Nouvelle Vague reveals before Arsenal Fest whether they would engage a Serbian singer

Nouvelle Vague will perform on June 28th at the Main Stage, so we spoke with producer Marc Collin about their beginnings, how they choose songs, singers, whether anyone has ever sued or gotten upset about their song covers, what they think of our music, and whether they would collaborate with any of our singers.

You’re often in Serbia. Do you have any rituals when you come to visit us?

Not really, to be honest, but we have many great memories from Serbia, especially from Belgrade. I once received a nice souvenir from Belgrade’s nightlife, from a really great audience, so… We’re looking forward to returning there.

Do you know any Serbian words?

No, I’m sorry, I don’t.

What do you think about Serbian music? Do you have any favorites, musicians you like?

I’m not sure I know much about Serbian music, but I was a fan of the band Laibach, and they were from Yugoslavia.

What can we expect from you at Arsenal Fest?

You can expect a really cool new performance. We’re coming with a new show. It’s a mix of our first and latest album. We have a double bass, drums and some percussion, guitar, keyboards, and two incredible singers. I think it’s one of our best shows.

How did Nouvelle Vague come about? How did you and Olivier meet, start collaborating…

The idea for Nouvelle Vague has been around for a long time, actually since 2003, that we should make some kind of tribute to post-punk bands and celebrate their creativity, as a different approach from celebrating their sound, because bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode, The New Order, wrote classics for me, for my generation.

I envisioned a journey through time and space between Rio and Manchester, for example, and imagined a girl under the Rio sun singing the song “Love Will Tear Us Apart” only with a bossa nova guitar. So I called Olivier and said, “What do you think about this idea, do you want to try it?” He was a cool guitarist. He came over, we tried it, and we invited a Brazilian singer we found in Paris to come, and we were very happy with the result. So we said, “Okay, let’s make a whole album with that idea.”

You record songs in different languages. Have you ever thought about collaborating with one of our singers? And maybe covering some of our songs?

So far, we haven’t had the opportunity to collaborate with a Serbian singer, but why not? Maybe you can suggest someone and some songs as well.

How do you choose the Nouvelle Vague singer?

Sometimes it’s a bit random. For example, for the new album, I met Alonja at a party and I was just thinking, should I stay or should I go. She told me she’s a jazz and funk singer. And I said to her, “Wow, that’s cool. I’m working on something. Would you like to come to the studio and try?” And that’s how it worked. It’s very simple, or it’s people I work with on other projects, and while we’re working on a project, I think, “Hey, I’m working on this song for Nouvelle, do you want to try?” It’s about that.

@arsenalfest Nouvelle Vague #mainstage #arsenalfest2024 #kragujevac #fyp #fy ♬ original sound – Arsenal Fest

How do you choose the songs you’ll cover? Do you need to get permission for any of the songs?

Actually, we don’t need permission from the original authors because we don’t really change the lyrics and melody.

I try to choose songs that are connected to my past, as a teenager, songs I really loved when I was young and songs that inspire me, songs that give me ideas for a new arrangement, to completely reshape the song. So it can be from the lyrics of the song, it can be from the original production, from the band’s story. Many different things.

Has anyone ever forbidden you from using their song? Have you ever had any trouble? Have you maybe upset any performers?

We’ve never had problems with any original authors because, as I said, we don’t really seek their approval. So it’s pretty straightforward. But maybe we’ve received feedback that John Lydon from PIL didn’t like what we did with his song, but I’m not even sure if that’s true.

Did you expect Nouvelle Vague to become so popular at the beginning of this project? How have all these years looked? Are you satisfied?

Of course, we didn’t. As I mentioned earlier, it was just an idea to make a unique album, and then it did very well worldwide. And we were very surprised. So we said, “Okay, we should just make another one,” and that was very successful too. So we kept the formula, but I always try to make the project really evolve, so we have different singers, different types of arrangements.

The first album was very bossa nova, then we went for a Caribbean sound, and then more towards country and folk sound. And we always try the band and I come up with, so the project can always be fresh, like a pleasure to go on tour and work on new material. And yes, 20 years later, we’re still here. And I’m the first one who is very surprised and happy about it.