Romeo & Juilet
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Romeo & Juilet

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Music

The best kept secret in music

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Sitting on the patio of Steamworks, Romeo+Juliet make their identity and musical methodology abundantly clear. Simply put, they embody the star-crossed lovers whose namesake they covet: two overly romantic, hypersexual city kids. However, through some perverse subversion, they transfer their instinctual, animalistic tendencies into sleek electronic dance music. Essentially, it’s Shakespeare in neon tights.

And really, in the era of digital music, what could be more relevant than sex, love, and a fat beat?

But for Romeo+ Juliet’s Kai Fall and Hayfa Abichahine, their natural chemistry for electronic music was not the initial avenue for musical expression for either. The Toronto-born Kai Fall cultivated his fluency as a bassist in the jazz band The Thundertones after he had moved to Montreal at the age of 16. With some producer credits on house and hip-hop tracks, Kai Fall fully nurtured his aptitude for electronic music by working with an LA production company. After further displacing himself, this time to Vancouver to work on sound post-production for TV and film, he met Hayfa at a show with her celtic folk-pop group, HayfaMakesMusic, a project that had endured 8 years, in one shape or form.

Initially, the project wasn’t intended to hold any longevity. It was merely a forum for collaboration that enabled both artists to develop ideas and channel influence that were typically unbecoming of their main endeavors. But much like their poetic counterparts, their chemistry was immediate and undeniable. Once the fragmented ideas were fleshed out into songs, the collaboration quickly blossomed into a serious musical partnership.

For Hayfa, as she explains to me between sips of beer, “in one way or another, my goal was always to make people dance” and that the aggro-electro dance music of Romeo+Juliet is “the most direct route to making people dance”. That said, Kai Fall is quick to point out that their music isn’t consciously constructed with a specific style in mind. Instead, he says, the songs are born from “what’s most fun that night”. This relaxed, freeform structuring of their sound is blatant on many of the tracks released on the group’s MySpace, but still tantalize their personal lust for pop. “Wicked Spell” for example, was birthed from an unpredictable, linear approach to writing that allowed the song to mature in unexpected directions, as the group pointed out, but still caters to fans hook-laden pop music. He also emphasizes that the team’s primary audience is itself. “We want to jam out to our own tracks”, exclaims Kai, proclaiming his role as a listener transcends his role as a producer.

The duo’s immediate influences certainly support this ideology, citing Canadian electro wizard Deadmau5, the sampling/mixing of the late J-Dilla, and the aggressively rhythmic melody and lyrical styles of M.I.A. and Santigold.

However, unlike the controversial associations attributed to artists like M.I.A., the duo is hesitant to attach any sort of political agenda to their music. In fact, the team quickly resorts back to the themes of Romeo+Juliet as primary source material, only with a slight twist. “Romeo+Juliet”, Hayfa starts, “is not just about boy meets girl…. A lot of it is girl meets girl, or girl meets people (!), or boy meets boy”. This, as Hayfa makes clear, was a conscious effort in a response to a seemingly noticeable lack of queer presence in the Vancouver music scene and that “not a whole lot of electro dance music is queer positive”. In not only acknowledging this presence, but also directly engaging with queer culture, the duo addresses truths often ignored in ‘urban music’; an inexplicable flaw, when considering how integral queer culture is to Vancouver. Naturally, these themes are merely contemporary re-envisioned and re-imagined interpretations of the ideals and concepts addressed in the classic text.

Of course, that is what this band is about: being relatable and relevant. By completely enveloping the aesthetic of urban Vancouver, Romeo+Juliet have defined their immediate goals. With a rapid mobilization of promotion through social media, they have consistently uploaded new songs on their myspace in anticipation for their upcoming debut record, of which they are eyeing a fall release paired with excessive gigging in it’s support.

Check them out on Facebook!

Words: Jamie Cessford - The ModLine


Discography

Debut Album to be released Fall 2010

Photos

Bio

Romeo & Juliet is the musical collaboration between Lebanese-Canadian folk artist Hayfa Abichahine, and Toronto Producer and musician Kai Fall. Both members have years of experience playing within their respective scenes, with Hayfa fronting the folk-pop outfit Hayfa Makes Music, and Kai Fall gigging as a jazz bassist and working with Montreal producer Jordan Peters producing for such artists as AOT and Emma Frank. Through hybridizing Hayfa’s folk/reggae tendencies with Kai’s experience in composition and sound design, Romeo & Juliet create a unique brand of lyrical, electronic dance music.

Stylistically, Romeo & Juliet directly cite Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, and M.I.A. as prominent influences; however, they also incorporate other elements into their music, like punchy 80’s bass lines, Arabic hand-drumming, and jazz as well as reggae vocal melodies, to establish a new sound that is virtually non-existent in the Vancouver independent music scene.

Through Hayfa’s narrative sensibilities and Kai Fall's compositional perfectionism, Romeo & Juliet create exciting and energetic music that chronicles the oft-overlooked tales of sexuality and romance in urban life. Watch out for live shows and their debut album Fall 2010.

En Francaise:
Romeo & Juliet, groupe d'orientation électronique, est le fruit d'une collaboration entre l'artiste folk Libano-Canadienne Hayfa Abichahine, et du producteur et musicien originaire de Toronto, Kai Fall. Ces deux musiciens ont accumulé plusieurs années d'expérience dans leurs styles respectifs, Hayfa comme "front-woman" du groupe "Hayfa Makes Music", et Kai Fall comme bassiste jazz et comme producteur de musique. En tant que producteur, Kai Fall a travaillé avec le producteur Montréalais Jordan Peters, collaborant avec des artistes comme AOT et Emma Frank. L’hybridation du folk/reggae de Hayfa et de l'expérience en composition et dans l’ingénierie de son de Kai Fall a donné naissance à l'album "Romeo & Juliet". Celui-ci est caractérisé par un genre unique de musique à la fois électro-danse et lyrique.

Le style de l'album rappelle des artistes tels que Calvin Harris, Daft Punk et M.I.A, mais incorpore aussi d’autres éléments comme le rythme punchy des années 80, les tambourins arabes, le jazz, et les mélodies reggae. Ce métissage a permi d'établir un son totalement neuf, non existant auparavant sur la scène de musique indépendante de Vancouver.

À travers la sensibilité narrative de Hayfa et le perfectionnisme du compositeur Kai Fall, la musique énergétique de "Romeo & Juliet raconte les histoires souvent négligées de romance et de sexualité dans la vie urbaine. Soyez prêts à les écouter live à divers concerts, et n'oubliez pas la sortie de leur 1er album prévue pour l'automne 2010!