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Published on June 28th, 2012 | by Andy Gaffney


Interview: Nouvelle Vague, the awesomest covers band

Nouvelle Vague are the effortlessly cool cover band who you wish could soundtrack every party you have ever had. Hailing from France, the new wave obsessed band have taken songs such as Ever Fallen in Love? and Blister in the Sun and made them their own. This Galway Arts Festival sees the band make a very welcome return to the city when play Chic Week, so using this an excuse to make myself look in any way cool I spoke to singer Liset Alea about Galway, recording their first original album, breakfasts and serving her cotton candy on stage.

I can’t believe I get to start an interview by asking this but where are you right now, Paris or Miami? Because you live in both, right?

I’m living in Paris right now, but I’m living out of my suitcase. Sometimes it gets opened to do laundry but then it goes right back in, but that’s the circus life.

From what I can see, you seem to have pretty much the coolest job in the world.

It really is! The only other cool job I can think of is cotton candy maker or maybe a professional clown.

Your shows are very cabaret and in Galway you’re playing The Big Top, so surely you can have a word with someone to set up a cotton candy machine, step behind it at intervals and make that dream come true?

That would be a great idea! Because if you are eating cotton candy during a really sad song, that could be really powerful. Oh, that’s a good idea.

And also, if you’re selling it, you get to pocket all the tips so its a bit of extra money on tour…

Ha ha! Which is always good.

Of course, Nouvelle Vague have played Galway before; were you a part of the band then or will this be your first time seeing the place?

No, I’ve been in the band for almost two years so right now I haven’t really toured Ireland, apart from Dublin, so I can’t wait to see some countryside. We’re going to be traveling in a van so I’ll get to see some of Ireland’s beautiful landscapes. I love the Irish crowd, you just give yourself completely to the music and when the energy goes up, you go right up with it, I love it.

We do love a festival, particularly one with a roof like this one…

Because of the rain?

Yeah, you’ve been to Dublin so you’ve seen a little bit of it but as beautiful as Galway is, it has a huge habit of raining on you.

I’ll pack my umbrella so.

And wellies. They might ruin the cool on stage look though, so maybe some fancy designer wellies?

Oh, I would rock a designer mod raincoat look on stage as well. Cotton candy and raincoats, we are coming up with so many cool ideas!

I know! Do you need a new manager or anything? I’m sadly a little too available. Speaking of Galway, you’re in for a treat. It has the greatest breakfast in the world…

Really? Can we go? What is in it?

It’s your normal sort of Irish fry up, but just done with magic. It’s in a place called ‘Riordans’.

Like the singer Dolores? If so, I gotta go there because I love breakfast and the singer!

And I don’t want to presume what happens on tour, but no matter how hung over you are, it is the perfect cure. Trust me.

Oh, thats sound good because I have my survival pack on tour but I love a hearty breakfast. In France, we have croissants and coffee, but for me that’s too light so I can’t wait for some beans and potato all mashed up into one.

I saw the recent trailer you put up on Facebook for the upcoming tour. It looks stunning. Will you bringing much of a ‘sexy cabaret feeling’ to the show in Galway?

It always has a cabaret feeling because it’s so spontaneous. It’s theatrical because we live out the songs more dramatically than we normally would, because as singers we’re out in front, so in a way its like leading a parade. It all depends on the mood, it change. We may bring some cabaret or we might might make it punk or rock and roll. It all depends.

Also, what I love about your music is just how well it lends itself to soundtracks for film and television. Is that something you notice or care about?

Yeah. Marc our producer studied film and is very into soundtracks, so I think a lot of our sound comes from someone who is very visual. He will sometimes put in sound effects before he puts in any instruments, so I think that visual composition suits us very well.

It was odd last night actually, I was reading about the band while listening to some of your music, only to then turn on the TV to see Bridesmaids on and there was the music of Nouvelle Vague again. You seem to be showing up in all these unexpected places. Is hearing your music in a huge blockbuster such as that odd?

I don’t even know how that happened. We seem to show up in the strangest places, but it’s great because it takes us to new places and audiences. Especially English speaking audiences who understand the lyrics and identify with them, because these are great songs with great lyrics.

Absolutely. Have you personally ever gone into the Nouvelle Vague office of a Monday morning and said “OK, I really need to cover this track, can we please do it?” A cover you had to fight for?

Oh yes, there was a song I brought to the band and said this was my new wave obsession that I needed to sing, which was ‘Lullaby’ by The Cure. In fact we’ve been opening the shows with that because its our own new arrangement. Also though some old Nouvelle Vague songs that I love that were not getting played anymore because of previous singers had got tired of performing, I can bring them back and they are refreshed. It’s the great thing about having a rotating line up, there is always something fresh.

So does that mean you might play ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ from the first album? I love that, you can dedicate it to the guy illegally selling cotton candy.

If you bring me some, I will! You know what, you could bring me cotton candy on stage and I could sing it to you, that would be awesome.

I would love that, only I think my short pale Irish looks would kind of take away from the sexy, cool, French, New Wave vibe on stage…

You could be Nigel! I’ll do a shout out “Looking for a Nigel with my cotton candy” and then you gotta show up ok?

Like ‘Dirty Dancing’?

Exactly! You run at me and then I’ll do the lift *Starts singing ‘Time of My Life’*

How about you? Are you in the band for a while or will we see you do more solo stuff? Perhaps tour over here?

I definitely want to tour and bring out an album before the end of year, but also we will be recording a new Nouvelle Vague album, which will be our first original album. It will be all our own compositions, so for a change we will be covering ourselves. It’s Nouvelle Vague by Nouvelle Vague. It’s really scary but also exciting, it’s an old band who are getting a new start. We’ve had ten years of playing songs that people loved but we are all writers who have our own voices so it’s going to be really special. It will be fun to mix in ten years of covers and our own stuff to the point where people can’t tell them apart because it all be the same style

Also, it must be great to have people hear an original song you have covered but to them it will always be a Nouvelle Vague track?

Yeah, some people have never heard the originals and they discovered ‘Too Drunk to Fuck’ through us. So hopefully when they hear our new stuff and go to look up the original, it will be a nice surprise that it is our own song. We will always do the covers but this is just a nice new direction. I think it’s going to be really exciting to record. Plus we have some amazing duets lined up for it that will be a surprise

Will we see any of the original stuff on the night?

I don’t know, I’ll see if we have time. I’d love to bring maybe a tiny bit of our new stuff for a sneak peek anyway for the crowd. We are in the writing process right now but I think it’s possible, we could pull it off.

Please do. You’ll be more than welcome in Galway, it is my favorite place on earth but make sure to stick around for a pint and breakfast after

I can’t wait, we’re going to do cotton candy and refried beans, this will be the indigestion tour.

Can’t get enough? Nouvelle Vague support Chic on the 19th of July in the Big Top as part of ‘Chic Week’ at The Galway Arts Festival.

Stuff and things:

Nouvelle Vague’s website is full of music

There’s a lot on at The Galway Arts Festival

Everyone is on Twitter: @NouvelleVagues, @galwayartsfest and, ahem, @Culch_ie.


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Tea crowder, housekeeper, comedy heart throb

One Response to Interview: Nouvelle Vague, the awesomest covers band

  1. Darren Byrne says:

    I can’t stop listening to their cover of Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead.

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