Sting on Playing a Car Thief, New Duo Single, Sexiness of Singing in French
Mylène Farmer doesn’t grant many interviews, but for Sting, she’ll make an exception. The French pop star, who has sold 11 million albums worldwide and regularly sells out stadiums throughout the French-speaking world, recently debuted a version of Sting’s 2004 song “Stolen Car,” in which she and the ex-Police man duet in French and English. Last month, the track debuted in France at Number One on iTunes, and stayed there for four days. It’s now available in the U.S., to be followed with a video next month.
Sting, it turns out, is perfectly equipped to steal a fancy car and run off with a Frenchwoman, as he does in the video — he’s fluent in French. The two sat down with Rolling Stone ahead of the November 6th release of Interstellaires — Farmer’s 11th studio album, which will feature “Stolen Car” and is available for preorder October 3rd — to talk about pilfering cars in two languages.
How did you two meet and end up collaborating?
Farmer: A few years ago, I went to London to see one of his shows that was happening in a church [Songs from the Labyrinth at St. Luke’s Church]. I thought that was very impressive, very beautiful and poetic. Then [last year], I flew to New York because I really wanted to see his play, The Last Ship, and I found it very moving and dark. The songs were very beautiful, the acting amazing — I fell in love with it. And then I asked him if he would like to do something with me. And he said, “Yes, why not.”
Sting: I was very happy that Mylène came to my show, obviously, and we met, and she said, “Do you have any songs that would be appropriate that we could sing together?” And immediately I thought of “Stolen Car.” I’d written it almost 12 years ago. It was always designed to have a female singing in the chorus: “Take me dancing tonight.” Because the girl doesn’t get enough attention. She’s the mistress of a successful businessman and there’s a poignancy about the story. I was waiting for the right woman to sing the song, and Mylène was the perfect candidate.
What was different about singing it this time?
Sting: Well, you always pick up something from another singer when you’re harmonizing together, and you’re phrasing together, so you have to listen very carefully. It’s very much a relationship; it’s like a dance … [And] we had to change the key, to match, so I’m singing higher than I would do normally.
Farmer: Plus it’s in French and English. I asked Sting if he would agree on French lyrics and he said okay. My translation is very close to what he first wrote, and then I added a few little things that were really French and my style. Then it’s really like a conversation between the two of them; that was interesting for me too.
Sting: It’s very sexy in French too.