A True One-Off

Nadine Gelineau 1959–2016

It’s quite incredible to read all the tributes to Nadine Gelineau this morning after she lost her brief battle with the c-word. She was a true one-off, and I’m kinda struggling to accept that someone so full of life is no longer alive.

She took me under her wing a few times. At my first SXSW, I was wide-eyed on Sparks+ and introduced to her by Mark from Wichita & Ian Johnsen from MustDestroy, and within minutes we were hopping in a taxi to catch the end of The Warlocks.

En route, she regaled me with tales of Echo and the Bunnymen, and the early days of Vice, which despite the booze and cavalcade of chaos surrounding us, her tales still seem so incredibly vivid in my memory. She had so many great stories, and I often found myself wanting to be somewhere without music so I can inhale them all — but of course there was always a band giving us the food of life at SXSW or Canadian Music Week or wherever.

Within a few years of to-froing (mostly with Spiritualized lyrics in the email subject line) she convinced me to launch DiS in America. I didn’t need much convincing to be fair. We had big-big plans to take on P4K. In fact, the 100 plus pages of ideas she sent me were bigger in scale than I could ever have imagined. I had vertigo reading the ginormous but sensible plan… so much so that even hanging out with her after seeing Malcolm Mclaren give an inspiring speech in New York at an event held by Tony Wilson, I still didn’t have the stomach for the risk (nor, to be fair, the money).

Her energy and enthusiasm was infectious, and it’s little wonder she set up the Musebox PR firm to give her a way to enthuse. Despite being an online PR, she rarely nudged me about music but when she did it was always bang-on the money.

Last May, I saw Nadine on a very brief work trip to LA. I was instantly swept into her vortex like no time had passed. After we’d finished talking about our cats and showing each other photos, I once again found myself being loaded up with names of acts to check out (99% of which she had no involvement with) and in that strangely familiar ‘anything can happen’ moment, the phrase ‘come see this band I’m managing’ sent my plans of an early night out the window… What’s the worst that could happen?

Hot-footing it across the city of odd angles, swigging coffee to quell the jetlag, I found myself watching this ahead-of-their-time soulful punk band, with doo-wop singers who seemed like the MC5 in the time of Drake. After the show, I sent an email introducing a friend of mine who recently move to LA to Nadine to get her to check the band out, and instead of inviting her to their next gig, within a few emails they were hatching a plan to go to Tijuana — because, why not? What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s easy to say someone was a force of nature, but Nadine was something more than that — her compassion and appetite for life was bigger than anyone I’ve ever met. She housed me (and 4 others) in her Manhattan apartment, she took me to Canada for the first time and she nearly had me cancel my flight to New York after SXSW and drive back, because what’s the worst that could happen on an adventure? I learnt more from Nadine about living life as an endless adventure than almost anyone I’ve ever met. She took the spirit of rock & roll and turned it into a way of living.

And now that the worst has happened, all I can think is how I hope that if I have inherited even 5% of her courage, compassion, and her infectious lust for life, that I’ll live a much happier and more fulfilling life. I feel so fortunate to have inhabited her universe. Thank you Nadine for the lessons, the closing time shots of mescal, and the music.

Learn more about Nadine