If you took the impeccable harmonic blend of alt-indie group, Joseph, the simplistic bite of Simon & Garfunkel, the unabashed feminist qualities of Kacey Musgraves, and relocated that sound to Canada, you might just be listening to Birds From Paradise.
While honing their respective love for pop music in graduate school, the Quebec-based vocalists met and quickly realized that their tones fit beautifully with one another. By sheer happenstance of a group project, the trio of singer-songwriters are look forward to touring more, but will make do with the current circumstances as they release “The Ride,” off their first album.
The Birds are comprised of Lauri-Anne Francoeur (vocals, acoustic guitar), Florence Théoret (vocals, ukulele), and Olivia Sirois-Bruneau (vocals, tambourine). With the help of Daniel Lepage and Jacques Roy (engineers, mix and master) of Opus Studios and Jean-François Bernard (engineer), the U of Montreal Quebec alumnae’s album, Birds, is out now, as of May 1st.
Listening to their album front to back, I get serious Wild West vibes (specifically in their hoot-n-hollerin’ song, “Flashover”). Contrasting the raw sound here, the thrum of the acoustic guitar and steady wail of the steel guitar below the ukulele makes for a luscious soundscape. This can be heard in songs like “Wind and Dew” and “Morning Bright.” The trend here, amongst the unconventionally fun use of the crash cymbals and a surprise visit from the toy piano in their final song: heartening lyrics sung through angelic tones. BFP have vocal builds stretching to the sky, (perhaps this was part of the influence behind their name) that maintain an almost gospel quality.
We got to take a moment of Birds From Paradise’s time to hear more on the band’s inception, how Birds came to be, and much more.
So how did you three meet and form Birds From Paradise?
We met at UQÀM University where the three of us studied pop music. We had to work on a small project for one of our courses and that’s when we realized we were a great match and our voices fit really well together.
How does the songwriting process work between the three of you?
When we write together, it usually begins with an idea of a few chord changes or sometimes a melody, and then we discuss what we want to write about. We develop and share ideas and build the song based on that. We obviously have our own strengths that we put together often: Lauri-Anne is a very good songwriter, Olivia always finds beautiful melodies and images for the lyrics, and Florence is good with music and voice arrangements. Sometimes, one of us brings a song that’s already completed and then we work on it to improve what’s already written and to create harmonies.
How would you describe Montreal’s music scene?
Montreal’s music scene is a very creative one. It has a very nice solidarity vibe. There is no competition feeling, only fun and good times. There are a lot of emerging artists and that brings a lot of diversities. Musicians are very open-minded and that’s very refreshing. They’re always happy to meet new colleagues and collaborate with new people, even big artists. Everyone is ready to help or refer each other.
If I were visiting Montreal for the first time, to what music venues, clubs, and art-related establishments might you send me?
For a fun and friendly evening I would suggest the bar named l’Escalier or Casa del Popolo, there’s always fun live music from emerging artists. We also love the Lion d’or for its character and beauty.
So can you talk about your new song, “The Ride,” and the inspiration behind it?
It talks about a love that is uncertain at first because of how busy life can be, and how hard it is to sometimes make it work when two people share different realities. “The rain’s pouring on my head again and I don’t know to what end. I have always loved the sound it makes but when you’re gone it’s hard to tell”. We wanted to represent the idea that even though rain can make us feel sad or depressed, it also has the ability to be soothing and comforting. It just depends on how you see things. At the end, that song is a promise that everything is going to be ok, and that one day ‘‘We’ll sit together and remember the days’’ while watching the rain fall.
Where was it recorded and what was the production process like?
We wanted an acoustic song on our album to return to our roots. Ever since we started writing together, Florence has always played the ukulele and Lauri-Anne the acoustic guitar. On top of that, we sing in harmonies. That’s mostly how we play in concert too, so we wanted people to feel like they were watching us perform live. That’s also why we recorded it in front of our beloved ones. We had also launched a Kickstarter campaign and one of the rewards for the contributors was to listen to the entire album in Studio Opus before everyone else. That day, we had a surprise for them – they had the opportunity to be there while we recorded “The Ride”.
Is it part of an approaching EP or full-length album?
Yes, it is one of the songs off our debut album titled Birds, launching May 1st. It was in fact the last of the 10 songs to be written and recorded on the album!
The song has a very O Brother Where Art Thou feel to me, what with the almost gospel-like harmonies and stripped down acoustics. What artists or outside influences inspire your sound?
We are big fans of folk and country music. We are inspired by a lot of artists such as Kacey Musgraves, The Barr Brothers and Angus & Julia Stone. We love strong melodies and simple thoughtful lyrics. Of course we sing in harmonies so bands like The Staves and Simon & Garfunkel have a big influence on us.
Are you bothering to make tentative plans for post-pandemic life, or are you just focusing on being productive musically now?
Since we were supposed to have our album release concert May 9th, we can’t wait to share our music live in front of everyone. We will certainly organize something fun whenever we can, but for now we must wait until we know more about when we’ll be able to play at shows and festivals again. We definitely have plans for the future. For now, since we can’t meet each other in person, we’re focusing on sharing our music on the internet as much as we can.
Where do you hope to see yourselves in five years?
We’re hoping to be able to share our music all around Canada and possibly the United States. We would also like to write a second album in the next few years. Hopefully, our music will resonate with people and our lyrics and melodies will mean something to them.