Mickey Boardman: I see you have a BlackBerry. I used to love the BlackBerry. It was a hard changeover [to the iPhone]. I liked the typing on it.
Carla Bruni: Why did you change, then?
MB: Because I did it for work and everybody else was. Plus I do love Instagram. Are you on Instagram?
CB: What is Instagram?
MB: It's like Twitter, except just with photographs. Just photographs.
CB: Oh, okay, okay.
MB: So congratulations on your record! I love when you sing in all different languages in the same song. Do you feel like French is better for a love song or is English better?
CB: For a love song I think Italian would be better. And English because I think there's something quite...you know it's very hard in French to be naive and to be pure. There's something very simple about both [English and Italian]. You can easily say, "I'll always love you." It's very hard to say "je t'aime." English allows a lot of simplicity in a love song and Italian is really vocal and a sort of romantic sound, whatever you say. But I like to write in French as well because there's something a little more sophisticated in the French language that makes it easier to use very classic, loving images like desire, despair, tenderness.
MB: You come from a musical family. Were there singers that you listened to when you were younger, like Edith Piaf?
CB: Oh, I love [Edith Piaf]! When I was younger I listened a lot to the French singer Barbara. Did you ever listen to Barbara? I don't understand why Barbara was never that famous. To me, she should have been famous just like Edith Piaf. Maybe she had something dark; she was a dark lady with black hair and a very special voice. I even listened to Jacques Brel who's Belgian but sings in French. It was really like a discovery for me because they put a lot of meanings in their songs. They have those songs that you listen to. Not only you hear them but also you listen to them and I like that.
MB: Did those those singers inspire your new song, "Little French Song?"
CB: You know, "Little French Song" was like an homage to these people that I listened to. Those are the people that made me try to write songs in the beginning. I thought it was mieux to give an English title to a song that's [all about being] French. Whenever someone Italian, French, Belgium, or German tries to speak English, they always try to get the good accent. But in that song, I don't. I really sing with the French accent and that was hard too. So it's an homage to French songs and at the same time it's a little joke about languages.
MB: And you're a French citizen and an Italian citizen?
CB: I'm both, yeah.
MB: So do you relate more to your French side or your Italian side?
CB: I've been Italian a good third of my life, or even half of my life. And then I became French when I got married, and my grandmother was French so I was always very connected to French culture and French language. I think I write in French because my grandmother must have been talking French to me [my] whole [childhood], because she wasn't speaking very much Italian. She was married to an Italian man, but still French was her language. So, I feel Italian but maybe my language is French because I came to France when I was six.
MB: And had you always been a performer? Have you ever been shy?
CB: Yeah, I'm so shy. I don't know why I'm exposing myself! It's really like a contradiction -- hello, Dr. Freud! I die when I get in front of people. But not like this [interview] -- not like a direct relationship with a human being. Then I guess the Italian side comes over. I get in touch with people very easily, I get connected with people. And that's why I like America -- you know, people [here] are insane. They give introductions for hours and I like that about America. It's the same in Italy. You can meet your best friend, you can meet your lover in the street without being introduced. France is a bit different.
MB: What was it like to perform before you became a pro?
CB: The first time I tried I thought I was going to get sick. I really wasn't physically well. My heart! And I was sweaty and I couldn't control my body. It seemed to move without me. So I tried to control it and it was the worst when I tried to control it.
MB: What have you been doing while you're in New York?
CB: Yesterday we were downtown -- with the trees and the summertime. I loved it.
MB: Are you going to do more performances?
CB: Yes, I'll be coming back to New York to do a real concert in April 2014. You should come.
MB: Where will it be?
CB: I don't know where precisely, but there's so much music [in New York]. It's a lucky thing to be able to come here. It's really, really cool. I love to be here. The only thing is I should have brought the kids because I miss them. Badly.
MB: Are they musical? Have you tried to make them take piano lessons?
CB: They're musical and I have tried, but one has to choose it. Especially with music or writing: it is not a hobby. For a hobby, anyone can do whatever he wants. But music you can't learn without [conditioning]. So, my son did piano and guitar and I always had to push him to do it, so I said, "Listen, if you do it, you do it." Also, with young children, you make them do things but all of a sudden they get their own taste and that's when they really do something. They have to find their own way.
MB: My grandmother made my father take piano and he is so great at it, but he hates it because she made him do it.
CB: And did you play when you were a kid?
MB: A little bit. I wish I could sing, but I really have no musical taste except to dance along to little French songs.
CB: It's also an education. They took very young kids in Romania once, like one to two-year-old kids and they educated their ears and they realized that actually every human being has a [good] ear. It just has to be taught. Some people have it spontaneously. You know, I can write with rhymes but if I had to be a journalist it wouldn't be easy. When I have to write without rhymes it is very confusing and slow, like when I have to write a letter to someone. If I could write a letter and rhyme it, it would be faster. Everyone has their skills and I don't think it's good to force. There's not enough time, you know? You can really do something well when you do it with desire.
MB: By the way, I love that you smoke Vogue cigarettes with a leopard-print lighter.
CB: Do you smoke?
MB: I don't, but I love leopard-print and I love Vogue. Have you tried to quit?
CB: Oh yeah, I've tried to quit, and gladly here in America you really can't smoke.