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!
Garland Jeffreys’ album, 14 Steps to Harlem, grew out of a soulful period of retrospection late in the artist’s life and career. As a veteran songwriter, Jeffreys started writing provocative, ahead-of-its- time, genre-bending songs in the early 1970s, with lyrics focused on everything from relationships to racial diversity to political turmoil. Now in his seventies, the New York musician is looking back on his life with an album that takes on bold topics and includes a title track inspired by his turbulent relationship with his father. Jefferys spoke with Georgie about his latest release, his relationship with Lou Reed and his somewhat unconventional approach to songwriting. Georgie—14 Steps to Harlem is a great album. Garland Jeffreys—Thank you. I’m very proud of the record. I took some chances in recording it but had confidence that it could be something special. You don’t know a record is good or bad until it’s done – then you know. I worked on the album with my co-producer, James Maddock, who’s a great artist in his own right. G—The title track, “14 Steps to Harlem”, stood out to me. I read that it was written with your father in mind. Did the experience of writing about your dad
Since his 2005 breakthrough, Breaking Kayfabe, Cadence Weapon has been an artist to watch. The two-time Polaris Music Prize nominee, writer, producer and rapper is known for his innovative musical style and has made waves worldwide. Following a five year hiatus – which included a move from Montreal to Toronto and a stint as Edmonton’s poet laureate – Cadence Weapon returns with a new self-titled album. Cadence Weapon is armed with furious flows, big collaborations and themes that include dance-party politics and dystopian futures. For his latest effort, the rapper is noticeably more focused and is reintroducing himself in a big way. Georgie caught up with Cadence Weapon to talk about the new album, his musical journey, and the L-word: legacy. G—Your new self-titled album is being called a “reintroduction to Cadence Weapon.” What does that mean? Cadence Weapon—I feel like I’ve matured a lot more and the music really reflects that. There is a reason why this album is self-titled. It feels like a rebirth for me; it feels like my first album in a lot of ways. I feel like the creative process for this album is what I’ve always wanted to do in my career. I was
Using his life experiences growing up in downtown Toronto as a source of inspiration, Langston Francis is on his grind as a young artist discovering himself and the world of music around him. We caught up with Francis on the heels of his debut single release to talk about his foray into music, early influences and his direction as an artist. G—You are still in high school. Do you find it hard to juggle your new music career with school? Langston Francis—It’s challenging. For example, I had two exams in one day, then a show at night and I was feeling under the weather. I have school every day, so it definitely gets hard to juggle things sometimes, but it’s sort of something I just have to take in stride. I’m just so grateful for all the opportunities I have. G—Can you tell us a little about your first single, “FCKD IT UP”? LF—I wrote the song and beat when I was 14. At the time, the song had a certain meaning to me. We ended up finishing the song about 12 months later, after that it took on a whole new meaning. As I grow up and change