French singer Lorie, sometimes called the "French Britney Spears", was one of the early-2000s most commercially successful French pop artists before the American Idol-inspired TV show era. Born Laure Pester in 1982 in Le Plessis-Bouchard, Val-d'Oise, she was 18 when she auditioned for producer Axel Brangeon and was signed by him. She recorded a demo which was rejected by all the majors before she self-released it on the Internet and got 15,000 downloads in two months. Shortly thereafter she was signed by Epic and released her debut album Près de Toi in 2001. A cheeky confection of light dance-pop in the vein of other young female singers who were sweeping the world at the time (notably the aforementioned Spears), it was an instant smash hit and eventually went triple-platinum in France, selling over a million copies.