Radio Radio makes waves across North America

It has been one heck of a ride for Nova Scotia’s Radio Radio over the course of these past few months. While the group’s name had been growing in circles for some time now, their second album Belmundo Regal (released in March) has certainly helped things move along at a faster clip.

Self-described as creating “regal-gypsy-disco-jazz-hip hop” music, a huge notch on the group’s belt recently came in the form of being one of the top 10 nominees for the Polaris Music Award prize. The Polaris Prize, a $20,000 award given to a band based solely on artistic merit (as opposed to record sales) saw the group in the same company as indie-rock heavyweights such as Broken Social Scene, Dan Mangan and Tegan & Sara.

Even though Radio Radio would leave the Polaris ceremony empty-handed (the award was won by Quebec band Karkwa), Radio Radio member Gabriel Malenfant admits the Polaris event was hugely beneficial to the group.

“We felt really proud to be recognized by our peers and to have the opportunity to be a part of such a huge national event. At the outset of finding out we had been nominated, I don’t think we really understood just how big of a deal it was,” he says.

“Once we had made the shortlist of the final 10 nominees, things really went to another level. We had people congratulating us left and right, it was pretty cool. Best of all, we have an enormous amount of respect for everyone that was also nominated and we were rather glad to be a part of such a huge event.”

The band has received other honours as well, including being nominated for Videoclip of the year at the 2009 ADISQ Gala and hip-hop album of the year and Revelation of the year at the 2008 ADISQ Gala.

Since the March release of its latest record, the group (Malenfant, Alexandre Bilodeau and Jacques Doucet) has stayed busy performing more than 100 shows throughout Canada and Europe and have also had the opportunity to play the South By Southwest Festival in Texas.

Malenfant says that the reception to the band is good wherever they happen to be playing, even where French isn’t the primary language spoken by locals.

“Music really is an international language so even in places like Texas and Louisiana, they enjoy the music. Our live show is a positive experience for certain; people recognize good vibes and good energy no matter what language you happen to be singing in.”

With the group’s first trip to New York City in the cards soon after their Moncton show tomorrow night at the Oxygen, Malenfant says the group is already looking forward to recording the follow-up to Belmundo Regal.

“We’re heading to a cottage in Louisiana to make our next record to see how our Cajun roots will influence the sound of the record. We are always writing songs and jamming as a band but will definitely be open to new ideas once we get down there.”

Article published in October 15, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript