by Emily Blatta
VANCOUVER – There’s nothing really hellish about the Montreal act She-Devils, but they certainly have been hot as hell lately.
The musical duo comprised of Audrey Ann and Kyle Jukka will be touring their self titled debut album this summer, The World Laughs, which features art-house style sounds inspired by ’60s garage rock. Although no longer working from the garage, the pair still works with samples and track-loops as the necessary tools to stoking the coals of their tracks.
Currently under the label Secretly Canadian, the pair has been one of Montreal’s best-kept secrets, existing mainly underground and through word of mouth. Ann and Jukka first met as roommates while living in the city’s Mile-End neighbourhood, known for its prominent arts community and music scene. During the band’s formative years, exposure to those scenes and spaces was all that was necessary to grab the attention of local fans—which were simultaneously also friends—and the She-Devils were able to survive primarily offline by way of casual shows that were grungy, mysterious and off the grid. But their following has quickly grown-up in the few years they’ve been together, and the pair is clear that they’re ready for something new.
“The thing about Montreal is that everyone is really poor, and artists are doing things with very little means. It’s good to be resourceful in the beginning for sure, but it’s definitely something I’d like to grow from,” says Ann.
The young singer also emphasizes that, although the She-Devils have been built on a neighbourhood of struggling artists, their music isn’t for one specific kind of person. In other words, retro-alternative music doesn’t have to only serve those who traditionally fit that mold, but should also include people who transcend the underground aesthetic altogether and emulate other, more diverse things—awkward teens, nine-to-five dreamers and anyone else repressed or misunderstood are all invited.
“When I think of myself as a teenager and the relationship I had with music, I want this album to be a safe place for people,” she adds. Ann makes room for all of this while at the same time remaining untouchable and in the past. Her and Lukka don’t come out with themselves altogether, but work hard to exist creatively in spaces that have already been opened, and push to re-invent their meaning.
“We’d sample something and then kind of fuck with it, layer sounds and that sort of thing. It’s kind of like imitation I guess. That’s just the way I’ve learned to make music,” says Lukka.
This approach to music-making hasn’t worked for everyone, but it has for them. The World Laughs is edgy and relatable, without being too easy to digest. Having obvious notes of Serge Gainsbourg and grey shades of Nico, the She-Devils succeed at being pretentious, sensual and enigmatic in that they seep in and out of eras to defy their context. Some songs beg for you to run away with them and others won’t let you come, but all will have you feeling dizzy in the best way possible.
She-Devils perform July 10 with Beach Fossils at the Biltmore.Beach Fossils, Biltmore Cabaret