Music Profile | She-Devils

Even if it's with a tongue planted firmly-in-cheek, it's fitting that all of Montreal duo She-Devils' socials are branded as "@shedevilsinc". As it stands, loop-maker Kyle Jukka and vocalist Audrey Ann Boucher are delivering more to fans than just the buoyant, '60s pop-imbibed sounds of their new self-titled debut, bringing all sorts of savvy inclinations to the She-Devils empire.

For instance, the pair have self-directed video clips that mesh spherical surf rock motifs with brightly coloured, symbolic visuals referencing Japanese multi-disciplinary artist Yayoi Kusama and old Serge Gainsbourg music videos. Keeping things just as close to the chest is their online store, which hawks anything from t-shirts bearing Boucher's illustrations of a long-tongued demon to Jukka's "handmade rocka doo-doo dress". The latter-- an imperfect,  one-of-a-kind piece of cut-up couture--is currently up for $1,000, perhaps reflective of the many hours the soundscaper put into trying to make the snow leopard-print item look halfway decent on himself.

"You kept on chopping it, and cutting it," Boucher recalls with her bandmmate over a group phone call. Jukka elaborates: "It didn't quite work as a shirt, and then we realized it worked really well as a dress. It can still be a shirt, maybe on the right person, but not on me."

Fittingly enough, Jukka's mangling, repurposing and vivifying of the fabric works well as an analogue to She-Devils' sonic tapestries. When the band first formed in 2013, Jukka began building a catalogue of loops that layered rockabilly rhythms cribbed from vintage recordings  with a series of weird, warbling electronic textures.

"Samplers are just like empty vessels: you can put anything in them," he notes. "I would sample a  lot of my own noises that I would make with synths and drum machines, or random sounds. When we realized it works really well to have Audrey sing on samples with more retro-y sounding stuff--surfy stuff-- then I got really into sampling that kind of music, and fucking with it."

Once the outfit signed up with the Secretly Canadian and Arbutus imprints to deliver their debut, though, they had to scrub out the samples to avoid licensing issues. They side-stepped the problem by rebuilding their songs in the studio with their own guitar melodies, though She-Devils still holds that old school feel. "Darling," for instance, sounds something like Elvis Presley's hip-swinging "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame," if not for the substitution of the King's croon for Boucher's breathy vocals.

As a first-time frontperson, Boucher developed her approach by inspecting the ups and downs of personal relationships. "Blooming," a sea foam-soft slow dance ballad touching on young love and getting to know someone better, was actually the first track She-Devils had worked on together, but Boucher notes "it's not really based in true experience." More personal is "You Don't Know," a fiery, Sun Records-style rocker that has the singer chastising hopelessly inept partners.  She adds: "I was pissed at all the fuck boys, you know, [and] making a song about how shitty guys can be."

Things aren't all bad on She-Devils-- "The World Laughs" being a particularly positive track about how a good mood can shape your worldview--but Boucher concedes that bringing up bad times can be therapeutic. While "Make You Pay" is a knives-sharpened blues tune targeting someone who's been "running around," fixating on the cheater makes for a particularly dramatic performance.

"A song like 'Make You Pay,' for example, is always cathartic to play live because it's really heavy and theatrical," Boucher elaborates. "I think the songs that are bit more sweet are not very cathartic-- I think I want to move away from [that]."

Having come out of a business meeting with their manager before the interview, She-Devils concede that they're already plotting out their next set of songs. Whether Boucher ends up doing a total tonal makeover remains to be heard, but She-Devils Inc. is ready to cut up and re-contextualize the template for the next phase.

She-Devils kick off a North American tour supporting Beach Fossils next week. You'll find the full schedule over here.

Photo: Sarah O'Driscoll

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