By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – Although it was requested of BeatRoute to make Amelia Aspen and Doug Organ sound cooler than they are, we didn’t have to try very hard to fulfill the responsibility. The husband and wife duo have been transient the past couple of years living in Paris while curating an artists residency called Break’ Art Mix. There, Organ spent time in the South of France, studying with the infamous Steve Albini; the duo aims to follow-up on their European tenure by eventually hunkering down in Los Angeles. They’re pretty cool.
Before moving to Paris, Aspen was part of the lovable Edmonton psych-pop group the Lad Mags. Evidently, the project may truly be finished; a fact Aspen seems at peace with. Organ also pitched in to the scuzzy garage soul project’s success, having recorded the band (he runs Edmontone Studio), giving Aspen and Organ the opportunity to work together. While the official timeline might be slightly blurry, this was around the time Le Plaisir was born. Sharing the same name as a 1952 French dramatic comedy film, it translates to “the pleasure.”
“We had both played very different styles of music up until that point, so it was mostly just really fun,” explains Aspen through sips of black coffee.
“We found a synthesizer on the street in Paris. The same one that Roxette uses! But we don’t sound like Roxette, to be clear,” she says, laughing.
The two easily found common ground between their varying backgrounds and musical tastes, creating a sound not unlike the Lad Mags, albeit with flickers of sci-fi and what Organ coins “synth and drum machine nerdery.” Their lyrics veer towards post-apocalyptic themes, capturing some of the harrowing experiences the city collectively experienced two years ago.
“We moved to Paris right before the 2015 attacks happened, and lived on one of the streets where people were killed on a restaurant patio by machine gunfire,” recalls Aspen, referencing the devastating six target attack that tragically resulted in 130 deaths, including 89 concert goers at the Bataclan theatre during an Eagles of Death Metal show.
“It was a really weird time and we ended up staying basically locked down in our tiny apartment for a few days reading the endless, grim news on our phones and barely talking,” he recalls.
“It really felt like the world was ending and that we were totally alone. That sounds really melodramatic in retrospect, but that was really how it felt at the time.”
Drawing from this tragedy, Aspen and Organ began writing more as a unit, finding both ease and discomfort from working together so intimately.
“I find co-writing a little bit difficult,” Organ acknowledges.
“It’s kind of like taking turns saying words and putting a sentence together. And we’ve had a couple of false starts. Thinking a song was cool but then having no inspiration to keep going with it.”
“It was so utterly recreational. The stakes felt kind of low,” adds Aspen.
Even though they enjoyed working on their own, the duo utilized a Paris connection, Julia Houdin of the band Lemon Lake. She provides a few handclaps and generally provided emotional support during the sessions. You can use the whirling psychedelics of the Lad Mags to guide our ears into future familiarity; another reference point is one that we promised wouldn’t be mentioned by us in this article.
“Somebody explained to me once the difference between what inspires you and what actually influences your sound,” Organ offers.
“I don’t think a lot of people make that distinction. We like to say we’re parked outside the arena Moon Duo are playing.”
Le Plaisir released their self-titled EP July 28 at 9910 [Edmonton]. They have a run of tapes available for your listening pleasure.Amelia Aspen, Break’ Art Mix, Doug Organ, Le Plaisir, sci-fi pop, Synth