Ava Luna releasing full Serge Gainsbourg covers album (hear a song)
Brooklyn indie rock/funk band Ava Luna are releasing a full covers album of Serge Gainsbourg‘s 1971 classic Histoire de Melody Nelson for the December edition of Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious vinyl series (the same series for which Frankie Rose did The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds). As you may know, Ava Luna first performed the album in full for 33 1/3’s Northside showcase in 2016. Here’s what they tell us:
We first performed Histoire de Melody Nelson at the 2016 Northside Festival. We were invited by the 33 ⅓ book series, who published a volume on the album. We took note of the histrionic language the author used to talk about Serge’s life and the cultural context which begat his persona and this album… but also of the male author’s interesting decision not to pursue the basic line of inquiry, “what about Melody?” Maybe it had to do with the author’s maleness, or the fact that the album (and book) were conceived during a period in history before the general public was interested in questioning how powerful voices in art normalize the male gaze as a weapon against women.
It seemed to us that as dutiful listeners (or readers, or viewers), we could hold these icons up under the fluorescent light, deconstruct their motivations, and maybe even process them as fuel in the march towards a better society. So, we faithfully recreated this record, with some key alterations: Becca steps into Serge’s shoes; comedian Lorelei Ramirez lends a self-aware and critical interpretation of Melody; and a subtle counter narrative is offered from Melody’s perspective.
As a band, our sounds have at times been influenced by Serge Gainsbourg, and we acknowledge the contradiction. Consider this a callout, not just of Serge per se, but of every powerful artist from the past, whose ideas live on in some form or another, distilled. Let’s not forgive, and absolutely not forget, our predecessors. Instead let’s take them off the shelves and hold them up to the light.
We’re premiering their take on “Ballade de Melody Nelson,” which is pretty faithful to the original, but Ava Luna handle it really well and add a little of their own flair in. Listen below. Pre-order the album here.