Visuals at the core of Genevan rapper, singer and producer Varnish La Piscine’s – real name Jephté Mbisi – artistry. At only six years since he serenaded his way onto the scene with a jazz-inflected flow, breezy, smooth bars and vocals that cascade over lush, capacious instrumentals, he has handcrafted a brilliantly creative soundscape inspired by iconic rappers and producers of the naughties. Now, having just signed on with iconic French dance label Ed Banger, he’s dropping a liquidy seven-track EP entitled The Lake Is Successful and it’s a true showcase of the artist’s immense versatility. While the shimmering, sonic universe of the extended play is a poppy blend of a rap, bossa nova, electronic synth, surf music, and reggae that comes underscored by La Piscine’s groovy vocals and clean rapping – also featuring guest artists Makala, Rico TK and Snubnose Frankenstein – an accompanying, sumptuous 4-part short film brings the story to life. Arranged in the saturated and postmodern style of Wes Anderson, the film is inspired by the wild humour of the Coen brothers. Shot over eight days at a lakeside location with the help of the production company Dissidence, it follows a population of magical fish who resides in the lake and, for better or worse, entrance the locals with La Piscine himself playing the role of a young fisherman.
Here, we sit down with the polymath to dig deeper into his music-laden childhood, The Lake is Successful and working with the best in the business.
1. How did you come up with the stage name Varnish La Piscine?
“Varnish La Piscine is a name referring to a scenario I have in mind in which a woman is by the pool putting on nail varnish.”
2. How, would you say, growing up in Geneva has influenced your sound?
“My sound was influenced mostly by my parents growing up. They had a very eclectic taste in music going from Congolese music to Sade, Police or Phil Collins and Genesis. They, and my sister who first played me a Neptunes track, were my biggest influence.”
3. What would you say are the top five songs that have shaped you into the musician you are today?
“This is not an easy question! I don’t think I can give you five but I can give you one… “Mr. Me Too” by The Clipse feat. Pharrell Williams is probably one of the hardest beats I ever heard.”
4. Tell us a bit about The Lake Is Successful. How were you feeling when you produced the EP?
“I was feeling really good and very happy to finally share some new music with Ed Banger Records.”
5. If you could eat the EP, what would it taste like?
“Spaghetti Carbonara with guanciale.”
6. How was it working with Makala, Rico TK and Snubnose Frankenstein?
“We have maximum trust in each other and push ourselves to give the best. I love working with them and I think the records sound great.”
7. Can you remember what it was like meeting each of them for the first time?
“Like meeting other fellow superheroes for the first time.”
8. What songs do you want to hear on the dance floor, besides your own?
“It has to be Daft Punk’s “Face to Face”.”
9. If you could never make music ever again, what would you be doing instead?
“I hope that day never happens! But I’m interested in many different things…”
10. What next for you?
“I’m going to keep sharing more music, hopefully some live shows and of course This Lake Is Successful Season 2 (the next part of my film!)”
Photography by Melony Lemon “Nubian Flow” artwork
Top Image: Photography by Chaad Murphie. “The Lake Is Successful” is out now, available for streaming on all major platforms.