by Jenna Priestner
Winnipeg’s French Press has evolved over the last year from Chantel Emond’s solo project to a trio. The additions to the line-up have added a spark of grunge rock to her dominantly indie-pop sound, but it’s her beautifully charming voice that carries the band and tugs right on your heart strings. Emond is always sure to have you singing along to her crowd-pleasing title track “Back on the Mattress” from her 2012 release. With a new album scheduled for production in the near future, we can be assured her songs will be brought to life in a new and exciting way.
Stylus: Tell me how your most recent line-up change has affected your songwriting process and live show?
Chantel: It hasn’t really affected my songwriting because it’s still me writing the songs. The songs we play live are the same songs I played when I was solo, but they sound different now. The overall band aesthetic is more important to me at this point. It all really changed this past summer when I started jamming with Jed Desilets [drums] and it really brought my songs to life and since then, I haven’t wanted to go back to the way things were. I want to play with people because it’s really exciting to play with great musicians. It keeps me entertained. I want to feed off that energy, and ideally I want to be in awe of them.
Stylus: Where is French Press at now? New album? Any tours planned?
Chantel: French Press is doing pre-production over the next couple months for the new album called Youthful Trouble. It should be coming out in October of this year. It’s cool to keep coming up with new ideas and ways to present and showcase these songs when making demos. It can sometimes be stressful, cause you want to do the best job possible and you worry about being happy with the songs yourself. You want people to like it, but you’ll never please everyone.
I try to borrow moments that excite me in other people’s records, and try to recreate those in my own way. After all, your work is always going to be a reflection of your influences and I want people to feel the way I do when I’m losing my mind over a song. I read this quote today: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” [Goethe] I need to keep this in mind, because there will always be another show to play, and another record to make. Your success should be measured by how much you’ve grown. There will be touring, probably this summer and also in the fall. I have no idea how I’m going to buy a van, and I’m really nervous about it breaking down once I do. I could use some help in this regard.
Stylus: Will the showcase be focused on your newer three-piece project or your singer/songwriter origins?
Chantel: Our show at Big Fun will definitely be full band, with Joey Penner on bass and Jed Desilets on drums. It will be a lot of fun. The show is at The Thistle Curling Club, which sounds like a pretty sweet way to spend a Sunday afternoon, assuming you can also eat a hot dog and have a beer.
Stylus: What excites you most about participating in Big Fun Festival 2014 and why is this festival important to Winnipeg?
Chantel: It’s nice to get out and hear music, and it’s really cool that this year there is the music industry side of things with conferences going on all weekend at Manitoba Music. Honestly, I am really impressed that Stefan Braun and his team took on the crazy task of putting on a festival. They’re obviously not doing it for the money, so I really appreciate that they’re doing it for the love. If it weren’t for people like them helping to build our community, we’d be missing out on some great vibes.
Check out French Press at Big Fun, on Sunday, January 26 at the Thistle Curling Club, 280 Burnell St, along with Kip Kocay and Burning Kettles. For complete information on Big Fun, check this out.