La Résistance refers to a period of time when French countrymen and women pushed back against Nazi Germany’s attempts towards the occupation of France, circa World War II. 2011 will see another uprising; much less violent, however, still significant.
“Music is so powerful,” says Hélène (pronounced ell-LENN’) Faussart, one half of sister duo Les Nubians, as she stands on the front lines. “Music can cure, music can heal people. But, music can also kill.” She goes on, “We want to be in the team where music is healing people.”
This team, comprised of Faussart, her harmonizing younger sis, Célia, and a host of Allied musicians (including Eric Roberson and J. Period, amongst others) have sought out to heal with what is titled Nü Revolution, the duo’s third studio LP.
“Music has to be able to carry all the messages we are writing,” says Faussart. “It’s supposed to convey all of this—freedom, a sense of history, a sense of universality, consciousness. But, also fun and love!”
So, what exactly is the Nü Revolution?
“As we’re saying in the [title cut], love is the only way,” she explains. “If we don’t, like, go towards that direction, if love can’t become our #1 religion, and if we’re not seeking for that peace that only love can provide—the love for your neighbor, for humankind—it’s gonna be hard! So, we definitely have to seek, to evoke [love].”
The album’s title cut, the hypnotic baseline and guitar lick-driven “Nü Revolution,” chants to “give love, sing love, feel love, make love, dance love, cook love, plant love, dream love, be in love.” And, as if the mantra of the Movement, a child’s voice professes: “Sing love, ‘cause you know that you are blessed. Love needs every breath that it takes. Plant love, and water it well – it’s a new day, a Nü Revolution.”
While born in France, the Faussart sisters spent their childhood in The Republic of Chad, the central African nation of which French is one of the two official languages. Coming of age in a war-torn country, the two sisters learned early on to be protective of each other, and to use music as a defense against the reality surrounding them.
“You can’t say, ‘I’m going downtown to shop for music.’ No. You’re going to shop for grocery food and be lucky [if] everything is in place and there is food in the stores, cuz it’s wartime,” tells Faussart of their early years. “But, you won’t definitely find music. So, music becomes even more precious, like water in the desert; you have to seek for it.” She adds, “When you have it, you cherish it. You cherish it so much that you organize parties at home with your friends so that you can share.”
“Music was always important; nothing to take lightly, it was always very serious,” she says. “Serious to the point that we knew very, very young that you have so many different types of music. Music to pray, to celebrate, to sleep. . . music to tickle your intellect. All those different types of music were major; there were no minor forms. Everything was necessary. Everything could apply in different moments of your lifetime. When it’s time to celebrate, when it’s time to cry. You always have, y’know, all those different music to accompany in your life. We grew up with having all that music around us because our parents were music lovers.”
Though four years apart, Hélène and Célia shared friends, childhood activities, and even dance steps.
“We would be able to create choreography to ‘Computer Love,’” she laughs. She still remembers the moves, adding, “Those are memories that you never lose.”
Music being in the forefront of their household spawned into Hélène penning her first tune with her sister at the ripe age of ten, likely one of the earliest cells of their Movement. This Movement has since progressed to promote love and positivity, which she says is necessary, as they are up against a widespread, mainstream enemy.
“It’s very hard for me to listen to radio stations right now,” says Faussart. “To me, it’s almost like pollution, sometimes, in my ear. I feel like it’s so much negativity, and I’m not willing to take it because I’m not a garbage bin. My ears are not garbage bins and I’m not obliged to take this!”
They plan to arm themselves with their melodies against what can be considered mass destruction.
“I feel like nowaday music—some of nowaday music—is a horrible weapon and very dangerous.” She goes on, “You can close your eyes, y’know, if you don’t want to see. You can close your mouth if you don’t want to eat. You can close your nose if, you know, you don’t want to smell something. It’s very hard to close your ears.”
While they keep their ears closed to modern day radio’s negative pollution, the sisters were sure to keep their minds open to learning some of the over 100 languages and dialects spoken in Chad, although they are most familiar with their native French, English, Spanish, and Ewondo, a language spoken in Cameroon and picked up from their mother. They perform in languages that they don’t necessarily speak, however, which should be second nature to them as artists, anyway.
“When Célia and I, when we sing, we have the chance to learn and sing in our lives. We had the chance to sing in different languages. Your fingers basically become instruments sometimes. And, umm, being an instrument is also being able to sing all the songs from other [languages] and other parts of the world, too, and feel comfortable doing it. For me, it is kind of difficult to understand. How can a musician is not speaking another language. For example, because you are a musician, because you are playing melodies, whatever language you are speaking, you should be able to learn and reproduce another language. It should be like a melody. For me, a musician naturally should be able to speak different languages.”
This ability to switch vernacular has better allowed the duo to spread their Movement, the Nü Revolution, to countries across the globe. The mix of soulful r&b, hip-hop, afrobeat, and other elements displayed on their debut album, Princesses Nubiennes in 1998, garnered Les Nubians a Grammy nomination. This same mix has followed them through this upcoming release, with an increase in the beats per minute, as most of the high-energy album contains uptempo tracks. This LP is choc full of refreshing, inspirational, feel-good music for you to dance to, even when times are down, as this is another defense Hélène speaks of.
“The reaction to that is actually to dance. My mother used to say: ‘When life is hard on you and there is a weight on your shoulder, to have you dance, it will make it lighter.’ This is what we need to do right now, dance, because the weight is heavy on us. And we definitely have to understand that, that we are all related. So, if it’s hurting somewhere in Japan, it’s hurting us. If it’s hurting somewhere in the Middle East, it’s hurting us, too. We have to feel definitely related.”
As the times change, the Faussart sisters continue to fight against all things opposing the ideals of their Movement, with the plan to love them to death.
“That’s too much harm that we’re doing to ourselves. I hope that we’ll be able to change ourselves, cuz it starts with ourselves, y’know, so we can impact the world.”
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*photos by Scott Stewart – for more from Scott, check out his website here.
For more from Les Nubians, check out their video for “Afrodance” below: