French Singer-Songwriter Pomme Takes Us Inside Her First Ever North American Tour


All photos courtesy of Pomme.

All Pomme wants is some time off. The French star has been essentially touring nonstop since she escaped to Paris from her conservative Catholic hometown in Lyon as a teenager. When we spoke earlier this month, she was holed up in a Toronto hotel room, fresh off her first-ever concerts in Colombia and Mexico. Headlining Bogota, Guadalajara, and Mexico City was something of a surprise. In addition to having her mind blown by the city’s museums and eucalyptus-scented air, the venues sold out in minutes. “Everyone sang along and knew the lyrics,” says the singer-songwriter, who’s somewhat astonished by her music’s transcontinental resonance. Next up, the musician tours the United States with stops in Boston and NYC before winding down in Los Angeles. Though her latest album, Saisons, reimagines opera with her dreamy take on classic French chanson, Pomme is stripping down her sets: just her, an autoharp and a guitar. “I’m playing solo without a band,” she says. “It’s my chance to really introduce myself to audiences.”


SAMMY LOREN: Where are you right now?

POMME: I’m in Toronto and we’re leaving this morning. There’s so much noise in the city. You can hear it, I think. And we’re leaving today for Boston.

LOREN: Oh, cool. You were just in Latin America, right?

POMME: Yeah, so I’ve been, for the first time of my life, to Mexico and Colombia. And now I’m starting the North American leg of the tour. We just did Quebec City, and then Toronto yesterday, and we’re going to Boston, Washington, New York, and Montreal, and then California.

LOREN: I’ve lived in Mexico and I love being there, but I’m curious, for someone who’s never been there, what was it like?

POMME: It was really short. We basically had a day in Mexico City and then a day in Guadalajara, but it was so hot. It was really intense. It was like, 43 degrees Celsius, and it was hard to wander around the streets because it was fucking hot and really dry. But I loved the people, which was the only thing that I could really experience in Mexico. It was 100% local people who came to my show. Sometimes when I play all around the world, French people are half of the crowd…

LOREN: Like, they just come?

POMME: Yeah, they’re just like, “Bonjour” and they show up to my shows, but there it was just Mexican people. And this was amazing for me. I was just like, “Wow, this is so intense.” And people were so kind. The city is so beautiful. It was so green. Also, it smelled like eucalyptus. I did get to visit the anthropological museum for an hour.

LOREN: That place is amazing, with all the old indigenous Aztec artifacts and stuff.

POMME: The big stones. It was so crazy.


LOREN: Are you surprised that your music, which is mainly sung in French, has such a wide reach?

POMME: I don’t know. I feel like it’s weird and surprising. Also, I feel like French people are self-centered and don’t really learn any other languages. But in most places in the world, people are so curious about other languages. They were just singing every word because they learned French and are curious about French culture.

LOREN: What’s it like touring alone? I used to play in bands when I was younger and I always wanted to tour.  You go with your friends and it’s crazy and you’re partying every night, but you’re all by yourself, right? Who else is with you?

POMME: There’s my sound engineer and a tour manager, so we’re three, which is not that much. But me, I am not really a party person. I don’t really drink and I’m not going to the club after the show, but sometimes I’ll see people waiting for me at the door of the venue and spend 30 minutes with them. Usually, when you tour the world and you don’t have millions of dollars, you’re just playing a show a day, taking a plane every morning really early and then arriving and then playing. Usually I have an hour in the day where I can just walk around. Yesterday, in Toronto, we went for an ice cream and took bicycles. It’s nice now, because pretty much every city has bicycles, so you can just go anywhere. And then after the show, usually we’re really tired because we woke up at 6:00 A.M. So it’s not that rock and roll… But for my voice, that would be impossible anyway.


LOREN: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

POMME: Yeah. I like being alone. Maybe 45 minutes before the show, I’m changing and then I’m putting on a little bit of makeup and some essential oils on my wrists every night. But when I’m with my band, we have Palo Santo. We burn it and everyone sets an intention. I just try to chill and take it easy.

LOREN: I read that you grew up in Lyon, which is a bit removed from the center of culture. How did growing up in a place like that influence you?

POMME: It’s a good question because Lyon is really special. It’s smaller and, for many people, it’s nicer than Paris. It’s less stressful and everything. But also, when I grew up there, it was less open and more conservative. For many reasons, I was really happy to leave. And also, I grew up in a Christian family and everything, so I guess it enhanced the feeling of—

LOREN: A Catholic family?

