MADemoiselle Veronique Chevalier, Mad "Sonictist" is the quirky French-American Dark Cabaret Artist who won The Mad Music Archive's 2007 "Best New Halloween Song", is at it again this season with a full length album featuring a long-overlooked niche - Gothic Polka, for which she serves as Executive Producer and lyricist.
Polka Haunt Us (PHU) was an Official Selection on the 51st Annual Grammy Ballot in the Polka Category, the final year prior to a decision by The National Academy of Recording Arts (NARAS) to discontinue the category.
PHU is meant as a foray into the untried history of its namesake. Every day is Halloween to Chevalier, putting a darkly amusing, supernatural steampunk twist on the traditionally happy music of Oktoberfest. Chevalier's own 2007 "Vampire Surprise" is the bonus track on the album, which is compounded by a myriad of respected artists singing this traditional Central European fare.
Most of the songs are based on authentic folk tales from around the world, lyrics written by Chevalier. Less a novelty project and more an experiment in ethnomusicology, the album is reminiscent of Harry Smith's Folkways recordings for the Smithsonian Trust, or the compilation "Songs from the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers" with a Nick Cave "Murder Ballads" twist. The artists involved attempted to show Polka's storytelling power and give that tired old Monster Mash a run for its money.
This family-"fiend"-ly, steampunk is spirit, concept album immerses the listener in a haunted laboratory of sorts, to experience the other-worldly birth of a Sonic Franken(beer)Stein. It's a rollicking good spook out that evokes the spirit of Halloween any time of year.
Chevalier brings together artists such as: Japanese virtuoso of the Warr guitar, Kai Kurosawa, who is also a member of the Goth-Industrial ensemble Collide; 2007 Grammy nominee, composer and accordionist Alex Meixner; ARIA (Australian Grammy) nominee, Jann Castor; Comedy Central's Gary Shapiro; Disney vocalist Kerry Christensen.
Other notable performers include: Woodwind expert & Cal Arts Professor Vinny Golia; Afro-Brazilian percussionist & guest artist for Grammy-winners Olodum- Kirk Brundage; Peter Bing Drejer Sundt Award of Norway winner, soprano- Elisabeth Ekornes; the "Jimmy Hendrix of the Violin"- Lili Haydn; Accordion virtuoso Gee Rabe, and more, who help give new breath to this popular Central European dance music.
In the US, Polka has been brought into the mainstream by artists such as "Weird Al" Yankovic. "Alternative Polka" and "Punk/Ska Polka" has surfaced in addition to the Mexican variety "Conjunto-style" and the Mid-western US "Oom-pah" music which is well known during fall festivals across the states.
With the release of Polka Haunt Us, MADemoiselle Chevalier revamps the tradition and adds a pleasingly morbid touch, that has found favour with steampunks the world over, just right for Halloween (or any other time of the year)!
Polka Haunt Us is a compilation recording, containing 13 NEW spooky songs, each based upon famous ghost legends from different regions around the world. Tracks include:
The Beer Hall In Hell (Alpine), a morality tale, for in the end, it is readily apparent that the free beer in Hell is overpriced.
Ghost Train (Canada), based on a Canadian train legend about the Alberta Line that is faithfully recounted in this song.
Castle Leap (Irish Celtic), about Ireland's most haunted castle, sung by Marion Ramsey a.k.a. Sgt Laverne Hooks of the Police Academy films.
After Wife Polka Tango (Argentina), based on a the historical fact that Eva Peron's corpse was preserved and put on public display by her widower, dictator Juan Peron.
Bubbe's Dybbuk Polka (Eastern European Jewish), Dybbuks are mischievous spirits in Jewish lore, that are used as an explanation of bad or odd human behavior.
White Witch Of Jamaica Polka Reggae (Jamaica), about Annie Palmer, a white woman familiar with the Dark Arts, whose idea of fun was seducing, and then killing her slave boys after she's had her fun with them.
Devil's Guitar (US), Based on an American folktale about the preternatural powers of the guitar belonging to a deceased old black Mississippi bluesman (a.k.a. "The Haunted Guitar").
The Fisher Bird Girl (Norway), This waltz is based on a traditional Norwegian folktale of a strange girl who seems to change into a Fisher Bird (cormorant).
Blank Face Goblin (Japanese), based on the Japanese legendary Blank Face Goblins (Nopperabo) who trick unwary passersby who are foolish enough to go out alone at night.
Strange Faces In The Floor (Spain), Based on Spain's most haunted house in Belmez. This song combines waltz with Flamenco guitar and palmas.
Kalkajaka Polka (Australian), A mysterious geological formation (Black Mountain) in the outback of Queensland, with a long history of paranormal activity.
Full Moon Face Off, based on werewolf lore and composed by Grammy Award nominee, Alex Meixner.
Closing with Chevalier's popular "Vampire Surprise" (Transylvania), turning the tables on those pesky bloodsuckers!
Polka Haunt Us producer/writer Veronique Chevalier is known as The "Weird Val" of Cabaret, for her hilarious parodies and side-splitting covers. (Imagine if Jim Morrison and Elvira had a twisted, Edith Piaf-like love child). She is the recipient of The Unanimous Choice Award for Best Independent Cabaret Artist by the Los Angeles Music Awards for her benefit recording Cabaret4Choice.
Deemed "too extreme for Simon" she was gonged off the first season of America's Got Talent, after only 20 seconds, proving that her gifts are wasted on the masses.
Why Spooky Polka? What better vehicle for a MADemoiselle of mixed heritage, (Polish/French/Lithuanian), who grew up attending 13 different schools, whilst traversing the globe?