By Jared Davidson
Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Millaire, the married couple behind the Ottawa folk duo Moonfruits, recently recorded what will be their second album, a follow up to Début, which was released in 2014.
Moonfruits have a sound that is at once unique and approachable. Their melodies are drawn from folk music and wouldn’t be out of place in the backroom of a small country inn. Simple songwriting in both English and French draws the listener into the music, and by extension into the people making it. With only a guitar and two voices between them and the listener, Millaire and Milroy are more accessible, and it is their interplay that is ultimately the most interesting thing about Moonfruits. Their chemistry is what makes the music so compelling.
They were able to record their sophomore release in part thanks to a community fundraising project that collected over $5,000 towards the project. If the album is anything like their first, it will filled with intimate, beautiful harmonies and honest lyrics.
We caught up with the pair just back from recording the first tracks off the new album to find out how it’s coming together. This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Has being a married couple as well as musical group worked well for you?
Alex Millaire (AM): Yup! So far, so good! We both love performing and sharing in the administration of the band, and feel blessed that we get along well enough to do it. It is, above all, a constant work of communicating better.
Kaitlin Milroy (KM): What resonates between us, be it musical, political, emotional or otherwise, is what we hope the listener will feel.
You two just finished recording your new album. Can you give us a sense of what to expect from the sound?
AM: For this second album, we wanted to let the songs guide us in their arrangements. Some are just the two of us, others get some strings or piano, and still others have a full band behind them.
KM: It’s image-heavy, intimate, and familiar. I think the result is a sound that’s almost cinematographic.
Your music has always been intimate, especially in the way you tell stories. Will this album continue that tradition?
KM: Yes! There’s so much to tell, but we want to save some of the juiciest bits for the release. If anything, though, storytelling became a more integral part of music making for us as we wrote the album.
AM: With this record, we wanted to transport people so that they feel like they’ve had a good gab around the kitchen table by the time they get to the end of it.
What was it like to receive so much community support and funding for the recording of the album?
AM: It was both incredibly heartwarming and at times surprising. We were touched by people’s generosity—truly, we couldn’t be making the album we are without their help.
KM: What surprised us most was how often folks used the crowdfunding platform to share not only messages of encouragement, but also their experience of discovering the band, their first concert, how they came to relate to our music and what it means to them. We were blown away.
You recorded the album at La Piaule, a barn turned studio. What was that experience like and how did it inform the sound of the album?
KM: La Piaule, founded now 10 years ago by the Levac brothers of [St-Bernardin band] Pandaléon, was integral to the sound of the album. Don Charette, our producer, helped us craft and hold on to a vision for the album where the listener was invited to sit, dance, sing and hum along to the songs in the very room we performed in.
AM: La Piaule, the actual building, also features greatly in the recording. One of the most hilarious moments was lining up a bunch of cutlery and the Jamieson bottles we had finished the night before onto the wooden staircase and recording all the creaks and groans the wood made while we stomped out the back beat. •