Beau NectarMarie-Clo and éemi each have their own, separate, musical project, but when they work together, they become Beau Nectar, a bilingual electro-pop affair that tackles topics like feminist issues, or nature. Indica Records recently released their album Two Lips, a universal, accessible representation of eco-feminism.

Franco-Ontarian and Franco-Saskatchewanian, respectively, Marie-Clo and éemi met through a musical competition presented by the now defunct BRBR TV show, hosted by TFO.

“Then, the pandemic separated us and made us want to write an album as a duo,” Marie-Clo explains. “We wanted to express how passionate we feel about nature, and its fauna and flora.” Beyond their shared interests, especially in feminism, they took their quest for knowledge a step further by pursuing Gender Studies at the University of Victoria, training in herbal medicine, and recording in the woods – to tie it all together.

Each in their own province, they were able to take Beau Nectar forward as if there was no physical distance between them. “The technologies that emerged during the pandemic really helped us forget the physical distance,” says éemi. “With Zoom and Google Drive, we strive to get as many creative residencies together as possible, but everything else is do-able.” Among the songs on Two Lips, “À fleur de pot” tells the story of a houseplant that dreams of living outdoors. “I wrote that during the pandemic,” explains Marie-Clo. “We were stuck inside and we couldn’t wait to go out.”

The two partners explore the world through a shared vision: “Woman and nature under the capitalist and patriarchal umbrella,” says éemi. “We love to improvise when we get a chance to get together,” adds Marie-Clo. “We love effects pedals, we record ourselves and try all kinds of stuff. We have less and less creation time because of touring, but we tour because our project is successful, so it’s a good thing.”  éemi adds, “It’s when you’re noodling around that the best ideas come out.” There’s one recommendation to remember.

The women are free, and thrive in the role of being a bilingual musical project outside of Québec. “We want to avoid being the token artists at all costs,” says Marie-Clo. “Beau Nectar is bilingual without being Québécois, so it’s different. We represent confidence in our linguistic insecurity. We couldn’t be prouder that French is our first language, even though we’re from Canadian provinces that are largely Anglophone.”

Beau Nectar, Buds

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Beau Nectar song “Buds”

Well aware that making music in English only would afford them a much wider audience, they’ve still decided not to go that route. “We don’t need to write in English to be successful,” says éemi. “A lot of Francophiles love what we do, and that makes us very proud. We love all the possibilities French words give us.”

Music is often presented in rigid boxes, but the two singer songwriters don’t subscribe to that approach. “When we were in France, I thought they’d talk about our strange accents, but they love our melodies – and that’s what they talked about, in the end,” éemi remembers. “When we played Phoque Off [in Québec City], we expected to be the ‘from outside of Québec’ act, but everyone kept stressing how our project is important because it’s an alternative one led by two women.”

They flex their strengths even more through their rhythms, and brilliant word plays. “I’m a dancer, a choreographer, and an actress, and that profoundly influences my stage persona,” says Marie-Clo. “éemi is strong in acting, and she’s extremely talented in design, editing, and video projections onstage.”

Their voices work together like two pieces of a puzzle, so much so that they’re often asked if they’re sisters. (They’re not.) In feminine solidarity, they shatter the false assumption that talented women have to be in competition with each other. “We met in a competition and we had compatible energies,” éemi remembers. “Society encourages us to feel intimidated by each other. We realized we were both careerists, and that a joint project could take us even further.”

DawaMafia, Carlos GuerraThe album title, of their sixth LP as a duo, reflects the way brothers Zacka and Tali B see themselves. For them, Infréquentable (meaning “bad company”) is a way of accepting their past, and being at peace with what people think of them. “To this day, I see the distance between me and others. I feel it every day. It’s like I have ‘bad company’ stamped on my forehead. So I chose to accept it and to live with it,” explains Tali B, seven years younger than his brother.

This clear demarcation between DawaMafia and the rest of the world is expressed in various ways on this new album, the duo’s first since 2020. Both rappers present themselves as mistrustful characters, who aren’t afraid of anything. Their secret weapon to confront the sometimes brutal gaze of others is quite simple: loyalty. “Loyalty is the most important quality to have for a man. If someone isn’t loyal, walk away from them,” says Zacka.

“We have two or three friends in our lives, but other than that, it’s family first,” adds Tali B. “Our family is made up of five brothers and two sisters. We’re a tight-knit family. I would die for my brother, and I know he would also die for me.”

They grew up Montréal’s South Shore suburb of Brossard. Renowned for its DIX-30 district and its more affluent areas, the city is also home to a poorer social class in its various low-income housing complexes. That’s where the duo’s roots lie. “Let’s just say we weren’t born with a silver spoon in our mouths,” says Zacka ironically. “We did what we needed to, to be where we’re at today.”

Throughout their teens, Tali B, Zacka, and the rest of their siblings built a solid reputation all over town for being makers of “dawa,” slang for mayhem. “There was always at least one brother that was causing chaos somewhere,” says Zacka. “Sometimes you’d get somewhere, and people would go, ‘You stirred shit up here last month, you ain’t coming in!’ And yet you’d never set foot in there! Our evenings would often end up with a fistfight. That was our daily life.”

Music rapidly became a fortress in which to hide from the chaos. “We’ve always made music. Before we recorded, we’d all freestyle together. Rap started taking up more and more space in our lives,” says Zacka.

