I have the feeling you and me have to talk. What a beginning! Do not worry, there is not any reproach at all in the following lines. I could schedule a rendez-vous with you since I saw it is possible to do it on your official Facebook page. Nevertheless, as one French singer once said: “one generally writes well better than one talks.” Maybe have you already received private messages from me — but with all your 1,000,000 scale-fan tribes do you have the time to pay attention to everything? — honestly, I do not remember, and, anyway, it was probably short and incomplete if not incomprehensible. Let me explain a first thing. During the last years, for a reason you will understand later in the course of the letter, and maybe because I am kind of a very lonely person (…), I have developed a strange and recurrent ‘ritual’: telling my life to the pop stars who have not solely provoked a passion in me but also composed illuminating soundtracks for my existence. You belong to the club: welcome!
I am a man. Fourty-six years old. I am French (vous parlez français d’ailleurs, si je ne m’abuse?). As you may know, in France, you are almost totally unknown or unpopular for not saying rejected. Of course, what I am writing now is an acknowledgement letter. Of course, what I am writing now is a passionate letter. But that is not the fundamental point. We have followed each other in a particular way: your music is deeply anchored and entwined in the flurries of my life. Each of your songs awakens specific memories in me. I remember with a peculiar accuracy the first night I discovered you: there was an elegiac chronicle of The Family Jewels in the French pop culture magazine Les Inrocks — as far as I may know, they never tell a single word about you afterwards… A few months ago, I had been contracted on a post-doctoral researcher position in a small Chilean city called La Serena (truly, a totally different kind of ‘American Dream’), at the gates of the most arid desert in the world (the so-called Atacama Desert). I — sorry, illegally (since then, I have bought most of your records in vinyls) — downloaded immediately the album. It was a revelation. I could listen ‘Mowgli’s Road’ on and on without a tad of weariness. Though, the real electroshok came with Electra Heart. It was 2012. There was a new guy in town and at work, a very kind and educated English young man with musical adorations similar to mine; we used to call you in Spanish ‘Marina y los diamantes’. Electra Heart was released just before my birthday. I could criticize aspects of Electra Heart, such as the very US-oriented production and the loudness-war mastering, making you what I once read in Pitchfork (if I am not wrong) the ‘indie Lady Gaga’. However, the collection of songs and hits was so irresistible and stunning that production and mastering were relegated in the background. Your voice was incredible. In these years (2010–2012), I would be kind of a superman: I was physically and mentally very healthy — just a bit crazy like people like and wait (and also, in some ways, a gentle ‘homewrecker’) —, literally in the prime of life. It was austral winter. I will never forget how I used to go running after work, at night, on the sand of the beach, at the border of the Pacific Ocean, with Electra Heart plugged into my ears — many songs had an immediate explosive, doping effect on my physical effort, especially ‘Power & Control’ (I have an image in mind, akin to a computer picture: in the foggy night, my stride dementially accelerated by the song while I was running along a bridge over a small river close to the ocean, miles and miles away from home). That was not all: on weekends, I could party endlessly with wine and weed: Electra Heart was always here or there in my mind. I even remember that once, during a party located close to my flat, I made an escape in order to smoke a joint alone listening to half the album before returning to the abovementioned party. (Oh yes! Now I remember: it was precisely for my birthday!). At work, I would frequently put headphones in order to get overwhelmed and inspired by your music.
