Amour et Rock n’ Roll – The Ladybird Story
I can think of many Ladybird alliterations. Lively. Lovely. Lucky. Loquacious. They all seem to fit; Ladybird are charming French indie-pop-rockers who once played in a tree. In the line-up we have Victor Crespi, on guitar and lead vocals; Luc Arnault, on drums and vocals; Julien Paraveau (absent at time of interview) on lead guitar; and Nikco M. ART, tambourine boy and general curiosity.
We meet at Fidel’s. Victor is blondish and looks about 16; Luc is wearing a green trilby hat that appears to have been shaped from a leaf; Nikco has pink sunglasses even though it’s 5.30 on a Wellington winter evening. Later he will dip his cake into his milkshake and eat it.
Anything Ladybird does that might require an explanation can generally be dismissed with, “Oh, well. They’re French.”First of all, they try to tell me they’re from Marrakech in Morocco. I’m onto them, however, and they admit to being from the small town of Saintes in southwest France. “We’re kind of saints,” Victor explains. They’ve been hanging around in New Zealand since December 2006, based in Auckland. How long are they staying? “Forever,” says Victor. “We’re [he and girlfriend Kate] going to get married. Luc is going back to tour France.
”They say their hometown is boring and that there’s nothing happening there. I think maybe they’ll go back when they’re old. Chorus of “NO!” “We’re going to have a new president now,” says Nikco (the French presidential election is still a few days away). “It doesn’t make me want to go back,” says Luc. “I’ll come back here, but probably not before next summer.
”What’s been best about New Zealand so far? “Camp A Low Hum and meeting our girlfriends!” says Victor. “We’ve meet one of my teenage idols, called Martin Phillips [from the Chills]. We met him while we were busking in the streets of Nelson and then we stayed at his place. That was really, really cool.
”Ladybird is good at meeting people. They only have to stand out in the street and someone picks them up. “Of course, you can always analyse it and say it’s just because we’re French and looking like we are,” says Luc. How apt. “Every now and then I drive Victor to the supermarket and leave him there and he’ll go and busk for some hours, so that he can actually meet some friends. It’s one of our commercial strategies.
”Ladybird seem kind of resilient, like small children that can’t break bones. Young, gifted and French isn’t a bad combination, and it seems to get you everywhere in a foreign country when you’re broke and have nowhere to sleep. “Sometimes we’d all just sleep in the car or we’d sleep in TV rooms of backpackers,” Luc says. “Like last night we didn’t know where to crash so on stage we said we didn’t know where to go. Last night it was like a reggae man with dreads. We fell asleep in an ocean of reggae.” “I actually fell asleep right by the speaker,” adds Victor. “We got up at like 6.30 and this guy was still up, smoking weed,” continues Luc. That’s Nelson for you.
I’m always jealous of these multi-lingual Europeans. “It’s easier to write in English than in French,” says Victor. “We’ve always been listening to English or American music.” I’m curious about what language they dream in. “Turkish,” Nikco says. “Mostly Hungarian,” explains Victor (“But only from ze southwest,” adds Luc), “But it tends to start to be in Russian now.” “My life is a dream, so I don’t have to dream,” says Nikco.
These guys remind me of the film The Science of Sleep, in which the main character can’t tell the difference between dreams and real life. Not that I think Ladybird have any kind of mental abnormality; but they seem to live in a kind of anything-possible, reality-is-what-you-make-it kind of world. They defy reason. I ask them their ages; just, you know, for statistical purposes. “I’m 19,” says Victor, with utter certainty. “He’s 19, and I’m 18. I’m an 18 year old lesbian,” says Nikco. “I’m actually 23,” Victor clarifies. That’s more like it. “I’m 24,” Luc continues, “and Nikco’s 28.” “You’re 28?” I repeat. It seems awfully old. “No. I’m 18,” insists Nikco.
Anyhow, what’s next for Ladybird? “This is a long term project. We’re all married anyway,” says Victor. “We’re planning to keep on travelling all together.” “We’ll have kids and start a family band,” says Luc. Dear God, little Ladybirds. What a thought.
I like these guys. They have hearts in all the right places. That night they play ze Mighty Mighty; pot plants fringe the stage, and they look like they’re playing on a desert island. I think they would be just as happy if that were the case, as long as they had instruments, cake and buckets to make sandcastles.
P.S. Please note that Paris sucks.
P.P.S. If anyone would like a Ladybird poster, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.