Les Nubians recently released their third studio album, Nü Revolution, which is deeply rooted in ancestral sounds of Africa, love, liberation, and expressions of freedom. Muphoric Sounds had the chance to speak to the Parisian Princesses, Hélène and Célia Faussart, during their album’s promotion, where they spoke about who they are as artists and women of a new generation. Check out the interview below. And if you haven’t purchased a copy of Nü Revolution, it is available on iTunes and Amazon.
Muphoric Sounds: Who is Les Nubians? What do you stand for?
Les Nubians - Hélène: Les Nubians are two African sisters, with an African and European background who are doing music together, who are interested in the black Diaspora and into projecting ourselves as universal citizens. We are mothers, women who are activists, we are involved with how our world is working and we are trying to do music that looks like us.
Muphoric Sounds: What are the things you’re involved in that aren’t necessarily music related?
Les Nubians - Hélène: We are involved in women empowerment, fighting against AIDS, especially in Africa. We’re involved in the fight against malaria because it is something that is also a plague in Africa. We are involved in sickle cell, another difficult tropical disease and we are fighting against child molestation. We’re pretty involved in things that relate to Africa, and being Ambassadors of a new African generation.
Muphoric Sounds: Your heritage is at the forefront of all you do. Is that what you want to dispel upon your audience? Influence them in some way to the motherland.
Les Nubians - Hélène: The Motherland being our roots, but also with our arms reaching to the sky and the sky being universal and this is what is the passion of what we try to show. Africa is an inspiration for us. We are something else; we grew up exposed to different backgrounds and we created our music to reach the universal. We don’t want our audience to only see Africa Africa Africa. No! They should also be able to look around them, at the corner of their street and see Africa in all.
Les Nubians - Célia: Yes, Africa is the motherland to all. Africa being the motherland to all of us. It’s the first continent. Talking about Africa as the motherland opens to universality and love.
Muphoric Sounds: With your album Princess Les Nubians, did you anticipate the attention you received when you made it, given the language barrier?
Les Nubians - Hélène: Not really. We didn’t anticipate anything really. In the beginning we just wanted to change the face of music made in France, in our certain way of writing songs. We didn’t anticipate that the album would have worked so well in America and foreign countries. It was a surprise. Also, when you do your first album, you don’t know. You don’t know who’s going to reach out. You don’t know what your audience is going to be like. You’re completely open.
Muphoric Sounds: The Nü Revolution is a sexy, but lively album. What was the thinking behind the overall project?
Les Nubians - Célia: As you said, lively and definitely with a lot of energy. We wanted people to dance and to celebrate with more up-tempo beats. I think our music evolved with us. The way we evolved from being young women turning into mothers. In Nü Revolution, there’s evolution—the change through the woman. So the album is a tribute to the women and our complex powers, and also identity with the energy we probably need for ourselves in this world that is crazy. There’s war, there’s recession, climate catastrophes and Nü Revolution is about bringing people up where energies are down. We are at a point in our lives where we are about action. The album reflects where we are, who we are right now, and what we wanted to share with people.
Muphoric Sounds: The collaborations on the album are varied. How did you choose them?
Les Nubians Hélène: The collaborations come from life’s adventures. Some are old friends like Manu Debango and people like John Banzi, and Andres Levin.
Les Nubians - Célia: Manu Dibango is not just an old friend; he’s like family.
Les Nubians - Hélène: Manu Dibango was on our One Step Forward album. He was already a part of our journey. Then there are the new friends, the artists that we listen to in between, like Eric Roberson. We really like his music and we thought why not invite him; it made sense in us meeting him. Newcomers like Blitz the Ambassador, is the New York connection and then him being African also, we appreciated his work and his message. And it just so happened to be the right time.
Muphoric Sounds: Do you play instruments? And in terms of making music, what’s your method and also with working with other people?
Les Nubians - Hélène: I do play instruments but I don’t play on stage. I think there are masters who are doing it, and I leave that work to the masters. A lot of composers compose with instruments, keyboards, guitar, percussion, and bass. We write at the start in acapella. The way we create with other people is different from one person to another. Some songs were definitely created on the spot, like “Afro Dance” with Durango Head. That song was born in acapella. Others will be written on our own, then we put everything together to see if it will work, or not. It’s a real process of research. What we like and enjoyed, is to use different musicians and producers and bring them into our world and get them to do something different than what they’re used to doing. Like for example, having trombone guitar from Zhir or having a mohetic congo play on a more hip hop beat, trying things that are improbable sometimes is where the magic will come through.
Muphoric Sounds: The song that really struck me was the last track on the album, “Africa for the Future.” How did you come with that? What’s your favourite song on the album?
Les Nubians - Célia: “Africa for the Future” was a collaboration with Andres Levin, an old time friend. He produced most of the music on the Red, Hot, & Riot tribute to Fela album. We actually shared the stage together during the Fela tribute.
Les Nubians - Hélène: He’s actually a part of Euro Babeño, the amazing nuyorican dance music, an amazing producer of Latin music for people like Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, a multi-time Grammy award winner and we had the chance to work with him over the years. I remember when we walked into the studio and Andres said that he felt we needed to do a more uptempo track, and we just built the track together. He brought everything that we are about into the song. I love that track too.
Muphoric Sounds: Can you tell our readers what you’re listening to right now?
Les Nubians - Célia: I just set up a Pandora library, so I have Bob Marley, Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, from the Caribbean jazz scene, Lokua Kanza from Africa, and Donelle Jones and all of that sound.
Les Nubians - Hélène: I’m listening to the New Sector Movements, yes, I’m back to that. I miss that sound. It was so good. I’m also listening to Emanuel Mysore, and John Banzi!