Each week, we like to take a day to feature women who have perhaps not been adequately recognized by the wider world for their contributions – sometimes, we feature a scientist, or a doctor, or a writer, or oftentimes – a woman who we feel should be more known than she is. Someone who has advanced our world in one way or another, but not seen much spotlight or recognition.
We hope you enjoy these features – it’s fun for us to research and learn more about the people who have helped to shape our world – and we hope that someday women’s contributions will be more widely recognized.
-french singer, producer, model
In 2013, after coming in as the runner up in Nouvelle Star the french equivalent of X-factor, this then 18 year old singer signed to a major European music label and found success releasing her first album YSEULT, a mix of electro-pop sounds just a year later, an album she admitted later to not liking at all. On the precipice of commercial success, Yseult, born Yseult Onguenet disappeared from the music industry. She recently reappeared in 2019, with not one but two EP’s Rouge quickly followed by Noir, released under her own label YYY. The predictable, tame music of her debut electro pop album was now replaced with a sound all her own, on her own terms, a sound that she coined ‘Y-trap’, a mix of direct songwriting influenced by the styles of French Rappers come before her with a contemporary urban sound.
In the music industry where women are often controlled by others, in terms of their look, their music and their identity Yseult set herself apart from these manipulations while receiving success on her own. Describing herself as “a woman who loves art” in an Vice interview, Yseult has used her position as a newly independent artist to work with videographers, choreographers, designers, directors and photographers of her choosing all while remaining the director of her projects. Her image, a woman not scared to expose her thoughts and her identity as a black woman in contemporary France is put front and center in her song Corps and music video in which Yseult is seated, partially nude, singing with a slow pan of the camera that encircles her, she doesn’t look away from the camera, but peers directly at the viewer with grace and confidence.
Corps which translated to ‘body’ is an important part of Yseult’s identity, “I am proud of my body, but I’m also proud of my skin colour, proud of my hair texture and proud of myself, because I give myself the means to carry out my project on a daily basis”(10 things you need to know about Parisienne triple threat Yseult. 26, March 2020. I-D interview. VICE).
At the young age of 25, this young self-assured talent had the capability to flip the french music industry on it’s head. More importantly Yseult’s courage to love herself without apology has created an even wider space for the women of France, especially the french women of color, who in a post-colonial France are constantly navigating the historical significance of their identity, to take their space, and take their place in society.
For more information about Yseult, visit:
This article was written by Olivia Rivard Hill and edited by Megan Giltner.