraits of different women. “It’s like a harlequin, with different faces of humans or different humans in one outfit.”
She insists that the main driving force for her new album was the feeling of isolation. During the pandemic, artists had a lot of time to create, but could not play live in front of audiences. That was the main joy in Hannequin’s artistic experience: going to concerts and singing in front of a crowd. It’s also why the first song on her new album “Courir Courir Courir” is her favourite.
”It’s my favourite because of the vocals. I feel the words are really powerful and I love the solo part. And I have to admit, it was one take for the solo. There’s no trick,” she said.
During the pandemic, she tried to do what other big artists had done: play a small concert remotely in front of her computer. But the feeling wasn’t the same. “It was a nightmare!” Hannequin said.
“I think now, due to the pandemic people just want to get out and feel the music. The sweat, the heat, the energy. Maybe for techno or folk music, you can be at home. But when you want to have a live show, you have to be there in person.”
Hannequin says that her new album is about feeling better. She loves the uncertainty the future represents and says listening to her new songs should feel like
“Imagine taking a ride on a horse to who knows where,” she said.
Go check out Arlequine down below.