Special thanks to Fred B. for the translation!
: THE BLUE YEARS
Little Nemo was born in 1983 as the result of the musical encounter
between Olivier Champeau and Vincent Gallo in the Paris area. The name
stems from Windsor McCay's comic strip, dating back to the early 20th
century and telling the oniric adventures of a little boy during his
sleep. That sets the tone for the many arty references in the group's
history. The duet asserts this psychedelic ascent while quoting Syd
Barrett's Pink Floyd as their influence. Their music mixing keyboards
(mainly Olivier), a drum machine and guitar/bass by Vincent is influenced
by the new wave of Cure and Joy Division, as well as by the French groups
Taxi Girl and Marquis de Sade.
Vincent then moves to Lyons for his studies. There, he meets Nicolas
Dufaure aka Bill. He starts with him and two others students another
band, Stain of Sin. This post-punk combo includes guitar (Vincent),
bass (Bill), the two others taking in charge drums (Philippe Meunier)
and vocals (Olivier Leymarie). The poppier song of Stain of Sin, " The
fall ", will be covered by Little Nemo in 1990.
: FUTURE IS NOW
In 1986 they release the 7 song tape Froide as a very confidential
edition. In 1987 they release 500 units of an auto-produced 10 title
tape Past and Future (republished in 1990).
The tape is meant to be conceptual. It features on the " Past " side
a song about the passing of time (A day out of time), the sung adaptation
of the poem by Baudelaire " A une passante (To a passerby) ", " Empty
House " the story of a haunted house in the style of Edgar Allan Poe,
" Old Age " about the loneliness of old age and ends with a waltzing
version of " La Balade des Pendus (the dance of the hanged) " from Villon.
All this reminds of the 19th century. The " Future " side begins with
" Seconds ", referring to the clock counting down to the year 2000 set
up at the Beaubourg Center in Paris. The time theme comes up again on
" Counter-Clock World " (the pendulums start turning back), followed
by a song about the TV series of the 60's " The Prisoner ", " Be Seeing
You " with an organ sound reminding of the Stranglers. It ends with
" Future is now " and is artificially linked by the character of Alan
who appears in several songs.
Musically, this tape features addictive songs and already defines the
trademarks of each musician, the most synthetic and energetic titles
for Olivier, Vincent revealing his taste for ternary rhythms, the piano
and cursed French poets. Little Nemo already shows a marked personality.
: A GOOD OMEN ("PRESAGE" IN FRENCH)
Little Nemo becomes a trio with the arrival
of bass player and former Stain of Sin member Nicolas Dufaure, known
as Bill (the two others choosing the anglophile pseudonyms of Vince
and Holyvier!). In 1988 the Presage label releases a mini-LP, Private
Life, illustrated by a splendid photograph of Eric Mulet, photographer
from Les Inrockuptibles. The monochrome cover with a tree and its reflection
in the water reflects the feeling of nostalgia and the romanticism of
the six titles. The songs recorded in studio are very pop with addictive
refrains, the singing divided between Olivier and Vincent according
to the titles is more self-assured.
The Blue years gives the tone of this mini-LP for which " A day out
of time " was re-recorded. The theme of the passing of time is taken
on again on " A handful of sand " while " My eternal Friend " and "
Precious Days " continue majestically in this nostalgic vein. This record
is distributed by New Rose, the Parisian independent label founded by
Patrick Mathé and Louis Thévenon. It takes advantage of the support
of Ouï FM, an independent Parisian radio, specializing in indie music
of the time. " The Blue Years " and " My eternal friend " will be played
The french rock magazine Best, where the independant new wave scene
is taken in charge by Emmanuelle DEBAUSSART, Myriam LEON and others
, also contributes to make the band known by its articles.
OF THE " TOUCHING POP "
Louis Thévenon decides to create within New Rose a label specialized
in new wave, LivelyArt (of which the name is like that of the mother
label taken from a song from the Damned). The decision is very arty
(it is the catalogue reference for the releases of the label) and in
the beginning, the covers of the vinyls are printed on inside out paperboard,
i.e. the outside of the cover has a raspy grain and the smooth face
is inside. This label will release a compilation of And Also the Trees
to set the tone but also other French groups having affinities with
Little Nemo. Asylum Party and Mary Goes Round also function on the basis
of duet, a structure of guitar/bass/synthetizer/rythm box and play at
that time a melancholic and melodic new wave with assumed and digested
This music takes advantage of the mainstream explosion of The Cure,
which will see the courts of highschools filling with " crows ". Simultaneously,
at the time, the French alternative rock'n'roll is in full bloom with
Bérurier Noir and Boucherie Productions and the rock'n'roll press writes
a lot about these punks groups singing in French. Little Nemo and their
fellow label members, through their musical references and their choice
of English as main language are in the margin of this indie movement.
