Formed at the outset of 2015, Moncton roots-reggae group Papa Ya is celebrating the release of their debut album Acadian Reggae Music at Plan b Lounge this Saturday evening. If you’re not yet familiar with the group, there happens to be a good reason: The band has thus far intentionally refrained from playing too many shows, opting to work on crafting memorable songs instead.
“We played maybe 10 to 12 shows all last year because we wanted to focus on writing good material,” Papa Ya drummer Jeremie Doiron says, admitting he has always been one to value a well-written song.
That fine attention to detail is heard throughout the 10 songs on Acadian Reggae Music. Before the group headed overseas to La Frette Studio in France, a world-class facility that also gave birth to albums from Feist, Nick Cave and Moncton’s own Syntax Error, Doiron says the group spent almost four months working and re-working the material.
“If anything, we just wanted to be prepared. We knew that we were going to have just under two weeks to bring this record to life once we arrived France, so we wanted to take the opportunity to reimagine the whole concept behind the album, chart the material and work out individual parts before we went ‘on the clock.’ We even went so far to research the exact equipment that the studio had and installed programs to replicate the gear we would be working with.”
Working at La Frette was a personal dream come true for Doiron, who had intensively studied the studio prior to having received the offer to record there.
Originally conceived and recorded by a trio consisting of Doiron, Clément Dugas and Marc Theriault – Papa Ya has since expanded to include Ashley McNally and Frederick Hétu – work on Acadian Reggae Music began at La Frette this past March.
“Because we had worked so intensively before actually getting into the studio, we were able to record the album’s ten songs over six or seven days and complete mixing in the four days afterward. The schedule was tight, but everything went well.”
Given the intense pre-production work the band undertook prior to heading overseas, Doiron says the actual recording process went as flawlessly as could be expected. Acknowledging that heading overseas to make an album could strike some as indulgent or extravagant, especially for a group making their first recording, the studio had basically made the band an offer they would have been fools to pass up.
“We were fortunate that the owner of the studio had taken an interest in the band. The experience is nothing that any of us took for granted. I truly believe there are moments of creativity sprinkled throughout the album that wouldn’t have come to life in the same manner had we gone elsewhere to record.”
Doiron notes that in the two months following the album’s completion, the seeds of doubt about what they had accomplished in France had planted themselves, throwing a temporary cloud over the entire project.
Thankfully, he says, those clouds were quick to dissipate once the album’s final masters had been returned to them.
“A couple of months had passed where we really started questioning whether what we did was any good or not. The album just meant so much to us that we wanted it to be something we could be proud of. I think we just needed to put some distance between us and the record, because once we got the final version of the album, and gave it another listen, we gained a whole new appreciation for what we had done.”
What: Papa Ya CD Release for Acadian Reggae Music
When: Saturday Sept. 17, 9 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton