Carole Facal’s atypical journey once again captivates listeners with the release of her fourth, electro pop-tinged album. It’s obvious even on the first listen: Symbolism sees Caracol elegantly and masterfully treading new artistic paths.
Working with Los Angeles producer Joey Waronker (Beck) and husband and producer Seb Ruban (ex-DJ Champion guitarist, who’s also worked with Radio Radio), singer-songwriter Carole Facal, aka Caracol, presents us with a new batch of English songs, served over a bed of synths and beats.
Five years after her latest effort, in a solo career that started in 2008, the ex-member of Dobacaracol has previously released three albums – L’arbre aux parfums, Blanc mercredi and Shiver – as well as an EP, Les yeux transparents, released earlier this year.
During that hiatus, the mother of three wrote lyrics for Valérie Carpentier and Ludovic Bourgeois, winners of the talent contest La Voix [the Québec franchise of The Voice TV singing copetition], and, more recently, for New Brunswick singer David Myles (over half of the songs on his most recent Francophone album). “That’s how I earn a living: copyrights,” he says. That’s why she set up her own publishing company, Lady, which handles all her other projects besides Caracol.
And don’t expect her to bore us to tears with any pretensions her album might contain. “Give me a pen and a piece of paper and I’ll write you a song,” she says. “My life ain’t boring, I’ve got plenty of subjects to write about. I’m constantly inspired, constantly writing,” she told us recently, in the offices of her record label, Indica.
“Song camps have set off a creative explosion in my brain.”
“Symbolism is a kind of rebellious spirit,” she says, “like when I used to snowboard (100 days a year, including several competitions), the return to a more savage birth. When I was a teen in Sherbrooke, I was into punk rock, and my favourite band was Grimskunk.” It’s no coincidence that Franz Schuller, Grimskunk’s frontman and Indica label boss, was also her manager for 13 years.
“My inspiration comes from one event to another,” says Caracol. “[That’s been the case] since 2015, when I was lucky enough to spend two weeks at the SOCAN House in Los Angeles, and to participate in the Kenekt Song Camp. I didn’t have a specific plan, I was going on intuition, and it turns out I was inspired by the symbolism of those encounters, and 75% of the album was written there. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot more co-writes, like American songwriters do. These song camps have set off a creative explosion in my brain, and helped me get out of my usual patterns.”
The most immediately striking thing about Symbolism – aside from Caracol’s unique voice – is a feeling of musical maturity. There’s a lot going on, instrumentally speaking. “I’ve re-connected with percussion and beats, more tribal, more pop, but I wasn’t sure if my audience would get it,” she says. “I had this history that I wasn’t banking on enough, and my music is a hybridization of genres, my strength is being able to gather a wide variety of things.
“Instead of being negative about the rather morose situation of the record industry, I decided to work with less, while being more creative. When I was in L.A., Waronker and I played keyboards. I’d never played keys before. I can play many instruments, but I’m not a virtuoso on any of them. Seb Ruban is the one who put in the most work on this album, and Toast Dawg put his touch on two of the songs. It definitely is a production album!”
Her productions already possessed heart and soul, but she can now boast greater depth, thanks to another SOCAN Kenekt Song Camp in Nova Scotia; performances at Canadian Music Week and South by Southwest; and a writing workshop at Gilles Vigneault’s place in St. Placide in 2017. Caracol is constantly improving her talent. “I’ve acquired a lot of precision in my writing, which is important to communicate,” she says.
“I’m a very bohemian woman, but I’m also very hard-working,” she adds. “I come from a family where everyone has a doctorate, which means I’ve spent my entire life following my instincts, and staying away from the family path.”
Symbolism will quite likely unite all of her fans, dating back to the Dobacaracol era, as well as those who are more into modern, high-tech productions.