Musically speaking, duo Alfa Rococo has constantly evolved, ever since their first steps as a band in 2004. Following a very promising debut album (Lever l’ancre, 2007) that was chock-full of high energy electro-pop ditties formatted for FM radio, David Bussières and Justine Laberge followed up with Chasser le malheur in 2010, a sophomore effort that was undoubtedly more sophisticated, but also much darker. Then, in 2014, the chic tandem dropped Nos cœurs ensemble, a much more organic-sounding album that’s informed as much by ‘80s new wave as by Passion Pit’s sunny pop, the result being a very accomplished work filled with 11 potential hits that are as engaging as they are danceable.

As far as Bussières is concerned, a great pop tune must first and foremost have a killer melodic hook, but it also requires lyrics the listener can easily remember: “Simplicity is key. It’s the same as a great guitar riff: it needs to be short and punchy, so its etched in your mind. A great pop song is the perfect balance between the music and lyrics, they must be in sync and express the same energy. Everything needs to flow and groove while remaining accessible.”

“Talking about love in a sincere way is quite a challenge.”

Songs of Love

The dark melodies and torn-apart, inward-looking lyrics of Chasser le malheur are far behind. On their new album, the Laberge/Bussières team adopted a much more positive outlook, not unlike the rainbow that follows a storm. “When you think about it, almost 98% of love songs are about breakups,” says Bussières. “We were in a very positive state of mind during the creation of this album, we wanted to express the power of love. We have been together as a couple for 15 years, and that’s what we’ve experienced. Yet talking about love in a sincere way is quite a challenge. It’s not that easy to find the right angle, the right tone, and to not sound cheesy. Looking back at this album, I think we can safely say we’ve succeeded.”

Recently married, David and Justine set out to celebrate love with Nos cœurs ensemble (literally, “our hearts together”), and understandably so. For Bussières, who sings and plays guitar, being a couple in a creative environment not only advances but greatly simplifies sharing ideas. “The more we work together, the more this is becoming one of our greatest strengths. We are each other’s first audience, Justine is my second pair of ears. Your best friend might not always tell you the truth, but when you’re a couple, it’s much easier to be truthful. We’re constantly sharing ideas and working on songs. It truly is a full-time job. I can understand that for some people, it can become alienating to work with your life partner, but not for us.”

New Beginnings

Now signed to Coyote Records, Alfa Rococo is writing a new chapter of their career, a necessary move for the artists. Says Bussières: “It was a positive move, it brought a breath of fresh air to our project. It was beneficial, and boosted our motivation immensely. We talk to people at our label very often and keep in touch with what’s happening, we have a very proactive relationship with our label. It’s also a challenge for us since we need to deliver, and that makes us want to work even harder.”

Since November 2013, the couple also runs their own home studio, an invaluable investment that facilitates their creative process. “It’s a small lab that helps us avoid making mistakes between the moment where we come up with an idea and the moment where we actually record the song,” says Bussières. “Let’s just say it saves a lot in travel time. We often have most of our ideas in the morning, so the studio is right there, a few steps away, allowing us to work anytime we feel like it. The downside is we don’t see people much when we’re in the creative process, and we even become slightly misanthropic after awhile.”

Justine gave birth to their first child in January 2015, but Alfa Rococo will already be back onstage in April. For the musicians, taking a whole year off was simply out of the question; they love being on stage too much for that. “It’s important for us to keep going, to move forward,” says Bussières. “The birth of our first child was a wonderful moment and we want to take it all in, but we need to play! Our stage show is a work-in-progress, we’re constantly improving on it. To us, playing live is like our recess after work. It’s what we love the most, and being away from the stage for too long would literally drive us mad!”

Turning the page
“I played on Dobacaracol’s 2004 album, Soley, and it was fun, but I felt I needed a project of my own, I needed something more. Next, I worked for Cirque du Soleil and thought: we’re going to go on tour, play at night and we’ll compose during the day. We started Alfa Rococo around that time and we started saving up to produce our first album. In early 2005, we went on a European tour for a year. We composed most of the first album’s songs in hotel rooms.” – David Bussières