Anything But Beige. Interview with Radio Radio

radio radio. Photo LM Chabot radio radio. Photo LM Chabot

Ever since the jacuzzi bubbles erupting from their song Cliché Hot, Acadian Radio Radio has been unstoppable. As regular as clockwork, Radio Radio has just released its fourth work, aptly named Ej Feel Zoo. Focusing on the notions of fun, holidays and animal tension, Jacques Doucet and Gabriel Malenfant have further worked on their eclectic influences, always in chiac language and always with the Bonsound label.

Two years after a darker, not as party-feely Hâvre de Grâce, Radio Radio have shifted from a trio into a duo with third partner Alexandre Bilodeau remaining on the mastering and mixing side, while Doucet and Malenfant make their way to the stage to promote lightness, enthusiasm and elation in their newest release. I interviewed Jacques Doucet for a few zooesque words.

Mylene Chevrèul (MC): Let us contextualize since the beginning. Tell us about how you and Gabriel met.

JD  (Jacques Doucet): We’re both from maritime counties, from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia respectively, and we met at a show eleven years ago where Gabriel was working as a DJ. Little by little, we became friends and then the idea of the band came to me. Gabriel and I complete one another. We add up. Our different visions about many things are an asset for the band. The band has always been prompted by the aim of having people dance and move, and it was just for the fun. We want to deal with serious matters in a light tone, but also with light matters in a serious tone.


MC: You often use “chiac” language in your lyrics – a careful blend or rather magic mix of both French and English. Is it a conscious choice?

JD: Well, being born in the south-west, in Nova Scotia, the Acadian people’s influence did not have too far to go! We’ve been influenced by both languages by geographical acculturation. It was not really a matter of choice. “Chiac” is our means to express ourselves in everyday life, so it seems legitimate to sing using the same means too. Although, when we speak with Quebecois people, we are careful not to use our dialect too much if we want to make ourselves understood.
Besides, the chiac  language is another way to stand out. It remains relevant for people like us who do not want to be put in a frame of action.


MC: You release an album every two years, like clockwork. Ej Feel Zoo is the latest you’ve released. Is two years your gestation period, if we abide by the metaphor of the animal running throughout the album ?

JD: After launching a new album, it always goes like this. We take some rest of three to four weeks, then we go back to working on a demo, collecting some ideas with Alexandre Bilodeau, and then it usually takes seven months to work on it. We love going into recording sessions in the studio, and with the two-year deadline, we set ourselves a challenge. We love to complete it and be able to meet again with the audience when we’re performing our party shows.


MC: You seem to take your fans’ opinions into account, as well as their feedback, notably regarding the Havre de Grâce album, which was the least appreciated by those who have been following the band since the beginning. How does all this influence your lyrics and your musical style?

JD: Well, as a matter of fact, Havre de Grâce was extremely appreciated by people who actually did not know us before. And it responded to a need that we had back then not to produce such an upbeat album. We didn’t want something that you can dance to, with a catchy chorus. I personally like to have fun, so even to me, I realize that it was not one of my favourites.

MC: What is your favourite opus then?

JD: I’d say, definitely, Belmundo Regal in 2010. We had a storyline from the beginning to the end with intricate themes and a smart way to narrate them. It made people feel like travelling, going away for a while.


MC: In this new album, you can feel that muscial styles and atmospheres come from eclectic sources. What are they, and also, what prompts you to combine all of them together?

JD: The big combo idea on this album is led by the motive of the animal and beige colour. Beige is a neutral colour at first, but it can take on so many hues, and express different emotions. We want to kill the monotony, dullness and constriction of the beige, hence the holiday-feeling present in most of our tracks in this new album. I am mostly influenced by rap music and by the Wu Tang Clan and Method Man in particular, but I also listen to pop music. Bruno Mars, for instance, does really good stuff with stuck-in-your-head songs. I used to love the theatre too as an influence, but I’m much more of a TV series addict. I like how they expand the thread of the story over time, and to me it’s more difficult to accomplish than a film. Right now, I’m into Luther, Sherlock, Broadchurch. All mostly British series, as a matter of fact, as they often use metaphors or distant times to expose an ordeal of the day in our society.


MC: Do you have anything planned regarding a solo project?

JD: I have a few things going on, and Gabriel has a few shows with Young Paris too. But, for now, I’ll take a break before considering a proper solo project.


MC: When can we go party with you in zoo mode to celebrate the new release?

JD: We had the release party at Club Soda then we’ll hit Ottawa. We will also be part of the Lafayatte festival in Louisiana, and we are still waiting for more festival announcements concerning the summer.