6 June 2012 | 6:15 am | Cyclone Wehner

“There’s a lot of women who get onstage here and they’re just pretty and they can’t sing at all.” Melbourne raised, onetime Nouvelle Vague singer Nadéah Miranda informs Cyclone of how the French value charm over cred.

Melbourne rock chick Nadéah Miranda moved to Europe to find her voice and her niche. Now the onetime Nouvelle Vague singer is returning home to promote a bold solo debut, Venus Gets Even. Residing in Paris for nearly five years, Nadéah Miranda is today fluent in French – not that the French are always so intolerant of hapless English-speakers. “If you're a pretty girl, I think you get away with murder anywhere,” she laughs. Miranda had wanted to travel since childhood, her mother's heritage Indian, Portuguese, Serbian and English, and father's Italian. Growing up in a largely Anglo-Saxon middle-class suburb, she was an outsider. “I felt very isolated. I never felt quite connected in Australia.”

Miranda headed to England, where she fronted The LoveGods. The Brighton alt.rock band generated a buzz, releasing two albums before disappearing. “It didn't have a natural life cycle, it was an abortion – an unpremeditated abortion,” Miranda groans. She'd wed, allowing her to stay in the UK, but an accident left her partner quadriplegic. The marriage ended and Miranda's visa was forfeited. Back in Australia, she suffered “a major depression”, until her mother insisted she again get on a plane. The apprehensive muso journeyed to Paris, encouraged by The LoveGods' French guitarist, Arthur “Art” Menuteau. Here, Miranda encountered Marc Colin, who persuaded her to join his subversive bossa nova collective Nouvelle Vague for 2009's 3.

Performing jazz proved a challenge for a vocalist into Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. “I think coming from Australia we're very much into our rock, with our rock chicks, and being pretty heavy-duty onstage – like a Courtney Love-type thing. Going into Nouvelle Vague, I had to really tone all that down. I watched women with a source of power, with humour and femininity, and so I started to integrate that into what I do now. So now I have more colours on my palette.” Miranda wryly notes that, in contrast to the Brits, the French value charm over cred. “There's a lot of women who get onstage here and they're just pretty and they can't sing at all – really!”

Venus... is a ballsy affair that combines folksy, bluesy and psychedelic rock with theatricality, Miranda less enamoured of chanson than musicals, cabaret and can-can – the latter for its “koochiness” and “brashness”. With a paucity of potential rock collaborators in France, Miranda struck other alliances, befriending conductor Nicola Tescari who'd produce Venus... when playing hostess in a “posh” Parisian café. “I met these people randomly – I was a girl hanging coats, just to get some money.”

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The English-language Venus... is rawly – and intensely – autobiographical with songs like Even Quadriplegics Get The Blues. “I got kicked out of England and came to Australia,” Miranda recaps. “I knew I had to do something with the surreal experiences I'd had in those moments, or [that] had happened to people close to me. I thought, 'You can't have all that shit happen and not do something with that material.' And so Venus Gets Even is my attempt to make something beautiful out of something tragic.”

While “very happy” in France, she hopes to spend more time in Australia, appreciative of its “healthy environment”. So what of her show? “It's certainly nothing like the album,” she reveals. “It's quite punk on stage, because the boundaries are movable. We basically would do anything to forge a connection with the public. If I have to sit on somebody's head to get that, I will. But it can be just standing there, just a fragile moment when you're looking at someone and you get that human-to-human contact with whatever feeling it is, be it compassion, recognition of our own vulnerability, whatever.”