As the warm weather rolls into DC, so does our Spring Luce Unplugged Community Showcase. This Friday, April 28, get ready to dance with performances by Coup Sauvage & the Snips and Janel Leppin. Intrigued by Coup Sauvage & the Snips' choreographed moves, glam, and group harmonies, we sat down with the band to learn more about how they create their infectious sound and signature disco moves.
Eye Level: As a group of three vocalists, a bassist, a keyboardist, and a beatsmith, how did you all meet?
Coup Sauvage & the Snips: Many of us have been friends for years before the band. Elizabeth and Jason played in a couple bands before Coup Sauvage & the Snips. Maegan and Kristina were co-founders of the First Ladies DJ Collective. Most of us had worked together on Girls Rock! DC, and way before that Ladyfest DC. Elizabeth is the one who first had the idea we start a project. After playing together for a few months, we realized we needed Snips to make the Haus of Sauvage complete. Crystal was our very first Snip, then the next year Rain Sauvage came onboard.
EL: How did you think of the name, Coup Sauvage & the Snips?
CSS: Elizabeth, the bassist, has a friend who got a 3 a.m. haircut from a gentleman known in his hometown as the "The Wizard of Glastonbury." He had been a hair stylist in London during the swinging '60s and '70s but they were both a little under the influence, so the haircut was probably ill-advised. When she saw her new look in the mirror (poofy mullet), she burst into tears and he shouted, "You don't like this haircut? Everyone had this haircut in the '70s! I gave Bowie this haircut! It's called the COUP SAUVAGE!" Elizabeth always thought it would make a good project name. And just as Gladys has her Pips, we have the Snips. Though in retrospect, we should have picked something easier for people to Google and pronounce. For the record, it's (Koo Soh-VAZH). The "p" is silent, like our mothers' disapproval.
EL: What is it like collaborating together in the District? How does being a band in DC influence your music?
CSS: Four of us are native Wa(r)shingtonians. Of the other two, one is from Baltimore and the other has been here over a decade. We were living and breathing the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) back before it was even called that. We're Chocolate City natives—the children of Marion Barry, who remember what it was like before urban pioneers came along and decided this was a town of transients, purely designed for their pleasure. We resist this erasure every time we name-check Jim Vance, Captain 20, Petey Greene, or Cool Disco Dan. We resist it every time we call NoMa, "No Ma'am." We have shared memories and a sense of place, and it's all there in the music. And, of course, you can't grow up here and not be steeped in politics. The very make-up of our band—women of color, queer people, and white allies—is political and our songs reflect that.
EL: With infectious sound, choreographed moves, and disco-inspired dance tracks, what messages do you want to communicate to your audience?
CSS: Our shared love of '90s dance music and classic soul brought us together. We love the harmonies, sophistication, and smooth moves of groups like The Shirelles and Gladys Knight and the Pips. But, we are equally obsessed with disco. We believe it's been unfairly maligned and is way more transgressive than it gets credit for. When you look at music like disco, house, and hip-hop, the dance floor has historically been a space for the marginalized to find community and liberation. Dance music is our medium to make protest songs about gentrification and police brutality, but also party songs about being fierce. We want the audience to know we see everything that's going on. We get it. But we're not gonna let it get in the way of our good time. Having a good time is the last thing "they" want you to do. Join us if you dare.
EL: What is your favorite memory together as a band?
CSS: It's hard to narrow this down but here are the top three:
- Our band White House Tour of the West Wing where we got a glimpse of the Obamas' dog, Bo.
- Laser tag with our record label mates, Priests. Crystal and Elizabeth Sauvage got boxed in by some particularly aggressive tweens, but were led to safety by our Hausmates. No Sauvage left behind. Later one of our team took all those kids out and it was extremely satisfying.
- Filming our first video for our song "Sneaks". It was heart-warming to get the kids of DC, a town that was once legendary for its refusal to dance, to do a real Soul Train line. We have so much love and respect for Don Cornelius, RIP.
See Coup Sauvage & the Snips play Friday, April 28, at 7 p.m., following a performance by experimental artist and cellist, Janel Leppin. The Community Showcase, presented in collaboration with Washington City Paper, will include free beer tastings from Port City Brewing Company. Check out more details on Luce's Facebook page. See you Friday!