This Thursday 22 February and next Thursday 1 March, The Coconut Kids are going to perform their new show Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui, in which they are going to sing typical Australian pub songs (such as ACDC, INXS, etc.) but in French. They invite you to come along and grab a glass of red wine instead of your usual beer as Australian songs get French makeovers.
This show is on our list of 20 shows to see at this year’s Adelaide Fringe.
I spoke to Julian of The Coconut Kids about the show.
Who are The Coconut Kids?
We’ve been together for two years. To start with me were The Coconut Crabs but we learned that Coconut crabs are a bit vicious – apparently they are the sorts of crabs that eat birds and stuff like that. So we then chose the name The Coconut Kids. To begin with, it was Ashley and I, so it was a duo but it has evolved and now we are sometimes 8 on stage but more often 4.
In the Adelaide Fringe show, will you be 8 or 4 then?
For the show, we will be 5.
Just to change things up! But why even the name Coconut?
We write songs with the ukulele so it is a bit tropical and coconuts go with all things tropical. Sometimes people think we are a kid’s band though!
Are you all musically trained?
Not really, no, actually. Me, I play the violin. The bassist taught himself. Ash has a very beautiful voice but she also taught herself. We are good friends who make music. I think that’s one of the reasons people like us because you can tell that we are also there to have fun. We like playing music but we don’t pretend that we are musicians either. It’s more important to write songs for the audience. Often you see great musicians who are very talented with their instruments but when it comes to writing beautiful songs, they have trouble.
So it’s about passion then?
Exactly. We have been lucky. We have been able to play all over the place. It’s great. We can’t make a life out of it but it’s good.
I’ve seen your music described as “folk with French influences”. What do you make of this description?
It’s true. I spent a year in France and a few years in Belgium too. I really like French music. We write a little bit of “quirk folk ” so it’s “French quirk folk”. I find that our music works just as well in Europe as in Australia. We haven’t yet played in France but our song that we have on Spotify is listened to more in Europe than in Australia.
So having in lived in France is why you speak French?
But do the others speak French too?
So how does it work singing songs in French then?!
Ash has had to learn quite a few songs in French but she doesn’t speak French at all. It’s quite funny because when we were translating lyrics from English language songs, we realised that a lot of the time the lyrics don’t mean anything! It’s not like French songs where every single word is important. Sometimes Australian songs are nonsense!
Tell us about the show “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui”
Often people like that our songs are a mix of English and French so we decided to play on that. We decided to choose songs that are a little but bogan to transform into songs which are “plus chic“. It worked well. We have already done it with for example some ACDC songs and it’s quite funny as we have changed the style too. It’s funny. So we said to each other that it could work well for an Adelaide Fringe show. I think that it’s going to be impressive. We will also do parts of the songs in English given that the majority of people who will come along will not speak French. We still want them to recognise the song!
I was wondering if it was a show for French-speaking (to understand the lyrics in French) Australians (so that they know the song)…
For francophile Australians. If you speak French it’s better but you don’t have to speak French. It’s a show for people who like French but don’t have to speak French. Even we don’t all speak French!
What is your favourite Australian pub song?
At the moment, the favourite is INXS Tear Us Apart and frankly it’s really good. It’s quite funny. I think that will be the favourite. It’s difficult to know as we have never done the show before but I think that will be the song that will please the audience the most.
Will you be taking requests from the audience?
We could try. Maybe. But it’s not really an improvised show. Especially because it’s true that we are used to playing at festivals and not really used to doing theatre-type shows. I’m not quite sure how it will pan out.
So you’ve said there will be some ACDC, and INXS…
Yes, and Paul Kelly, Powderfinger. The classics.
I’ve read that you will make people dance one minute and cry the next?
Yes, we also do quite sad songs. We play funny songs but then we also play sad, moving songs too. Ash has a very beautiful voice. We have all emotions in the show. We hope that the show is going to be quite moving.
Why should people come to see the show?
I’ve never heard of a show in which Australian songs are sung in French so I think it will be quite interesting. Some francophones will be there. There are a lot of people who don’t know The Grace Emily. It’s a good way to see what else is around. There are a lot of things on in Adelaide outside of the Fringe but lots of people don’t know about it. I think that people will be surprised. It’s going to be cool. You’re going to dance, you’re going to sing. There will be a bit of everything.
What are your plans for the future?
With the same people who are in The Coconut Kids, we also play in a band called The Ukulele Death Squad – it’s the same sort of music but with another name. With that band we are going to Edinburgh and maybe to Europe with The Coconut Kids. But there are some local festivals we are going to play at like the Yackandandah Folk Festival and Blenheim. We are going to do some recording too. We’d like to get back into the studio. We would really like to play at WOMADelaide next year. We will see. We were in Texas last year. It was really great. We had a great time.
What is your favourite Australian song? Are you going to see the show?