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Radio Radio

May 21/2015
INTERVIEW Amanda Purdie PHOTOGRAPHY Neil Mota

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!

 

Catch them on their spring tour:

May 21, 2015— EDMONTON, AB

May 22, 2015— CALGARY, AB

July 13, 2015— TORONTO, ON

July 25, 2015— BAIE-SAINT-PAUL, QC

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