Winnipeg and Montreal based band Chic Gamine are hitting the Fratters stage on Nov. 18th.
The acclaimed band will be featuring tunes from their latest disc, Light a Match, which was released just last month.
The project marks the group’s third CD and a follow-up to their Juno-nominated record, City City, which was released five years ago.
Chic Gamine have been on a rich creative journey since their start in 2007. Many of the original members grew up close to each other in the Winnipeg area, explains singer Alexa Dirks. Rounding out the band are drummer Sacha Daoud, bass/guitar player Benoit Morier and singers Andrina Turenne and Annick Bremault. “They were entrenched in this very close-knit community in Winnipeg for awhile,” she explains of those early days. “When that band split up, they still wanted to make music and they had by then met Sacha who had been passing through Winnipeg with a different band.”
Dirks later joined after the band approached her after hearing her perform around town as well, and Morier signed on about two years ago.
Their debut CD was released in 2008 and it wasn’t long before both fans and industry took notice – the project landed them them with a 2009 Juno for best Roots Album. Their sophomore album, City City (2010), was nominated for a 2011 Juno in the same category as well.
Then came an American re-release, Closer in 2012 and in winter 2014, the Holiday-themed EP they pushed on a six-week, cross Canada run with Stuart Maclean’s Vinyl Cafe, Christmas Vol. 1.
So it’s been a while since they’ve laid down tracks for a full length new project, but as Dirks points out, the band has been working steady with touring and other commitments. But that doesn’t mean the songwriting – or inspiration – faded even just a little bit.
That said, it’s time to celebrate another chapter with Light a Match. The tunes are indeed a pleasure to listen to, from the plucky and bold sensibilities of All Night which feature the seamlessness of the singers’ harmonies to Follow Through which again emphasizes vocal strengths of the group. Things kick into gear with the feisty title track and the charming, rhythmic and quirky Maybe I Need (Some Good Lovin’).
Where I Fall wraps things up with a nod to an attractive, ethereal, emotive and soothing feel.
Dirks said it’s a challenge – but an intriguing one – to merge the various artistic instincts of the band’s members into a relatively singular vision. To that end, the band wanted a collaborator to assist in arranging and polishing the songs.
They chose Montreal producer/engineer Sébastien Blais-Montpetit to come in, pushing performances up a notch.
“He just has the right personality and the right vision for this project,” said Dirks.
”We are opinionated people, so we didn’t want a producer to come in and take over and guide the project. We already knew what we wanted, but when you are so close to the project it’s sometimes hard to be objective. And we wanted that objective ear to tell us, ‘Hey, maybe you could edit this or add that’, and bring things that we never would have really thought of on our own.
“We also wanted someone who was going to walk alongside and not take over the project. So he was perfect – he’s so amazing to work with and to hang out with. He’s not a micro-manager; he’s really creative. He was so into our vision but was also into experimenting with new sounds and other things he thought of, too.”
For Dirks, being part of such a groundbreaking group has been an amazing experience from the get-go.
“We’re a collective – that’s just the way that we work,” she explained. “And we’ve been together for nine years so we’ve had a lot of practice in understanding each other and the democratic process that we work under,” she said. “We all have our opinions, but it takes compromise and sometimes a small amount of sacrifice – but that’s what being in a band is all about.”