In case you haven’t heard, Rock n’ Roll didn’t die between two pop song diffused on a loop by every mainstream radio station. On this cold December afternoon, it seems more alive than ever as I step inside the Atomic Café in Montreal to meet Les Deuxluxes.
—By Marie-Ève Venne
Behind the duo are Anna Frances Meyer and Étienne Barry, a couple both in real life and on stage, that has been compared many times to The White Stripes.
In the band, Étienne plays the guitar and works his magic behind the drums, in the manner of men-orchestras. Anna Frances, full of confidence, also scratches the guitar and rocks her powerful opera singer voice — she is a McGill graduate — making it biting and thundering.
“I was in school studying opera and Étienne was playing jazz piano. The 2012 student strike happened, and we were looking for a way to make money. So, we thought let’s play our favorite songs and try to make some money out of it. I was playing the ukulele and Etienne had his favorite guitar and we started like that,” explains Anna.
They realized pretty soon that it’s actually what they want to do with their lives. They don’t have to wait too long before being invited to do opening gigs for local bands.
“We just got on stage, and we got swept away by life. We were aiming for different careers, but life had other plans for us,” adds Anna.
Their first record, Springtime Devil, was released in September 2016, bringing a unique and refreshing dose of vitaminized rock to the Canadian scene. With a sound rooted in the 1960s but with a fresh twist due to its modern production, the album was a big hit with the fans of the genre. It took them off the border and on the road, first in Latin America and then in Europe.
But commercial success doesn’t seem like something they are really trying to reach out for.
“At this point, we just want to do what we like. We don’t care about fitting in the mold and honestly, we never did,” explains Étienne.
And going outside the limits is exactly what they did for their most recent album, Lighter Fluid. They decided to embark on a new musical and textual territory, while pushing the capacities of their instruments, lyrics, and the way they compose their songs. They describe it as an important growing experience that left them transformed.
“We had to isolate ourselves to create this album. We needed silence to create more noise,” he adds.
“What we do is fucking loud – our music but also our daily life. We always have to be in performance mode and play in bars where you must speak loud and scream. There is no way we could come up with new material in these conditions,” says Anna.
Lighter Fluid was composed, recorded, and shot on the countryside over last winter. As they were exploring around, they ended up in front of an old church. They instantly fell in love with the place and reached out to the owners because they knew they had found the perfect gem that would allow them to create their next opus.
“We totally trusted life for this album. We came in with all our recording gear inside the church because we only had 10 days to record everything and it worked. This is when Rock n’ Roll comes a little bit into our daily lives. Our life is a series of adventures and we really make decisions in the spur of the moment without thinking too much,” says Anna.
They even took the time to shoot the whole visual for their album with the photographer JF Galipeau, ending up with a psychedelic photoshoot that takes us on a mind-bending trip.
The result of their creative process is a record that hits you right in the face and that never weakens. It’s loud and real and travels between vocal surges and strong instrumental parts with sharpness. It switches between musical genres without settling down, proving once more that music doesn’t need to fit into one precise category to be appreciated.
On this matter, they don’t really seem to mind that tendency that have people to overanalyze songs ad nausea.
“I think people overanalyze music because they’re mostly trying to understand something that’s not tangible. Music floats. Not everyone has the knowledge to understand it. Even if we can all appreciate it, it will never be on the same level. You can enjoy some pieces but for someone who has no musical theory, it has to be on another degree and there has to be a context,” declares Étienne.
“My music teacher used to say that if you don’t sing the music, it ends up dying in the books. It’s meant to be shared and when you put a song out there as an artist, it stops belonging to you. People end up with the song and will have their own experience and their own interpretation.
Even their approach to fashion is personal and unique. On their social platforms, they cultivate a rock image embroidered with sequins and an attitude that mixes old rock and glamour.
We’re always on the lookout for vintage stores on the road. As soon as we have a moment, we go around the thrift stores, the shops, and we always find something. We even have our own shop on our website where we sell our own bolo ties hand-made with a lot of love,” says Anna.
If after listening to Les Deuxluxes, you still think that rock is dead, well, you’re not paying attention to the sound brought by these new underground heroes that prove that you can both be loud and still full of finesse.
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