Anemone brings the sun

From left: Chloé Soldevila, Samuel Gemme and Zach Irving. Photo by Simon New

The Montreal pop band was conceived in the west, born in the east

“I’ve been playing music all of my life, and I had friends who were doing music as a living,” said Chloé Soldevila, the creator and songwriter of Anemone. “I always had this weird conception in my mind that I couldn’t do it.”

The Montreal band came to La Sala Rossa on Friday, Feb. 15 to launch their debut album, Beat My Distance. Their sound is serene pop at its centre, with Soldevilla’s bright vocals enveloped in psychedelic instrumentation from her band. The group started with six members on stage, including an extra percussionist, and became more and more numerous throughout the night.

Soldevila was raised around classical music and formally educated in jazz, but held herself back from stepping into the scene herself. She had been travelling in California in the summer of 2015, tagging along to music festivals with friends who were in bands. Her conception of the music scene turned on a dime. “I remember being at a festival, in the artist space with all these people who are in big bands,” said Soldevila. “And in my young mind it was like ‘ah they are so special,’ and then I talked to them, and I hung out with them, and I realized, well, you know, we’re just all the same,” she said. Soldevila wanted to bring the sound and the sun back to her home in Montreal. “There’s not just sea and sunshine and positiv[ity] on the west coast,” she said. “It’s all over the world. It’s a genre of music that exists everywhere.”

Anemone was born after that summer, when Soldevila met Zach Irving at a show at Poisson Noir, a DIY venue in Mile Ex where Irving was playing organ. “It’s really been natural,” said Irving. They began working on an album as they recruited Miles Dupire-Gagnon, Gabriel Lambert and Samuel Gemme. “I was looking for people who had that do-whatever-you-want vibe,” said Soldevila. They were based in Montreal, making music tinged with the west-coast psychedelia that had inspired her during her Californian summer. “It’s a benefit that we live in minus twenty, cause all of the music that we made, we made it in the winter. Honestly, you’re so depressed, you need something to kind of pull you out of the water, so you really appreciate that music,” she said.

Irving going in on keys. Photo by Simon New

After four years of work, and their debut Beat My Distance just released, the band admits the tape doesn’t quite capture what it’s like to see them live. “The album has a bit of a red-light vibe where it’s like ‘recording!’ and then you get a little constrained in a way, because you kind of freak out,” said Irving. “You’re sticking to the formula. Live, we don’t have a formula.”

Lambert with equal parts shred and smolder. Photo by Simon New

When Anemone took the stage, it felt like a free-for-all in a musically triumphant way. There was camaraderie, shredding and champagne. Soldevila led the pack, but every single band member took the group in their own direction at one point. As if they had discovered something and wanted to share it on stage with their friends, the band’s sincere interconnectedness allowed them to trust each each other to explore uncharted territory. Soldevilla would be dancing or riffing on vocals and have the jam coalesce around her. You could see a deep smile come across her face when she discovered, as the audience did, a new and interesting groove. The crowd loved it, and the band minced no words about how essential they were.

Soldevila catching a vibe from stage right. Photo by Simon New

“Most people don’t realize that they’re part of the magic that’s happening around them,” said Irving. “Exactly, and that for me is so important to share, and I don’t know how to tell them,” said Soldevilla. “I’m terrible at talking on the microphone. So the only thing we can do is show them, and it’s tricky, so I hope they get it.” Indeed, she let her actions speak, save for a few moments in the act. “Thank you!” said Soldevila to the fixated crowd. “It’s all for you.”

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