POMME: Catholic family. When I left Lyon I was just like, “Wow, this is going to be so nice. Now I can be in Paris and find people that are like me and think the same.” I had a cousin who was in Paris and I was like, “Can I stay with you?” And we got really close and he helped me find a flat and everything. And then at 19, I was settled in Paris and I started touring for real. At that time, we didn’t really have TikTok, so I found all my team, my label and bookers, by doing concerts in pubs and then babysitting some kids. Like, by babysitting, I met some people who were working at show producing companies. It was crazy because I felt like it was so old-school.


LOREN: Like, taking the kids to school kind of thing?

POMME: I saw a show when I was 14 of an artist from Quebec. Her name is Coeur De Pirate, and she was really, really famous in France. So I wrote to her and she was like, “Oh, thank you for writing to me. I see that you’re a musician. My boyfriend is working at Universal.” And then she was like, “Also, if you want to do small jobs when you go to Paris, I have friends who have small kids if you want to babysit.” Then I started babysitting kids at some grown-up’s house, and then at a certain point one of them was like, “What are you doing?” And I was like, “Music.” And he was like, “Oh, I’m a booker.” And that’s how it happened. And he’s still my booker. Then I quit the university and I’ve been touring pretty much since 2015.

LOREN: Wow. And your wife’s a musician too, right?

POMME: Yeah.


LOREN: What are the challenges of being married to someone who’s also a musician? You’re both touring a lot, I assume. What’s that dynamic?

POMME: Pretty much all of my friends and people that gravitate around me are artists or people that don’t have regular jobs, so it’s really normal for us to navigate touring life.Sometimes I don’t see my friends or my people for months. But I started doing that when I was 17, so I don’t really know anything else.. I feel like I am 55.

LOREN: If you could take a year off and settle down, where would you go?

POMME: Well, I have this small residency at the end of the year in Kyoto. It’s three-and-a-half months where I’m just going to be writing songs. I’m going to be alone there and … I don’t know what I’m going to be doing, actually, which is really crazy for me. But if I had to settle for years, I would definitely choose Quebec. It’s just so nice and so beautiful. The people are the nicest, there’s so much forest and nature.

LOREN: I have a question about music. The French canon of music looms so large over French society—Georges Brassens, Jacques Dutronc, Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg. What’s it like trying to create new music under this incredible history?

POMME: For me especially, it’s really intense. I love old French music and I’m really inspired by it. If you would ask the question to any young French musician, it would be different because we are all different. But for me, my music is really, really inspired by the French singer Barbara, she’s one of my favorites. She’s been a ghost in my mind and in my body and in my world for years. I’ve been listening to her since I was 7. French music in the fifties and sixties and seventies was so beautiful and so minimalistic. Today, it’s more difficult to find French pals who do like, minimalistic folk music. I’m just like, “Oh, I’m pretty much alone in my pool. Where are the French people who love guitar and really smooth songs?” In that way, I feel like I’m more connected to American music.

LOREN: Who do you listen to?

POMME: I listen to Joan Baez and Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. And I don’t know… Alison Krauss and Linda Ronstadt,  all those old singers. Also, I try to read a lot. I’m a big reader. 

LOREN: Who are you reading while on tour?

POMME: I’m reading a Québécois book from a guy called Akim Gagnon. I’ll send it to you. Sometimes I’m reading old British books or old classic literature. I bought this Virginia Woolf book called Orlando. Sometimes I’ll read poems. I try to read because if I’m not reading, I’m going on social media, and it’s not really inspiring. I hate social media. I’m not in a good place with it. When I was 22 and I was just filming my whole life, it was really fun. But now, we’re in a really intense part of history. It’s a little bit frightening and it’s not really fun right now. So I try to read and go to museums when I can. When I’m in the city and I have two hours, I’ll go to an exhibit or to a museum.

LOREN: That’s cool. My last question is, what do you hope fans take away from your shows? What do you want them to leave with?

POMME: On this particular tour, when I’m alone and I’m traveling to new cities, I just hope that people get a nice first impression of me. For me, touring new cities and new countries is really a way to have that first impression again, which is really addictive when you’re a human being, that adrenaline and that feeling of meeting new people and discovering something. I’m just trying to look after that feeling.