Strange Froots Call For ‘the Motherland’ at the Lux Magna Festival

The Musical Trio Discuss their Journey

  • Strange Froots members Mags and Naïka raise their fists during their performance at the Lux Magna Festival. Photo Lena Seltzer

On the third night of the Lux Magna Music Festival, Strange Froots, along with Montreal talents Backxwash and The Lyonz, brought brilliance to La Vitrola’s stage.

Soon enough, like a heat wave, a frenzy of head-bobbing and body-jumping engulfed the heart of the venue. The more music poured from the sound system, the more the crowd grew energized.

As the energy grew, the Froots rose to the stage with their symphony of percussions and vocal harmony. “The Wanderer” woke the crowd with its rhythmic flow and its catchy hook, “we’re dreaming about the motherland, the motherland, the motherland,” they chanted.

With that musical surge, the group also unveiled a new single called “London Fog.” As the trio danced energetically, they exhibited their originality and sophistication as Montreal recording artists and music producers.

The three young women were brought together by No Bad Sound studio in 2014. Since their formation, they continue to captivate Montreal’s eyes and ears with their coined alternative-chill-soul music and Black Girl Magic aesthetic.

On the third night of the Lux Magna Music Festival, Strange Froots, along with Montreal talents Backxwash and The Lyonz, brought brilliance to La Vitrola’s stage. Photo Lena Seltzer


Backstage before the show, the three Froots, Naïka Champaïgne, Mags Mbow, and Sage Stewart-La Bontë, exchanged memories and laughs as they reminisced on their artistic journey; composing their first musical score, performing with Princess Nokia, travelling across the world to explore music culture in Senegal. They spoke like it all happened yesterday.

Last October, Strange Froots released three composed tracks for the original motion picture “Mahalia Melts in the Rain,” directed by Carmine Pierre-Dufour and Émilie Mannering. In the 11-minute short, a withdrawn nine year-old Black girl goes to the salon to straighten her hair for the first time.

Mbow, who considers herself the “mom” of the group, said the opportunity allowed the artists to take their music a step further than what they were used to as musicians.

“I think we were in kind of a creative rut. For a while, we didn’t have time to create something new so, I thought, ‘this was going to be great’ […] This was our first purely instrumental project.”

Within the motion picture soundtrack, the three tracks each take on a different theme, Mbow explained. “You have the Light theme, the Salon theme and the Dark theme.”

The first track, Mbow explained, “is a very minimalist thing. They had asked to do that kind of track because they were planning on playing over ballet dancers [for that scene]. So, this was me and Sage’s child on this project.”

Within the first theme of the short film, Stewart-Labontë added that, as a beatmaker, she was inspired by composers, “…like, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard and just listening to instrumentals, like, rock songs,” she said.

For the second track in the film, Champaïgne and Mbow collided their musical styles into an Afro-Caribbean inspired arrangement of instrumentals. Mbow explained that this track runs through the scene where the young girl goes to do her hair for the first time.

In this theme, Champaïgne incorporates her soul, jazz, blues and folk elements. Stewart-Labontë is more focused on alternative and alternative-pop.

For the last track, Mbow mostly worked on it. She said, “I’d taken the first draft that I made for the first song and then reversed it. Moreover, put some deep drums on it to resemble [the sound of] a heartbeat. To show the inner turmoil of the child [in the scene].” So, this track is called “Falling Inwards” and is Mahalia’s dark theme. “I’m the chill component of it. A lot of chillstep, dubstep, electro.”

Stewart-Labontë said they wanted their music to allow the viewer to pay attention to what was going on, because, “it was more important to facilitate the narrative and the carrying out of emotion that the actress was delivering.”

Last August, Strange Froots performed “Okra Confessions” and “#SayHerName Again” for the Excellence show during Fierté Montreal Pride 2018 at Parc des Faubourgs. This was the third time that they rubbed shoulders with American rapper Princess Nokia.

Mbow jumped at the subject of performing alongside the New York emo-rap artist, saying that the artist further epitomized their career.

“That’s where I felt that we weren’t ‘just kids’ anymore. We were not just kids singing in a café. We were in Club Soda opening for Princess Nokia to a sold-out crowd of young queer people of colour who’ve been looking forward to the show.”

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Afterward, the group recollected the time their music transported them across the ocean to Senegal, Africa in 2017. For one month, they made their way through the capital’s maze of Dakar and marvelled in Senegalese music and culture. On top of filming their music video for “The Wanderer,” the Froots performed at international hip-hop festival FESTA2H, the largest hip-hop festival in Senegal.

“It was a huge lineup with American artists, French artists and we were lucky enough to be able to participate,” said Mbow.

In Dakar, on the beach, they captured the music video for their infamous song, “The Wanderer.”

“The song was released in 2014. It was our first EP. That song did well, and everyone loved it even though they all get the name wrong. They think it’s called ‘The Motherland,’” Mbow explained.

Stewart-Labontë refuted, “The Motherlanders.”

“Yeah,” Mbow laughed as she recalled, “because of the [repetitive] hook, it was funny cause one of our draft band names was ‘Motherlanders.’ Because the song did so well and ended up reaching the original artist that we sampled, that’s when we got the idea to go to Senegal in the first place. […]We shot most of the video there, we shot the rest of the video here [in Montreal] last February.”

The Froots set to perform at Black QuTie Magic this Friday, to celebrate Black history month. Black Queer/Trans artists will be performing. Tickets are offered on sliding scale, between 5-15$.

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