Group Chat: Ariane Roy; A La Una & Kimmortal

Art by: Laura Stanley | Ariane Roy photo by: Kay Milz; A La Una photo by: Lorenzo Colocado; Kimmortal photo by: Iris Chia

Welcome to New Feeling’s Group Chat. In this feature, we invite a panel of writers to give their takes on two songs selected by our editorial team, with the goal of offering a variety of perspectives of each track and discovering common threads of interest, analysis, and interpretation.

In our latest edition, Kaelen Bell, Megan LaPierre, and David MacIntyre do a triple-take of Ariane Roy’s swaggering piano-driven francophone track “Apprendre encore.” Tom Beedham, Jesse Locke, and Laura Stanley stare down the court at A La Una & Kimmortal’s thunderous anthem “On My Way.”

Check out the takes below!


Kaelen Bell: “Apprendre encore” immediately opened a wormhole to ninth grade, the kind of thing that I’d replay to death on many an early morning bus ride. Whether that’s a good or bad thing—I had pretty solid taste as a tween! Being 14 kinda sucks!—is still up in the air, but what’s certain is Ariane Roy’s refreshing disregard for the ticks of today’s pop music. A bit of ’60s Yé-Yé, a bit of Brill Building bombast, and a healthy dash of winking 2010s blog pop, “Apprendre encore” would be right at home between Grizzly Bear and Purity Ring on a 2011 BIRP! playlist. It’s certainly not anything new, but when “new” can be so uninspired, it’s kinda nice to look back for a couple minutes.

Megan LaPierre: “Encore” is a fun French double-entendre: in addition to “again,” it can translate to “still,” which semi-dramatically changes the song’s titular concept. (I had a great relatable anecdote about going to the dentist and being told I’ve been brushing my teeth wrong.) But “still” makes more sense sonically, since “Apprendre encore” suspends itself in mid-air with a bubble bath of guitar fuzz. Roy’s use of the ’50s doo-wop progression and a steady piano bounce give the song a retro-tinged aesthetic familiarity, like you might be hearing it encore—perhaps it could have played after “Operator” by Shiloh on a MuchMusic VideoFlow of yesteryear.

David MacIntyre: On this tune, the so-called queen of “sad dancing” muses about recognizing her character flaws and admitting she’s a work in progress. “Apprendre encore” (French for “still learning”) is a piano-driven, fairly straightforward indie-pop tune by the Quebec City native. Its sprightly instrumentation complements her higher register, and traces of indie, pop, soul, and jazz—she counts Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday among her influences—can definitely be heard, with a sprinkling of electric guitars in between. This song is pretty standard singer-songwriter fare, but it’s nonetheless a pleasant one that deftly showcases Roy’s talents, and it’ll feel right at home for fans of other francophone artists like Ariane Moffatt, Lydia Képinski, and Hubert Lenoir.

Tom Beedham: Living in the same city as producers Romeo Candido and Lex Junior, I’ve followed their evolution since retroactively happening upon the Santa Guerrilla project they belonged to and tracing their work through DATU. Abandoning that name for its patriarchal connotations (datu means “tribal chieftain”) and starting fresh (the group’s website explains A La Una means “back at one”), it’s exciting to hear the pair return with a track that channels kulintang gongs, distorted beats, and sirens for a sound that could fill blocks in the process, but it’s guest feature Kimmortal who steals the spotlight here. Rapping from a perspective of underestimation, flows like “Imma punch up, up, up / Underrated, underdog / I’m under the radar, above / I’m up and down and all around” roll off their tongue and land like a self-actualizing verbal Konami Code, begging to be contended with and disorienting challengers in the space of one breath.

Jesse Locke: A La Una were formerly known as DATU, a group fusing traditional Filipino instrumentation with modern pop flourishes. They maintain a hint of that sound in the beat for their latest song, “On My Way,” embedding chiming kulintang percussion within thumping drums and wailing sirens. Rapper Kimmortal joins the duo on this aspirational jock jam, entering the pantheon of songs about playing basketball when you’re not very tall (slide over, Skee-Lo and Aaron Carter). They sound ready to dunk on the competition with their first burst of braggadocio: “Small package, but I’m sicker than your average / Spitting fire, I’m inspired by the alchemist.” It’s unclear if the pint-sized MC is shouting out another beatmaker or writing bars about transforming base metals, but either way the result is gold.

Laura Stanley: I first heard “On My Way” because of SHORTY, a short film made for the NBA’s 75th anniversary celebrations and whose trailer aired regularly during Toronto Raptors broadcasts. The pounding tenacity of A La Una and Kimmortal’s track is the teammate of a father-daughter story about a girl who’s driven to make her school’s basketball team (even though she’s shorter than everyone) and motivated by her father and his stories about the best short NBA players of all time. The determination of the film’s story is mirrored in that of “On My Way” which is flooded with focused confidence: “Tell my competition quiet on the set,” Kimmortal raps.  

Whereas I gave up my basketball career in grade 7 when a 5 foot me (I somehow made my school’s team!) saw the height of my competition, the track’s looped siren sound and thunderous energy feel like a sold-out Scotiabank Arena has my back and makes me regret not pushing myself to be a better player. As you persevere through whatever challenges you’re facing, throw on “On My Way” and be reminded that you’ve got this.

Bleu Kérosène – L’artifice de l’aube

Bleu Kérosène
L’artifice de l’aube
Independent
Quebec City, QC
RIYL: Patrick Watson; Daniel Bélanger; Half Moon Run

Bleu Kérosène’s origins stem from a gift pianist Jérémie Hagen-Veilleux gave to his sister, Erika Hagen-Veilleux, in the form of piano instrumentals written to support her spoken word poetry. It’s surprising then to hear how much this project has developed into a cohesive band, doing more than just acting as window-dressing for someone else’s songs or ideas.

If anything, Erika’s confidence and range give the band permission to also be as open and exploratory with their own parts which are complementary but never get lost in the mix. “Le fracas” is a bold and jaunty EP opener that feels jazzy with its choice of clean guitar, brushed snare, lively bass, and climbing woodwind parts (c/o guest Antoine Bourque). “Child,” the only song sung in English on the EP, follows, and also feels like the moment where the material really hits its stride—it’s complex but also unremittingly gorgeous. Its juxtaposition with the previous song makes the band’s sound difficult to pin down. The ensuing songs don’t make that challenge any easier as they flirt with styles across a continuum of post-rock, baroque, and jazz pop. 

While there’s nothing here as explosive as the album title, L’artifice de l’aube (the fireworks of dawn), might suggest, what Bleu Kérosène have accomplished is less about the bombast of a pyrotechnics show and more closely resembles the careful choreography of colours, shapes, and contours that are at play.

Michael Rancic

Bleu kérosène – La Chaleur

Bleu kérosène
La Chaleur
Independent
Quebec City, QC
RIYL: Patrick Watson; Alexandra Streliski

Bleu kérosène’s La Chaleur reminds me of the glowing white embers of a fire that’s almost died down. The pop and jazz-inflected grooves of the three track EP smoulder, but don’t burn brightly. On “Brise-glace” and “Ta voix de saison,” the Quebec City band create dark and moody arrangements whose volume wax and wane and feel as long as winter. Sandwiched in between is the playful track “Run Forest Run.” Here, Bleu kérosène move sprightly to explore “the space between,” and its buoyancy is the highlight of the EP. Even though La Chaleur never transforms into a cracking fire, Bleu kérosène have curated a warm selection of sounds that is pleasing nevertheless. 

Laura Stanley