PAST AND UPCOMING EVENTS
Photo credit: JF Galipeau
Since forming in 2013, Les Deuxluxes have developed an image and sound all their own. Composed of singer and musician Anne Frances Meyer and multi-instrumentalist Étienne Barry, the pair had already turned many heads with their flamboyant garage-pop and colourful, provocative kitsch style, before releasing their debut album, Springtime Devil, in 2016.
Since then, Les Deuxluxes have been playing a string of shows, in Montreal and around the world, trips that have allowed them to discover, learn and gather all kinds of sounds, stories, anecdotes, good turns and bad, and many other adventures. Adventures that have served as fuel for Lighter Fluid, their second effort. “Since the album was released four years ago,” says Barry, “we’ve toured all over the world, we’ve been confronted with very different realities from our own, we’ve met fascinating people who taught us a lot, especially in Latin America and Cuba, where we played 13 concerts in sixteen days. So for this new album, we’ve assimilated and then dissected all these life experiences, sometimes bizarre, absurd, psychedelic experiences.”
Following their sense of adventure, the duo chose to record their new album in a small church in the Eastern Townships, and no, it’s not the one that belonged to the Arcade Fire. “Everybody asks us that,” laughs Meyer. “It was a slightly more obscure church in the corner of Sutton, a building that dates back to the 19th century but has a strangely avant-garde, slightly modern feel to it. The ornaments are all handmade, the stained-glass windows are very colourful, with a slightly psychedelic country feel.”
“We really fell under the charm of this church,” adds Barry. “It’s a magical place, very inspiring, nestled at the top of a hill. Our new songs already had a psychedelic flavour and frankly, the whole place seemed to fit the spirit we were trying to give to the record.
Lighter Fluid, released on February 28, is therefore not an album conceived like most others. For this record, Les Deuxluxes complicated their lives little. “We often complicate our lives,” Meyer says, again with a laugh. “It was also a question of economics,” insists Barry, more seriously. “It cost us a lot less than renting a studio for $500 a day, and since everything is at our expense, we explored other options. So there was this church not far from where my father has a cottage. We were intrigued by it, so we went to visit it one day and we really liked the energy it gave us. Then we checked the acoustics and made sure everything was solid and in place, especially the electricity!”
Recorded in about ten days, Lighter Fluid was produced by the duo and their perennial accomplice, Francis Duchesne. “We really put the emphasis on guitars and a wall of amps, to spoil ourselves. It was a kind of mass, or ceremony, at each session. We’d arrive with flowers that we’d picked, we’d burn sage, as a tribute to this temple,” explains Meyer. “I think it’s more on the level of the acoustics that this place played a role,” the singer continues. “It’s quite peculiar, with all the woodwork inside, the shape of the hall. That’s the element we hadn’t planned for, and which in the end gives the album that rather unique sound. The reverberation’s impressive!”
On this new offering of 11 tracks, the pair wanted to get out of their comfort zone a little more. Hence the title. “The idea behind the album was fan the flames a bit. These are songs that gave us a lot of trouble when they were first created. Each song was like a little puzzle or a maze,” admits mustachioed multi-instrumentalist Barry. “So Lighter Fluid seemed appropriate. And then we used Lighter Fluid over there to light up what we’d brought back from the SQDC!” General laughter ensues.
“There’s also a metaphorical aspect to the title, like the fuel to start a fire, because there’s a certain political or committed side to the album,” concedes Barry, who admits that it’s also a more experimental record. In addition to the two songs in French, another in Spanish and a nice nod to the Stooges with the medley “Down on the Street/Loose” that the band has often played live, Les Deuxluxes have not only opted for a change of scenery, but also for a slight change of sounds.
“We explored different sounds, I used different guitars on this record, including a twelve-string guitar. There’s also a little bit of flute, an instrument Anna has played since she was a little girl but we’ve never incorporated it into our music. The idea was to go back to our roots, to remain strictly a duo, because on the first record we had guests who came to play a little bass, or drums… So the objective was to do it like in a show, just the two of us on stage. Me on guitar and drums at the same time, and Anna on vocals and guitar too. We’re a very efficient little unit and that’s what we tried to show on this record, pushing the concept as far as possible.”
“We’ve gone in all kinds of directions,” says Meyer. “We used different rhythms, with modes instead of scales… in short, it was a pretty interesting mix. We tried it live a couple of times just to break the ice and practice a little bit for the upcoming tour, and it’s… um… it’s a lot of notes!”