Kids Return: The Rebirth of a Musical Friendship, on Tour in North America

A person standing in front of a building

When the entire world shut down, back in March of 2020, French musicians Adrien Roze and Clément Savoye were on tour in California with Teeers, their former band. They rushed back to France and then landed at Roze’s parents’ empty apartment in Paris. “We decided to spend the lockdown together, just the two of us,” says Roze. “We were trying to finish our album with Teeers, but it was not really working out,” adds Savoye. 

The musicians immersed themselves in a creative bubble and from within it, their confinement (“lockdown,” in French) became a sort of rebirth. Roze said, “I got to play on the piano for hours and hours every day. It was quite magical to sit in front of the very same one I used to take lessons on as a little kid. We also watched a lot of movies and read a bunch of books. We were so inspired, something was clearly happening between us and music. That’s when we realized there was something special and very natural about the two of us playing together. We wanted more of that.” They decided to form their very own band, and named it after a Japanese movie from director Takeshi Kitano which they had watched together during this magical time and both loved, called Kids Return. “To be honest, we watched the movie then did not really talk about it and went to bed,” says Roze. It was the morning after, as he was playing a soundtrack from another one of Kitano’s movies on the piano that Savoye approached him. “I have an idea,” he said. “We should have our own band, and we should name it ‘Kids Return.’” Roze compares this scene of epiphany to one of a cartoon: “My arms fell out of my body!” He looked at Savoye and thought, “Yes, it’s a brilliant idea.” 

  *      *      *

I met Roze and Savoye on a cold and windy night at one of the last concerts in the fall 2022 season at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This world-renowned outdoor venue in the Colorado Rockies is best known for its near-perfect acoustic surroundings due to its position between two massive red sandstone structures. It has been the venue of choice for many A-list musicians over the last century, including Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, U2 and even Daft Punk, the French band best known for One more time or Harder, better, faster, stronger. That night, Kids Return was opening for another French band that has been successfully breaking into the American electro scene called Polo & Pan

As I arrived, Savoye and Roze were finishing sound checks on stage. For a brief moment, it felt as though they were playing for me alone in an empty and gigantic amphitheater. While approaching the stage, I overheard concerns from the duo: That night was the 13th date of their North American tour and as superstitions go, Savoye discovered that one of his keyboards had not been properly transported and he could no longer use it. Instead of panicking, Roze and Savoye stayed calm and focused on what they were here to accomplish: Perform at Red Rocks. 

Before our interview, I had been listening to Kids Return music, but had never seen them in person: Both have slightly long hair that’s a bit tousled. While they are the same age and both of average size, Roze’s brown hair and ruddier facial hair contrasts with the angelic look of Savoye’s blond hair and blue eyes. Their costume: velvet pants, flannel shirts and leather jackets. 

“It’s not an act. We didn’t decide to dress like a 70s band just for fun. We’re not copying anyone. We’ve always been that way, as far as I can remember. Even in middle school, when we met. The way artists we love dress touches us but in no way are we trying to imitate them. I sincerely believe that what we produce, whether it’s music or video, is profoundly modern. And sincere. Especially sincere.” says Savoye.

Kids Return performing on the stage of Red Rocks in October 2022.

Savoye and Roze are childhood friends. They met in the 8th grade in Paris after Savoye was expelled from his former middle school. “He was a sort of modern Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and reselling to … well the same people. So of course, he got caught and was expelled,” laughs Roze. Back then, Savoye was already in a rock band, Teeers, and suggested that Roze and his friends start a different band themselves to open for Teeers’ next concert, two weeks later. And because absolutely nothing is impossible when you are 14 years old, well …  that’s exactly what happened.

The two friends had been introduced to music at a young age. Roze’s dad loved western movies and original soundtracks. He said, “Together, we’d watch movies from Sergio Leone. I remember the music by Ennio Morricone. That is when I fell in love with classic rock. I also discovered French movie soundtrack composers like Vladimir Kosma, Francis Lai as well as pretty much all of the music from Henri Verneuil’s movies. These were a  huge influence.” Savoye fell in love with the American music culture in middle school and his favorite albums were by Billy Joel or The Beach Boys. “But, truth be told, I think I wanted to play music before I even knew music really well. That’s in part what drove me to buy so many discs to learn. I always wanted to learn more,” Savoye said. 

Roze and Savoye weren’t stellar students back in school but still, with Teeers as well as with Kids Return, they decided to challenge themselves to sing in English, a class neither excelled in. “I sucked at that too, to be honest, ” laughs Savoye. “It truly is by listening to music, watching movies and traveling to the US that English came to me!” Roze adds that they continue to write and sing in English because most of their musical influences are English-speaking bands and artists. “Our lyrics are just another musical instrument. We compose and write at the same time as we figure out the notes,” he says. 

Eventually, Roze joined Teeers as the band was releasing its very first EP, Overheat. Back then, he played the keyboard and chorus, while Savoye was the drummer. In 2019, Elle Magazine wrote of the band “They create sunny pop that gets stuck in your head, with undertones from the Strokes and Arctic Monkeys.” Despite this promising start, Teeers did not survive the stress and chaos of the March 2020 shut down; the band disbanded. 

