Bibi Club is a growing force amongst Quebec’s burgeoning alternative pop scene—a scene that has seen the likes of Men I Trust and TOPS achieve global acclaim.
The Montreal dream-pop duo’s debut record, Le soleil et la mer, represents the most fully realized version of their sound, widening their sonic palette from the analog synths and drum machine grooves of their 2019 self-titled EP.
“It’s not driven by performance abilities. It’s driven by instinct,” said guitarist Nicolas Basque when describing their debut album in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Labels are tough but at the same time they help you describe what you’re doing [….] I think now indie-pop is anything that’s done in an arts and crafts way musically […] I’m not uncomfortable with that.”
The band’s music cuts through the predictability that often characterizes so-called “dreamy” music. Le soleil et la mer is marked by its dynamism: Basque’s sparkly guitars playfully interact with Adèle Trottier-Rivard’s synth lines and warm, alluring vocals, underpinned by danceable drum loops. In marrying these elements, Bibi Club’s songs resist staticism, rising and falling in swells of shimmer and reverb. Fittingly, Trottier-Rivard and Basque have also been a couple for seven years, balancing their musical lives with raising their children.
Ahead of their Feb. 9 homecoming gig at Quai Des Brumes, Basque noted how the band enjoys presenting a heavier, more raucous version of their music live. On the night, they eased into proceedings with the track “Le Balcon,” featuring tranquil guitar-picking and wind chimes, before Basque fulfilled his end of the promise and slammed on his effects pedals and drum machines.
“It’s a bit like listening to the record really loud,” Basque said. “There’s a more, dare I say, punkier energy.”
Meanwhile, Trottier-Rivard stood at the helm of a Prophet 6 synth, surrounded by an array of cymbals and percussion, providing an organic touch to the group’s predominantly electronic setup. The band leaned on material from Le soleil et la mer through their set, with highlights like the unrelenting beats on “La Plage” and the layered vocals and scratchy guitars on the frenetic “Femme-Lady.” The bouncy, glitched-out “Parasite” was particularly well-received by the enthusiastic crowd, morphing from an uptempo bop into a serene half-time groove, over which Basque tastefully soloed on guitar. Ultimately, Bibi Club’s performance style communicates the sense that its members thoroughly enjoy playing as a central facet of their artistry.
“It’s never heavy in the studio when we work together,” Basque said. “We always try to find a tension between two things […] like being awake and being asleep […] we’re looking for tension but without going into a depressing, darker mode.”
Much of the band’s playful sound has also been shaped by their schedule as a family, fitting ad-hoc improvisatory home sessions around Trottier-Rivard and Basque’s children.
“A lot of the sparkle for a song comes from a guitar and vocals jam […] when the kids are in bed,” Basque said. “Then the shape and timbre of the song come to life in the studio.”
Bibi Club centres community in their musical approach. The band sees the aesthetic aspects of their album art and live performances as opportunities to collaborate with Montreal creatives. They enlisted local artist and painter Mégane Voghell to produce Le soleil et la mer’s cover art, interpolating a childhood image of Trottier-Rivard behind a drum kit into an abstract painting. Such collaborations have become symbiotic, with Voghell even contributing backing vocals on “Le Matin.”
“It brought the record further than what we had done with just the music,” Basque said. “The collective work made it cooler and added depth for me […] even when I play live now, it informs a lot of the process.”
In the future, Bibi Club plans to keep evolving their craft, and Basque is keen to explore how much minimalism they can incorporate while maintaining a rich sound. With the band returning to the studio this month, Bibi Club’s fans can look forward to hearing the fruits of this sonic experimentation shortly.