It Snowed in L.A., But Montreal’s Anemone Can Show Us the Way Out

Let's let this French-Canadian psychedelic-pop quintet show Californians what winter sunshine means. See Anemone on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Bottom of the Hill.

“I’m really lucky that no one had the name before,” says Chloé Soldevila of Montreal dreampop outfit Anemone. “I was traveling with my friend in Mexico when I was young, a long long time ago and we had this hostel and someone … was playing the song “Anemone” by The Brian Jonestown Massacre. That was the first time I ever heard ’60s revival. I was really young and I got so inspired by the genre that I was like, ‘What is this song?’ In the moment, I thought it was such a beautiful word and I felt like it resembled me and I said to myself, right then and there, that, ‘Someday I will start a project with my own music and that will be the name.’ Eight years later, I created Anemone.”

In a word of creative mis-spellings and a large back catalogue of band names, it is surprising no one of any prominence had selected it already. And although Montreal is among the continent’s snowier climes, there’s an ineffable quality of endless California summer in songs like “Daffodils” or “Memory Lane,” and the rest of the tracks on their latest album,  Beat My Distance, which came out on Feb. 15.

Maybe it’s appropriate that Los Angeles just recorded its first measurable snowfall since 1962, because by the time Anemone takes the stage at Bottom of the Hill on Wednesday, Feb. 27, for Noise Pop, we could use a little warming-up and a little more neo-psychedelic cheer, and maybe it should be these Canadians who show us how. And for the record, it’s pronounced “ah-ne-MOAN,” not “uh-NEM-uh-knee.”

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

I know you shot the video for “Endless Dive” here, but would you say that Anemone fits into the Montreal scene or do you stand out?
As much as we have this sunny, ’60s vibe, it’s not what dominates. We have influences from a lot of different places and genres, and it can be jus as much sunny as it can be dark. It has a lot of sadness. There’s no one place or one thing for one season. Without Montreal I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, because my hometown gave me the ability to play for the first time.It’s a good year.

I hope the new album [Beat My Distance] brings some sunshine to Quebec.
It’s fine because I mostly write in the winter — and I don’t think I’m the only one. I think winter in Quebec has this very introspective feeling to it, and you’re really desperate to be in the sun, basically. I write music to bring me back to that feeling in a way and it doesn’t often happen.

Is there a lineage of Quebecois psychedelic rock that’s not well known in the U.S. that you feel a part of? 
No, and I don’t really associate myself with any French-Canadian or Quebecois acts. I grew up all over the place and none of my parents are Quebecois, so I wasn’t exposed to it. All my bandmates grew up with parents that were in bands so that would be a great question for them.

Where did you grow up?
My mom is from Western Canada and my dad is from Spain, so I grew up in Quebec City, Montreal, and Spain but not with parents who were listening to Quebecois music, but who were watching movies in English. I went to school in French, but I didn’t discover rock and roll until I was 17 or 18. Well, not that old, but basically I grew up playing classical music so it was different. I listened to old English rock ‘n’ roll bands but not the Quebecois ones. I listened to “No Scrubs” by TLC and the B-52s album with “Love Shack” on it [Cosmic Thing].

For people who have never seen Anemone live, how would you describe your performance style?
It’s really fun, it’s playful, it’s engaging. I think we like to give as much as we can to create a communal experience — and there’s no show if there’s no people, so sometimes I’ll invite people to come on stage. I like to make it a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Every time we play a show it’s unique. We switch up the set lists. We do a lot of improv, like the record and live is a lot more jumpy. We have a lot of jazz at the end of the tracks and segues and stuff like that. Probably my favorite part of this whole band thing is playing shows.

Did you shoot the video for “Memory Lane” in Quebec?
Yeah. In Frelighsburg.

That’s by the border, right? Really close to Vermont? Did you build that house on stilts?
It was there! Isn’t that crazy? It’s so funny, my dad lives around there and we were just walking on the land — and then all of a sudden we just bumped into this thing. I had never seen it before, as much as I have been to his place a bunch of times, this unique hidden magical thing. I’m so glad we saw it, it was very, very spontaneous shoot.

What is the division of labor among the band. Do you do all the songwriting, or is it collaborative?
I do all the songwriting. I like to say it is my art direction but we are the painters. I write the music but we work on the sound all together cause it is a common sound. I work a lot on the arrangements on my own, too, but nothing compares to one human putting their finger on the bass.

And you shot “Daffodils” in California?
“Daffodils” was shot in the desert but not in California. I shot it in White Sands, N.M. You know that spot?

Where the space shuttle is supposed to land.
Exactly! But my dream forever has been to make a video in California, but we’ve never had the chance to be there as a band for more than 24 hours. Last June, we had this tour where we had one day off and it happened that we were going through New Mexico and my bandmate said there’s this amazing desert and I looked it up and we freaked out when we saw it. I was like, ‘I have my camera. Let’s go shoot a music video!’ We looked at the hours and it was closing at 11 a.m. because they were shooting a missile test or something, so we had to wake up at 6 a.m., totally improvising this whole thing. We drove to the White Sands and shot from seven to 10 a.m. and got kicked out cause they were going to do some missile testing. It was insane. The most beautiful experience of all of our lives. It’s so beautiful in that desert. You really feel like you’re on another planet.

I hope you get the opportunity to shoot here.
I am! I’m actually going to do one in two weeks. We’re playing in L.A. and I have time to spend.

Anemone, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m., at Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. $12-$15, tickets.

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