Link Live Sessions
Our video team films musicians playing in various spots around the city.
About four months ago, La Vitrola:
This was one of the most fun shows I’ve been a part of. The Link hadn’t booked a session in several months, and this was the first rap session we’d ever booked, plus our first full-on concert.
The first act, Bufflo/Blais, was a collaboration between Montreal artists Devin Bates (Bufflo) and Blais, reformatting several Justin Bieber tracks into some of the most beautiful, heart-breaking avant-pianist works I’ve heard. As far as I know, this was the first and only time this collab was done live, and it was truly a sight to behold. I would encourage everyone to see both of them, solo or collaborating.
Babylon Shards, a collaboration between Montreal natives Alex Rose (A.K.A. Jei Bandit), plus Montreal producer Vxnyl and London-based producer Jack Crosby (A.K.A. Death Tarot), killed it with a half DJ/half rap set. This was one of the first times Babylon hit the stage with rehearsed material, and I can surely say that they are an act to keep an eye on, because these dudes are going places.
The Link’s first live show closed out with Montreal heroes Big Dreams, a rap group based out of the West Island and made up of some of the most prolific young artists in the city right now. Formed by West Island childhood friends, Big Dreams blend driving, visceral raps with wavy, dreamy beats reminiscent of early Drake tracks. The band is a rising star in Montreal’s rap scene, and it was an absolute pleasure to bring them to the stage for The Link.
Videos by Evgenia Choros, Elysia-Marie Campbell, Brandon Johnston & Shaun Michaud
Edit by Brandon Johnston & Shaun Michaud
Sound by Sam Jones & Evan Stepanian
Produced by Zach Goldberg
Sam and I were incredibly late.
It was almost eleven by the time we arrived at Quaaludes’ NDG jam space, located in an office suite. We walked in on four separate and very exasperated professional videographers, and one of the most excited group of young musicians in Montreal.
Part of a large Emo-revival taking hold in the DIY scene of Montreal, Quaaludes were brought together by childhood friends and Montreal natives Jon Nudell, Aaron Cohenca, and Joseph Therriault. Backed by local Emo/IDM DIY label Stack Your Roster, and friends within the scene aplenty, Quaaludes have made a name for themselves with jangly, twinkle-heavy guitar work and structures that wear influences like American Football and Lifetime on their sleeves.
It was almost midnight by the time Sam and I had hurriedly gotten all the sound equipment set up and ready. Two of the exasperated videographers had already left, in a most exasperated fashion. The remaining videographers, Sam, myself, and a still completely nonplussed band cracked a couple beers and recorded.
The following song is one of two tracks Quaaludes played for us that night, an early June date just before the band left for a three week tour of the U.S. The band is now back, fresh faced and glowing in the wake of their first tour, and the outlook is bright.
On return, Bassist Nudell brought The Link up to speed:
“Everyone’s been sensational and outgoing. I can’t thank people enough for all the help we’ve gotten in starting this band. It’s looking really good so far.”
Look out for Quaaludes playing all over Montreal regularly, and eventually on their next east coast tour.
Perfect Strangers made the walls shake at Fattal.
Their sound is a melodic fusion reminiscent of hard and psychedelic rock. It’s as if they had a cold electric stream in St-Henri, where the bandmates could draw out some fresh vintage sounds.
“You Should Have Been” is a distorted groove that ends with an overdrawn but orgasmic guitar solo à la Frusciante. The lyrics make you remember your teenage unrequited love — even if you don’t have one. They also make you pine for that favourite oldie stuck on the tip of your tongue.
The band is composed of lead singer Kalil F. Johnston, his brother Nicolas Lajeunesse on keyboards, Francis Morin on drums, Pierre-Yves Letellier on bass and newcomer Justine Girard on the guitar.
“I thought up that song because I couldn’t remember the melody to another,” says Johnston. “It’s inspired from an old classic latin song that plays in that movie Very Bad Things, remember?”
He says the words were inspired by an amalgam of different girls he met in his life. Johnston kept that song in his pocket, reworking it while studying music in college. Then one day, Austin Dalys-Fine, a blond taciturn guitarist at school, tried out his version of the tune.
