Do the evolution

Chic Gamine is excited to present its new beefed up, full band sound

“(It’s) a bit like a recital,” Chic Gamine co-vocalist Alexa Dirks says of playing in her hometown of Winnipeg. “It’s mostly our family and friends, so I feel like we can have fun and make mistakes in front of them.” 

One of the best parts about returning home, she says, is that it’s “small enough” to play music with familiar faces, but “big enough to discover new things.”

The “winsome, wicked and witty” (chicgamine.com) five piece won’t be settling down for too long, though. In December it’s jumping across the pond to do a handful of dates in Europe. 

“We said we were going to stay off the road for a while to write, but this opportunity came up and we had to take it,” Dirks says. 

The band isn’t a complete stranger to Europe, having visited France previously.

“For a day, which is ridiculous! You don’t go to Europe for a day,” Dirks says.

Once returning from the short tour, Dirks says Chic Gamine – which also features vocalists/instrumentalists Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne, Annick Bremault and drummer Sacha Daoud – is committed with “laser focus” to putting out a new album that properly reflects the band’s growth.

“[It will show] how we’ve evolved over the past three years,” Dirks says. “Not in a purposeful way like ‘Oh we’re so cool, we’ve evolved’, but there’s just been a natural progress to our sound as we’ve gotten to know each other.” 

The group’s most recent album, 2012’s Closer, is a re-release of previous material intended for the American market, or, as Dirks puts it, to “buy time” while the band worked on new material. The disc was pieced together with the help of legendary producer Rick Rubin’s co-horts, Andrew Scheps, Russell Elevado and Dana Nielsen (Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Alicia Keys).

Chic Gamine fans can expect the band’s modern Motown girl group flavour to be bumped up a notch on its next release. Dirks says the next album will be less folky, and with a full band. “We’ve always heard it this way in our heads.” 

Dirks reflects on the “beauty” and the “What the fuck?” of jumping in before the sound was exactly where they wanted it to be, saying she is “proud of where we came from, but excited to show people where we are going.”

The group is no doubt moving in an exciting direction, winning a Juno Award for Best Roots Album in 2009. Dirks remembers that event fondly. 

“Don’t go to an event like the Junos without a sense of humor,” she says. “We were responsible for getting ourselves to the red carpet, and all we had was our dirty band van. So there’s Shania Twain and Bryan Adams and we pop out like ‘Hey! Maybe we’re famous, maybe we’re not!’”

Joking aside, Dirks is happy with the amount of success Chic Gamine has had so far. “It sounds cheesy, but it’s really about the journey. Being able to do this and make it a career is a big accomplishment. You don’t just sit there and wait for the big thing.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 20, 2013)

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