Chances is composed of Geneviève Toupin (Willows), Chloé Lacasse (winner of the 2011 Francouvertes) and Vincent Carré (Antoine Gratton, Alex Nevsky, Mountain Daisies, Monsieur Mono). Two singer/keyboardists and a drummer. Revealed to the public thanks to Lacasse’s album Lunes, their adventure took a new direction when they became a bona fide trio where everyone has fun, explores, operates on instinct, and creates new worlds of music.
“The future is in mixing cultures,” says Manitoba-born Toupin from Baie-Comeau, where Chances is opening for Alex Nevsky on the last three dates of his tour. “Singing in Ojibway [on the song ‘Shine’] – an Algonquian language I’m far from speaking fluently, even though I’m Métis – is part of my genealogy. There’s a very strong native presence where I come from. In Winnipeg, there are even reserves within the city. Those are my roots.”
A thirst for culture, a desire to move forward. Over its 10 songs, Traveler offers music with a powerful glow, and a sound that’s almost addictive. It’s like a breath of fresh, cathartic air, with well-arranged vocal harmonies over layers of keyboards.
“Chloé and I took Indian singing classes [Carnatic singing], and that inspired us a lot,” says Toupin. Lacasse herself adds, “We realized that our voices blended incredibly well. It’s liberating. Singing alongside multiple voices is truly one of life’s greatest joys. But we needed Vincent’s beats to guide us. The core of our music is rhythms and vocal harmonies. We wanted to create something very modern, à la Milk & Bone, but with something else that’s bigger than us.”
Lacasse explains the scope of the sacrifice. “Working on the demos in the studio took a lot from me, sometimes you can spend hours just tweaking a sound,” she says. “Producing the album took twelve months, creating one song at a time. We even talked about the project for quite a while before we even started writing. For a couple of months, our hours were rich in ideas and exchanges.
“Composing as a trio came more naturally than I expected. It took longer than usual, but it’s music that needs to be arranged in the studio, so that we can determine what we’ll do with it on stage later.”
Traveler is filled with very evocative lyrics. “We want our music to empower people, despite the political climate in the United States,” says Toupin. “It made us angry. We live in a world of image, appearance, popularity.”
The scenic layout of Chances’ live show is efficient. The keyboards are on both sides of the stage, while drummer Carré sits in the middle. “There’s no one in front of me, says Carré, who played on Chloé Lacasse’s first records. “My drum sits where a singer would normally be. I’m super-expressive when I play, and the audience loves it. I make faces and don’t even realize it… And one thing I’ve learned with Chances is to lower the volume of my instrument. Yesterday, we played a 900-capacity venue in Baie-Comeau [with Nevsky], but tomorrow, we might play in Trois-Pistoles, in a café with 30 seats, so we need to adapt.
“Yes, there’s electro [in our music] and we’re here to have fun. I made beats with various kinds of software, and that gave the tone to our exploration. It’s another playground. The girls wanted it to sound different. I come from a family of women, equal rights is super-important for us, and I’m comfortable in the world of women. We’re completely captivated by this project, and we’re living it to the fullest.”
Playing M2 at MTelus on June 30 and July 1
as part of the 2018 Montreal International Jazz Festival