Pop artist Radiant Baby releases new album two years in the making
Montreal-based musician reflects on taking risks, relying on your friends, and the challenges of bilingual songwriting
Felix Mongeon, a Montreal-based pop artist who produces a luscious mix of synth music and 70s glam rock under the moniker of Radiant Baby, has released his new album Pantomime this past Friday Sept. 24.
Mongeon, who’s been making music as Radiant Baby since 2015, revealed this project is a culmination of two years of hard work which began as a series of demos in 2019.
“I didn't know what was going to happen back then. I was in a mindspace where it could go in any direction. I had no commitments, put no boundaries or limitations. I just want to do whatever feels right and really captures what I like,” he said.
His first album since the 2019 LP Restless, Mongeon described Pantomime as a mature artistic evolution that saw him push boundaries and strive for greater emotional vulnerability.
He explained he was able to achieve such levels of vulnerability with the help of long-time collaborators and friends like Montreal-based photographer Ariana Molly.
Molly, who conducted several photoshoots and music videos for Pantomime, said it was a friendship based on innate trust which generated this success.
"It's been a crazy four to five months of work. We started shooting videos in April and spent a lot of time together,” she said. “When you're working with the same people for that long, you're incubating ideas in a way that you can't really fake.”
For Mongeon, Molly’s work seemed like the perfect complement for the evolved atmosphere and sound found on Pantomime.
“There's much more drama and darkness now, I thought collaborating with Ariana would really be a way to make a statement about that new aspect of the project,” he said. “I think she really captures that aesthetic and the edges and the raw and punk elements to it.”
Molly agreed that their respective works meshed well together into an artistic whole.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to use my aesthetic knowledge and tailor it to Felix's vision as much as possible, and maybe he let me push outside of the box in ways he wasn't expecting,” she said.
Musician Ohara Hale leant her vocals and lyrics to two of Pantomime’s tracks: “Somber Summer” and “Smooth.” Sharing a long history of collaboration with Mongeon that dates back to 2016, she said working on this album has made her reflect on their individual artistic journeys.
“It’s wonderful watching Felix grow musically, and it’s been fun watching his confidence grow in performance too.” — Ohara Hale
“It's wonderful watching Felix grow musically, and it's been fun watching his confidence grow in performance too,” she said. “I feel a bit wiser, mature, and more confident with my voice and my feelings and style. I can hear a big difference between the songs we did now compared to the ones we did five years ago.”
One of the biggest challenges with this record for Mongeon was deciding to write lyrics in his first language of French.
“I was thinking I just want to put everything out there to get out of my comfort zone, and do something that's real and raw and vulnerable. Writing in French I knew would be something I'd be uncomfortable doing, so it made sense to do it,” he said
This vulnerability is evident on stand out tracks such as “Comique”—which blends lamenting French lyrics over production dripped in cosmic notes of melancholy.
According to Monegon, emotional vulnerability was only one hurdle among many when it came to writing in French.
“I had to force myself not to start thinking about English lyrics, if you start thinking about it you're gonna get stuck on the idea,” he added. “If I start writing a song in English it's really hard to start thinking about it in French after or you start translating it and it makes no sense. You need to start fully in one direction, and that can be hard.”
As for the more mature themes present on Pantomime, Mongeon believes they’re a result of the album’s production process coinciding with his 30th birthday in May, 2019.
“I'm in between two worlds a little bit. I'm still really excited about new intense discoveries and creations, but at the same time there's a sense of melancholy, or that everything is disappearing and ephemeral,” he said.
Mongeon likened these transitionary feelings to the creative process and making music.
“It's been two years since I started the demos, and I'm releasing it now, and that's gonna be it. I'm gonna move on to more music. The process is always restarting, and there's this sense that as soon as something is exciting, you know you're losing it.”
Fortunately, Mongeon explained that there is much to look forward to in his future as an artist. The first Radiant Baby live show in two years will be held on Oct. 7, at La Sala Rossa and feature unique lighting and stage craft coordinated in part by his partner Lara Kaluza.
Mongeon told of his excitement at being able to play alongside his backing band for this show, and emphasized the importance of playing music together after a lengthy creation process.
“You get so in your head and it's just so vulnerable, it's like you go in all the corners of your little weird mind and then after there's something kinda alienating about it,” he said. “Being able to share that just through playing songs and rehearsing them is great. You’re no longer removed from other people,” he said.