The idea to give a label to this music to facilitate its mediatization
is born in a fortuitous way. The synthesis of the melancholic new wave
side and the melodies will lead to the term of TOUCHING POP, which is
taken over by the rock'n'roll press (Best, Rock' N Folk, Inrockuptibles)
and of course the fanzines which flourish. This name, which will appear
in the long run as a yoke has at least the advantage of helping these
three groups to make themselves known.
THE VIEW IS WIDE(R)
A full length album is recorded in Belgium with Luc Tytgat, producer
of the Belgian groups The Neon Judgement and Siglo XX and of the French
group Kat Onoma. Here again, the references of Little Nemo led them
to choose to record abroad. In response to Private Life, turned towards
nostalgia and its melancholic pop songs, Sounds in the attic introduces
more diversity and energy in the universe of Little Nemo.
The opening title, " New Flood " and its devastating bass in the Sisters
of Mercy'style is an indication of this change of tone. Other titles
more rock'n'roll like " Sandcastle " distillate all over this album
the energy, which cohabits harmoniously with the psychedelic " Fear
in Color " and " The Joker " (a hit on Ouï FM) and the works of Vincent,
" La Passante (the Passerby) " from Baudelaire rerecorded as well as
a splendid song with the piano inspired by the book Johnny Got His Gun
about the horrors of the war. Vincent also delivers his first French
text, " Marine ", confirming the bilingualism of the group (at the time
groups being able to allow themselves to sing in French without sounding
ridiculous were very few). The album closes on " Tales of the Wind ",
a long title mixing arpeggios and a catchy chorus. Little Nemo successfully
passes the test of the long format.
A video clip is filmed to promote New flood. It describes the adventures
of a clone of the young Little Nemo followed by a clown in a striped
costume beating on a drum the relentless rhythm of the song. A photograph
of this clown illustrates the single New Flood, which features on its
B-Side a waltz in French by Vincent, " Berlin ". It is also time to
promote this album though a concert tour. The trio performs on stage
with a drum machine and is not yet familiar with this exercise. Several
concerts with their Touching Pop fellow bands are organized. A super
group going by the name of Teepee (the initials of touching pop) is
created and the song " Tribes are meeting ", cowritten by Olivier and
Thierry Sobezyk from Asylum Party is played at the end of the concert.
A project of a maxi is considered but will fail to materialize.
In the autumn the maxi City Lights is released, revealing a new face
of Little Nemo. The title piece of synthetic industrial inspiration
is the work of Olivier. It is accompanied on the maxi by a re-recorded
version of " Old Age " at the piano. " City lights " appears again on
the compilation 13 from the Lively Art label, with the famous " Tribes
are meeting " by Teepee.
: THE TURQUOISE YEAR
In 1990 the album Turquoise Fields is preceded by the very pop single
" You again ", for which a clip is filmed. Its recording is divided
between Belgium with Luc Tytgat and France at the Val d'Orge studio
with Jean Taxis. This new album reveals a group with an even more varied
register and harmoniously mixing the contributions from everyone. Thus,
it opens with " Turquoise Fields ", a true "cadavre exquis" since the
piece is introduced by the organ of fun fair, followed by a noisier
and more distressing tune before ending with a folk song, to some extent
a concentrate of the studio recording of Ummagumma by Pink Floyd in
only one song! Then, " L'Heure d'hiver " confirms the ease of Little
Nemo for songs in French as well as " Cadavres Exquis ", whose singing
is shared by the three boys. The remainder of the album mingles the
instrumental titles " Promise of Storm " and " Quiet Fluid Roses " with
more frankly rock'n'roll titles such as " Electric Jive ", a profession
of faith for Olivier. The album ends on a new jazzy tune, " Overprose
", a crossing between " Lovecats " from Cure and Gainsbourg songs of
On stage, the band does not include Vincent any more, who is not fond
of concerts, and leaves his place as guitarist to Philippe Planchon
from Asylum Party for shows at the Fnac stores and a session in Bernard
Lenoir Radio program. There the group plays its first cover, " the 15th
" by Wire, from the album 154 (1979). The guitar is then played by George
Remiet, reinforced by Ronan Lesergeant at the keyboards and Yves Charreire
on drums for the tour that follows.
The album is followed by the maxi Cadavres Exquis comprising 5 titles
among which " the 15th " and the epic " That was No Martian ". A clip
of " Cadavres Exquis " is filmed at the castle of Pierrefonds.
: IN SEARCH OF A LOGIC
In 1991, changes take place at the Lively Art label. Louis Thévenon
gives up New Rose, the label and the sub-label Lively Art to his associate
Patrick Mathé and takes over the Parisian store. He creates the label
Single K.O. of which the name is this time inspired by a song from Wire
(also from the album 154) and is followed by Little Nemo and most of
the groups from Lively Art. Like other independent labels, Single K.O
will be distributed by the Labels division of Virgin.