As most of the world locked down or was working hard on the medical front lines, Roze and Savoye say they “were really looking for a purpose.” Savoye adds, “ I don’t mean that we didn’t have any with our previous band, but musically-speaking, Teeers was falling further and further from the music Adrien and I aspired to create.” When they saw the movie, Kids Return, they were inspired by the story of two high school dropouts who are best friends but start on very different life paths; one as a boxer and the other as a low-level gangster. The movie shows that despite their different choices, these friends can find a way to remain in each other’s lives. 

Their resultant first album together, Forever Melodies, is a very intimate journey through the intimate space of ten beautifully crafted songs where they sing about everything from their friendship to love stories, break ups, and childhood. Maxime Delcourt from Jack, the music channel on the French cable TV Canal Plus, says one can hear the number of hours Roze and Savoye listened to the Beatles just by paying attention to how they hum tunes. According to Delcourt, Kids Return’s inspirations come from MGMT, another French band, and Foxygen, an American indie rock duo from sunny California. Indeed, Kids Return music is absolutely contagious, their music will stay in your head for days (and, for once, it’s a good thing!). 

In their track, “Lost in Los Angeles,” Roze and Savoye recall the tour of their previous band, Teeers, that was canceled in March 2020 because of the pandemic. “We landed in Los Angeles, just the two of us. We were so lost. We could not play. This song talks about our friendship as well as the beginning of Kids Return,” says Roze. Savoye compares “Lost In Los Angeles” to the epitome of Kids Return. “It’s about the day we made a pact and decided to create together,” he says. 

“The day we got together

We made a deal forever

A weekend for us to be ourselves

And leave our troubles behind” 

The video of “Lost in Los Angeles” is brilliantly directed by Tara-Jay Bangalter (child of Daft Punk co-founder, Thomas Bangalter). Clearly inspired by Paris Texas, a road movie by Jim Wenders from 1984, Bangalter manages to depict what the song and the story of Kids Return are both about: profound friendship, and the trust pact between two friends. 

“I love working with Adrien. It is so precious to work with someone who inspires you so much every day. Art and music are so deeply rooted inside him,” says Savoye. “Clément has a vision, he truly really has a strong gut feeling about where to bring a song, how to craft and deliver it. I like to say he carries the binoculars for Kids Return, ”adds Roze. 

A few weeks ago, Roze and Savoye attended the MMEA (Music Moves Europe Awards) in the Netherlands. This European Union-funded prize aims to accelerate the international careers of up and coming European emerging artists. The jury’s report states “I love the soft, soulful, psychedelic rock sound of Kids Return. It is timeless and new at the same time!” Kids Return won the Music Moves Europe Awards for 2023.

Kids Return among the other winners of the 2023 MME Awards on January 19, 2023.
Credit: MME Awards.

Since their album came out in October of 2022, Kids Return has been invited to perform everywhere in France: Radio Nova, France Inter, FIP, Quotidien, and even a concert on the rooftop of the famous haute couture designer Yves Saint Laurent! The French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles ranked their album as one of the best of 2022. “We created the album we were dreaming of. We treated ourselves to the art we love. Media coverage has been great, but it is not our end goal. Just a means to get people to talk about and listen to our music,” says Roze.

  *        *        *

A few moments after my sit-down interview with Roze and Savoye at the mythical Colorado venue last fall, they walked onto the stage and started playing “Orange Mountains,”  a song they composed in the Pyrenees Mountains in the fall of 2021. “At that time of the year, beech trees cover the mountains in this bright orange color, which is what inspired the title of the song,” says Roze. “Orange Mountains” refers to how one can rebuild oneself after the end of a love story through introspection and an immersion in nature. “Somewhere in a grassland, I just try to forget, I did everything to understand, But now it’s too late,” sings Roze. It was as if the song had been written for this special moment. Suddenly it truly felt like they belonged, here in America, singing in English in the middle of Red Rocks. 

Their 30-minute opening set appeared to transport the audience into a unique Kids Return’s universe. Towards the end, and half-way through performing their song “Melody,” Savoye’s second keyboard fell from its support to the ground in the wind. The bandmates rolled with it and the two friends invited the audience to sing the words with them from the beginning, and to use the flashlights from their phones. This new acoustic version of “Melody” was truly moving. You could see the friendship and the communion between the two artists in the way they looked at each other with admiration and played with one another and it felt like we, the audience, were sharing a part in this friendship. 

Kids Return will continue its North American tour in the US and Canada in February 2023. Find out more here.

Watch them live on the rooftop of famous Haute-Couture, Yves-Saint-Laurent: SAINT LAURENT – LIVE SESSIONS – KIDS RETURN

Anne-Fleur Andrle is a Colorado-based freelance writer and podcast producer. She hosts and produces a French Morning show called, French Expat, where she documents the journeys of French-speaking expats around the world. She is so passionate about podcasts that she created a podcast about it, called Génération Podcast, and has a weekly curated newsletter with podcasts that she thinks are not to miss. 

The interviews for this piece were conducted in French and translated into English by the author.

A close up of a sign


Get your weekly dose of Frenchly’s news.

Read more

Frenchly newsletter.

A close up of a sign

Get your weekly dose of Frenchly’s news.

Frenchly Newsletter.

A close up of a sign

Get your weekly dose of Frenchly stuff.