FROOT arrived in a completely different framework. I had got serious injuries to my knees and could not run anymore and had started to smoke more weed than previously as a ‘compensation’. Nevertheless, I had fallen in love with a Chilean woman called Camila. For professional purposes, we had had to move south to Valparaíso — Camila was really younger than me, still a student; and for the first time, I had had to learn to give lessons in Spanish —; for both of us, the change had been substantial. The ‘vacations’ a Polish colleague of mine had once qualified the post-doctoral researcher status had terminated. The increase in professional load had led me to burn-out and a fourth-months sick leave. I had been — with a big ? — diagnosed as potentially suffering from bipolar disorder. I was a bit lost. Psychiatrists, antidepressants and other pills, all of this was new to me. The ‘cold love’ had appeared between Camila and me and was not regressing. In February 2015, we decided to spend vacations separately. The day before my departure for a three weeks-long trip in France, I discovered the song ‘Froot’ on YouTube. I could not stop the repeat mode. Then, once in France, I bought the CD and — I still believe this is your best album ever — I will never forget how I used to borrow my brother’s car, pass the CD on at maximum volume, and sing and sing out loud over your voice while riding to nowhere. At this point, I could not decipher my mood variations — why I was feeling so euphoric in an ordinary country: flat and monotonous countrysides, cementary-like suburbs, grey and rainy skies (with the notable exception of one of the love of my life: Paris) while I was feeling so melancholic even depressed there, at the other side of the world, in maybe the most naturally fascinating country in the world, where I had all I could expected — I could not accept the bipolar disorder hypothesis and would instead highlight a potentially serious homesickness. Back in Chile, Camila and I warmly met each other again and I made her discover FROOT: she became totally infected by my passion for your third album and the latter appeared at least symbolically as the cement of our future. We had a cat called ‘The Owl’ and we used to dance the three of us together in our luminous flat, singing endlessly “living la dolce vii-ita…” It was a real resurgence of our love. Unfortunately, the Dolce Vita did not last long. My psychiatrist opted for the withdrawal of lithium and roller coasters began. The cold love came back and even turn to icy love: from time to time, Camila and I would look for an help and a refugee in cocaine parties (in Chile, there are some bars where you can order the powder together with the beer…), which would just result in an increase of the distance between us. I became colder and colder. She had offered me FROOT in vinyl for my birthday; however, we knew something had been lost we probably never would find again; three months later we separated. I had an extreme manic phase at work, threw all away, and left Chile in January 2016 — without the piece of an idea that I would, hence, miss you at Lollapalooza Chile 2016… In another life, Camila and I would have been present in the first rows and we would probably have chatted after the concert!
My comeback in France was a failure from different points of view: professionally, sentimentally, medically. After the euphoria of the reunion with family and friends, the illusion of finding asap a new lover, I fell into an abyssal depression. I was definitely diagnosed as bipolar (manic–depressive) in September 2016. A mixture of paradise and hell emerged a few months later: I discovered a new French pop singer called Fishbach. I rose dramatically up, fell deeply in love both with the music and the artist, whom I had met at distinct concerts before she became really famous. All that followed — mainly between 2017 and 2020 if we omit the depressive phases in-between — is described everywhere and repetetively and quite uncoherently in many, many articles of my blog: an history of groupie and obsession, incredibly happy hypomanic trend (euphoria and desire of living each day like the last) turning into delusional mania, sincere distant love and respectful admiration turning into erotomania, cyber-stalking passing through extremely dangerous and diffamatory peaks (it is a miracle she never sued me), etc. If I am now slowly tending towards stability, I have fought against depression (biological recovery) since the end of 2019, with an extreme difficulty to effect the mourning of all my hyper-, fishbacho-manic phases (I know, after small enquiries, that I have my bad reputation in the so-called French Pop universe), which obviously resulted on another hand in a social isolation and the loss of various friends… When you became really insane (because of bad or, worst, drop of medication) once in your life, you never stitch the wound: just as the loss of a beloved one, the memory will stay in you forever. And do you know how hard it has been to get Fishbach (Goddess–Demon and centre of my disease and, unfortunately therefore, life during years) out of my head, even in depression – to remove incredible memories of a high-life on her path in a luminous Spring ’17?
And, during all this period, I lost sight of you. I do not know at all Fear + Love. Last year, with great pleasure, I discovered Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land (I have memories of runs in the Alps listening to it during a short interval between depressive phases). Whereas it is not my favourite album of yours, the song ‘I Love You But I Love Me More’ will always remain one of my favourites of your career. Most of my remaining friends mock me for my passion for you — and I do not care.
It is weird. Beginning this letter, I could not expect you would be the perfect interlocutor to tell my story and go on my therapy. I know that somewhere in Space you have heard me and encouraged me to write. Maybe you will never read those lines, maybe you will just have a look and get desperate by the length of the literature, but you cannot know how you have helped me on this time. It is inestimable. Thank you.
Vincent Tristana (a pseudonyme, of course)
Post-Scriptum: Coincidence? I just read in Wikipedia how mental health issues have taken place in your life and how you have openly (such as me) discussed about them. Your blog Marinabook is now open in a new tab in my computer web navigator; I will read it!
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