Partner: In Their Comfort Zone
They sum it up nicely on their website:
Partner is the “mature” effort of two best friends named Josée Caron and Lucy Niles. Born of their bizarre and fortuitous friendship, Partner confidently harnesses the infinite power of rock to explore a variety of niche yet strangely universal themes. Partner is genre-defying and terrifying: part musical act, part teenage diary and 100% queer. Partner is unflinching in their exploration of intimacy, friendship, sexuality and rock n roll.
You get crisp leads, grungy chords, hooky melodies, honest stories – and more than a dash of humour.
Originally from small towns in the Maritimes, Josée (lead guitar and vocals – Summerside, PEI) and Lucy (rhythm guitar and backup vocals – Goose Bay, Labrador) met at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.
One of the first songs they wrote and performed together as Partner, “The ‘Ellen’ Page”, is a cheeky, punny (“We are on the same page, the ‘Ellen’ Page!”) celebration of the Maritime actor’s coming out as a lesbian. The exuberant music video became a viral video hit. It features footage filmed for 2007’s “The Tracey Fragments” of Page dancing frenetically, edited to appear as if she’s dancing to Partner’s song. (Page herself posted links to the video on her Twitter and Facebook pages.)
The band’s songs manage to be goofy, fun, poppy, and joyous while sneaking in acute social observations.
Another grungy rocker that reveals humanity via humour was a turning point for the band, says Josée. “When we wrote the song ‘Gross Secret’, we realized we could write about anything we wanted. Things really got going from there.”
(Gross secret? Lucy explained it to Chris DeVille at Stereogum: “Picture this: your sunglasses have fallen into a toilet full of a stranger’s pee. You have two choices; rinse them off and get on with your life or don’t. I chose the former, and that is one of my gross secrets. For us this is the song that started it all. Please enjoy it for what it is: a celebration of the grossness that unites us.”)
“We’re definitely always goofing around, but I think we got better at realizing that you could talk about serious stuff sometimes but without, like, being serious,” Lucy told DeVille.
“I knew that we could kind of get silly and say everything we wanted to say,” added Josée.
The two are partners – in the band – but “only” best friends in life. “A lot of our inspiration comes from our shared experiences,” says Josée. “Lucy and I can talk for hours, and if we do we usually stumble upon something that sounds promising. It feels good to take something familiar and place it in a new context and see what magic happens.”
And while you’ll catch them step-dancing wearing, well, their socks in the video for “Comfort Zone” – more often they’ll be strutting their Blundstones. “Blundstones are versatile, rugged, and perfect for almost any occasion, just like our music,” says Josée. “They’re so popular where we’re from that you have to be really careful when you go to a house party. Everyone’s Blundstones get cluttered around the door and you can easily leave with someone else’s. It`s common to reconvene in the morning to figure out which boots went home with who.”
Josée’s Blundstone adventure would be a trip with her girlfriend to northern Québec. “She knows 26 different kinds of plants you can eat and how to set up a tarp in five minutes. I’d bring the rest of the band along, since I know they’ve got their Blundstones, too.” (The band is Josée and Lucy, backed by bassist Kevin Brasier, guitarist Daniel Legere and drummer Brendan Allison.)
Industry music journalists have put Partner on their “ones to watch” or “on the way” lists, and the Globe and Mail has called them the “best new band in Canada”. The band hopes to stay true to its original vision while continuing to have a blast. “We wanted to make sure no one attributed our successes to anyone other than us. The music industry is pretty cis-male dominated so we wanted to avoid any confusion about who is in charge. That’s us.”
They’d offer that same advice to other artists trying to get going in music. “Trust yourself. Cultivate your inner resources, rely on yourself. Don`t let anyone tell you you have to do anything. Think things through and learn to trust your own conclusions. Your heart always knows the truth. ”