[Photo: le Pigeon]
One of the amazing joys of hosting The Throwdown is having the opportunity to shed light on the fantastic repertoire of musicians playing local events. While perusing a list of May shows, I came across an announcement for Milk & Bone playing at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Immediately, I knew I had to jump at the chance to pick the brains of this eclectic Montreal duo.
Consisting of Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin, Milk & Bone diversifies their sound with mesmerizing harmonies and emotionally raw lyricism. Their Juno Award winning sophomore record, Deception Bay, gives you a glance into their trials and tribulations in love and relationships.
I got to sit down with the charismatic pair to discuss their friendship, creative process and brand new EP entitled DIVE - a collaborative project with Berlin based producer Alex Lustig.
But before we get into DIVE, here’s Milk & Bone, in their own words:
L: We met in music school in Quebec and toured together for another artist and thats where we bonded…we discovered it was really easy to work together. When our project [Milk and Bone] started, we were two friends just meeting for fun.
C: At first, I used to do covers on youtube with my brother and I never thought that anything would come out of that. I feel like that’s what we were going for…lets try and do some stuff together for fun to be creative. We didn't expect anything to come out of it at all.
L: Our project just happened, nothing was planned. We shared one song and people reacted more than we thought. We put out another track and then we thought…’should we do an album?’ From there it just became this, which is pretty crazy — Everything is a beautiful surprise.
Our project just happened, nothing was planned. [...] Everything is a beautiful surprise.
When listening to Deception Bay, I noticed an autobiographical approach in comparison to lyricism in DIVE — tell me about both your inspiration and energy when creating this record.
L: Firstly, we were with another producer, so we started everything in the studio with him, which we don’t usually do. It changes our way of writing because someone else was in the room. When we write songs it’s very personal - we both write in our bedroom and when something exciting happens we share it with each other…its super intimate.
C: It’s a long process. When we write albums it can be songs that I’ve started a year ago or six months ago and they’ve stayed with me all this time…that’s how I know that they’re important to me. For this project we arrived in the studio and thought we’d give something a try and see how it goes which was a different kind of writing style for us.
...We both write in our bedroom and when something exciting happens we share it with each other...it's super intimate.
Tell me a little bit about when you met with Alex, what was that about and what made you guys wanna go that way?
L: He’s so nice and so odd and so different than what we’re usually used to working with. He was so quick and so creative as well that it was just different — usually when producers approach us it’s either we go all in or not, it’s a process and he is so versatile and can do anything that we really felt..and there was no pressure. We had the same references and the same taste. […] I mean when you work with someone you’ve never worked with, it can really be a hit or miss, but it was very organic/easy with Alex.
C: It can also be very intimidating. With Alex…he came over to Lau’s house and we just worked. We all felt really comfortable, it was really cool to share that in a mutual space.
L: It was really fun to do, it felt like we were just hanging out with our homie […] it was really refreshing to do something like that, it was a challenge knowing we only had so many sessions with him because he was going back to Belgium.
C: It was super intense and wasn’t really planned at all. We didn’t think that he was gunna leave and we would have songs…we thought we’d only have ideas. He left and we had 8 tracks..not finished…but we actually had 8 songs in the works. I think that’s what gave us the push to be like, “Ok lets actually release an EP” there’s something happening.
LISTEN: "Dive", the newest release by Montreal-based, Juno award-winning duo Milk & Bone
Do you think the fast paced environment and third person addition drastically influenced your sound change?
C: Yes. Our songs on this EP were definitely a bit lighter…except for Blue Dream. They felt a little more playful and not as emotionally invested. As soon as we’d write something Alex would produce it. Usually we’d write songs on piano and then produce them, but with Alex, it was all at the same time and I think that really influenced the sound and direction. The producing also really influenced the lyrics and the lyrics reinforced the producing and everything sort of mixed together and created something fun.
L: I loved working like that and I really want to work like that more. It’s important to change your way of writing and to evolve and try new things and that was a way to work that was different.
The producing [also] really influenced the lyrics and the lyrics reinforced the producing and everything sort of mixed together and created something fun.
Tell me a little bit about the music video for Peaches, who did you work with and what was that process like?
L: So our director is forever Soleil Denault…we’ve worked on our last four videos with her and it’s a match. We’ve been working with her since the very beginning - she did the cover art for our two albums and we have a very close creative relationship. We’ve built our visual identity with her, we’ve evolved together.
C: She actually also directed her first video with us. That’s what I love about her work and what she does - is because I didn’t feel intimidated by her. We’re all working and growing together and learning and we all wanna just make better work overtime. I feel like we’re at a very similar place in our careers and I feel like what’s important to her is important to us and we respect each others timelines. For that video since everything was so last minute. We knew we wanted to release a video for Peaches because that song is a jam and we were just like ‘lets do something with visuals.’ We thought it was a good song for that. We wanted to just have fun and I think that usually in our videos we’re pretty serious and stoic so we wanted to show how we are in everyday life together.
L: It’s us in our city! It’s shot in Montreal — it’s us at home and we’re excited and we have a new song and we were just like ‘lets make something beautiful’. It was also really fun to shoot - because we shot one day and one day in the studio with friends and a close tiny team and it was the best. We didn’t have much money, we didn’t have much time, what could we do? It was perfect, and I love the video.
And what about performing the songs? I know that you released two tracks before the EP came out - have you performed either of those live thus far?
C: Yes. Ride or Die and Peaches we’ve been performing for about four shows now and it changes the entire show for me. You release and album and immediately you start touring and touring…it’s so intense…you don’t have the time to put more music out so your show remains the same for a long time, the first album was two years, it was insane. So for this EP, we got into the touring part of the process thinking about how we can change a few things, making it good and refreshing so it changes the vibe of the show. I’m looking forward to those songs so much.
Are you going to be performing any of the other tracks in the near future?
J: We really want to…especially Blue Dream.
C: It’s a priority - I’m so emo when I hear [Blue Dream] that song. When you work on an album, you listen to it so much in the last moments of mixing and mastering and everything that you don’t want anything to do with it afterwards. You listen to it so much that you feel like you need a break. When the EP was released yesterday morning [May 24th], I listened to it, and I was alone in my house and it was super loud, and I was so…proud. That kind of emotion to me is my favourite emotion to share with the public. That to me is just my favourite emotion. I felt happy-sad.
When the EP was released yesterday morning, I listened to it, and I was alone in my house and it was super loud, and I was so…proud. That kind of emotion...is my favourite emotion to share with the public.
[Photo: Wonderland Magazine]
Erica Commisso is a 4th year Sociology and Anthropology student and the Music Director at CFMU. Catch her as host of The Throwdown every Thursday from 2PM - 3PM on CMFU.