Bringing just a bit of her Parisian style to punk rock Nina Courson is a well known figure on the music scene. Her band the Healthy Junkies have established themselves as a must see and Nina’s often flamboyant look fits well with the new wave edge the group has. Here with her usual gallic charm the singer talks about her influences, big hair and a likeness to Iggy Pop.
What are your very first memories of experimenting with a more alternative look and who influenced you back then?
“Probably Boy George. I know it sounds really weird but he had all those eccentric features, I didn’t know if he was a girl or a boy and I was really intrigued by him. Going through him made me go to David Bowie, then Iggy Pop and then Nirvana. It was a kind of process but it started with 80s pop. I went through glam, then grunge and then punk, so all of those things really.”
Are there any newer artists today that either influence you or that you can admire for their image even if you may not be a fan of their music?
“Well she didn’t inspire me but I liked Amy Winehouse and I really like the Vines and Craig Nicholls, he really had a look.”
Regarding make up what products do you use and do you experiment or stick with the same ones?
“I just experiment and when I run out of make up I just go to a store and buy whatever looks good. I don’t really go for a brand, I won’t say L’Oreal or anything like that. Just any shop stuff and colour, I like to experiment with colour. I like black on my eyes. I’m not that adventurous, I like natural and soft colours.”
Is there one item of make up that you absolutely cannot do without?
“My eyeliner. Anything dark.”
You’re well known for your big mane of long blond hair flying around on stage. What do you use on your hair product wise?
“Extensions, extensions, extensions. I’m definitely into my hair more than make up. With make up it’s just basics but with hair I feel more adventurous. I feel like a little girl who likes to dress up and I like to put in whatever to make it look bigger. When you’re on stage, even if it’s a small stage it’s good to make it look bigger so if people are far away they can see it, so you need to exaggerate. My hair is already long but I like to make it longer, always more.”
Do you use any products to keep it in good condition?
“I have more products that damage it like dry shampoo which is really useful on tour. I used to bleach a lot more than I do now, now it’s more natural highlights.”
You’re quite naturally flamboyant. Where do you source your stage clothes from, and even your everyday clothes too? Do you shop for brand names?
“The only brand name I found in a charity shop which was Vivien Westwood. I’ve got some tights of hers, and a ring which was really cheap so I got it. The rest of it is all from charity shops or Camden Market but when it was good, although you can still find some good stuff. I have people come to gigs sometimes who bring me second hand clothes. I even have this old lady in France who used to work in fashion, she gives me things as well. I shop on the internet as well of course. I prefer to buy it physically though because online you can’t really feel it.”
We know you’re French and you kind of bring a little bit of French chic to your style. Has that something anyone has ever commented on?
“No one has ever commented but I guess it’s a part of me and my childhood. I saw girls from the 60s like Brigitte Bardot. I guess that makes me a bit different, it makes me, me. I’m from Paris so maybe I like the Parisian approach.”
There seems to be either a strong reaction or hardly anything at all when boots and shoes are mentioned. Which camp do you fall in to?
“I like them, I’ve got lots, but only because some of them are eally old and I should throw them away and I can’t.”
With footwear but also clothing you must think about how it looks but do you think about the practical side of things too?
“I have worn stilettoes on stage and people have said they don’t know how I can wear them but I couldn’t wear big platforms. It depends on the heel and I’ve got used to a certain height. You can jump in stilettoes.”
We know you have a really cool look and that French chic style, but who would be the best person to play you in a film about The Healthy Junkies?
“I would say the French actress Emanuele Beart. She inspired me to start theatre and drama classes, so it has to be her. She’s 20 years older than me now but if she could go back. Or maybe Iggy Pop. Some people have said to me that if I was a man I’d be like him.”
Imagine you’re being dumped on a desert island and you have all the survival gear you need but are allowed only three vanity items. What would you choose to take with you?
“I’d take perfume for sure. I’m not really a girly type but my red lipstick. And a hair brush because without that my hair would be really shitty, so I’d take a hair brush too.”
Snaps and Chats by Gary Trueman