Inspiration can strike out of nowhere. It’s something that happened to French musician Marc Collins’ heroes from his youth, such as Joy Division, The Cure and Depeche Mode.
It wasn’t long before inspiration struck Marc to form a group, which transformed the moody recordings of his New Wave/ post-punk idols into sunny, laidback bossa nova.
Now, Nouvelle Vague, the band that formed from combining these ideas, return to Australia for a series of shows. Alongside fellow musician Olivier Libaux and a cast of female singers, Nouvelle Vague began performing in 2003.
Marc and Olivier first met in the '90s, when both were getting their start in the music industry in their own, respective bands. But the two soon formed a bond thanks to the music of their youth and being able to discuss music others tried to forget.
After collaborating on projects together, Marc was suddenly inspired to start a new musical project; one that he shared with Olivier. “Sometimes you don’t know where these visions are coming from. "I don’t know why I had this vision of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ played on a guitar on a beach in Rio. It just seemed like a dream.
“I thought, 'I want to hear that. I want to hear ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ sung by a girl, with a bossa nova guitar'. For me, it’s two things I really like that are, in a way, completely different, but not that different because they both have that same kind of melancholy to them.”
The band’s first albums gained acclaim from critics, audiences, and even the original writers of the songs enjoying the pared-back interpretations. The clever pairing of '80s New Wave and bossa nova (both Nouvelle Vague and bossa nova translate to ‘New Wave’ in French and Portuguese respectively) became a success, leading to more albums.
However, to the dismay of Marc, critics began seeing them as repetitive, missing the subtle progressions in each album. Marc called time on Nouvelle Vague in order to explore new things. “I was starting to get a little bit bored playing the same songs in the same way. It became not really fun. I thought maybe it was time to stop playing, to start doing something else.
“After five years, I realised no matter if we’ve done something new or not, people are still listening to Nouvelle Vague. We realised we have to do something because it’d be too bad if we didn’t. We have this potential to tour and talk to a lot of people, so let’s do something.”
Since re-launching Nouvelle Vague, Marc has dived straight into the project. They have a new album, which includes covers of much-loved songs, and, as a complete surprise, a handful of original songs written by Marc and Olivier.
Marc has also directed a documentary on the band. But, most of all, Marc is looking forward to returning to touring with the group, alongside vocalists Melanie Pain and Elodie Frege, and spending time in the Australian summer: a blissful substitute to his Rio beach dream.
Nouvelle Vague ShowsSun 15 Jan - So Frenchy So Chic (Melbourne)
Wed 18 Jan - Adelaide Festival Centre
Thu 19 Jan - Brisbane Powerhouse
Sat 21 Jan - So Frenchy So Chic (Sydney)
Sun 22 Jan - Rosemount Hotel (Perth)