Q&A with Partner: Funny is the new power-pop explosion

Wednesday 17th, January 2018 / 16:29


Partner: Lucy Niles & Josée Caron
Photo by Colin Medley


CALGARY – Josée Caron and Lucy Niles are BFFs from Sackville NB, where having fun is priority number one. After gaining national attention with a cut-loose video flush with its homage and queer comradery to another moxie Maritimer, Ellen Page, Partner delivers a cleverly-crafted, fresh full-length, In Search Of Lost Time, full of smart storylines and its unabashed love for surging ‘90s’ power-punk  that undeniably makes rock ‘n’ roll great again.


BEATROUTE: You certainly made a fun-loving rock ’n’ roll record. Is that a reaction to records not being so fun anymore, or is it just your character to be fun-loving people? Perhaps a little of both? How did Sackville, being Maritime contribute to that spirit of yours?

LUCY: Thank you! When we discovered the voice that these songs are in, it was a naturally fun voice. We seem to feel most inspired by fun subject matter, and of course we like our live shows to be a good time. Perhaps it also has something to do with the collaborative nature of our songs. We are bffs so when we get together we are usually having a ball. Sackville is also a place that really values fun. A hometown show is always a rollicking party, so we wanted to make an appropriate soundtrack.


BR: Your openness and honesty to pot-smoking, like the way you are with your sexuality, is admirable and refreshing. You seem to be relatively free of too many burdens and hang-ups about who you are and how you want to express yourselves. Where does that enthusiasm and confidence come from?

LUCY: The enthusiasm comes naturally from being excited, or at least amused by the things we are singing about. The confidence factor was a semi-conscious choice. We kind of realized that there was no reason not to be as confident as the next person. As far as the pot stuff, it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time cause all our friends’ joke bands had songs about weed. We just took our joke band really, really seriously. Also we are millennials, nobody we know really gives a fuck if we smoke pot. It’s also white privilege because we are able to sing about pot and not be considered to be dangerous the same way that some rappers or other pot musicians are.


BR:  In Search of Lost Time is a big, bursting, full-body record… garage rock on steroids. You can hear the Weezer and Nirvana-like hooks with the loud-quiet dynamics, and rock ’n’ roll meets Public Enemy breakdowns. How did your association with producer Chris Shaw come about? What was the collaboration like… e.g., how much input did he have to your playing and song structuring in addition to the sonic quality of the record?

LUCY: Thanks for the Public Enemy comparison, that’s a new one! Nobody besides us has any input on our song structures or playing. We had Josh Korody engineer it and our label boss Steve supervised, and our friend Kevin helped to produce it but the songs and playing are all us. We admired Chris Shaw’s work with Ween and Sheryl Crow so Josee boldly cold-emailed him and he agreed to mix our record. This was after it was all recorded so he worked with what we gave him.

BR: A lot of the playing on the record is terrific! Lots of shredding, fast zigging solos that are super exciting, lots of tough but joyful drumming and driving baselines. Who’s the rest of the band that fills out the sound, how did that relationship come about?

LUCY: The band on the record is slightly different than the band we play with live. We have the same bassist which is our friend Kevin, who also helped produce the record. We met him in university and we have played in several bands together. The drummer is the Toronto living legend Simone TB, who we first heard playing drums in the incredible Highest Order. She also plays in US girls, Fake Palms, Darlene Shrugg and lots of other stuff. We thought she was very talented so we asked her. We also wanted to be friends and we thought getting her to play on our record would help with that. We are pretty sure it worked.


BR: Your songs are fairly short and sweet… little stories that say only so much about the situation and/or person, the rest you have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. That’s a gift. Where did you learn to write like that?

LUCY: This interview is very flattering, haha!.We usually just stop as soon as we have made the point that we are trying to make so that can move on to arranging some other part of the song. We just learned from listening to other songs and taking cues from them.

BR: Who wrote the skits that are in between songs on the album? What inspired that idea?

LUCY: We both love the added element of skits. They make an album feel more like a movie. The prank calls were an idea we came up with cause it seemed hilarious. Josee’s dad is full of wisdom so we included him. And piss pants tampon is 100% real, it happened while we were trying to record a different skit. Some people hate the skits but unfortunately for them we are in love with skits and plan to do more in the future.


BR: What’s your song-writing process like?

LUCY: It varies, but usually we will be talking about an idea (we spend a lot of time just talking) and then we will be stricken by a phrase or whatever and start to sing it and that becomes the hook. Then we just build from there and the rest is just like a puzzle.


BR: How do you let your experience of being queer women show in your music while not letting it define you?

LUCY: We don’t worry about it defining us because we sing about so many things and try to be completely open about our whole lives. We are dykes and proud of it but there are lots of other things we care about and write about too.


Partner plays January 17 at The Slice in Lethbridge, January 18 at the Revival Room in Regina, January 19 at Amigos in Saskatoon and January 20 at The Rec Room in Edmonton and January 21 at the BIG Winter Classic in Calgary.

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