Spotlight:Nouvelle electro(Interview)

Nouvelle electro Paula and Ian

Nouvelle electro Paula and Ian

This week’s featured artists are a duo of Ian Henderson and Paula better known as Nouvelle electro.

Ian: synths, vox, songwriting, programming, production. Former member of Irish Synthpop band EDEN 1997-2011 with over 20 releases world wide including Let It Flow, If I Was A Pet Shop Boy and Only Lovers Do.

Paula: Synths, vox, songwriting, programming.Various solo works and collaborations.

Paula O’ Brien and Ian Henderson of the duo Nouvelle electro love the art of songwriting. My conversation with them provided a glimpse of the ideas that what are important in creating a strong tracks. It’s all about the underlying structure. Style comes later. It is fascinating to know makes  a song stand out from the rest. Blend those with the hard work that songwriters put to it, and you get something timeless and beautiful.

Meriam-Webster  online dictionary defines Nouvelle as: relating to nouvelle cuisine nouvelle restaurant-French, “new cuisine”> and it can also mean trendy and novel.

The Taste of Sweet Salvation is catching fire on the inter webs for its strong melody and big beats. We are talking about full bodied medium paced beats that can groove their way into your subconscious. This single has two versions. The one which is the radio edit and the other one with orchestral arrangement which  is the album version yet to be released. It has more layers and also longer than the one on this post.

Ian Henderson is based in Kells, Meath Ireland while Paula O’Brien (she prefers to be called as Paula) is based in Yorkshire. I was about to elaborate how they started this musical partnership but I will let them tell you that through this interview.

How was the experience launching your first track? Do you think this cements what you think your duo stands for in terms of style and direction?

Ian: Well we really just let this track out as a taster, to get a feel for how it worked. In terms of an official launch track we are a bit off that at the moment. We have a lot of work in the pipeline and there are a few potential tracks there as the first release. Salvation is one aspect of the sound we have worked on. I’m conscious of modern electro acts have fallen into a particular style and and we made a conscious decision to write songs first and style later.

Paula: Sharing “The Taste of Sweet Salvation” with everyone has been an exciting process. The positive feedback and support has been great! Already we’ve had 2 radio stations give us airplay and more is scheduled soon. As for the creative direction, we have so many influences between us to draw upon so who knows what will happen! Whilst the track certainly places us firmly within the electro genre, we’re not going to limit ourselves to a particular approach.

That beat was perfect. How did you know that a particular track demands that kind of tempo?

Ian :When Paula first sent me the demo I found the melody very strong and I wanted to make sure I captured the mood of the song accurately. The main thing I felt I could bring to the track was a bit more urgency and drama. I actually went through various versions before we ended up with the track today.

Paula: The original track was up tempo. Ian has given the beat a stronger presence and the new bass line now gives the song a very defined groove.

For Paula: It seems collaboration comes easy for you.What is it that you find in collaborative work that you can’t find in solo projects other than fusion of styles?

Paula:Collaboration is just an extension of the creative process. Aside from the fusion of styles, it’s nice to connect with others who understand where you are coming from and speak the same language, to feel a common bond in this way. Kindred spirits. It’s great when it’s a balanced experience of creative exchange and input. When it does feel like this it’s much more of a positive experience. It’s how creativity should feel, ideally.

For Ian: What is so good about composing and producing for Nouvelle electro?

Ian: For me Nouvelle is a kind of “come out of retirement” project. After the last EDEN album I was so burnt out and miserable. I had lost the spark and joy of making music altogether. I only recorded one thing in the entire of 2012. So this came together very naturally and at the right time for me. I’m happy to be locked in my studio again.

 What’s the inspiration behind The Taste of Sweet Salvation?

Ian: Oddly enough I only added in the string sections at the end of the mix. I had just watched Lord of the Rings and thought the arrangements in the soundtrack were amazing and I must try and implement some orchestral parts. It really warms the song. So in short, Frodo inspired me!

Paula: Lyrically, eternal love, the quest of the heart…(sorry Frodo!)

I love the addition of the choral voices in the last part of the song. Who’s idea is it?

Ian: This goes back to my earlier thoughts on the song needing more urgency and drama. The biggest challenge I had with this song was the remaining bars after the middle 8. It took me a while to crack it in terms of really giving it that final lift and push. I added the vocals to do just that.

Paula: Ian arranged and added the backing vox parts and I really like the result. It’s a first for me, hearing a backing male vox on one of my songs!

In terms of structuring songs, what’s the outline? How do you two decide what the song should sound like?

Ian: It’s a new way of working for me, as in we are working in different studios and its a lot of back and forth over the net. There is no set way, to date Paula sent me songs and me her, and I’ve sent some so her ideas for development and vice-versa. In terms of sound I don’t want us to get boxed into one style or become predictable. So while salvation is quite moody and purposeful the track we are working on the moment is the polar opposite, full of candy canes and happiness!

Paula: We are very flexible where ideas are concerned, you have to be…and wait and see where they lead in their own time. We’re in regular contact and the tracks are developing quite quickly. We might have a theme for a lyric, it might be a track we’ve already got written so the structure is in place when we send our work to each other. The end result though may be entirely different. Whatever inspires! No hard or fast rules.


Nouvelle electro will have a live radio interview coming up in March. That and more airplay. To get more of their news, please like them in facebook:

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