An Interview with Radiant Baby

What does Radiant Baby mean?

The idea of Radiant Baby is an image, an illustration from Keith Haring. It’s like a baby, with some kind of radiation around it. It’s a very silly picture, very playful; there’s something even childish about it, it’s kind of a naïve illustration. I hadn’t even started the project when deciding for the name, I was just starting. But I knew there was something very naïve and playful I wanted to express, a little bit like the very basic feelings of a child. The image of a child is a playful creature, but also a vulnerable one. I feel like there’s a mix of very basic emotions [about it]. I still feel like baby often, you know, because I just want to move around, run everywhere, have fun, and I feel like when I do music, that’s really what it is. My project is very flamboyant and all over the place too, but at the same time there’s something quite honest and vulnerable I’m trying to express. I guess the idea of the “baby” has those two sides, the vulnerability and the playfulness, whereas the “radiant” side is the more flamboyant side of the project. That’s why I picked that name, it fit with the aesthetic of the project.

What kind of music do you like to sing?

I like to do karaoke sometimes [laughs]. These days, I like singing “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order, it’s really fun to sing like, karaoke style. I sing it at home sometimes, once in a while. I guess I like singing new wave stuff, or really silly music like Britney Spears or the Spice Girls, because there’s something really playful about it. You can joke, and stuff; it’s really fun for karaoke. For my music, my reflex is often to have a new wave-y element in my vocals, but the music is more electropop and contemporary.

How do you compare being solo and being in a band?

Actually, I’m a solo artist, and some people are used to characterize music projects as bands, and some people will ask me to tell them about my band, and I have to tell them, “no, no, I’m alone!” I see myself as a lone wolf, a bit. I go to shows, I see other people on stage, and there’s two, three, five people, and there’s some sort of communal energy to the band. There’s some brother- or sisterhood atmosphere, you help each other… for me it’s a bit like being alone in my music, there’s some good sides, there’s some bad sides. Sometimes I feel alone, for sure. Sometimes, I want feedback; I ask my girlfriend for her opinion a lot, sometimes I ask other people. I feel like if I were in a band, I would get more feedback from other people. Making a lot of decisions alone can make one feel a little insecure, and I doubt myself a lot. At the same time, I’m really impatient, and I like having the autonomy of my work in my music, the way I want it, whenever I want it, too. Making music alone, I can decide on everything, and I can play whenever I want. There’s pros and cons, for sure.

What’s the difference between singing modern music, and music with an 80s sound?

I’m a bit conflicted about that. I listen to some contemporary music. I guess sometimes, what I miss is a little bit of this playfulness of the 1980s, and some in the 1990s also. There’s still some “playful” music now, but it’s just… maybe because I’m a contemporary artist, when looking for inspiration, especially the more flamboyant, silly times like the 1980s, it’s a bit of a relief; it lessens the pressure, I find. Some people take themselves very seriously, or have a very serious persona or character when making and playing music. I find that intimidating, and I try to be the opposite [in my project]. I try to be welcoming, I want the project to be warm, and inclusive. Also, the 1980s new wave vocals work out for my voice; I feel like my voice is good for my type of voice as well.

What kind of an impact has music had on your life?

I’ve been at school all the time. I’ve never taken a break; I’m doing my PhD in Psychology, this is my fifth year of doing it. Being busy is cool, and having that healthy pressure keeps me going. But there’s also many aspects to my personality, and being at school all the time just doesn’t fit with my more energetic, flamboyant side. Music really allows me to express my creative side, feel free; it’s a space where I can fully be myself. So music is really important to me, to release all that energy within me. I’ve been doing music for a little while now! I played guitar when I was a teenager, which was really important for me back then also. Music helps me keep some balance, psychologically.

Any suggestions to new musicians?

I consider myself a very new musician! I think I am anyway, so I’d love to get some suggestions [laughs], especially from more established musicians. But if I were to give suggestions to artists who are less present in the scene, or who are freshly starting… I’ve been working on Radiant Baby for a year and a half now, almost two years this summer. When I started, well, I didn’t know where to start. It felt impossible to start; when you don’t know anything, to get the leverage to actually get somewhere. I think it’s really about going to shows, meeting people, working on your music, and doing your best. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, rework it, think about what you want to do, what’s your concept, what’s the vibe you’re trying to convey, until you’re happy with it. And if you’re not happy with it, if you feel really anxious, or whatever, then just work more on it. It might take time; it might take a while before you reach the point you want to reach with your music. Sometimes I’m not happy with my music! I think it’s a really long work in progress, just one step at a time. The more people you meet, also, the easier it gets, it’s like exponential.

What are your expectations for your new EP?

I have more expectations for the tour, they’re kind of tied together. I’m going on a mini-tour soon, but I don’t think there’s gonna be that many people; I can only hope there’s going to be more people in Montreal, since I don’t have much of a following elsewhere. In the other cities I’ll be visiting, it’ll be more about having a first-time kind of experience, especially with touring, and meet new people, start exploring new cities and putting my name out there; and having fun too! As of after… I don’t know what’s going to happen. I kind of feel a small hype, right now, but I don’t wanna push it; I’m still very much a local artist, and [Radiant Baby] is an emergent project. But I hope there’s more and more happening; I’m ambitious, and I want the project to grow, and I’m already working on more songs. I’d like to release a full-length album, maybe a year after now, but I don’t know if that’s realistic. I’d like to tour Europe, and there’s something coming up for that… Nothing is set in stone, but there’s work being done. Paris, London, Berlin… We’ll see what happens! I’d also like to tour Quebec, too, and I have other shows coming up this summer. I just hope it grows more and more, and I get better and better, and I get closer and closer to what I have in mind and meet my goals for the quality of my work. I’m a perfectionist, and I want it to be good, you know? The more I work on the music, I realize the efforts really pay off. As I said, it’s a long process.

Favourite venues in Montreal?

I really like Casa [del Popolo], that’s why I did my launch there. It’s really small, and intimate, there’s a nice vibe there, and I like that. It’s easy with a bunch of people to make it feel comfortable and warm. Other venues… I like to play at Citizen Vintage, that’s my girlfriend’s boutique. They throw parties and shows there, sometimes, I’ve played there and I love it a lot. Apart from these two, I really liked the Fairmount Theatre. Big professional spaces are exciting [laughs]. Beautiful venue!

Have you considered working with other people?

I’ve considered it a bit. I’ve worked with Ohara, who’s in Nancy Pants. I don’t know if we’ll work together again, maybe! I’d be open to working with other musicians. It’s hard, though, it takes a lot of time and energy and I’d like to focus as much as possible on my project and make the best out of it, and I have a limited amount of time. It depends on the opportunities. Sometimes, I want to try out playing in a band, especially after seeing a band play and I’m like, “wow, bands are so cool!” I wish I had a band with me sometimes. Maybe someday…

Photo: Laurence Philomène.