Interview Music

Masters of Music: The Silver Skies

Discover Montreal’s rising stars and their journey through music.

In the heart of Montreal’s vibrant music scene, a phenomenon is brewing—an infectious blend of friendship, passion, and creativity known as The Silver Skies band. This dynamic sextet, comprising Christopher Chenevert, Charles Rabbat, Phillip Rabbat, Simon Lafortune, Jonathan Shapiro, and Aidan Shapiro, is redefining the city’s musical landscape with their unique fusion of indie, funk, rock, and pop, captivating audiences and critics alike with their electrifying performances.

Their journey began when Chenevert moved to Outremount and met the musically gifted Rabbat brothers. With Chenevert and Rabbat playing the guitar and Chenevert on the drums, they started playing together. Soon Lafortune, Chenevert’s childhood best friend, joined. Bonding over their shared passion for music, they began jamming together in a basement, laying the groundwork for their musical journey.

“The neighbors hated us,” said Chenevert humorously, as Ninja, the Rabbat brother’s cat, raced around their house, temporarily distracting the group during the interview. “But those jam sessions were where it all started.”

The four had no singing skills and sought out vocalists via Facebook advertisements. Their lineup solidified on April 16, 2021, when the twin Shapiro brothers, joined the band. “I think like that’s our anniversary,” said Chenevert nostalgically, glancing over at the rest of his band with a smile on his face.

Finding the perfect moniker proved to be no small feat for the band—in fact, it took over eight months before the group landed on their iconic name. “We gave our producer a list of like 10 names, and he chose two that he liked. One of them was The Silver Skies, and that was my idea,” Rabbat said. “The reason why I came up with it was because, well, today is actually a perfect example. Look at the sky, it’s gray. Gray skies are a depressing way of seeing it. Instead of saying ‘Gray Skies,’ it’s ‘Silver Skies.”

The band’s journey wasn’t without hurdles that went beyond the choice of a name. One of their major challenges revolved around fostering active listening and clear communication. Chenevert openly acknowledged the diverse nature of their personalities, particularly within the dynamic of a band where individuals with varying traits come together. He admitted to the ongoing struggle of navigating through personality conflicts and interpersonal challenges inherent in collaborative efforts. “The greatest thing about us is that over time, we’ve learned to communicate. So even though we disagree, and sometimes we have to shout over the drums, we learn each other’s talking styles,” said Shapiro. 

Since their humble beginnings, The Silver Skies members have taken the Montreal music scene by storm, one gig at a time with their electrifying live performances. Their favorite show to date is a memorable night at Blue Dog on June 9, 2023, where the band’s energy and connection with the crowd reached fever pitch. Encouraged by the crowd to keep going even after being told that their set was done, the band kept playing. “Blue Dog was dope. It was a small venue, but the vibe was there. Even though they cut us off, we had a rock and roll attitude,” said Rabbat. 

The Silver Skies recently unveiled their latest single, “Drive Me Crazy,” a song that holds a unique place in their repertoire as both their newest and oldest creation. Written by the youngest duo of the group, the Shapiros wrote the song at 16-years-old. It stayed untouched for years until they met the other band members. It was the first song they performed together as a group and, now, their first released single. It is currently out on every streaming platform. Fans can look forward to the upcoming release of Silver Skies’ new single, “Emotional” set to hit the airwaves very soon.

As they look ahead to the future, The Silver Skies members have their sights set on even greater heights. One of their aspirations is collaborating with another local Montreal band, Mr. Patterson, who once opened for them at L’Escogriffe Bar back in February. 

When asked how fans could help support them, Chenevert said, “If you like our music, please share it with other people. The best thing you could do to help us is share it with your friends and family. Don’t keep it to yourself.”

With its infectious enthusiasm and unwavering dedication, The Silver Skies continues to reach for the stars. As members navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry, one thing remains clear—with The Silver Skies, the sky’s the limit.


