Radio Radio readying new record

Though 2011 might have been a relatively quiet year compared to years past, Quebec’s Radio Radio, the country’s finest purveryors of regal-gypsy-disco-jazz-hip hop, are coming home to the Maritimes for a New Year’s Eve performance at Place 1604 in Dieppe.

Comprised of Moncton native Gabriel Malenfant along with former Nova Scotians Alexandre Bilodeau and Jacques Doucet, Radio Radio are currently in the mixing stage of making their new record, the follow-up to their most successful album to date, 2010’s Belmundo Regal. That record, Radio Radio’s second album, earned the group a Top 10-shortlist nomination for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize, which in turn helped the band become even better known from coast to coast.

Malenfant says the group’s still-to-be-named third album should be in stores by spring 2012. Asked whether he and his band mates have felt any pressure, either internal or external, to follow up the success of their widely acclaimed last album, Malenfant says the group hasn’t changed the way it goes about writing songs in order to potentially suit a now wider audience.

“We have never felt restricted when we are writing,” Malenfant says from his Montreal home last week. “Our approach from the get-go is that we write as want to write, as we want to speak and as we feel. Lucky for us, our record label has a lot of confidence in us – it almost feels as though we have carte blanche to deliver the record we want to deliver to them.”

If Malenfant’s casual attitude concerning the group’s next record may strike some as arrogance, it really is anything but. Radio Radio have built their band name on a mix of quirky Chiac rapping, something that their fans have come to know and love about the trio. Even though some may feel that the stakes of success are higher for Radio Radio now than they ever have been in the past, Malenfant says that, perhaps selfishly, the band has never been concerned about making music for others.

“For us, the stakes have always been about making music that we like and that we feel reflects the spirit of the celebration of life. When it comes to the reactions of others to the music we are making, we really just hope for the best.”

Radio Radio’s upcoming record was recorded in Nova Scotia and Louisiana. Malenfant shares that the trio went into the studio with 36 songs before narrowing the number of tracks down to 15. Setting up shop to record in Louisiana was a new experience for the group who had previously played in Lafayette. Sensing a kinship with the music that comes from Louisiana, the group felt it would be an ideal place to inject some different vibes into their new album.

“The vibe of the music in Louisiana is a little more diverse than what we would be exposed to had we stayed exclusively in Nova Scotia to make the record,” Malenfant says. “A friend of ours got us hooked up with a cottage that was on a lake, which is incidentally the same type of place we would record at in Nova Scotia.

And while the environments in Nova Scotia and Louisiana were similar in some respects, we weren’t necessarily in our comfort zone when we were in the United States. We had to set up the studio differently and eat at different places, for instance. But whether you’ll hear us not being in our comfort zone on the final product remains to be seen.”

Article published in December 30, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript