It’s been just shy of three years since Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin unmistakably arrived in the Big Leagues. Their Milk & Bone duo is a bona fide success, a love-at-first-sight story between the audinece and their mysterious universe. In the wake of their debut Little Mournings album, they’re now welcoming us to Deception Bay, the place where two people meet, both wanting to get back on top, using the lessons of past mistakes to get there.
We meet with Laurence and Camille in a Montréal café, where they’re already giggling when we arrive. “We’re going into stand-up comedy,” Camille says facetiously. “We’ll be our own opening act: I’ll tell jokes and Camille will laugh,” Laurence adds.
Although such comedic leanings aren’t really part of the duo’s career plan, it’s telling of their uncanny ability to sing about sorrow with such a luminous approach. “All our lyrics are about real emotions,” says Camille. “We write them because we need to, but we’ve listened to an incredible amount of pop music in our lives, so that’s why it’s instinctively more luminous – like pop can be when we get to the arranging stage [of the process].”
You never said why you went away / We’ll meet again in Deception Bay / You promised you would be here to stay / We’ll meet again in Deception Bay
So the title track paints a picture of a place where one collects stories that didn’t have pleasant endings. It holds all the hope created when precious moments are gone. “Deception Bay is where you send everything that’s ever disappointed you,” says Camille. “It’s a shameful place, it’s hard to visit, but it’s still somewhere important, because it’s what makes you stronger afterwards – even though it’s painful.”
“That titles really worried us, even though we knew for a fact that the album had to have that title,” says Laurence. “We thought having the word ‘deception’ in your album title was like giving ammunition to critics who might not like it. Let’s hope people see the poetic side of it.”
A Time for Compromise
Teamwork requires some degree of sacrifice, and that’s true no matter what the field; but managing to create a common oeuvre from two distinct visions requires a particular approach. For Milk & Bone, there’s no need to find common ground somewhere between two poles; Camille and Laurence present themselves as complementary elements.
“I believe that the simple fact of working with someone who manages things differently than me has made me more sensitive to others,” says Laurence. “Everyone thinks everyone works the same way, that there’s only one way of doing things, before they try working as a team. Camille is very inspiring to me, and she challenges me. A large part of me always tries harder because I want her to be happy.”
As for Camille, that bond is nothing short of family. “A boyfriend, a girlfriend, best friends, these are all things that can be broken,” says Camille. “But we’re bonded by our project. It truly feels like being sisters. Even though we’ve seen each other at our worst, we know we’ll always take care of each other.” “This is not the type of relationship where you just walk away if things go south. It requires that you take care of the situation,” adds Laurence.
“We didn’t feel like setting any limits for ourselves. The only truth in creation is that we can do whatever we want.” – Camille Poliquin, Milk & Bone
Thinking About The Future
Three years ago, Milk & Bone was sketching out a project on an empty white canvas. Today, the duo has received both the critical and popular seals of approval, and the two young women have paid their dues.
“We know people are anxious to hear this new album, and that’s very motivating,” says Laurence. “If the first one hadn’t been welcomed as warmly as it was, we would’ve gone into the production of this second one with a bit of bitterness,” adds her bandmate. “People believed in us when we had yet to prove we were worth it,” says Laurence. “SOCAN gave us its Breakthrough Artist Award in 2015. They saw something in us from the start, when we were nothing more than two young women who had decided to give it a go. We never expected them to take us under their wing so much.”
Deception Bay contains songs with titles such as “BBBLUE, :’)” and “Tmrw,” which will surely irk more conservative types, and titillate fans who enjoy something unique. Milk & Bone revisit form and blow the framework to smithereens. “On the first album, we did things by the book, with a capital letter at the beginning of each word, but we don’t actually work that way, says Camille. “We didn’t feel like setting any limits for ourselves [this time]. The only truth in creation is that we can do whatever we want.”
Beyond getting rid of the framework, the duo has created its own: a unique visual identity. “All of that is calculated,” says Laurence. “We’re aware there are much higher chances people will appropriate what we do if they can wrap their head around the song’s entire cohesiveness.” “I consume as much music as I do images,” says Camille. “It’s perfectly normal to me. That’s why, even though we don’t make an official video for each song, we’ll come up with a unique visual identity for all of them, so that people can turn themselves off, and let themselves be impregnated by an image while they listen. We know our songs will end up on YouTube in that fashion. It’s important to us that everything that’s related to the consumption of our songs is unique.”
At Home Everywhere
Their electro grooves didn’t only resonate in Québec, and their sound quickly travelled abroad. Can one calculate the exportability of music? “I don’t know,” says Camille. “But I know that if you over-think it, it won’t work. To us, the only reason that it connects with people is because it reveals us. To intimately connect with someone, we need to feel it ourselves. It’s got nothing to do with singing in English or not.”
Whereas sophomore albums are often a source of performance anxiety for artists, the road was much less torturous because of their first effort’s confidence-instilling success. “We wanted to take everything we liked about the first album and take it to the next level,” says Camille. “I only felt stressed out once the album was totally finished. It instantly became imperfect, because we couldn’t work on it anymore. But I really can’t wait for people to hear it,” says Laurence.
When the’re sitting at their keyboards and console is when Camille and Laurence are in control. Aware that the “singer who only knows how to sing” cliché is still strong in the music business, they decided, once more, to go on tour as a duo. “We’re surrounded by truly respectful people in our day-to-day lives, we don’t feel that kind of pressure, but we still felt it made more sense to us to play as a duo the music we compose as a duo.”
True, highly confident partners in crime, Camille Poliquin and Laurence Lafond-Beaulne allow us to gently sway on their never disappointing bay. It’s filled with strong voices that know how to guide sorrow toward calmer waters. “We’ve truly become better musicians since the first album,” says Laurence. We’ve evolved.” “We’re solid,” says Camille, “and although I‘ve doubted my own ability to make it in this trade I’ve chosen, I’ve reached a point where I can allow myself to be whatever the fuck I am.” It needed to be said and it couldn’t be more true.