Caveboy––a DIY punk approach to alt-pop

Montreal band Caveboy is ready to share their debut album with the world

In 2015, Caveboy released their first self-titled EP and quickly began the long journey of growing their audience. From playing in festivals such as SXSW, Osheaga, and Pride Toronto, to supporting some incredible acts like Tash Sultana, Tom Walker and Wintersleep, Caveboy has worked hard to grow their audience while still self-releasing all of their music. It doesn’t look like they’ll be stopping any time soon.

Lana Cooney

Since their first EP, the band has continued to release singles and amass fans thanks to their unique new wave 80s pop sound and chaotically-fun live shows. The all-women trio consists of Michelle Bensimon, lead singer and guitarist, bassist Isabelle Banos and Lana Cooney on drums, with whom I recently had the opportunity to chat about their story and the newly released debut album, Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark.

Cooney, a Concordia alumnus, grew up in a musical home here in Montreal where she gravitated to the drums at the early age of 10. Having a musician for a father meant she had plenty of instruments lying around, which she was always encouraged to mess around with. 

“I was just drawn to the drums,” said Cooney, before diving into her musical journey and the formation of the band. In high school she would go on to be the first female drummer in Lindsay Place high school orchestra, where she started meeting   other musicians and jamming out in her mom’s garage. “And that’s [the garage] where Caveboy got its start too.”

Banos met Cooney on their Cégep orientation day when she spotted the drumsticks sticking out of Cooney’s bag. A few years later, the two friends would go on to invite Bensimon to create the trio that became Caveboy.

Jumping to 2020, Caveboy released their debut album on Jan. 31. It was always a dream of the band’s to produce a full-length album, and they’ve done it. The very relatable album covers themes of being heard, relationships between childhood friends, partners and family.

Isabelle Banos

“There are some ballads, some dance-y ones, and even some psychedelic ones,” is how Cooney describes the album in her 60-second elevator pitch. When asked to pick one song from the album that those new to the band should check out first, she replied “N.Y.P!”

Montreal has and will always be part of Caveboy’s story, with their upcoming official release party on Feb. 8 at the Centre Phi. While the city’s lower cost of living and abundance of small venues has been a great help for getting the band’s feet off the ground, they have their sights set on longer and further tours. It’s a goal of Cooney’s to get on the road as much as they can this year and keep growing. The live performance is equally as important to the band. Adding performance enhancing elements to their live shows has been a focus since the beginning.

Michelle Bensimon

“Stuff like lighting! Not steroids,” said Cooney, with a laugh. From sets, to merch, to social media––they like to be as involved as possible, and every new team member is personally hand-selected, leaving nothing to chance. It’s clear this band is one of the most dedicated ones in the city, and one to keep on your radar this decade. 

Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark is out now, and it’s not an album you want to miss out on.


Photos by Cecilia Piga.



PHOTO GALLERY: MEUTE at Société des arts technologiques (SAT)

MEUTE at Société des arts technologiques (SAT) on October 10, 2019

Photos by Guillaume Knobloch




Two albums post-Tom Delonge, Blink-182 sounds self-aware, embracing angsty past

Don’t be mistaken. NINE is nothing like turn-of-the-millenia Blink. The band’s latest album revives their old sound, owning up to their angsty punk-rock origins and facing Mark Hoppus’ ongoing battle with depression. It’s safe to say that the band has successfully found their footing after co-lead vocalist and guitarist, Tom Delonge, left the band in 2015. Delonge, who co-founded the band with Hoppus while they were in college, gave the band their reputation for being immature prankster heartthrobs.

Their evolved sound lies somewhere between electronic and alt-rock, using contemporary production techniques to put forward anthems and quick bangers for new and old fans alike, such as “I Really Wish I Hated You” and” Pin the Grenade”. If you haven’t listened to these legends before, I really recommend diving into their old youtube videos before listening to the new tracks to really get a grasp of how much Delonge’s replacement, Matt Skiba (from Alkaline Trio), has helped their musical growth.