“When I first heard him play the solo part, I thought ‘that’s the way I hear it in my head,’” Johnston says.
Nowadays, a petite redhead plays the bittersweet riffs.
“Justine has a jazzier sound,” says the singer. “It forces us to adjust our style a bit. It makes us grow as musicians and as a band.”
Still, Perfect Strangers miss Austin sorely.
“He went on to do his own thing and that’s fine,” says Johnston.
It was a dark, snowy day when I trudged to the cramped Plateau apartment where mysterious music man James Irwin was slated to perform. I had an appointment with death, in the form of a labyrinth-like encounter with the reality I had shirked from confronting—until now.
“Which utensil do you identify as?” I asked Irwin.
“A fork,” the stoic Irwin responded, face cracked and impassive as he reclined on the couch which had seen so many creators of ambiance before him.
The atmosphere was ripped off David Lynch’s Twin Peaks classic. Special Agent Dale Cooper had been replaced however with a couple of soft-spoken lumbersexuals sporting Go- Pros and surrounded by wallflowers bursting with sensitive virility.
The dog was half rhodesian ridgeback and half a lab. It was a very beautiful dog. Driven half mad by the solitude of part time work and his own mortality, the Irwin passively trudged through the recording studio, only to find himself trapped in the audio narrative he himself had created.
He was in a weird dream that took place in a nightclub.
Was it a lucid dream?, I asked him
“I think it’s pretty lucid,” he concluded.
– Noëlle Didierjean
Frisky Kids know what it’s like to be the nice guys who finish last, but at least they got a damn good song out of it.
Singer-guitarist Calum Dowbiggin Glew wrote the lyrics to their gritty, rollicking single, “Enchanté (Won’t You Come Around)” after losing a romantic prospect to a douche bag.
“I think it’s happened to most people. You’re gunning for some girl and this guy swoops her away and you have no idea how he did it because he seems like a total dick to you,” he said.
The chorus, “Enchanté”, is the d-bag’s last word to his conquest after a one-night stand.
Like the title of their single, the name of their band—Frisky Kids—is a little tongue-in-cheek.
“Anyone who knows us knows that we’re not frisky kids. We’re not the kind of guys that go to a party and say ‘I’m gonna get that girl’ and then get the girl. We’re more like, ‘Hi, I want to get to know you. Let’s talk every night,’” Dowbiggin Glew said.
“That’s why we’re in a band. It’s the only reason,” he joked.
From an instrumental point of view, Dowbiggin Glew describes their single as one part early Black Keys and one part funk—a mix of the James Gang with a more R&B-ish sound like Nick Waterhouse and The Heavy.
Originally from Hudson, Que., the Kids got their start rehearsing in Mr. and Mrs. Dowbiggin Glew’s basement in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. The original trio—Dowbiggin Glew on guitar, Matisse Gill on bass, and Matt Grant on drums—initially aimed for a very lo-fi, garage rock/punk sound.
Grant left the band in January to focus on other musical projects, so Frisky Kids enlisted their longtime friend Alex Paul to fill in on drums.
“Now, as we’re developing on our instruments, we’re aiming for harmony-wise music, more variety than just punk garage,” Dowbiggin Glew said.
Each song is a total collaborative effort. The song-writing is made easier by the fact that all three share a passion for rock ‘n’ roll and garage rock, from The Beatles and The Who to Mac DeMarco and Ty Segall. The ‘60s influence is obvious—on “Enchanté” and “Rooftops”, they sound like a more modern, slightly poppier version of The Sonics.
After seeing Ty Segall play in Montreal last year, they want to bring the same kind of energy they felt at his show—the head-bopping, foot-stomping, and moshing—back with their own brand of rock n’roll.
“Only a few musicians are able to bring that out,” Dowbiggin Glew said. “It’s cool to see that it’s still possible, and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Some day they hope to get the chance to fulfill their lifelong ambition: to go back in time and upstage The Beatles on their first North American tour.
Frisky Kids will play Divan Orange on April 9. Their new six-song EP, The Beach, will be out by April 10.
The location: This live session was shot at the Alpha Delta Phi Memorial Chapter, a frat house for Concordia and McGill students built in 1897 near the corner of Dr. Penfield Ave. and Stanley St.