Photo by Kate Killet
Ontario-by-way-Sackville band Partner is one of the most exciting and brightest hopes for rock and roll in Canada. Early on, the self-proclaimed lesbian garage, post-classic rock band garnered attention for their pseudo-Ellen Page tribute song aptly titled "The Ellen Page." But since then they have been rightfully recognized for their electrifying songs and completely visceral live shows. "Sometimes they are pretty wild, I gotta say. When you get a crowd that's in the right mood," Josée Caron tells me over the phone. "That's what we want to give people—that healthy release of being at a show or being able to let loose. We kinda let loose so everybody else can." Her bandmate and best friend Lucy Niles on the other line echoes that sentiment, saying, "We want people to be very comfortable expressing themselves and not hurting other people or invading their space."
The duo is ramping up for the release of their debut record out later this year called In Search of Lost Time, which is a slight nod to the novelist Marcel Proust, whom they say was a highly-sensitive person like they are. Some of their material and videos to date are often comedic, something of which the band says is a conscious choice because humour thoughtfully provokes just as well as anything serious. "We take making the music really seriously but, like, it's important in order to be free enough to explore different kinds of ideas," Caron says. "Humour is really key to that it's the fundamental thing that allows yourself to challenge, challenge other people, and introduce new ideas. So taking ourselves seriously would be... counter to that." Caron and Niles' warm and personable personalities are often portrayed much bigger, like in "Hot Knives" video when the two are just sitting in a bubble bath filled tub or singing about a "Personal Weekend." But they, too, like most people of this musical generation, are completely conscious and expressive about self-care and self-focused issues that aren't at all contrived or self-absorbed. Singing about taking some time to yourself is, in essence, punk as fuck now.
With that said, their new video for the single "Comfort Zone" expresses that sentiment really well. Caron and Niles are first set up in the video in a working, almost Office Space style, with a Tim Horton's Roll Up the Rim coffee cup as the Canadian symbol for office culture. They look bored and removed from the mundane litany of their daily grind. "Comfort Zone" is a dynamic track that builds to an explosive, anthemic chorus in support of doing the things that bring you care. "I think we want to evoke those feelings of comfort for people because the world can be a scary place and scarier for more than some, of course," Caron says. "I think it's necessary just because like to evoke that feeling is something we want to give people I think and to remind them that they can, you know, take that time and make those spaces or do those things that bring them calm and peace in a pretty chaotic world."
As fun as the video is Caron and Niles are both very aware of the privileged position comfort zones can be. Below they have released a statement to Noisey about how a comfort zone can sometimes only work for a few when it should be meant for all:
"A comfort zone does not have to be a place. A comfort zone is whatever makes you feel at ease. It can be a person, an object, a sensation. No two comfort zones are the same. We recognize that we have had the privilege and good fortune to experience comfort in a way that unfortunately eludes many. We feel that everyone deserves to feel the relief, however fleeting, that is offered by a comfort zone. We recognize that most people spend the majority of their time outside their comfort zones, and with this song, we hope to express our belief that everyone deserves to feel comfortable and safe.
Whatever, wherever, whoever your comfort zone may be, it is our hope that you are able to access it as often as is necessary. Love and respect, Partner."
Watch the video below:
March 30 – Tender Trap, Brooklyn NY USA
April 01 – House of Targ, Ottawa ON (Juno Fest)
April 14 – Phog Lounge, Windsor ON
April 20 – The Casbah, Hamilton ON
April 22 – Long Boat Hall at the Great Hall, Toronto ON (CMW)
June 14 - Palais des Congrès, Montréal QC (Mondial de la bière)
June 15 – Saw Gallery, Ottawa ON (Ottawa Explosion)
Sarah MacDonald is a staff writer at Noisey Canada. Follow her on Twitter.