Trial Track: “Darkside”

Star Bar:

Photographs of you are still haunting my halls/

Still framed in blue, saying nothing at all/

Sacrifice myself, leave me dead in the sun/

Put it on a shelf, leave it there for everyone to see (“No Heart To Speak Of”)


John Jacob Magistery rock out in a sweaty Turbo Haus

Three years after its release, the Montreal natives play their debut album in its entirety

On Aug. 29, Montreal rock band John Jacob Magistery performed the entirety of their debut album Phantom i / Are You Too Sensitive? for the first time ever in front of a sold-out audience at Turbo Haus.

Following an opening set by Montreal’s Frisco Lee, the N.D.G.-born singer-songwriter and frontman Johnny Griffin aptly began the night with the album’s opening track, “Captain of the Sea.” Despite John Jacob Magistery’s main formation containing only three members (Griffin, MacKenzie Myatt on violin/synthesizer, and Anthony Lombardi on drums), the trio was also accompanied by three other musicians; including a guitarist, cellist, and an erhu player (also known as a Chinese violin).

JJM’s hit “Carol,” the second song on their track list, started the night on a high note as everyone in the sardine-packed room sang along to the album’s most recognizable song. Although Phantom i was released over three years ago, the songs felt fresh and improved with the addition of the accompanying band. Griffin interacted with the audience, asking them to dance and move closer to the stage, and thanked them for their hometown support.

John Jacob Magistery’s latest record, Harmoney, was released in 2017. However, Griffin promised new material is coming soon.

“I’m going to be putting out some singles,” Griffin told The Concordian. “I was in the studio [today] finishing up some songs. I’m going to be putting out a video. I have a couple of tunes that’ll be coming out soon, but there’s no release date.”

“[The next project] is kind’ve divided into two,” Griffin continued. “One of the things is going to be very singer-songwriter. Analogue. All live, kind of the way I did the [Narcissism Unto Loneliness] EP, so live off the floor. The way Bob Dylan did shit. Acoustic instruments…That’s one of the things I’m doing, and the other thing is digital, using drum samples and doing everything in my bedroom on Ableton.”

The singer-songwriter genre is all original material from Griffin, while the rest relies on using samples from a music production software.

“[They’re] totally different processes,” Griffin said. “The singer-songwriter stuff is just me and a guitar. The other stuff I make by getting inspired by sounds on Ableton and drumbeats. Clips and samples, and shit like that. So that’s a totally different thing. The Ableton stuff – I could do basically all on a computer.”

The band finished their album’s entirety with their first-ever live performance of the closing track “Are You Too Sensitive?;” While they thanked the crowd and made their way towards the exit, they were urged to come back for more. John Jacob Magistery finished off the night with their biggest track, “Greatest Story Ever,” and “Harmoney.”

The morning following the show, JJM posted to their social media letting fans know that they had to decline people at the door due to capacity, and as a result added a second show date for the following Monday, Sept. 2.

Photos by Jacob Carey

Video by Calvin Cashen



The Head and the Heart cannot be still

The Seattle-based band discuss their latest album and inspirations

The Concordian had a chance to speak with The Head and the Heart’s vocalist and guitarist, Josiah Johnson, as the band prepared to embark on their North American tour to showcase their most recent album, Let’s Be Still. Based out of Seattle, the band became a true grassroots success story when they self-funded and self-released their self-titled debut album in 2011 before eventually being signed onto the city’s most famous music label, Sub Pop. Johnson discussed the popularity of folk-rock, how a city shapes a band, and the pressures of creating a successful follow-up album.

The Head and the Heart discuss the current popularity of folk-rock and the diversity of their native city, Seattle. Photo by: Curtis Wave Millard.

The Concordian: In the past few years, the popularity of folk-rock has just skyrocketed: Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, and The Head and the Heart have been leading the way. What would you say has led to the popularity of the folk pop genre?

Johnson: I think that’s a reaction to over-produced music. Folk-rock holds a certain nostalgia to it. It’s inspired by a sense of calm. I also think that it’s a bit of a cure for a modern, fast paced world. It allows for self-reflection and quiet space.


