Q&A with Coup Sauvage & the Snips

photo by Erin Smith

Coup Sauvage & the Snips is a soulful, sassy new DC band. The band may be new, but the members have been on the scene for a while. Members’ past and current endeavors include She.Rex, First Ladies DJ Collective , Troll Tax, Hott Beat, Mess up the Mess, Capital City Symphony, and Downbeat:Beatdown. We Love DC Music Editor Alexia got a chance to chat with the group this week, and here’s what they had to say.   

Alexia: How did the idea for the group come about?

Coup Sauvage & the Snips: The idea for the band came from a Capricorn who wanted to keep the spirit of Boney M, Pepper LaBeija and Mahogany-era Diana Ross alive. Two Pisces and three Aries later, the Haus of Sauvage is here and ready to let DC have it. Most of us have known each other for years and been part of the same DIY and creative circles in DC. But it wasn’t until we discovered our mutual love of 70’s variety shows, ball culture and Rosie Perez-inspired dance routines that we decided to join forces last spring. We’ve been together ever since, and we’ll stay together. For the children.

Alexia: How did you all come up with the band name?

CS&tS: Elizabeth had a friend who visited Glastonbury, England. While she was there she met a man known as “The Wizard of Glastonbury.”  He was a blissed-out guru who was a hairdresser in London during the height of glam rock. One night, when everyone was well gone on whisky and dolls, the Wizard offered Elizabeth’s friend a haircut. The result was a massive mushroomy mullet that resulted in uncontrollable sobbing. The story goes that the Wizard was super insulted and said “You don’t like this cut?! I gave this cut to everyone in the 70′s! I gave it to Bowie! It’s the Coupe Sauvage!”  We dropped the “e,” but kept the rest. Without the “e” it means “savage blow” in French. But in honor of our wizard friend we like to use his meaning, “savage cut.” And since Gladys had her Pips, we’ve got our Snips.
Alexia: What are some of your musical influences?

CS&tS: We’re inspired by everything from the soundtrack to “The Wiz” and “Wattstax” to 60s girl groups like The Exciters. We take a lot of our cues from disco, electroboogie and 70’s/80’s dance artists like ESG, Giorgio Moroder, Sylvester, Grace Jones, Labelle, Klymaxx and Kid Creole & The Coconuts. We’re also influenced by 90’s dance music like CeCe Peniston and Inner City. We like to think of them all as our “spirit guides.” The past few months have actually been pretty hard since we’ve lost a lot of our spirit guides – Whitney, Don Cornelius, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Chuck Brown. We like to pay tribute to them during our show with the song “Maegan’s Jam.” It’s a dance tribute that involves lots of audience participation.
Alexia: I feel like you all bring some diverse musical experiences to the table- can you tell us a little about some of your musical backgrounds/other/previous projects?

CS&tS: Yeah, we’re kind of a supergroup. Like Damn Yankees or the West Coast Rap All-Stars. Between the six of us, we’ve been playing in bands, DJing parties, organizing events like Ladyfest and Girls Rock! DC, and generally making trouble in and around the DMV since before the days of racially insensitive food trucks. Elizabeth Sauvage played bass in Mess up the Mess. Currently she shares vocal duties and plays keyboard in Troll Tax. Jason Sauvage (aka Hit Factory) is also in Troll Tax and was one-half of the legendary Hott Beat. He also runs Paroxysm Records. Crystal Sauvage is in the band Downbeat:Beatdown and Katie Sauvage plays cello in the Capital City Symphony. Kristina Sauvage and Maegan Sauvage were co-founders of the First Ladies DJ Collective and both spin frequently around town. Maegan is one of the DJs behind She.Rex and Kristina throws the 80’s synth-funk night Work the Walls.

Alexia: There are a lot of you in the group! Is practicing a challenge? What is the songwriting process like for you all?

CS&tS: We’re lucky that practice isn’t nearly the challenge it could be. Our songwriting process is very fluid and collaborative. Sometimes Maegan may have a beat or sample in mind or someone comes in with a melody. The most common scenario is that we’re sharing stories at practice, then next thing you know a phrase from a conversation gets turned into a song. About 80% of those conversations are overheard on the Circulator. The Circulator is a great source of inspiration and it’s only a dollar!  Two dollars you could be the next Lennon/McCartney.  Three dollars and you are the Brothers Gibb (RIP Robin!).

Alexia: What can someone expect from a Coup Sauvage & the Snips show?

CS&tS: Much like Michelle Obama, we want the children to MOVE. You will twerk, back it up, drop it low, and shake it to the ground at our show. You should also expect to be implicated. Art isn’t a one way street. We’ll give you dazzling choreography and over-the-top fierceness, but we’ll also probably leave you a little shaken. That’s just the Haus of Sauvage way. We’re also totally obsessed with the performativity of “realness” and love the idea of bringing sass and pageantry back to the stage. In short, expect a spectacle. A totally unhinged and opulent spectacle.

Alexia: What do you have planned for the future? Can we expect any recordings soon?

CS&tS: Our dream is to one day play a tiny seedy club in Hamburg, Germany. For now, we’re focused on our upcoming Haus of Sauvage Variety Show Revue at Art-o-matic on Fri Jun 15. Y’all, there will be a tap dancing mime. We do not mess around. Recordings and matching manicures are also on the horizon. We have some sickening new songs in the works too we’ll be debuting at our next shows. So as we like to say, hang on to your neckerchiefs and evening bags! The Haus of Sauvage is just getting started.

You can catch Coup Sauvage & the Snips this Saturday, June 2nd at Comet Ping Pong! See a video clip from their first show at the Black Cat here.

Chain and the Gang

Coup Sauvage and the Snips

The Coathangers

10pm/$10/All Ages

Comet Ping Pong

Alexia Kauffman

Alexia was born and raised in Arlington, VA. She has been a cellist since age four, and a lover of rock & roll soon after. The first tape she owned was “Make It Big” by Wham, and the first tape she bought was Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and she still loves both. She was a member of local synth-rock outfit Soft Complex for several years, and has recorded with bands including Engine Down and Two if By Sea. By day she works for a non-profit distributing royalties to musicians and labels. She currently plays cello, lap-steel guitar and tambourine in the DC post-folk/Americana band The Torches.

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