The SXSW Festival welcomed Montreal bands and artists at the Quebec Sugar Shack
The SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, welcomed Montreal with open arms to the Quebec Sugar Shack, an event organized by M pour Montreal and Planet Quebec which invited bands and artists from Montreal to meet-up in Austin. The showcase took place at Bungalow Bar on March 14. The Quebec Sugar Shack featured Montreal duet Les Deuxluxes and singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin. Les Deuxluxes opened up with their glam, rock-and-roll demeanor, bringing high-energy to the crowd with every pair of eyes fixated on them.
Les Deuxluxes consists of Anna Frances Meyer on vocals and guitar, and Étienne Barry on guitar, drums and vocals. Meyer studied classical music and opera at McGill University, while Barry studied the piano. “I don’t know how we became a rock-and-roll band,” Meyer said. The duo began playing together in 2012. “It was during the student strike. Étienne had six months off of school. Instead of getting a shitty job at a restaurant or something, we decided to put together some songs real fast and go play in the metro to make extra money,” Meyer said. Eventually, their metro busking gathered much attention and, the duo got invited to open for a band in Terrebonne. “It all took off from there. Ever since that show, we’ve never stopped touring,” Meyer said. “In the last three years, we have three to four shows per week, every week—we hit Montreal real hard for the first couple of months. Then we started getting invited in other regions, and now we tour all over Quebec all the time.”
In fact, Les Deuxluxes has gone from a local scene to an international one. Prior to their show at SXSW, they were touring in South America. “We went to Sao Paulo, Brazil, we are soon going to Mexico for a whole month tour, we are also going to Lafayette, Louisiana—it’s like l’année international Deuxluxes,” Meyer said.
While in South America, both Meyer and Barry said they experienced a strong musical connection with the audience. “We connected with the Latino audience on an energy level. Something really happened down there—people were just so receptive to our music. It was really exciting for us,” Meyer said. “We just love the culture. It’s people who like to live. No matter what their financial situation is, people there always have a smile on their face and they are ready to have a party,” Barry said. “That’s very inspiring for us,” Meyer added. “We connect to that on a musical level. It’s not the easiest job, but it’s very rewarding when we get to go to places like this.”
Meyer and Barry have been studying music for the past 15 years, which they said makes the process of writing lyrics slower for them, since they are more experienced composers as opposed to lyricists. However, when it comes to finding inspiration, anything can spark it. “We get inspired by conversations. We have a song called ‘Tobacco Vanilla’ that’s a song inspired by a perfume,” Meyer said. Meyer and Barry had went to see a band called The Jim Jones Review in Montreal. “We were right in front of the lead singer, Jim Jones, and he smelled amazing. It was intoxicating and it was part of the show. After the show, I asked him, ‘What’s your perfume?’ And he said, ‘Tobacco Vanilla, baby,’ and we went home and wrote that song,” Meyer said.
Barry also performed with another band at SXSW, called Orkestar Kriminal, where he played the accordion. “I do backup vocals for that band too,” Meyer added. “It’s gypsy gangster music. It’s about gangsterism and prostitution. It’s old repertoire from the 20s and 30s.” Since Orkestar Kriminal was invited to play at SXSW, the duo planned on being at the festival anyway. They ended up performing as Les Deuxluxes as well. “We ended up getting four showcases for ourselves. That’s pretty great,” Meyer said.
Les Deuxluxes latest album is called Spring Time Devil, and they are currently writing their second album to be released next year. The glam rock-and-roll duo will be playing on April 1 in Montreal at the Fairmount Theatre alongside Brooklyn rock band, Crushed Out. “It’s our first show in Montreal since we launched our album and it’s going to be an amazing show. We did a mini tour with Crushed out a couple of summers ago, so we’re really happy to be reunited with them—they are super inspiring to us,” Meyer said.
Next to hit the stage was Montreal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin alongside her bandmates, Mathieu Sénéchal and Benjamin Courcy. She first became known on the television series La Voix, the Quebec version of The Voice, where she made it to the top four. Cardin released her solo debut EP, Big Boy, last summer.
It is cliché to say her voice sounds like no other, however, it truly is unique. Cardin has a beautiful, soft, sultry voice, which complements her R&B and pop-electro ballads. “We came here just to share our music with a new audience. It’s always super exciting to do that,” Cardin said. Cardin’s first show gathered many people at the Quebec Sugar Shack. Her voice hypnotized the crowd. “Our first show was fun, however, we couldn’t hear ourselves on stage. There was a problem with the soundcheck and stuff, but we ended up having a lot of fun and it was a good first showcase,” Cardin said.
Cardin’s musical journey began when she was just six years old. “I played the piano just for a year—I then switched for singing lessons when I was seven years old and then I took singing lessons for almost 10 years. It was just for fun, a thing I would do after school,” Cardin said. Little did she know, her extracurricular activity would one day lead her to success. “I didn’t expect to make a career out of it, but it ended up sort of happening. I started writing songs and one thing lead to another. It’s been so great,” Cardin said.
Cardin writes all her lyrics, and most of her songs are about different kinds of relationships. “It’s the thing that inspires me the most, but it’s not only about romantic relationships. I write about friendships and meeting people who stimulate something different in you. That’s something that intrigues me: personalities and different ways to connect with people,” Cardin said.
This is Cardin’s first time at SXSW, where she performed a total of four showcases. “I just want to share my music with new people, and if people who haven’t heard us before can relate to our music and lyrics, that would be the best that we could accomplish,” Cardin said.