C: The most remarkable thing is the fact that you guys all gained that popularity with your debut album. What type of pressure and/or expectations did you put on yourselves when you entered the studio to record your follow-up album?

J: Well there was a lot pressure to write songs about subjects that we connect with now. The first album was appropriate to where we were when we wrote it and there was little pressure.


C: Your first album was self-funded and self-recorded without a label. This time, you’re part of Sub Pop. How would you contrast the two experiences?

J: During the first album, we were already playing the songs live before we ever recorded it. We went in and just did them quickly. But for the new album, we had a lot more time to really arrange the songs and work on certain subtleties and nuances in the studio. We actually spent 10 weeks recording.


C: Tell me about how the city of Seattle has helped shaped your band.

J: I definitely feel like one thing that’s great about Seattle is the fact that music is such a mainstream celebrated part of the city’s culture. Seattle has plenty of great music festivals and the city council is really concerned with fostering a great musical scene. Seattle just breeds a certain personality to be open to music and really supports their local bands.


C: Do you remember a specific moment when you just thought “Wow, I think we’ve made it”?

J: Before we even had a record out and we had no songs recorded, we were used to playing for around 100-150 people in Seattle, but some of these people had come to see so many shows that they knew the lyrics by heart. They were dedicated enough that they knew our songs already. That was one such moment.


C: I believe the lead singer of The Lumineers (Wesley Schultz) mentioned in an interview that performing their hit song “Ho Hey” has become so automatic now, to the point where there is a sense of detachment when they play it. Do you guys ever feel the same with some of your most popular songs?

J: I think there are times when it feels that way but honestly, those are the bad shows. When you have a really great show, you feel connected to all of your songs. The goal is to get yourself in a certain headspace before every performance, to remind yourself of why you wrote your songs. You want to be blown away at the opportunity to play in front of so many people. Performing on stage, while being in that mindset is a way better feeling than almost anything else. It’s simple: connect with your songs and the audience.

The Head and The Heart will perform at the Corona Theatre on March 29. Admission is $32.



Islands explore darker territory on Ski Mask

Nick Thorburn discusses their latest album’s more aggressive sound

Formed in Montreal nearly a decade ago, indie-pop collective Islands released their fifth record Ski Mask back in September. The album showcases the band’s ability to juxtapose upbeat melodies with darker, more intuitive lyrics. Since the release of Ski Mask, the band has been extensively touring and will be stopping in Montreal on March 13 at La Sala Rossa with guests Escondido. We spoke to Islands frontman Nick Thorburn to discuss the band’s origins, musical inspirations and their latest record.

The Concordian: What prompted you guys to take up music? How did you all meet?

Nick Thorburn: Firstly, I can’t speak for the others. Evan and Geordie have a folk musician father and they grew up playing with him. I don’t think that there was any one prompt for any one of us to play. Music has always been near the creative center of my life.

Islands released their fifth album Ski Mask back in September. The album explores a louder, more confrontational sound than what can be heard on their previous releases. Photo credit: Justin Kuo

First it was in a passive sense, and as a teenager it took on a more active role. Evan and Geordie play[ed] in the Magic. I was a fan of their band and asked them to play with Islands.

C: How would you describe your sound? How would you describe the overall tone and feel of Ski Mask?

N: I am loathe to describe “my sound” as it seems like a bit of a red herring. I would let the music speak for itself, which in this case is of a more aggressive and confrontational nature than previous Islands record. It’s tuff [sic].

C: What/who inspired your latest album?

N: Me…and other stupid people in my life.

C: Is there a song that speaks to you most from the album?

N: I wrote them so they all “speak to me” as it were. But for the sake of the conversation, I’ll say “Death Drive.”

C: How do you think that being from Montreal has influenced your sound?

N: Musically speaking, I cut my teeth in Montreal. I’m from Vancouver Island though. Islands, though, it was conceived and birthed in Los Angeles, was raised in Montreal. I guess we had peers in Montreal during that time (around 2005) but it was mostly an insulated affair.

