It seems like everywhere you go today, musicians and bands are looking to innovate and find ways that will set them apart from their peers and allow them to stand out in a sea of so many other acts. But rather than looking to bolster their sound using musical instruments that might actually take away from the group’s dynamics, the members of Chic Gamine use their voices as instruments. Their voices ultimately help to create a sound that ends up being incredibly unique in its own right, touching upon genres of music including doo wop, soul and R&B.
The four female vocalists in Chic Gamine, Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks and Annick Brémault all hail from Winnipeg while drummer-percussionist Sacha Daoud calls Montreal home. So how exactly did the quintet go about getting together while living so far apart?
“The other three girls in the band used to play in a band with Sacha and it was that prior experience that ultimately attracted us to him,” Alexa explains. “He is a great person and a great player plus they knew he was easygoing and easy to get along with.”
Although they had barely logged six months of being a band together, Chic Gamine released its self-titled debut mostly out of wanting to have a product that they would be able to sell to fans who attended their shows. Alexa says that the energy in pulling a band and record together as quickly as they did was incredibly satisfying:
“The way we started the band was interesting in that we had a bunch of shows but didn’t have material to sell,” she says. “We ended up feeling like we had no choice but to move as quickly as we did in regards to making a record; we decided just to do it. In the end, it was hectic at times but there was definitely a positive energy in everything coming together as quickly as it did.”
As rapidly as everything might have come together for Chic Gamine, their road to success would accelerate even more so with the band’s debut effort taking home the 2009 Juno Award for Best Roots/Traditional Album. No one was more surprised at their win than the band itself.
“We had applied to be nominated, not necessarily thinking anything of it,” Alexa says. “We had more or less just applied for the award because we had an album. We were very pleased when we found out we had received a nomination but we thought that there was no way that we were going to win since we felt as though we were a relatively unknown band.
“On the night of the Juno Awards, we had been scheduled to play a show and it was during an intermission of our show that a friend called us to say that we had won. It seemed incredibly surreal since we were not there to see it for ourselves.”
With such significant momentum behind them, Alexa says it allowed them to hit the ground running when it came to the making of their second album, City To City.
“We had toured a lot behind our debut record and were playing the songs for such a long time. We got to the point that we were ready to start introducing new material,” she says.
Compared to the band’s debut record which was recorded in 12 days, the band decided upon a slightly different approach when it came to the making of City To City.
“On our first record, we were living together and the studio we were recording in allowed us to essentially record whenever we wanted to do so,” she shares. “City To City was recorded at a beautiful acoustic studio just outside of Montreal and was a truly beautiful atmosphere but was one that each of us had to make time for. It was still an excellent experience but was just a little different compared to our debut. For our next record, we are already talking about trying to find a happy medium between the two recording experiences.”
Alexa says that the group’s upcoming Canadian shows will be among the most extensive touring that the band has done in their home country, having done the bulk of the touring behind their debut south of the border.
“Looking back on our touring schedule, we didn’t end up playing in Canada as much as I think we did. This will actually be the first time that we are hitting the East Coast and though it was bound to happen sooner or later, I am just glad it is happening at all!”
Article published in April 16, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript