Since bursting onto the scene in 2007 with the release of Télé Télé, the Acadian, Montreal-based duo Gabriel Louis Bernard Malenfant and Jacques Alphonse Doucet of Radio Radio have continued to impress critics and fans alike with their signature blend of electro hip-hop – and they have the accolades to prove it, including the Independent Music Award for Rap/Hip Hop Album, short-listed for a Polaris Prize and a Félix for Hip-Hop Album of the Year. Georgie recently caught up with Malenfant to get the scoop on the upcoming release of Radio Radio’s first-ever English album and the motivation behind it.
G—Can you give us any details about the new album, like the title, release date, or direction?
Gabriel Malenfant—No title yet. We usually put out albums every two years in the spring, around March. This album is lined up to drop around the same time. In terms of direction, we let it flow as usual. The idea is to stay sensitive, open and inspired all the time so that once you start writing and get to the studio, you’ve got shit to say and a universe to share. We were pretty gung ho on doing this first English album so it just came out without forcing it. As usual, we like our stuff to be upbeat and to have many layers to dissect if need be, but overall to be something that feels good on the inside. All our albums live by the motto ”take heavier stuff lightly and lighter stuff much more seriously”.
G—Sonically, does this album have a different sound that your previous records?
GM—Our first four albums were made by one of the founders of the group Alexandre Bilodeau, a.k.a. Nom de Plume, a.k.a Arthur Comeau. He is no long working with us, so we decided to work with a couple of young producers from Montréal, which is buzzing with talent right now, with guys like Kaytranada. We’re working with Shash’u, who just signed with Fools Gold ¬¬– which is A-Trak’s, Brooklyn-based label. His sound is hard funk electro. We’re also working with J.u.D., who put out a great album last year called St.Flower – it had a spring in electro space type of vibe… a new-agey sound, which I like. And, overseeing the project as producer, is Alex McMahon, a hip cat with tons of experience working with artists in Quebec, like Ariane Moffatt and Alex Nevsky. We also collaborated with Champion on a track called ”I’m a ho”.
G—Your upcoming release will be your first English album release. What motivated your decision to release an English album?
GM—For us, it wasn’t very complicated. We’ve been in Eastern Canada, where we’ve lived, worked and dated (and frenched) English people. On top of that, we’re also raised on American culture, since we never really identified with Quebec culture and much of what was presented as French culture in the media. We associated more with Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the Cosby Show than much of what was being showed on Radio Canada.
G—How do you think the Francophone fan base will feel about the new direction?
GM—I think it will be pretty casual. It’s something you see more and more I guess. Last year, Lisa Leblanc – a French-Acadian musician – became Quebec’s sweetheart with her hit ”Ma vie c’est de la marde”, and she just put out an English EP which was very well received. And Coeur de Pirate, a Quebec and French sensation, is also doing the same thing, so I don’t think this is anything new. There are always some insecure purists out there that will bad trip, but’s that okay – they were bad tripping before we got here anyway.
G—We recently interviewed French artist, Yelle, and talked about the possibility of her releasing an English record. She was very resistant to the idea even though it seems to be a struggle for Francophone artists to break through to English speaking audiences. Was it a hard decision to make or do you think it is the natural progression for the band?
GM—It was very natural for us. We’ve been hanging-out with English people for about 250 years. In Moncton, the Acadians there learn to speak English by proximity before going to kindergarten, so yes, very natural. It wasn’t forced for us. It just came out and it came out good.
G—Can you give us some final thoughts that sum up your upcoming record release and the band’s perspective on being a Canadian music group?
GM—We’re just super stoked to be putting it out and to be working with amazing talent from Montreal. We have new wind in our sails and it feels great. We can’t wait to tour it and the spread the love. And being in Canada, it’ll be great to connect with them on this. other level, but the lets face it – the groove is the main thing we’re serving and that we will keep sharing like we always do!
Swedish electro-pop mainstays Little Dragon have been around the block. The four-piece band first formed over a decade ago and in that time steadily rose to become one of the world’s biggest indie electro-pop acts. Touring in support of their fifth studio album, Season High, we spoke with bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin about evolving band dynamics, love of music and inspiration behind their latest release. Georgie—You released your fifth album, Season High, earlier this year. How do you feel about this record in comparison to your previous one? Fredrik Källgren Wallin—It is different, but it is hard to pin down how. We worked a little bit with a producer for the mixing parts, and we have never done that before. We have also become better at communicating and making decisions. I think we fight less; it’s more civilized [laughs]. G—You’ve also worked on some interesting collaborations with other artists, but these tracks didn’t make it onto any of your albums. Was this a conscious decision? FKW—It was a conscious decision; it is such collaboration between the four of us. We did have a friend who appears on the first track of the album – he’s an old high school friend,
Los-Angeles pop artist Billie Eilish began writing and recording music at the young age of 14, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to her. Her lyrics are seasoned with insight carried by a voice that softly and soulfully stretches over dreamy soundscapes. The result is a compelling collection of contrasts, both musically and lyrically, which is on full display on Billie’s debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me (Billie’s debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me (Interscope Records/Universal Music Canada)). Co-written and produced by her brother Finneas O’Connell, the Eilish siblings prove they have no shortage of talent. When we spoke to Billie she was on the road and had just begun her North American tour. G—You started singing at the age of 4, what at that time got you interested in music so early on? BE—I started singing before I could talk, and since then I have been singing all the time, every day. Music has always been part of my family, I guess a part of the way that I think, so it has never come as something separate from my brain. Music and my brain are just one and the same. G—Now, at the age of 15 you have a
Allie X began with a vision: of a blank slate. The multimedia electronic pop artist chose the letter “X” to signify infinite possibility – an attempt to strip herself of any pre-existing identity. Yet she feels the presence of multiple versions of herself: good ones, bad ones, and everything in between. “I think I’ve always had this self-awareness of the bad parts of myself,” she reflects. “I remember feeling as a kid like I hadn’t suffered enough, which is kind of a strange feeling. And then I remember in middle school feeling like I wasn’t being nice enough to people.” Her self-awareness has only expanded with age: “As I’ve gotten older, sometimes I just feel like I’m watching myself from somewhere else and think, ‘Who is this person?… Who am I, and is it good or bad?’” Unsure of who she is, anything does seem possible. The cover of Allie X’s latest album and full-length debut, CollXtion II, features her literally reassembling herself, slotting cubed pieces of her shin back into her leg. The visual perfectly captures what The Story of X, the name she has given the narrative that arches across all of her creative output as Allie