PHOTOS & INTERVIEW BY REBECCA STORM
PUBLISHED IN ISSUE 15
In the humid summer of 2014, an unexpected breath of fresh air arose on the Montreal music scene: She-Devils. Composed of Audrey Ann and Kyle Jukka, She-Devils re-interprets, and subsequently revives, seemingly forgotten or obscured retro pop sounds. The project samples, distorts, and loops, venturing down reverberating rabbits holes that lead to bizarre psychic spaces like empty gymnasiums echoing with the last licks of a ‘50s surf-rock prom band. These offshoots of the imagination are arguably what the two performers strive to evoke, as they “have no interest in exhibiting any kind of refined musicality, but rather intend on creating impressions that burrow into the heart and imagination.” Their fast growing fan base is a testament to their artistry, and suggests that the pair have an exciting and flourishing road ahead.
How did She-Devils come to be? Was making music together an ultimate goal for you or did it happen accidentally?
Kyle: It was kind of both. There were times when we really put effort into figuring out how we worked together best, but in the big ger picture we didn’t really think about it, it’s like artistic sibling-hood.
Audrey: We were always really close and making music together seemed like something to do. We tried different things, but it wasn’t work ing out. I don’t know why but we’d always keep trying until we pulled a thread and then it was super easy. Maybe we knew it was meant to happen, but we didn’t know how to do it. I guess there’s nothing else to do. I always blindly believe in things until they become real.
What sort of sounds do you feel most inspired to sample or to reinterpret into your own music?
Audrey: We have a palette of sounds and vibes that we like to work with. Sometimes if I feel like partying or if I feel mean I’ll tell Kyle: “give me some samples that are more fun, or more aggressive.” We end up collecting a bunch of things and some samples can stay in my sampler for weeks until I’m ready to write a song on them.
Kyle: It’s always changing. For the album we’re about to put out we sought after sounds that transport you into a classically fifties-y landscape, kind of like we were making an amusement park and each track is a different ride. We looked for things that had the shine and flavour of that time period, but that seemed a little bit decayed, burned around the edges, covered in dust, or loops that had a sense of mischief. There’s something about looping a beachy guitar lick that instantly gives me that feeling of fun and hilarity, the fun of being bad.
How do you feel about sampling from an ethical point of view? Do you feel it’s important to credit your sources? Do you feel free to appropriate these often obscure sources and use them to create something new?
Audrey: I think that recycling and reusing other people’s work happens all the time in every form of art. In music it’s easy to hear someone’s influences, and sometimes it’s more than just influence…I feel that if you are able to take something—like a sample from a song—and make something completely new and fresh then you’ve put your own stamp on it and the song is yours, absolutely. We’re not replicating anything, just recycling in a more direct way. There is no hypocrisy involved with our practice.
Kyle: Anyone is free to appropriate anything, it’s not the mere act of appropriation that will corrupt art, for it’s necessary in one way or another. It’s been said a million ways by so many different artists of all sorts that appropriation is basically essential because art is a conversation. What that really means to me is that art is just expressing through your own channel a love of the world, art, music, language, culture, etc… This is how art helps to improve the universe. It helps people to appreciate deeply, and spreads the love of life. We sample because we’re in love with the moods of the worlds we sample from and the whole process of transformation, the shifting of everything worthwhile into new incarnations. What pollutes art is when originality is left behind in order to be assimilated into the current, which can happen to many different degrees. Crediting can certainly be a nice way of paying respect but is not necessary in all cases. Sampling is just perhaps a more transparent manifestation of the circulatory nature of art.
I wish this music existed when I was a teenager—it’s so emotionally evocative. What music did you listen to when you were younger?
Kyle: That’s nice of you to say! I really hope that one day our universe could capture the adolescent imagination and help turn them on to the pure fun of creation.
Audrey: The first bands I was ever aware of—as a child, through my parents—were The Beatles and The Doors. Music was super important to both of my parents and they had different tastes, my mom’s tastes especially evolved with the times as I grew up—I’d hear a lot of Daft Punk, Radiohead, Bjork, Enya. As long as something is around it affects your subconscious, a part of your brain is registering everything. As a teenager I had so many phases. It’s really hard to pinpoint something that really hit me on the head because I was a heavy user of the internet as a resource to find music. When I was 14 or 15 I really got into rock n roll, rockabilly and psychobilly and from there got into proto-punk and punk rock. It’s really cool cause every time you open a door it leads you somewhere new. I feel like I’ve opened many doors, but there’s still so much to hear.
Do you ever feel like there are sounds or feelings you create that maybe you don’t want to create? How would you feel about a situation like that?
Kyle: This is something that can be tough to accept but that ultimately keeps life interesting. Music has always been open to interpretation in that way. It can feel dangerous because it’s like “what if everyone doesn’t see our music as we do.” If people see lots of different things in it, it’s actually really cool as long what we do makes a strong impression. Everything is pregnant with multiple different possible meanings.
Audrey: As I was saying previously, there’s so much music that has made its way into my brain that at some point I’m going to let things out whether you like it or not. Personally, I think it can be out of my control, what I express, and what other people hear when they listen to our music is absolutely out of our control. There are themes that we’re trying to establish and the more we release music the more it will be clear to anyone that hears it that it’s ours and that we’re doing something personal and unique while still preserving certain traditions of popular songwriting that are important to us.
Since performing for the first time in 2014, how do you feel She-Devils has progressed or evolved?
Audrey: Awareness has been gained and will continue to be gained.
Kyle: We’re more confident. I think the identity of the band is being pronounced with more precision, confidence and excitement.
Will She-Devils ever expand to include any other members or do you envision it to remain just the two of you?
Audrey: She-Devils will remain a duo until the end of time.
What’s your interpretation of the term “She-Devil?”
Audrey: She’s a teaser, a mean queen, she’s a tiger, a speed freak. She’s wild and wacky! Watch out for the She-Devil! Wink, wink.
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