DawaMafia, Infrequentable

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the DawaMafia song “Infréquentable”

As time went by, Zacka and Tali B emerged as the two most assiduous of the bunch when it came to music. After developing separate projects – as a solo act for Tali and as a member of various bands, notably Bagdad Musik, for Zacka – they decided to join forces officially as DawaMafia, in the second half of the 2010s. “We figured that if we were going to waste our time in various projects, it would be better to do it together. Nothing is stronger than this blood bond,” says Tali B.

“Initially it wasn’t very serious. It became serious once we stopped investing money in the project. I can say that something switched about three years ago,” says Zacka. “Sometimes, God puts people on your path, and for us it was Rico Rich [one of the bigger players on Québec’s rap scene]. He showed us how to structure things.”

“We’re at our peak, now. Right now, Infréquentable was released about two or three weeks ago, and we already have 2 million views,” says Tali B.

Beyond the numbers, Infréquentable’s content is striking. More than ever, the two brothers are in perfect symbiosis on the mic, seamlessly relaying each other’s flows and vocals with equal dexterity. “We strive to come across as singing and rapping all at once. We really meld both. We were inspired by what’s going on in the U.S. recently with artists like NLE Choppa and A Boogie wit da Hoodie,” says Tali B. “We help each other and work as a team. We have to project a connection. We’re a duo, not a ‘featuring.’ We’re a single artist.”

The duo’s evolution can also be heard in their lyrics. The two brothers talk about their past in a perspicacious way, revealing dark episodes of their lives without becoming overly dramatic or explicit. “Aujourd’hui, j’fais de l’art à plein temps/Avant j’faisais du tort à plein de gens” [freely: “Nowadays I make art full-time / Before, I used to do a lot of people wrong”], the duo confides on “Fast,” a song very representative of the rest of the album – which, slowly, over the course of its second half, introduces the idea of change and transformation.

Would the pair admit to gradually becoming more well-behaved? “I don’t know about well-behaved, but more mature, yes,” says Tali B. “We still have a lot of wisdom to gain.”

TALK has come along way in the music industry.

He’s surpassed 90 million streams on Spotify alone, and more than 10 million views on YouTube. Reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s Adult Alternative charts. Played to more than 80,000 people, two years in a row, at the Festival d’été de Québec. Hit No. 1 on the TikTok viral chart in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, South Africa, Ireland, and the U.S (in a rare case, it was because of the videos he and his team created, not the ones made by others on the platform). Made his American television debut on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Signed a record deal with Capitol in the U.S. Received a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award. And contributed to the charity single “What I Wouldn’t Do,” to benefit Kids Help Phone’s Feel Out Loud campaign for youth mental health.

TALK, "Run Away To Mars"

Sélectionnez l’image pour faire jouer la vidéo YouTube de la chanson Run Away to Mars de TALK

The key that opened all of these doors was his song, “Run Away to Mars,” recorded with only an acoustic guitar, an electric bass, no drums, and a glorious choir in the chorus, created by overdubbing TALK’s voice many times. Like David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” the song encapsulates the loneliness of the long-distance astronaut, so far away from home, and isolated on their own.

Below, TALK (born Nick Durocher, in Ottawa) discusses how the song was created, and how it went viral, twice, on TikTok:

“It was March 2020, the pandemic had just started. I went back to my parents’ place [in Ottawa]. I had this whole ‘Armageddon, the-whole-city’s-gonna-shut-down in Toronto, so I gotta get outta here’ thing [going on]… I was watching a lot of space  movies, and just got inspired by these faraway places: where you could go, and how far away you could go. Everybody, including myself, wanted to get away from the pandemic. It just kind of clicked: ‘Hey, what if I ran away to Mars?’

“Middle of the night, I sat up. I had a guitar beside the bed the whole time I was there. I’d wait for silence, and then see if I could hear anything coming. And that melody just came. Sat up and played the whole song once, all the way through, with lyrics. I still have the original voice note for it somewhere. It was pretty much the whole song. There were a few things that changed when I edited it.

“I recorded it. Made a bunch of versions through April and May [of 2022], and ended up going back to that first version, just stripped back, with guitar and vocals. I think there’s, maybe, 10 tracks total in the mix of the song.

“Songs that are gonna be hits, whatever you call ‘hits,’ half of it’s the song, but half of it’s timing. I think it was just the right, perfect time. Everyone was feeling what I was feeling. It took more than a year to come out after I wrote it. We’d filmed the music video in November 2020, and the song came out in June 2021.

TALK, SOCAN, No. 1 Song Award, "Run Away To Mars"

Receiving a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award. Left to right: Lord Quest (SOCAN); Connor Riddell, guitarist in TALK’s band, and one of the co-writers of “Run Away to Mars”; TALK; and Racquel Villagante (SOCAN).

“[At first] I was posting videos and getting 1,000 views, maybe, and that was a win. Then a couple came out, and it was like 200,000, 300,000, and ‘Wow, we did it! We really did it, guys!’ I went and signed a record deal, and the song was still doing well. It took till the next summer [of 2022], and that’s when it really jumped again on TikTok. We played a festival [Festival d’été de Québec] for a lot of people, and made what we thought at the time was just a video [of the performance]. We’re, like, ‘We may as well use this. We should just try.’ Then the first one had a few million [views], then every video we posted after that did the same. And it got picked up internationally, and radio…

“I think good  songs just kind of happen. I think there’s elements you can control to increase the chance of having  a great song – [if you’re co-writing,] the people in the room, your relationships with them, energies that work well together. [Writing on your own,] the best way I’ve heard it explained is… it’s like tuning a radio in your head, and eventually you just hear something: ‘Oh, that’s sweet, let me figure out if that works.’”