Nouvelle Vague: New Wave Goodbye?

Rockfort talks to Marc Collin, Nouvelle Vague's lynchpin, about the group's new album due this summer (called '3'), which comes full circle by having original post-punk stars like Ian McCulloch and Terry Hall joining in with the bossa re-interpretations of early 80s classics.

Rockfort: You consider the new Nouvelle Vague album to be the last of a trilogy, is that right?
MC: Yes, it was the original idea but maybe we will go on with different ideas, we don’t know.
Rockfort: What were you looking for in your selection of songs this time?
MC: Same things as for the previous albums, I mean, selecting the best songs from the best bands! And, as it’s the last album, trying to not forget ones.
Rockfort: How did the decision come about to collaborate with people like Martin Gore and Ian McCulloch – did they approach you as fans of the versions you’d recorded?
MC: I don’t remember exactly, but as we got some really good feedback from the bands we have covered, it came to my mind that maybe we have to do something with them. And finally I had this idea to imagine these duets. Yes, I think they were all fans of what we did with their songs.
Rockfort: Nouvelle Vague seems to have really taken off as a live project as well – was that expected?
MC: Not really, especially for me who is more a studio nerd! But finally with the help of Olivier (Libaux) and Camille, who are really good musicians, we have created something unique. I think also with the live performance, very different from the album versions, it’s true that it has played an important part of the credibility and the success of the band.
Rockfort: How did your collaboration with Olivier Libaux start?
MC: I met him in '97 I guess, and first he did guitars on my projects, soundtracks etc. We were always speaking about new wave, so I asked him to work with me on Nouvelle Vague when I got the idea.
Rockfort: Outside Nouvelle Vague, you also put together the ‘So Young But So Cold’ compilation of new wave French electronic music, and there have been others since covering the same era. Do you think this period of music still has more to offer us?
MC: Probably, there are still amazing tracks that are still unknown but maybe the best ones have already been rediscovered. But I’m still amazed by all the possibilities that the bands explored in this era, so creative!
Rockfort: Do you think that pop/rock musicians are becoming more like curators or archivists of past styles?
MC: Absolutely, I’m part of this. Almost everything has been done and we know now that the audience is ok with that idea of ‘nothing new’ in terms of production, so we have to play with all that’s been done before, imagining, mixing etc. What if King Tubby was mixed by Supertramp?
Rockfort: You played with a number of groups in Versailles in the late 80s, with people who also went on to varying levels of success. Was there something in the water in Versailles at that time?!
MC: I really don t know why this has happened, it’s a mystery! And I actually want to do a documentary about that.
Rockfort: What do you think of the new generation of French electronic artists?
MC: Some are really great like SebastiAn, for example. Electronic music offered French artists a possibility to express their creativity and it’s still true now.
Rockfort: You give the impression of someone who’s constantly busy with various projects. How do you decide on your priorities?
MC: I’m working on different projects cos I’ve got my own label and I’m free to do what I want! Whether it’s commercial or not, there are no real priorities, I’m trying to do everything at the same time, working faster and faster!

Interview by David McKenna