Les Deuxluxes recently released their record Springtime Devil. Though their name looks French, their album is 100% English. Before their show in Toronto a few weeks ago, I had a chat with both Anna Frances Meyer and Étienne Barry about the dynamics of writing and performing as a duo along with some other random things like taxidermy.
I saw you guys play twice in Rouyn during FME at the Bonsound party and the actual show at night. Those were two totally different set. One was more stripped down and then the energy at night was amazing! Tell me more about how you guys met and formed the duo.
E: “Basically we met at a rock n’ roll show about 5 years ago. We just kind of hit it off. 4 years ago we started putting songs together for the fun of it and one day a friend of mine needed an opener and he just asked us and we said, “Ok!” We played at a shitty bar before his band. It was the first of many shows and it hasn’t stopped since then. We kept going and the shows kept coming. We never looked back.”
What made you decide to remain a duo instead of a full band? I noticed Étienne plays both drums and guitar at the same time.
A: “That has to do with our tastes and the purpose of what we do. We want to be minimalists. We want to trim all the fat. We’re not ones to add something that we didn’t want to say necessarily. We say what we have to say with what we have. We set up this work parameter where the instrumentation dictates how our songs are made and how our shows goes. It’s a little extra challenge but the goal here is to sound like four and be two. We wanted to see how far we could push that without using tracks or something like that, keeping the thrill alive with just the two of us.
We’ve had a drummer a couple of times on the first album and on the second album we have a couple of songs that have a full drum kit, which is always fun to do but we realized that we get a certain musical intimacy when we’re two more so than when we are three or more. That’s what makes the show so interesting. Two people working off each other really closely. Also, it’s kind of dangerous. We don’t have anyone to lean on if something goes wrong. If I were to stop playing or if Étienne were to stop playing, you’d really hear it. Everything is really essential in our band. We don’t have any extra bells and whistles. It’s a tight run machine.”
It looks cool live too.
A: “Yeah, duos are visually striking. The few we’ve had in musical history have been pretty explosive. It’s the least exploited format compared to bands of 3 or 4. It’s important to experiment with the format because the kind of music that we do, people have been doing it for many years now but it’s a way of making it new and fresher. That’s why we choose to be a duo.”
There’s a vintage blues, glam rock and garage rock style to your record Springtime Devil, what inspires you to choose that sound?
A: “That sound is dictated by music that we love. We love glam. Basically what we do in Les Deuxluxes, we interpret all the music that we listen to and it’s not just rock n’ roll. We have very different backgrounds. I’m a classical vocalist that just graduated from McGill and Étienne is trained as a jazz pianist so we have a musical and cultural baggage that is pretty significant. When we listen to music, we often stay stuck on a guitar sound or a chord progression and then we’ll take it from there.”
What influences your fashion choices or the coordinated outfits you choose to wear on stage? Was that a thing that happened from the beginning?
E: “Pretty much. We both like clothes. This girl has a mom who really likes clothes and inherited a lot of really cool clothes.”
A: “But the reason why we dress like that is because we really have a sense of showmanship. Our favourite artists Little Richard, Tina Turner they would never go out on stage in jeans and t-shirt. Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin they would always dress to the nines back then and that kind of got lost at some point which is a bit sad because the visual is so part of music and your experience. The rock is everywhere in what we’re doing. The rock is in our clothes. The rock is in our hair and in our songs.”
I remember seeing a raccoon on stage at FME. Where did that come from?
A: “Yes, oh my god we put taxidermy on our rider. If we can get taxidermy in the green room we’re very happy. The FME graciously offered us a raccoon and also a couple of antlers backstage. Maybe we disrespected the raccoon, we don’t know. We were up in the woods so it was important that we acknowledge the fauna. Regional taxidermy is always appreciated.”
What’s it like singing and making a record that is completely English in Montreal?
E: “It is kind of weird considering that we do play a lot in Quebec and I guess a good 50-60% are Francophones listening to us. It’s never really been an issue. We haven’t encountered people that are mad about it.”
A: “We don’t get more money though!”
E: “Yeah, the thing is we’re not eligible for a lot of grants in Quebec. We mostly do it on our own and it’s all DIY and people like that. Our music speaks to people regardless of our language and we don’t really care frankly for the language. I lived in the States and Frances comes from more of an Anglo family. I’m from a French family but I’ve grown up speaking the two. We’re very bilingual. It is just part of our daily life switching between French and English all the time. It’s part of Montreal really.”
Has it ever confused people that your name is kind of French but you sing in English?
A: “A little bit. When we went to the States they had a little problem pronouncing our name. Usually, you just tell them once and then they get it. X’s throw people off but it’s not that complicated in the long run. We see language as another medium for the art. Some painters paint in oil paints, other paint in acrylics. Right now we’re painting in English but maybe next time we’ll be painting in French. It all depends on what’s next. ”
What are some artists that you you’re currently listening to?
A: “Since we saw them in Montreal, we’ve been really loving King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard from Australia they’re amazing. Otherwise we scored a jackpot of very interesting disco records. We’ve been listening to a lot of Peaches & Herb and things like that from the 70s.”
E: “Oh, the new Les Hay Babies record.”
A: “Yeah so so good. We’re so fortunate that we come from such a small province that everyone knows each other and are friends. Our friends are just so very talented.”
Any secret future plans?
A: “You can tell your readers that we’ll be dropping something pretty big in the first week of December.”