Plastiscines - Zut alors! Bébé rock est arrivé!

All-girl Parisian punks Plastiscines are to feature in 'Gossip Girl' and are on the super-cool label Nylon. Charlotte Cripps discovers their je-ne-sais-quoi

The NME describes them as "four super-extra-hot French girls with fat, chunky riffs and brilliant new wave pop tunes, they are literally too perfect to be true" while Music Week claims they could "pick up where the Bangles left off".

Now one of TV's hippest shows is featuring their music. In an upcoming episode of Gossip Girl, the French indie-rock girl band Plastiscines perform their punk-rock track "Bitch" at a high-school graduation party.

It is hard to believe that these four chic Parisian girls, all aged 21 or 22, are just giggly and sweet in real life, when they yell the lyrics "I am a bitch" in Ramones style while taking care to look every inch immaculate fashion models.

How have this all-girl pop sensation from France managed to storm into the American and British mainstream? The band are the first signing of Nylon Records in the US, an extension of Nylon magazine, a pop culture and fashion bible in America, with their catchy debut pop-punk EP. It will be released in the UK on 2 November, on the French independent label Because Music, which already has French electronic duo Justice and Paris-based rapper Uffie in the fold.

I meet the girls in north London, where they are running for cover as another truck drives down the thin alleyway in which a photo shoot is taking place. "Ooh la la!" the girls giggle on cue. Although their English is very good, they converse in French as they flatten themselves against a wall. The nearby Select models agency would seem a more appropriate location for them to congregate than this rendezvous in a street – but after all they are a rock'n'roll band.

The lead singer/guitarist Katty Besnard has a blond beehive and moulds herself on Debbie Harry. "I also love Nancy Sinatra and Sixties girl bands," she says. The long-legged Louise Basilien, the bass guitarist, is known for her classic French-chic look. She is wearing Marc Jacobs skinny jeans and a red-and-black stripey top by French designer Sonia Rykiel. "It's my grandma's – she's really cool, but I like to borrow my boyfriend's clothes too," she says.

The drummer, Anaïs Vandevyvere, with a nose ring, adopts a more glam-rock style. "I love wearing black and long silver necklaces," she says. Marine Neuilly, on guitar and vocals, is a nature girl: "I wear hippy-chic headbands and don't wash my hair".

The Plastiscines, from Saint-Cyr, near Paris, formed in 2004 when Besnard and Neuilly, who were at school together, met Basilien at a Libertines concert, before hiring Vandevyvere two years ago as a replacement drummer. When they started the band, both aged 17, they were the leaders of "les bébés rockers", a new wave of Parisian teenage rock'n'roll sweeping though the European punk scene. They wrote their first track, "Loser", in high school and played sold-out shows with the Hives, the Slits and Iggy Pop across Europe while other teenagers were at home doing their homework.

Their sound is influenced by punk rock bands like Blondie and Sixties girl groups – where all the vocals are very clear and big. "At first people thought it was funny seeing girls throwing themselves around the stage," recalls Basilien. "But we got bored and wanted to be taken seriously as a real band. We want to be more than just a girl band because we do actually play our instruments."

Early on, their precocious talent was noticed by Kraftwerk producer Maxime Schmitt, and they were signed by EMI for the Virgin France label in October 2006. The release in France of their first album, LP1, in 2007 won them a commendation from the French minister of culture, which was, curiously enough, presented by Pete Doherty. Nylon magazine used this to proudly announce that Kate Moss wasn't the only style icon who could lure Pete Doherty to Paris.

"People don't expect us," smiles Neuilly. "We're just 21 years old now, and we've already recorded our second album, travelled... it's not that usual to meet girls like us."

The big break came in April when Nylon launched its record label and styled their first band in retro futuristic outfits, for their first video, for "Barcelona".

"We were over-dressed and over-made-up," says Basilien. "We had nice crazy clothes from Alexander McQueen to Marc Jacobs. We love fashion and we like to dress up for fun."

They soon became the band of choice for fashionistas – and not just on screen with Gossip Girl. The "Barcelona" music video inspired the girl-about-town fashion label alice + olivia's spring 2010 presentation, during New York Fashion Week, where the Plastiscines played at the label's show to guests including Lindsay Lohan, Nicky Hilton, the Olsen twins and Courtney Love. They have also recently supported Little Boots at New York's Bowery Ballroom and played alongside Patrick Wolf, a second signing for Nylon records, while working in New York.

The new single "Barcelona" and their new album, About Love, which will be released in the UK in February, was produced in LA by Butch Walker, who has done wonders for Katy Perry, Pink and Avril Lavigne, and was mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer (Muse, Foo Fighters, Franz Ferdinand). "Butch saw us playing Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking" and immediately fell in love with us," explains Vandevyvere of the beginnings of the garage-pop collaboration.

The Plastiscines have had to write most of their songs in English rather than French – except for a few songs, such as "Camera" and Pas Avec Toi" – but Neuilly claims that "English words sound more poetic" anyway. Sometimes they throw in the odd French sentence or word – "because it sounds good".

They took the name of the band from "plasticine porters with looking glass ties" in the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". "It was just spontaneous – we didn't think about it for hours," says Besnard. What they did have to think about was the fact that Plasticine is a registered trade mark, so an extra letter "s" came to the rescue.

During the recent teenage punk upsurge in France, the Plastiscines first featured on a compilation album, Paris Calling, with several other teenage bands from Paris. It was released in 2006.

"The press have always been interested because usually in France you don't get kids playing rock'n'roll. It was like, 'wow!', because that never happens in France," explains Basilien. "Most of the time in France it's older people playing rock'n'roll and getting famous."

It's hard to tell whether France's latest export will be more than just a fashion accessory. But, as they get into a London taxi along with their shopping, which includes a fake-fur hat from Camden, it is refreshing that they see through all the hype.

"Nylon has helped us get known in the fashion world – but this is only a means to an end," says Basilien. "We love fashion but we are using it as we would any avenue to get our music out there. It is surely better than playing underground gigs for ever."

The single "Barcelona" is out on 2 November

Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL are releasing Plectrum Electrum next month

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?