C: What is tour life like for the band?

N: Arrested development. Adolescent, hedonistic, and self-indulgent. If you’re not careful, it can turn you into a real asshole.

C: What do you do when you are not busy performing, touring and recording?

N: I’m writing!

C: How does this album compare to your previous releases?

N: It’s louder, violent and more aggressive. But still within pop music confines.

C: What are you listening to mostly nowadays?

N: Our drummer Adam has a great project called American Tomahawk. This Nigerian weirdo from the ‘70s called William Onyeabor. Arthur Russell. Curtis Mayfield. Margo Guryan. Kate & Anna McGarrigle.

C: What would you like listeners to think/feel when they hear your music?

N: Sadness and regret.

C: Is there a message you are trying to convey through your music?

N: You don’t exist. You’re a hologram. Don’t bother.

C: Is there a particular memory that stands out from your musical career thus far?

N: It’s all been stamped out with drugs and alcohol.




Maica Mia dive into new territory with their upcoming album

Since the band’s inception nearly two years ago, Maica Mia has undergone some major group reconfigurations. What was initially a duo consisting of Concordia graduate student Maica Armata and Jonny Paradise, has now developed into a three-piece and at times a four or even five-piece collective of dedicated friends and musicians.

Press photo

“Now it’s definitely a full band,” said Armata, the band’s vocalist and guitarist. “We’ve got a bigger template to work with.”

Having enlisted Godspeed You! Black Emperor bassist Mauro Pezzente, the band will be releasing Des Era, the follow-up to their debut album, Sparcity Blues.

“When you throw in another perspective, it’s also kind of nice,” Armata said.

The album features almost an hour of experimental rock sounds and instrumentation over five tracks.

“We’re exploring new territory,” explained Armata.

According to the songstress, the album is “a lot more heavy, a lot more intense, a lot more rock.”

The record’s first single, “Eugene,” showcases equally each individual member’s playing in a spectral manner: the track builds up slowly with intensity and transforms itself into a cataclysmic sequence of percussion, guitar and bass.

Like “Eugene,” “Wish” is eight minutes of transcendental instrumentals with just the right amount of guitar feedback reverberating from the amplifiers.

“There’s a lot more layers involved,” noted Armata of the album. “It’s definitely a lot more experimental rock.”

Des Era is laced with ethereal instrumental qualities, paired with Armata’s soulfully textured vocals. On the title track, Armata’s self-described “non-conventional” guitar playing is featured prominently alongside Paradise’s steady drumming.

Since The Concordian last spoke with Maica Mia, before the Pop Montreal festival in September, they have gone on to play several other festivals including M for Montreal. Despite each member balancing bandwork with non-musical endeavours, the trio have been anxiously awaiting the release of their new album.

“We’re working on getting our ducks lined up for the album launch,” laughed Armata.

The album, which officially drops on Jan. 28, will be available through electronic download and on vinyl as well.

“I just think that there’s something very romantic about [vinyl],” she said. “If in a thousand years, somebody could find a record, and find an artefact of this time, I think that is so precious.”

Maica Mia will be performing at La Sala Rossa for their album launch on Jan. 24 with guests Ought, Essaie Pas, and DJ Babi Audi.



Age is nothing but a number for The Skins

Walking to the rehearsal studio, Bayli McKeithan is surrounded by drivers angrily honking their horns, and by ambulance sirens shrieking  frantically as they try to make their way through traffic: the backdrop to a typical Brooklyn morning.

Brooklyn natives The Skins opened for Jake Bugg at Metropolis on Jan. 12. Press photo

Composed of New York natives Bayli, Kaya,Reef McKeithan, (vocals, bass and drums respectively,), and guitarists Daisy Spencer and Russell Chell; the Skins have been touring with The Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. and British singer/songwriter Jake Bugg since early January.

The McKeithan siblings met Daisy and Russell several years ago at the School of Rock in New York.

