By Keith Sharp
With all the excitement generated in the rap/hip-hop world last year by The Weekend, Justin Bieber and Drake, it’s hardly surprising that other domestic hip-hop/dance artists are eager to join in the fray. Next up are French/Arcadian artists, Radio Radio who are currently touring Ontario and Western Canada with their debut English release, `Light The Sky’.
Calling in from Ottawa where he and Gabriel (LB) Malenfant have just launched the first leg of their debut English Canada tour, Jacques Alphonse Doucet acknowledges that Radio Radio is taking a bit of a gamble in recording their first English recording but says the feeling in the band’s camp that it was time to progress outside of Quebec.
Originally from Clare, Nova Scotia, Doucet hooked up with Malenfant, from Moncton, New Brunswick and two other performers ( Timothee Valentin and Richard Bilodeau) to perform hip-hop dance music in Arcadian French which made them unique in Quebec dance circles. “We’ve always performed music that got people energized, we’ve had good success with our first four releases so we felt the time was right to expand our direction into the English market.
As a fan of dance/hip-hop growing up in Nova Scotia, Doucet says he was greatly influenced by Classified (Luke Boyd) and when he hooked up with the band’s other founding three members, Radio/Radio received a strong response to their 2007 Tele-Tele EP release. Picked up by major Montreal-based Bonsound Records, Radio Radio eventually tightened its line-up to just Doucet and Malenfont as they released their first full recording in 2008 titled Cliché Hot.
Receiving a Felix Award nomination as “Revelation Of The Year”, Radio Radio continued to expand their following in Quebec music circles being shortlisted for a Polaris Music prize for their “Belmondo Recall” record in 2010 and winning the 10th annual Independent Music Awards in the Electronic/Hip-Hop category. This was followed by their 2012 release “Havre de Grace” which claimed both ADISQ and East Coast Music Awards. Aside from playing many Quebec festivals and theatre dates, Radio Radio ventured to the SXSW Conference in Austin Texas, the CMJ Music Marathon in New York plus several festival dates in France and Belgium where they have developed a strong European base.
Describing their music as hip-hop/electro pop rather than hard core rap, Doucet agrees the overall theme of the duo’s music is party dance music but says there are deeper meanings to the lyrics if listeners want to dig a little deeper into the material.
Certainly tracks like “Tonight’s The Night” with its nod towards online dating, “Solo Dance Party”, “Then Came The Music” and “My Dance Floor” are all pretty well self-explanatory with a propelling dance beat reminiscent of early Wham or Men Without Hats and Doucet is adamant that Radio Radio’s music direction is targeted squarely at a dance audience rather than trying to provoke social commentary.
“We are aware that rap/hip-hop in the States is based around protest and social commentary and we respect that,” acknowledged Doucet. “But our direction has always been to entertain our fans and get them on the dance floor. If we are achieving this, then we are happy.”
Doucet is cognisant that releasing an English language album could alienate their French fans but feels it is a move the band has to make if they are to progress. “We have released three French albums and one EP and we have built a strong fan base, but we feel we have to push forward and expand our direction. We have found in the past that if people don’t like our music, they still like our live performance and we feel that if we take our live performance across the country, many more people will discover our music.”
Key Canadian dates for Radio Radio include The Adelaide Hall in Toronto March 10th, the Ebar in Guelph March 11th, The Calgary Palomino Club March 22nd, The Brixx in Edmonton March 23rd and the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver March 26th.
For complete details on the band and their current tour, please link to laradioradio.com