The first record released by Single K.O. is a new maxi of Little Nemo,
Bio-Logic. It reflects the change in the musical environment with the
arrival of the house wave and Madchester. After having considered releasing
songs closer to this new trend under the name LN, Olivier finally releases
it on the maxi BIO-LOGIC in 1991. The eponymous track is his work with
programming and samples (including some notes from the bass line of
Third Uncle by Bauhaus) in a song close to the rock'n'roll-dance crossover
that the Shamen did. To remain in the same more dancing spirit, the
maxi includes " Nice Drift ", written by Bill and Olivier, with a sound
very close to Wire and a more playful refrain in New Order style, with
the new group members playing the guitar and the keyboards but without
Vincent. The latter records only the last track, " Dancing all the days
", not really dancing but of a lighter spirit than his usual productions.
Everything seems to indicate that each one wants to follow a different
orientation and that Little Nemo tries to renew itself.
: TAIL COAT AND BERMUDA SHORTS
1992 see the projects abounding: the new album of Little Nemo in full
ranks, " The World is Flat " must be followed in the year by Vincent
Le Gallo's solo album, " Soleils de Miels "(Honeysuns). For the first
time, the members of the group appear on the cover and they are six:
the basic trio and the second guitarist, the second keyboarder and the
drummer. The World is Flat, recorded at the Val d'Orge with Jean Taxis,
takes the opposite course to the synthetic options of Bio-Logic.
The album begins with " Railways and Roads " and its acoustic or slide
guitars, the drums following the powerful climaxes and quieter moments
of the song. The tone is resolutely more optimistic and hedonistic as
well in the topics as in the music, which loses its new wave sound and
pays a tribute to the pop-rock'n'roll of the late 60's, with a vintage
cover of " Thougths and words " from The Byrds. The spirit is still
" dance " but in a more classically rock'n'roll fashion than Bio-Logic.
The members share the songwriting, which mixes pop songs like " Au milieu
du ciel " and " Pray for the great day " and its mandoline gimmick with
rock'n'roll titles like the dancing " Rubber Hearts " or the vibrating
" Hearts Burns ". This evolution takes place at the expenses of the
French language since " Au milieu du ciel " is the only French sung
The tour that follows will see the return of Vincent on stage, where
he even plays a few solo titles at the piano, dressed in a tail coat
and accompanied by a woman singer for the opening of the concerts. The
new formation is well trained and revisits the Little Nemo repertory,
from " A Une Passante " to the newest titles. The group will play in
concert at the Eurockéennes festival in Belfort, dressed in bermuda
shorts. The image of the young men with sunglasses and perfectos is
Unfortunately, this beautiful adventure ends with the bankruptcy of
the label Single Ko. Vincent's solo album will not be released and Little
Nemo splits after 10 years of existence.
| TO BE FOLLOWED...|
After the split, only Olivier Champeau will have an official
musical carreer. He settles in Belgium, switches to electronic
music ("electro, house, break") and becomes a DJ known
as Doctor Olive (a reference to the detective
game Cluedo) in 1995.
Two 12" are issued by the belgian label R&S. In
1999, he starts his own label, Bazoline and issues his
first album, First DJ
on the Moon. The second one, Screenage boogie,is published
in 2001 and Doctor Olive produces remixes for various samplers
and performs DJ sets in several countries. The 12" "The end of the
beginning" on which he sings is issued in 2004 by the
parisian label Missive. The Bazoline
label then ends.
His former partners in
Little Nemo go on playing in a more confidential way. Bill moves
in the East of France and plays there in several bands. Vincent, Ronan
and Yves are playing with a bassist and Little Nemo's former
sopund engineer, Herr Doktor, as the band Aqualites. This pop
acoustic bans plays poems put into music and Vincent's new songs. They
play a few confidential gigs and records two albums still unreleased
In 2005, as Little Nemo's deleted albums are becoming more and
more sought after, Doctor Olive works for the first time on his
former band's song and remixes Heart Burns for the Echo
Location sampler issued by Optical Sound.
rising interest in Little Nemo will lead Vincent, Bill, Ronan
and Yves to play again together as Little
Nemo. Olivier chooses not to join teh reformed band. The Infrastition
label, specialized in French new wave reissues, including the Touching
Pop bands, finally persuades all of them to reissuse Little Nemo's
2009, the release of this anthology in two double CDs, "1987-1989
1" and "1990-1992 Volume 2"will be the opportunity of Little
Nemo's return on stage in Paris, in front of an international
audience. The story is now to be followed on the news page of this site.