“That’s totally a real thing,” laughed Bayli, referencing the 2003 Jack Black film where students learn to perform and play music. “It was just a perfect coming together.”

The band members, ranging in age from 15 to 21, wanted to create their own pieces and write their own lyrics, and decided to break away from the school to indulge in their own creative pursuits.

“You’re basically just covering songs, learning songs, but you’re not writing your own stuff,” added Bayli.

Based out of Brooklyn, Bayli expresses her appreciation for “the cultural diversity of New York City that makes [the band], and helps [the band] stand out.”

Currently working on new material for a future EP and album, the band does not shy away from mixing different genres other than rock together to create a fresh, eclectic sound.

Citing Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and other legends as main sources of inspiration, Bayli explains how each individual member of The Skins currently has different musical preferences, ranging anywhere and everywhere from Beyonce and Jay Z, to The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys.

“We try to enmesh a lot of the styles of music that we listen to together,” she said.

Since their first self-released and self-titled EP in 2012, The Skins have been working with Wreckroom Records owner, actor, musician and entrepreneur, Adrian Grenier.

“When he launched [Wreckroom Records], he asked us to come and do a song and a video and it worked out in favour of both parties,” Bayli explained.

“We’re surrounded by creative people, it’s insane.”

Self-described as part of a “super lively” band, the young, energetic frontwoman notes that working with her siblings has made the writing and production processes a lot more enjoyable.

“Since we’re so close, we can just be honest with each other without getting defensive,” she said. “It made it easy for all of us to be just like one big family unit.”

Despite the relatively young age of its members, The Skins “don’t think that age really factors in” when it comes to writing or performing.

“Everything that we’ve put out so far is all our own,” says Bayli of their EP. “Sometimes the younger you are, the more creative, or the more enthusiastic, the more imagination, I don’t know. We’re just really about energy, and expressing yourself and vibrancy and amazingness.”

With a slew of upcoming North American tour dates, including a stop last Sunday in Montreal, Bayli admitted that she’s feeling a little nervous.

“This is the most amount of dates we’ve ever done,” she said. “We’re just super grateful that we’ve been able to accomplish all this stuff.”


Crystal Antlers believe in the beauty of ambiguity

Somewhere in North Carolina, Crystal Antlers are driving down a long stretch of road in their vegetable oil-powered diesel van, jamming to Link Wray’s self-titled album.

The California-based trio released their latest album Nothing Is Real earlier in October and have been steadily touring since then to promote it. Instead of their usual studio set up in San Francisco, Calif., Crystal Antlers recorded at vocalist and bassist Jonny Bell’s Southern California in-home studio.

“We got to spend a little bit more time [on the album]; we weren’t like, under any pressure,” said drummer Kevin Stuart, “we were hanging out, working on the record, having a good time.”

Although the general vibe of the production process was a relaxed one, Stuart admitted that him and Bell, along with guitarist Andrew King, did encounter some creative differences.

“It can be pretty hard, you know, to come to a consensus on things when you’re working in a group,” he said.

Crystal Antlers released their latest album Nothing is Real on Oct.15 Photo by Pixie Mol

Despite any garage punk, neo-psychedelia classifications or comparisons to artists like Cornets on Fire, Crystal Antlers pride themselves on not actually knowing how they would describe their own sound.

“We’re always drawing inspiration from different places,” said Stuart. “All we’re trying to do is just make some new interesting music rather than just trying to do what’s already been done a million times before.”

Since the band’s inception in the mid 2000s, they have wanted to allow their listeners the opportunity to make up their own minds about the music. “I’d rather just say ‘give a listen’ and come to your own conclusions,” said Stuart about the latest record. “What we’re trying to do is not really like, rehash what has been done before.”

In the true spirit of this outlook, the band released the video for their latest single off the album, “Licorice Pizza.” With a pizza -layered in what appears to be Fruit Loops and American bills spinning on a turntable as the opening sequence, the video, directed by their longtime friend Michael Reich, displays some pretty ambiguous images.

