Life, love, and music during a pandemic with Montreal’s Milk & Bone


image credit: Lian Benoit

Milk & Bone, the dreamy electropop duo based out of Montreal, have been making music together for eight years. They recently celebrated this milestone via the release of their third full-length album, Chrysalism. Comprised of long-time pals, Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin, (who you’d be forgiven for assuming to be sisters), Milk & Bone have not only grown-up together, and through their music, but have also grown more confident in their sound. QUIP caught up with the pair to talk about creating their latest album during the pandemic, crafting an authentic aesthetic, and what can be learned from heartbreak and healing.

Laura Eley: Your third album, Chrysalism, came out in October 2022. How was it influenced by the pandemic?

Camille Poliquin (CP): If you look at the title of the album, it’s called “Chrysalism”, and I feel it was a way of looking into this bubble of introspection that the pandemic kind of forced us to get into. I think everything got heightened emotionally; we were all forced to look within ourselves and spend more time just being in our own company. So many things in everyone’s lives got influenced by the fact that we were either separated for long periods of time or stuck together for longer periods of time; I think everyone who created something during the pandemic is going to [have] this little time capsule of how we all felt during that time. And Chrysalism is definitely that.

LE: How have things changed in the music world since the start of the pandemic?

CP: I think it’s how we connect to the audience and to each other; if you’re not a person who finds comfort on the Internet, I think that’s a hard thing to come back to. I made so many friends during the pandemic online; I’m an Internet person, so I find comfort in that, for sure, but I think [Laurence] is different… Like, the Taylor Swift and Beyonce tickets are being released today, and everyone’s super stoked to get those tickets, but for shows like us, for mid-popularity bands like us, I feel like people don’t buy tickets much in advance anymore, because who knows if you’re going to be able to make it at that time.

Our reflexes changed, too; for us, the way that we gauge if people are excited about our project has completely changed. We have to find our new little anchors to figure out how to navigate this and how to connect with people—and that’s why I think it’s so exciting that we’re going to go on tour soon. I can’t wait to be in the room with people and really assess that.

LE: It’s been eight years since the release of your first album. How have your identities changed as artists?

Laurence Lafond-Beaulne (LLB): The main thing for me would be confidence. I don’t have to prove myself as much as I used to, to others. I always want to prove myself to myself, I always want to push my limits and get outside of my comfort zone, but I think there’s this thing in me that doesn’t want to please as much as before, and that’s very freeing. There’s probably a thing of also entering my 30s and getting older, but I think experience is part of it for sure.

CP: One thing I do notice is kind of a negative thing, but it’s over-analysis. A first record, you have no idea what’s awaiting you, and you kind of treat it like an activity you do with your friend. And there’s no “I wonder what people are going to think” or “how does this compare to other work that people have known me by?”, and all that stuff. So, I think for me that’s what’s majorly changed – the way I overanalyze sometimes. That’s definitely something I want to work on getting back to – a simplicity of work. But, at the same time, I love the experience. I love that I’m conscious of all that, but I think it’s important to be able to separate the two and let go.

LE: Many tracks from Chrysalism are focused on love and relationships and heartbreak. What is one thing that heartbreak has taught you?

LLB: During the pandemic, I experienced the biggest heartbreak I have ever experienced in my life. It was probably the first big, real one that wasn’t 15-year-old me. I think what I learned is that I had all of the tools in me, even if I didn’t know it. Mostly, that I can sit with pain, I can sit with my discomfort. I have this lucky gift of being an easily happy person, and going through a period like that, a year of very big pain, was very troubling for me because I felt like didn’t have the tools to deal with it. I think, what I learned most, is that it’s OK to feel discomfort and pain and they will go away eventually. Trying to actively make them go away doesn’t work.

CP: Me, being [Laurence’s] creative partner and very long-time friend seeing her in that state, you want to tell the person, “it’s going to go away—you don’t believe me right now, but it’s going to go away”. There’s no point in telling that to someone who’s going through it because it’s just frustrating. It’s frustrating for the person to feel like, “OK, but not today”.

LLB: It’s also, like, it’s not going to be the last time in life that I’m going to feel those things… I’m glad I learned all of that, and I’m glad that now I know I can go through that. It sucked; I hope it doesn’t happen too much.

CP: I just thought of something – our first album was called, Little Mourning, maybe this album should have been called…

CP & LLB: “Big Mourning” (laughing)

LLB: One thing that a friend told me, that was probably the best advice I got, was, “you cannot take a step back while mourning. You don’t go back—you always move forward, even if it doesn’t feel that way”. When you experience deep mourning, a big period of deep sadness, you feel like you’re stuck or you’re going back or not making progress. That’s not a thing. You’re always making progress.

LE: Can you speak to the idea of self-abandonment in relationships—an experience that seems to be captured in “A Little Better Every Time”?

CP: I think… it’s us coming into our thirties, when you realize that, yeah, a relationship is so important, and to give in to the other person and to make compromises is really important, in order to have a successful relationship, but at the same time, if that means to make yourself little for the other’s person’s comfort… I feel that’s a very feminine trait to do – we’re taught to belittle ourselves for someone else’s comfort and cater to. It’s definitely something we want to stop doing… we shouldn’t change ourselves in order to be accepted by a partner.

LE: Let’s talk about your aesthetic. How do you decide what your videos will look like?

CP: For this album cycle, we really wanted to add someone to the team in terms of creative…and that was Lian Benoit; she is a Montreal creative director. It was so good to have another member of the team to bounce ideas with; I feel, you know, we’ve done two albums, there are so many things that happened, and then with the pandemic… it was really good to add a person with a vision of the band from the outside. We don’t know how, anymore, how we’re being perceived. It was so refreshing to have someone let us know, this is how I see you, this is your personality…

This album is a bit dark. One of the first images we had in mind was nature growing out of concrete. A very – it’s going to get better, but right now it’s not the best, but what’s coming is fresh and new. And that was also the genesis of the choice of colours we chose for the album. It’s dark but it’s also very green, it’s also very new. That was the spark that started the whole visual direction of the album. We also wanted to be extra. We went with the nails, and the makeup, and the hair… We’re also more comfortable with ourselves and our bodies…

LLB: I think in the past, we were trying to find this middle ground and make ourselves bland. And now we’re like, OK, this is never going to work. We’re really different, and that’s what’s great about the band. Let’s accentuate and play with that – and that’s what we did in this project. And, we feel so much better, because we feel like we’re us – one hundred percent. Extra, of course, but that’s something we wanted to do differently for sure.

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Catch Milk & Bone this March and April at select shows throughout the U.S. and Canada.

As for Canadian artists recommended by Milk & Bone? Make sure to check out: Anna Sofia, Gabrielle Shonk, Men I Trust, and Munya.

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