Wavelength Festival 2016: Interview with Partner

Hailing from Sackville, New Brunswick, Partner is a band that is turning heads with their funny lyrics and catchy songs. After their acoustic set I was able to ask them about their lyrics, who they take inspiration from and making their own way with music.


Creator’s Commune: Where does the humour come from in your songs? Why do you write funny songs?

Lucy Niles (Guitar, vocals): Well, we have a very similar sense of humour. Usually when we both find something funny but also worth talking about we write a song about it.

Josée Caron (Guitar, vocals): It’s easier to write funny songs. It’s disarming; it disarms people. Through the lens of humour you can kind of let your guard down and explore themes that you couldn’t otherwise. Like weed.

CC: Or jerking off. [A subject in one of their songs, that they performed during their acoustic set to an all ages show.] Which again, parents now have to explain to their kids.

Lucy: You’re welcome.

Josée: Well, we warned them.

CC: Your songs seem very conversational, they seem like counterpoints to things in your life. Is that accurate?

Lucy: For sure.

Josée: Absolutely.

Lucy: They’re pretty much all based on real things, like friends on our street… or jerking off.

Josée: I can’t really write about it unless it’s happened to me. Or at least we haven’t reached any phase in our songwriting where we really try to inhabit someone else’s voice. So we just inhabit our own voice that just sounds like that [laughs].

CC: So who do you take inspiration from in that regard?

Josée: We’re glad you asked.

Lucy: We take inspiration from Ween, stylistically. Since they’re just all over the place.

Josée: Do you know Ween?

CC: No, actually.

Lucy: So their thing is that they don’t really operate in one genre. They just kind of go with whatever genre suits what they want to write a song about. So we try to do that. But we also take inspiration from all of the dykons [dyke icon] like Melissa Ethebridge, K.D. Lang.

CC: Did you say dykons?

Lucy: Yeah

CC: Nice.

Lucy: We try to incorporate a lot of dykonography.

CC: I really like these words.

Josée: Totally. Dykonography is important because it’s a, I would say musically you have Ween guiding us and the rest is very much about a feeling of solidarity or a kinship or just seeing the difference in how they had to do their stuff and now we can do our stuff now.

Lucy: They had to veil what they did with elaborate metaphors and we just kind of go right to the point.

Josée: Like the elaborate metaphor ‘Constant Craving,’ that K.D. Lang song. Or ‘Come to My Window.’ But, so it’s kind of like…

Lucy: It’s sort of a way of thanking them for doing all of the work so that we can just sort of talk about stuff more openly.

CC: I was curious about that, because you are very open, and when I mean very open you sing about being gay.

Lucy: Basically exclusively.

CC: I was just curious about what that exposure is like.

Josée: It’s fine. It makes me feel free.

Lucy: Yeah, for sure

Josee: And I think that’s the only reason that we can write songs in the first place is so that we can be completely open and honest. And it just kind of naturally took hold.

Lucy: And the thing is, when you listen to any song by a straight person the whole thing is about being straight, so we’re just doing the same thing, except it’s a little bit more of a novelty still. For another few years maybe.

Josée: Yeah we still have another few years until its totally normal [Laughs].

Lucy: Yeah, until the market is completely overrun. [Laughs]

CC: Do you see yourselves as pioneers then?

Lucy: I wouldn’t be quoted as saying that, but we probably do. [Both laugh]. However you want to quote that.

Josée: I do feel like we’re doing something different.

Lucy: We’ll like obviously there are a lot of people who are gay and making music and sometimes they talk about other stuff besides the fact that they’re gay. And we haven’t really gotten there yet. We’ve been friends for like eight years and every day we still talk about being gay like at least four times.

Josée: [Laughing] That’s pretty much it.

CC: I can tell because you crack each other up on stage a lot.

Lucy: And in life. We like to crack each other up. If no one else finds us funny we still think we’re pretty funny.

Josée: And you can’t really rely on the rest of the world to bring you your joy. You have to cultivate it in special places like friendships where you can be open and honest with each other.

Lucy: When we say we can’t depend on anyone else we can depend on each other. We have a song about that too.

Josée: So its just like, talking about being gay all the time and saying whatever we want, its because, if you don’t do that then what do you really have? I just can’t imagine doing it any other way and achieving any degree of like sincere artistic expression.

Lucy: Because music is like a pain in the ass ninety percent of the time and so the payoff has to be something that really makes you feel good and free. And for us being honest does that.

CC: How do you mean pain in the ass?

Lucy: We’ll, just like, especially if you live on the East coast, like driving, driving, driving, driving.

Josée: Driving.

Lucy: Mostly driving.

Josée: Lifting things, sound issues.

Lucy: Like there are lots of things that we love. Like meeting new people, playing. But everything that you have to do to play has to be worth it.

Josee: There’s work involved, is all.

CC: Everything has its struggles.

Josée: Yeah.

Lucy: So if you’re going to work hard, it should be towards something that makes you feel good. And being honest makes you feel good so we’re excited to do it.

CC: Are you excited for your electric set?

A picture from Partner's electric set. Taken by the author.

A picture from Partner’s electric set. Taken by the author.

Josée: Oh F-heck yeah.

CC: You can swear.

Lucy: Fuck yeah. Yeah, that’s more of our natural headspace. And when we have the boys with us and stuff its easier to express ourselves.

Josée: We’re a five piece. Three electric guitars.

CC: Who are you listening to right now?

Lucy: Well, we have this thing where we listen to a lot of strange novelty music that we discover, we got into this Janis Joplin impersonator recently, we got into this activist songwriter we discovered when our friend got a ride share with her. But mostly music that we discover through more unconventional channels.

Josée: What’s so special to you about that?

Lucy: I think that its kind of cool to see people that are operating outside of ‘the scene’ or like, they’re not trying to be understood as cool in a way that we would perceive as being cool. And I think its kind of more honest than a lot of stuff that’s out there maybe.

Josée: I mean, you get lots of variety, and like new and strange things when like you take like someone who doesn’t write songs for anyone else but themselves, or like does something like being a Janis Joplin impersonator and derives so much joy from it. And we like to study those sorts of expressions.

Lucy: And we’re really inspired by anybody whose expression seems very pure.

Josée: Unstifled.

Lucy: Yeah, unstifled by like trends or anything like that. Or anything at all.

CC: Like your own music.

Lucy: Yeah, exactly.

Josée: And we always listen to Ween.

CC: Thank you very much.

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  1. Pingback: Wavelength 2016 Day Two, Part One – The Creators Commune

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