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Nouvelle Vague
Culture

Nouvelle Vague

By No author
05/12/2008

Once again Nouvelle Vague has set London on fire. Last week, this outstanding musical formation, which gives an illuminating insight into the weird and wonderful world of New Wave in Bossa Nova style, performed at the Kentish Town Forum. I’m certain their performance will not be forgotten anytime soon. And with good reasons: we sang, we danced, we clapped our hands and eventually, gave them a well-earned standing ovation.

I was lucky enough to meet them before the show, in their dressing-rooms: the perfect opportunity to quiz them on their unique style...

Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague


Nouvelle vague has such a personal and emotional atmosphere that each time you listen to the CD or see them in concert, you feel as if they were inviting you home. Meeting them in person you can multiply this sensation by 10. When they arrived with all their stuff in their dressing-rooms, they looked exactly like a family coming back from holidays. I was supposed to interview Olivier Libaux and I had conscientiously prepared my questions. But once there, I forgot them all. I sat on a couch, they made me a coffee and Olivier came to sit next to me. All the musician were there. We started to discuss, or at least I felt more like I was having a discussion than a formal interview. No notes, no handheld recorder, just a nice conversation about them, about their music, about their success, their plans… It was so enjoyable  I almost forgot I had to go!

 
Nouvelle Vague

First things first: an introduction. Nouvelle Vague is a cover band with a changing structure which covers songs from the New Wave… in Bossa Nova style. What a strange idea! Olivier explained to me that he and Marc Collin (the two founders) have always loved the music of the late 70s’ and early 80s’ which is still considered slightly off. They therefore wanted to revive it and decided that the best way to do so was to give it the elegance and sensuality of Bossa Nova. They aimed to create songs that could be listened to at home, an interesting form of easy listening. From Depeche Mode to Tuxedomoon, Blondie to the Dead Kennedys, The Clash to The Cure, Olivier and Marc were not afraid to revive mythical musical figures.

Tribute? Blasphemy? I asked Olivier if they didn't fear being insulted by some purists. Actually reviving “Guns of Brixton” in a soft way with female sensual voices here in London doesn’t seem like the safest bet… And yet, ithere is no denying it works. Olivier explained to me that English audiences are especially important to them for this reason: most of the songs they revive belong to English culture. During their first UK tour, the two singers (Camille and Mélanie Pain) were afraid of being whistled or assaulted by some projectiles… Happily it didn't happen and the success is still here, almost more so than in France as far as concerts are concerned . This is one of their favourite places to play, despite the bitter cold, as Olivier assured me. Moreover, the UK press is unanimous, except for NME magazine, which I'm sure has nothing to do with their hero worshipping of The Cure as the musical genius of the last few decades.

But Nouvelle Vague doesn't just revive famous hits, they also bring forgotten songs back to our attention. So I was wondering what their ultimate aim was: to make people return to the originals or to rise above them? That made Olivier laugh. He told me that some artists have said they prefer Nouvelle Vague’s version to their own one. However, as far as they are concerned, they just wanted to create a universe. And he could feel proud because that’s what they did. The proof is that the audience is not  only composed of New Wave nostalgic purists but a lot of people who like Nouvelle Vague simply for the unique atmosphere they create. Especially young people, and some don’t even know that these songs are revivals. Others feel like discovering the originals. All the options are good for Nouvelle Vague which had never  expected such a success.

 

We went on to speak about the formation of the band. In fact Nouvelle Vague has had several musicians. The famous French singer Camille was one of the first to take part in this adventure on their first album and tour. Unfortunately she can no longer play with them, which Olivier regrets. So how do they choose their collaborators? By chance or on the spur of the moment! It seems it is a bit of pot luck: As he tells it, they met one in a bar where she was singing, whilst another simply sent them a demo. Infact, they are currently looking for a new French singer…  Any volunteers? 

 

And what about projects? Their first album was released in 2003, the second one in 2006… is there a third coming out soon? Olivier told me that a new opus will be released in 2009. I was too curious not to ask more about it and I managed to get some pieces of information since Olivier was nice enough to answer. So this album will sound more country and there will be some duos with the original singers! Such a good idea! As far as titles are concerned, I couldn’t find out much. But I asked him if they are going to revive some French songs, since French musicians were quite good during the New Wave. Think about Indochine, Etienne Daho, Daniel Balavoine, Trisomie 21 or Clair Obscur: Why don’t they revive one of these songs? And I was right: Nouvelle Vague picked up “Aussi belle qu’une balle” by Taxi Girl. Audacious choice. I just can’t wait to hear their new album! But let me tell you, as great as the album is no doubt going to be: There is nothing like seeing them live.  Ask people who were at the Kentish Forum: They are simply made for the stage! Nouvelle Vague is not about to stop!

Official website 

Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague

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