Article by Natalia Kalicki
Interview with the band Paralix in advance of their upcoming show at Sala Rossa. Claudia Edwards and Jérémie Cyr talk about founding the band and how they make music.
Natalia Kalicki (NK): So tell me – how do you operate?
Claudia Edwards (CE): Like any group it’s based on responding — jamming, listening, spending time together. Music is far more organic and collaborative than what exists in the visual art world, and people trust you more.
NK: How so?
CE: Well we were approached by two queer femmes organizing Slut Island (a queer festival) who wanted to create an infrastructure for this kind of space. Space for marginal and experimental groups. We’ve played a few shows since, it’s crazy — we get approached to play. This would never happen with a commercial art venue.
NK: Would you call yourself marginal?
CE: Not entirely. A rock song is a pop song, but all the bandmates are interested in what is alternative. It’s pretty clear in the personae, the performance, and in the lyrics.
NK: So what is your relationship to visual art and how did Paralix happen?
Jérémie Cyr (JC): It was on Christmas day actually. Claudia and I were alone at my apartment and we had a couple of whisky shots. I took my bass and she took a pile of poems and lyrics that she had brought. I had no amp so it was a very quiet and neurotic kind of jam. A week after we asked our friend Zale to join us for an experimental jam. This time it was loud and wild. It was a studio you can rent by the hour. I’ll always remember the face of the owner of the space when he got in our studio to tell us our time was over. Claudia was jumping around and screaming in her mic and lyrics sheet were all over the floor. It was a good moment.
CE: It also came out of an art school side project. After a struggle during a sculpture class, we formed a duet. Jérémie would build stages and I would dance over-under between the work.
NK: So the sculpture became an accessory of performance. How did this arrangement evolve?
CE: Our characters are like les enfants terribles or something. We have an androgynous look, tense stage presence, and put gender roles to question. Our stage personae were Pussylick and Paradix — hence Paralix. They changed their name to Pennylick, because being called Pussylick may have been unnecessarily taking a space in society as a male, that they should not. Now Zale Burley and Jeremie alternate between instruments, and I do vocals. We want to add some synth.
JE: Because we don’t have a stable jam space, it can be hard to evolve really fast and write a bunch of new songs. So we try not to rush things. We like to keep some room for “practiced jams” during which the three of us just simultaneously reach that moment of communion, that moment where it’s hard to stop playing because we wanna perpetuate this trance. Jamming together is just so easy. We all are open to each others’ suggestions and songs just come to us at some point. We don’t force it. We don’t want to reproduce a certain style for this song and another style for that song. It’s after that we clearly realize what each of our songs make us think and recognize the influences.
NK: That sounds liberating. Claudia, has your understanding of the visual arts been adapted by your experiences in music and its industry?
CE: The difference between this and visual art is that there’s a cultural demand for it. People want to hang out, find common ground, feed a space that is safe. Music emphasizes the present. That’s an important way to try when so much demands that you are elsewhere.
NK: Do you use the iron skeleton box for your shows? Where did that idea come from?
CE: Being a part of the League of Lady Wrestlers, I realized I had a rare talent for acrobatics. I thought it would be interesting to fit into the act.
NK: That’s pretty theatrical. Lastly, how would you explain your genre and sound, or your influences?
CE: It’s experimental. We each bring our interests into the work. I’ve been listening to Tawanda and a lot of female punk bands.
JE: Annie-Claude from Duchess Says. You simply see how much fun she has when she’s on stage. She likes to play with the audience and engage a lot with the crowd. Duchess Says’ shows are a good example of a hybrid between performance art and music
CE: It’s pretty DIY. At the same time, I could say we are the result of a cultural space.
Paralix plays with Moonhag, Pretty Boys, and Effet Werther at La Sala Rossa (4848 Boul St-Laurent). September 5. $5-7. 9:00 p.m. Info HERE.