by Laura Eley
Camille Poliquin and Laurence Lafond-Beaulne — the two halves of electro-pop duo Milk & Bone — are just getting started. To be fair, both Montrealers were musicians long before uniting harmonious forces; but, with the recent release of their captivating debut album, Little Mourning, they’ve been received with open arms across the digital spectrum. Their single “Pressure” recently surpassed its millionth play on SoundCloud, and beautifully stylized videos for “New York” and “Coconut Water” have been widely circulated. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check them out.
Recently in town for Canadian Music Week, we had a chance to sit down with the best friends, who – for the record – could easily pass as super kawaii sisters. Humble and down-to-earth, Camille and Laurence discussed their first album, touring, and dreams of Japan.
Laura Eley: How excited are you to be playing at CMW?
Laurence Lafond-Beaulne: It’s actually our first time playing in Toronto, so it’s a big night. And, to play for the 10th anniversary of Osheaga is very exciting.
Camille Poliquin: We’ve played in Montreal a bunch because that’s where we’re from, and we’ve been to New York a bunch, too, because we just signed on to a record label there. So, it’s really cool for us to come back and get to know elsewhere in Canada.
LE: Can you talk about being musicians in Montreal?
CP: We both studied music, so we just grew into that community of musicians, and then slowly after that we started playing with other bands. I was a back-up singer and a keyboard player, and Laurence was doing keyboards and bass and vocals for other bands as well. That community is so strong and so small and so friendly; it just made us want to be a part of it as a band ourselves.
LE: You released your debut album in April. What was that like?
LLB: It was exciting, but at the same time we’d been working on it for about a year, so it had to happen at a certain time. It was just the result of all this hard work but also a relief. Like, finally it’s out.
CP: Between the moment the album was actually done and its release, there wasn’t a lot of time. It’s always just been a huge work in progress, it’s still a work in progress. The launch of the album was the moment when people could actually hear what we’re doing, but it wasn’t like an “oh, we’re done”. It’s part of the story of the band; it’s a milestone. It’s a moment when things started to happen; we left the studio, and started presenting it to people.
LLB: It’s exciting to finally be able to present it to the people. That’s the best part.
LE: Do you have a preference between performing and the recording process?
CP: We work in steps and we really enjoy working in the studio together. Right now we enjoy perfecting our set and knowing we’re still working on it, and knowing “oh that didn’t work” or “that worked really well”. We love playing so much, it’s so simple; it’s just the two of us on stage and fun between friends in front of a lot of people. I don’t think there’s anything better than that.
LE: Is there less pressure while performing as a group versus as a solo artist?
LLB: I’ve never been a solo artist but the idea kind of freaks me out. I’m really glad I’m with Camille.
CP: I had my own solo project and I can actually see the two universes, how they work. I wouldn’t say it’s a different pressure… but I see that people perceive the projects differently, as a duo project or a solo project. If something doesn’t work quite right I can split the guilt with her. [laughs]
LLB: We’ll share the guilt.
LE: You were friends before forming Milk & Bone. How is that different than, say, a band who met on Craigslist?
CP: I think it’s a very different relationship as a band. Being friends and then starting a band together — being a team — we know each other so well. We sort of knew our song writing universes could merge and make something beautiful together.
LLB: It’s really intense to go on tour with someone.
CP: I can’t imagine going on tour with anyone else except for Laurence. I’m wondering how people who meet on Craigslist do it. I’m sure it’s better to be best friends or meet on Craigslist, but not just be [casual] friends, because when you just kind of know the person I’m guessing tensions could come in. It’s like being engaged.
LE: Has there been a moment with Milk & Bone where you’ve thought: “this is it, we’ve made it”?
CP: For us, it started before that. We started making a living out of it before starting our band, so even if our band didn’t work out, we would still be doing music which took away a lot of the pressure of “making it” as a band. We knew that if people didn’t like Milk & Bone we wouldn’t be going back to a job we didn’t like —
LLB: — Our job was playing for other artists.
CP: Yeah. So, it was like, if this works out “cool”, and if it doesn’t we’ll still be doing music together and enjoying ourselves.
LE: You have an awesome video for your song “Coconut Water”. Can you tell me about it?
LLB: We worked with a young director, he’s really young, and we liked the first he did for another artist — it’s always these weird stories. For “Coconut Water”, it’s a really happy song, summer and beach vibes, and we didn’t want to go make some video on the beach, because that’s what you feel like the track would —
CP: — We felt like with “Coconut Water” the easiest thing to do would be to get a team and go to Venice Beach on the boardwalk and have low rider bikes and lollipops, and felt like “let’s not give them what they want, let’s go elsewhere”. So, we reached out to this director, who we knew was going to have a great idea, and we worked on the concept together. He had this great idea of having half the song be [real] people and the other half being anime, and we just loved that. We’re really into Japan ourselves, so it was a great fit for us.
LE: What’s your attraction to Japan?
CP: Since I was a kid, I’ve always had this fascination with China and Japan, just wanting to go to Chinatown. I’d freak out and want all the outfits; all the Hello Kitty, all the colors. I’m not a colorful person, so I feel like that’s my colorful side that you can’t see.
LLB: Culturally it’s so different and it’s really interesting; it’s like the total opposite of the United States and how people react. I haven’t been there long enough to really “get it”.
LE: A year from now where do you hope to be?
LLB: A year? That’s very soon.
CP: That’s very soon. A year from now we’ll be stepping back into the studio.
LLB: Maybe even before.
CP: Absolutely. We’re always recording songs with friends and writing.
LLB: So, let’s say a year from now we’ll be in Japan.