“We were trying to do literal imagery from the lyrics,” said Stuart. “I don’t think we’re trying to make the listener think or feel anything in particular as a whole.”

The idea for the video and song came from the American record store aptly named Licorice Pizza. The store’s namesake is actually a clever designation for a vinyl record.

“A lot of people didn’t know what it meant,” said Stuart of the nickname.

No strangers to slick word choice, the trio chose their band’s name based on aesthetics and acoustics.

“For me, I liked that it was two words of similar length […] it doesn’t really make people think of something specific in general, I thought it was like a non-sequitur,” said Stuart. “I like the way it looks and sounds.”

While Nothing Is Real was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, Stuart admits that it does get difficult to balance tour life with their personal lives.

“We normally wake up at like, noon, go get some breakfast and then sit in the van all day driving until we get to the venue and then check in, do our sound check, play the show, and then you know, whatever might happen after that,” said Stuart.

“Sometimes we go out and do something fun afterwards, or sometimes we just hang out at the club all night. Either way, we don’t get home until around 3 o’clock in the morning […] then you know we kind of fall asleep, take a shower and do it all over again.”

Despite the long drives and limited days off, the boys in the band would not trade it for anything else.

“There’s a very delicate balance to be able to do all this stuff,” said Stuart. “We’re doing what we love.”

This leg of their tour will have them rolling through Montreal where they are happy to report they have played several memorable shows.

“We stay out late and drink a lot,” said Stuart. “Montreal’s the best…especially around Halloween time.”


Krewella climbs to the top of the electronic music charts

In today’s rapidly evolving pop culture, artists need to be versatile in order to make it big. It isn’t about being solely a musician, a painter, or a singer anymore; today, you need to be perfect. Electronic trio Krewella has seized that mentality with a perfect score.

Krewella press photo

Climbing to the number one spot last week on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play Songs list, the eclectic electro-punk trio has been surprising the world on all fronts. Known best for their singles, “Alive” and “Live For The Night,” Krewella has flowed through the mainstream airwaves and has generated over 18 million views on Youtube and garnered well over 175,000 subscribers.

With Columbia Records backing them they have ventured on numerous world tours and have played at some of the most prominent music festivals, such as Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles, Ultra Music Festival in Miami as well as the infamous Tomorrowland festival in Belgium.

The Chicago-based team has also collaborated with a variety of producers and DJs such as Montreal electronic duo Adventure Club, as well as other big name players like Hardwell, Nicky Romero, Skrillex, Zedd, and Knife Party. With their brand new top-charting album Get Wet, the trio have embarked on a completely sold out 55-day world tour.

The band itself consists of three members, Jahan Yousaf, Yasmine Yousaf, and Kris Trindl. All three play a crucial role to the success of the “Krew.” Yasmine and Jahan are the lead vocalists as well as the DJs for the live performances, whereas Kris is the “behind-the-scenes” producer.

“The dynamic is really important for the infrastructure of Krewella,” said Jahan. “There was a point when we knew we needed to drop everything for the band. At the time, we were working simple jobs and my sister was in college. When we knew that this is what we wanted to do with our lives, we dropped the entire world in order to devote our time.”

Two years later, their single “Alive” hit mainstream airwaves.

When asked about how underground artists should attack the world in order to get exposure, Jahan advised not to “follow in anyone’s footsteps. Maybe analyze them to better yourself, but your path needs to be unique and organic.”

She added, “the infrastructure that you build over years of being an artist is what makes you who you are artistically and that is unique for all [artists] who have made it big. Just be you and people will follow.”

Their latest album truly exemplifies this concept, especially with tracks like “Human.”

Although the band is known for their upbeat and positive music, this song is very deep and emotional, unlike the rest of the album. For artists, it is necessary to be versatile and Krewella has truly shown that through Get Wet; the album invokes a wide spectrum of emotions and energy and is definitely worth a listen.

