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Bossa nova meets new wave

Published January 30, 2010 5:55 pm

Music » French band Nouvelle Vague invades Utah to cast out freedom fries.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sundance ends Sunday, which means it's finally time for our own little celebration of Francedance.

Nouvelle Vague is a quartet of two guys and two ladies from the country that gave us Lafayette and saved us during the Revolutionary War. Now, France presents Nouvelle Vague to save us from boring dance music.

The group is led by Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux, along with a regular interchange of singers, all performing their unique blend of -- get ready -- 1980s new wave and bossa nova.

The hit high school musical TV show, "Glee," introduced the group to an American audience. The group's version of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" has been featured in the series, as well as Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself."

Via e-mail, Libaux answered questions about why melding bossa nova and new wave shouldn't work -- but does, so well.

How would you introduce yourself to a Salt Lake City/Utah audience?

We are a concept band who started a few years ago on a simple idea: cover great punk and new wave songs of the 80's in a bossa nova style. We have also moved a bit from our "bossa nova" original concept, and brought some other musical influences (ska, mento, bluegrass, etc).

Why are you attracted to New Wave and bossa nova?

We have grown up with the new wave music. We then [started listening to] composers, musicians, and have discovered so many other styles of music, including soundtracks, bossa nova, pop, etcetera. The idea -- new wave into bossa nova -- was sounding great to us, as both these genres were complete, apparently, opposite: New wave is dark, electric, angry, [while] bossa nova is light, acoustic, calm and poetic. We thought that a mix/meeting of these two musics would certainly create a great result. Actually, covering punk and new wave songs in a bossa-nova style has revealed the quality of 80's songwriting. Nobody had never really referred to songwriting when talking about punk and new wave music.

What made you decide to work with Marc Collin?

I met Marc Collin during the 90's, at a friend's place. Marc was the first musician I met in years who I could talk [to] about new wave music. For some reason, at the end of the 80's, punk and new wave music had turned into a sort of old-fashioned music, which nobody was talking about anymore. Meeting Marc, I could talk about The Stranglers, The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy again. We then have worked on a couple of albums he was producing ... Starting Nouvelle Vague was sounding obvious for us, as our ideas were matching, and the songs were happening well and quickly.

How does your latest album, "3," differ from earlier albums?

["3"] is welcoming, for the first time in the Nouvelle Vague story, original artists of the 80's. We started covering these people without even thinking that they would listen to our versions one day. And nowadays, they are OK to perform with us -- isn't that tremendous? On "3" also we have moved from our "bossa nova" concept, and brought some North American influences in our music, [such as] bluegrass, country music. We wanted to bring these important musical influences in our covers, and we were also thinking that it would help in meeting some original artists as Martin Gore [of Depeche Mode] or Ian McCulloch [of Echo and the Bunnymen] -- as we could not really imagine them singing bossa nova versions.

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This band is in vogue: Nouvelle Vague, that is

When » Feb. 2 at 9 p.m.

Where » Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City

Tickets » $15 at SmithsTix and 24Tix