Close-up: French singer Camille

The French singer hopes English songs will earn her friends in high places
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Back home in France, Camille is a bona fide star – when her second album, Le Fil, went platinum and won the Prix Constantin (France's equivalent of the Mercury Music Prize), Jacques Chirac personally sent her a letter of congratulations. To the rest of the world, the singer isn't nearly as well known, but her first English-language album, Music Hole, should change that. "If you go deep into a language, you go deeper musically," she says. "Opera singers sing one day in German, one day in French, one day in English – and each time it's a different challenge. I feel the same."

The boundary breaking experimentation of Le Fil had several critics hailing Camille as Björk's natural successor, but the Parisian singer takes such comparisons with a pinch of salt. "There was pressure, but it was a good pressure," she concedes. "It's always a big thing making an album – it's like a summary of where you're at." While Le Fil took her scatty, beatboxing, vocal gymnastics to a new level, Music Hole is even more off the wall, and frequently – particularly in the case of the Mariah Carey pastiche "Money Note" – laugh-out-loud funny. The album veers from chanson to pop, from dance to performance art with a hint of Hollywood musical.

"I like to play," she admits. "I like to play with words, to play an instrument, to play with my voice, to play with the stage..." Camille takes obvious pleasure in rewriting the rules – and her live shows have to be seen to be believed. But Camille also takes her musical playtime very seriously indeed; she describes her new album as "sometimes jolly, sometimes sad – but something with a pulse, with something organic and repetitive to it, which relates to our inner rhythm". Gordon Brown says his letter is in the post.

Camille plays at Koko, London, on 14 May ( 'Music Hole' is out now