What exactly is Italian disco? What is produced if you mix French with pop and an electronic sound? All these questions and more are answered by the Montreal trio, Le Couleur. With singer Laurence Giroux-Do bringing a sultry sound to each track, Le Couleur will make you go back to a time of pure music fit for an Italian Club. With their album “Voyage Love” hitting the top ten lists of several countries, Le Couleur is a French Canadian band like no other. If youre into French disco-pop or want to experience what vibes the genre can produce, check them out! In this interview drummer Steeven Chouinard tells us about singing in French to a German crowd, the importance of having a good manager, and some mysterious Italian cafés in Montreal.
Lola Who: Youve just released your album “Dolce Desir” with the major hit “Club Italien.” What was the idea behind this track?
Steeven: Julien Manaud, our manager and producer, came one day at the studio with those chords and melodies. It wasnt at all like the final result, but we digged it right away. We instantly heard something like those 70s pop-disco-ABBA hits: a groovy bass line, disco drums, rhythmic piano and an epic theme following the melody. Afterward, Laurence added lyrics about those mysterious Italian cafés and bars that we find here in Montreal, where women “are not really eligible.” It really piqued our curiosity to know what these men say or do all day long in those cafés.
Lola Who: I’m intrigued now. Can you tell us a bit more about these “Italian Cafés” where women are unapproachable? (What’s going on there, and can you give us a name of a specific café or neighborhood)?
Well, it’s still quite mysterious for us, even after writing this song. We actually live close to Little Italy, in Montreal, and we’re paying a bit more attention to that phenomena since we released that song, but we’re not brave enough to go inside the cafés yet… There’s a lot of cafés that seem to be exclusive to men. Of course, we don’t think there’s an official rule saying that women or strangers are not allowed, but sometimes, it is what it is; you don’t need any picture. So, we find inspiration a bit everywhere, and it’s usually not as obvious as it might look. When we were producing the album, we found a certain “Italian mood” to the melodies, instruments, chords, etc., and this story with the cafés came up very quickly. We couldn’t say what was going on in there, but we thought maybe it’s better like that! We could be disappointed. So we want our fans to use their imagination and keep the suspense. They can imagine whatever they want every time they listen to the album.
Lola Who: French electro-pop is very unique in terms of music produced in Montreal. How would you say your sound compares to that of the other indie music of the area, and even to electro-pop in France?
Steeven: Thats true. There’s not a lot of bands like us here. Were not saying that we’re reinventing music, but what distinguishes us, is that we do it mostly in French, and we have no complex about doing so. Theres no language barrier for us. We went to the U.S., the UK, Germany, and each crowd was having fun and even sing along with us! Its actually pretty cool and were very proud of it.
Lola Who: How did you like working with the band French Horn Rebellion on the song “Vacances de 87”? What additional element did they add to the track?
Steeven: It made all the difference! It was a complete French song at firstwith a kind of Serge Gainsbourg feel to itbut we were not really satisfied with it. It was already settled that David from FHR was going to mix the album. We asked his brother Robert, who is also in FHR, to write down some lyrics as well as a melody for his own part, and it totally blew our minds. It was epic, funky and powerful. They’re such a great band and such nice people. It was a really fun collaboration.
Lola Who: I know some of you studied music in university. Did you ever think youd be a part of an electro-pop band?
Steeven: Were all educated musician and we have music degrees and all, but if you had asked us this question seven years ago, we would have said “no.” Laurence has a classical music background, and the guys come from a more rock ‘n roll background; like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and even Metallica. But for some reason, we ended up doing electronic music and we love it! But you can tell that the guys have this rock energy… Especially me! There’s a lot of Phil Collins in my drumming.
Lola Who: Italian Disco is not a term thats heard often. How does it apply to your music?Steeven: 127bpm, disco drum, a solid bass line and a sexy attitude!
Lola Who: Is there a message you want to get across to your listeners?
Steeven: Not really. Were making music to make people dance and have fun. Theres no political message or “deep experiences” that we want to share. We tell stories about relationships between human being, objects, animal, etc. We sing about travelling and having fun. You can interpret it the way you want.
Lola Who: Have artists like Sebastian Tellier influenced your work?
Steeven: Definitely! Wed say that hes at the top of Le Couleur’s pyramidthat sounds a bit sectarian though. We all connected to his music. We still remember that night when Patrick came up with the song “Sexuality.” Im not sure if we were sober but we remember how sexy the songs were. Were still using it as a reference when we need to talk about a sound or a mood. You can tell that we all listened to the same music. Its also well known that Tellier has been influenced by Serge Gainsbourg, François de Roubaix, Pink Floyd, and this is exactly our case too.
Le Couleur – Club Italien, live at Pianos in New York, June 2015
Lola Who: As a band, you have become successful while signing your own music. Do you think this is a way of the future?
Steeven: Were still quite inspired, so I guess well continue that way. But we really enjoy working with other talented musicians, and yes youre going to hear some interesting collabs on our upcoming album set to be released in May 2016.
Lola Who: Since 2009, youve released three EPs and countless tracks. What is the most important thing when producing music and furthering your career?
Steeven: Bands need to write and produce good songs. That’s the very first step to getting successful. You have to work so hard to make it work… But things are coming our way, and we must say that having met Julien Manaud, our manager and founder of Lisbon Lux Records, has changed everything. Were so lucky and grateful to have someone who believes in us and work his ass off everyday day to make more people know about our music. We owe him a lot. Theres not enough good manager for good bands. I guess we got lucky!