Finding a path through the dance music jungle has never proven so difficult. With so much on offer, standing out from the pretenders has become a supreme objective in the studio, on the stage, and everywhere in between. Fortunately for Montréal's Louis-Joseph Cliche and Maxime Bellavance, they've solved the puzzle by excelling in production, performance, and creative communication. Together, they are Beat Market—an electronic two-piece blend, disseminating a future-themed French touch-disco fusion. The duo is set to deliver their second album via local imprint Lisbon Lux Records this September.
Think Giorgio Moroder meets Keith Moon, sprinkled with the stylings of Daft Punk and Vitalic. It's a cacophony of sound, transmitted through a punk, funk, and soul-influenced live performance and it's accompanied on stage by dazzling, sequin-coated outfits straight from the mid-seventies. Beat Market are skilled instrumentalists providing an inimitable 360-degree package. The project is custom-built to quench the music lover's thirst for more in a time when button pushing is facing more scrutiny than ever.
Cliche and Bellavance met studying jazz at the University of Montréal. Their musical connection saw them first make a foray into the punk underworld though it didn't last long. "Sometimes the singer and the bassist were so late that we started jamming by ourselves," Cliche explains. "It was then we understood that together we could do something."
After initializing the project on his own, synth man Cliche was later joined formally by Bellavance on drums, providing a percussive ying to the melody-focused yang. The band's forthcoming LP Sun Machine is the first complete collaboration as a duo. The debut album, Red Magic, nominated for electronic album of the year by ADISQ in 2013, was conceived largely before the addition of Bellavance. "The album that we're going to release this September is the two of us together. Red Magic was more Louis-Jo," says Bellavance. "After that we started to compose together and mix our styles and influences."
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After previewing the release earlier this Summer, the boys have finally treated fans to the first full edition of "See What I Mean," one of the standout tracks on the LP. The stylistic combo draws from many genres, with strands of Daft Punk and Ed Banger's finest evident. They cross paths with a techno root that would enamor quirky spinners like Montréal's own Tiga and crew, while at its core it offers an unpretentious slice of vivacious dance music. Thus, it appeals across the board, building impressively on the 2014 re-release of Red Magic, a record mastered by the renowned Mike Marsh, known by many as the aid to stars like Daft Punk, Chromeo, and Röyksopp.
"It's really dancey for sure," says Cliche. "We used some analog stuff. We're real musicians too so you hear some beautiful little errors in there. We call it futuristic sci-fi disco," he adds. As for Bellavance, he's focused on remaining true to their origins. "The main concept of the band is electronic organic," he says, "the balance between the machines and the human element."
Innovating in the artistic space is paramount to the Quebec twosome. Last summer, before an Osheaga appearance, the pair debuted its very own video game to accompany a throbbing Kavinsky-esque track "Disco Rouge." The leading player scored a free pass to the festival. The video game followed an Aviator 2000 mini-movie, which is an engrossing clip reminiscent of iconic eighties classic Tron. With Sun Machine, we're promised similarly exciting treats.
The artistic element is an integral part of the Beat Market way. Their fondness for retrofuturism provides the foundation for an eye-catching live performance. "We are big fans of funk and disco from the seventies, most of the time these guys were getting on stage all dressed fucked-up you know with big pants, glitter, funky stuff," says Maxime. "At that time people were going to a show to see something special. We find that now it's just guys in a white shirt and jeans. So we decided to add a little sparkle to our shows, get freaky, and a little mysterious."
"We also do some DJ sets, but we always try to bring some equipment, synths or pads," adds Louis-Joseph. "We bring our costumes. We try to take it a level higher, more visually intense—we move."
In 2015, Beat Market made its international debut, rousing an energetic crowd with two animated shows at Liverpool's Sound City Festival. It was the first slice of "futuristic sci-fi disco" for attendees, who were won over with a vibrant performance.
"I think people are ready to see more, not just people pressing buttons. They want to feel the movement in the music, the human feel," says Maxime. "There is some minimal techno guys, for example, that are super nice and do cool things, but I think it's more organic I guess. It was really nice to see people feeling our music and they didn't know of us before."
An international agenda excites the pair, but their hometown of Montréal still has to be conquered first.
"Montréal is the biggest city in Quebec so we don't have a choice if we want to live like this," says Louis-Joseph. "Though it's a great city for artists with four million people, there are more opportunities." It's a stepping-stone to international spotlight for Beat Market and with a strong album under their wing, it seems the boys be capable of making the jump from the City of Saints. There's much of this galactic journey still to come and it resumes with the release of Sun Machine September 18, an LP you can catch live at the album launch September 29 with the Lisbon Lux crew at Newspeak.
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