Krewella has been touring on their Get Wet Live Tour since the album was released on Sept. 24. They will be touring partially in Canada with Seven Lions, an electro-dubstep group signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA Records.

From their two EPs, Play Hard and Play Harder, to their new album, Get Wet, we can definitely expect some more Krewella masterpieces in the future. If ever you should feel like your life has been missing some excitement and adventure, a healthy dose of Krewella is definitely recommended as soon as possible.

Krewella will be at the Telus Theatre on Oct.24.

photo caption: Electronic trio Krewella released their latest album Get Wet on Sept. 24.


Sampling the psychedelic 70s

Don’t let the charming decadence of the name Lilacs & Champagne seduce you into thinking that tuning in will be an easy listening experience – on the contrary, indulging in the sample-heavy duo’s product provides the listener with some of the dankest, impurest stuff on the market today.

Lilacs & Champagne play Il Motore on Sept. 17. Photo by Eliza Sohn.

“The friendliness of the name helped sell us on it, because that’s kind of what its not,” said Emil Amos, partner in crime of Alex Hall, who comprise the duo. “It’s trying to slip a pill into your drink – you’re drinking this saccharine thing, but there’s an insidious drug waiting behind it.”

Sure as shooting, Lilacs & Champagne tries – and succeeds – to crawl under your skin and stay there. Both their self-titled debut album as well as Danish & Blue, which dropped this past April, serve up the unlikely atmospheric mix of the sinister and the playful, which manage to coexist perfectly under the umbrella of influence that is ‘70s rock and psychedelica.

Harking back to the past and paying homage to its vibe, whether it be via their samples dating back decades or the availability of their albums as LP’s, is the group’s joie de vivre.

“You could say it’s almost a device,” said Amos. “Unfortunately, in the end of the ‘70s, when analog equipment was at its very height and records had never sounded as beautiful as they did, digital technology came in and destroyed this incredible language – this totally amazing, intricate, mysterious language that human beings had written and sculpted.”

In order to artfully resurrect what Lilacs & Champagne regard as a period of auditory mastery, Amos and Hall regularly make a sport of digging through record shop stock, looking for “the most embarrassing pieces of music that people have made in the last century, where they accidentally show a piece of their soul that they didn’t even understand they were revealing.”

These hand-picked samples then become both the sculptor and the sculpture itself as they are delicately worked into each and every track. Much like the limitations imposed by preconceived notions of what sounds good on piano, guitar, and drums in a regular recording environment, sample-based records dictate an entirely new cocktail of limitations that an artist must accommodate.

 “A lot of people assume it’s easier working with samples, but it’s that much harder to defy the initial purpose of what the sample was trying to do,” said Amos. “Trying to build smaller clips into a new tapestry and iron them out into a cohesive composition could very well take you more time than writing something on guitar and bashing it out.”

The resulting content is as impure as it is soothing, and as eerie as it is rewarding to figure out for yourself. From the unfamiliar sounds of obscure Scandinavian pornography, underground films from their preferred era, and the twangy, seductive remains of what may have once been a Bollywood track, samples make up the skeletal structure of Lilacs & Champagne.

 “It’s an attempt to recapture the spookiness that music can convey, the particular kinds of experiences that you’ve had in the past,” said Amos. “That music that you heard wafting out of your uncle’s porn den when you were a kid that was so soft and so cheesy, or the music that your neighbour was ODing to next door. We’re trying to reclaim these things you thought were scarring, strange, and slightly insidious. You have to go to the ‘70s for that feeling.”

 Revisiting fuzzy, dreamy memories of yore and throwing them back in everyone’s face decades later is Lilacs & Champagne’s way of gently nudging the modern music world towards a curiously surreal, oddly dreamlike time – and jogging willing listeners’ minds while they’re at it.

“We’re trying to create a discomfort in that little area where darkness and sense of humour meet in the middle,” said Amos, “and make it weirdly fun to listen to so that you want to hear it again and again.”

Lilacs & Champagne play Il Motore on Sept. 17.


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