Moss Lime are a refreshing spritz of minimalist post-punk pop. Formed by the trio of guitarist Charlotte Bonamour, bassist Hélène Barbier (both hailing from Northern France) and drummer Caitlin Pinder-Doede (hailing from Toronto), they have since shifted through several axe-handlers before settling on the notorious guitar shredder Jane L. Kasowicz.
Crisscrossing vocal harmonies, playful instrumental volleys, and snack-obsessed lyrics made the group’s debut July First EP a ray of spiky sunshine with its November release from the mighty Fixture Records. Now, Moss Lime are hard at work on an upcoming LP for Toronto’s Telephone Explosion and gearing up for a cross-country tour with stops at the Ottawa Explosion, Halifax’s OBEY Convention, and Sled Island in Calgary. All three members responded to a series of questions with the same idiosyncratic enthusiasm heard in their music.
I understand various members of the band came to Montreal from France and Toronto. What brought you there?
Caitlin: I came to Montreal to learn French.
Hélène: I’m living the American dream in French and English at the same time.
Jane: I’m part of that rare species of Montreal musicians who are actually from Montreal. I stay for the hot-dog vapeurs.
To quote your bio from the Fixture Records site: “One day they went to the swimming pool and another day they decided to play music together in a basement with a great dehumidifier.” Was there any discussion of forming a band before that fateful day?
Caitlin: Hélène and I were roommates in 2011 and had always talked about starting a band, but never really managed to get anything together. We were fairly shy. I think the same thing happened with Charlotte and Hélène when they lived together. We all really wanted to be in a band, and then one day it came together when we were using Hélène’s roommate’s instruments in her living room.
Your first EP was recorded at The Bottle Garden studio run by Peter and Caitlin from Freelove Fenner, who I know from experience as a pair of finicky analog gear-heads. How would you describe the experience of working with them?
Caitlin: It’s the greatest! Peter is so lovely and detailed in just the right amount. We are always really excited to be there and work with them.
Jane: I’ve known Peter and Caitlin for a few years now, but had never gotten to work in the studio with them so I’m very happy to finally be doing it. Best vibes and music anecdotes fer sure. And I gotta say, I feel like a lot of bands that come out of their studio have the Bottle Garden sound. I’m a huge fan.
How long did you live in Montreal before meeting the crew at The Bottle Garden, Fixture Records and The Drone Club? Do you feel like you’ve found “your people”?
Caitlin: I’ve been here about three years now, and just discovered these things like a year ago through going to shows and seeing friends’ bands. It’s definitely nice to feel like you are a part of something where people support you and you support them. We’ve gotten to meet and play with some really great people as a result of this support as well which is so fun and keeps the motivation up to keep doing new stuff!
Jane: Montreal has so many different music crews that are all incredibly supportive, and these peeps make no exception. Not only do I feel like this group of people are my fave local musicians and do cool things, but there’s this nice vibe of enjoying life and living it without letting music overthrow it even though it’s a huge part of it. I dunno, this might be the weed speaking.
There have been several different line-ups of the band in its short lifespan before settling on JLK. How has each member changed your sound and dynamic?
Caitlin: JLK! So great. It’s been a great experience to play with different people so quickly as we just started playing in our first band less than a year ago. I definitely feel like I’ve learned how to “jam” more so than before. I was always like “How do people just jam? I feel so anxious, like, is this beat good? I have no idea.” Then you learn to relax. I think there are a lot of similarities with Charlotte, Joel and Jane’s guitar playing but also a lot of differences. It’s been really interesting to see how much of an impact little guitar parts have on our songs because they are super minimal. I think we’ve definitely refined our ear for what we want in our songs. JLK is a great fit, a little more boogie in the mix. I’m really digging it, and am super excited to play all summer with her!
Hélène: We became aware of the sound we wanted when we started to compose songs without Charlotte. We first knew JLK from her other band R U REAL (hip-hop stoner) and she definitely brought what we were looking for without us asking or describing it.
There’s a bit of a food obsession in the lyrics of your first EP with songs about ice cream sandwiches and fish ‘n’ chips. Is it also safe to assume that your name is partially taken from Depanneur Lalime? What are some of your other favourite Montreal snack spots?
Caitlin: Haha! We actually had the name before the discovery of Lalime. So many connections – weiirddd! I went through a weird packaged brownies at deps in Parc X phase, a lot of samosas from deps downtown and the fruiteries in the Mile End.
Hélène: There must be something unconscious about that, though. We were going to Lalime every day when we started to jam! I like chocolate almonds and samosas from Fruiterie du Mile End, the chicken sandwich from Serrano on Saint Viateur, and the Mac ‘n’ cheese from Dinette Triple Crown.
Jane: Oh def the Parc ave fruiteries, the cheap bahn-mi places and… drum-roll… bagel St-Viateur and Fairmount, the ’uge. Goddamn, I feel like a stereotype. There are also some food-related lyrics on the upcoming album!
You’re now working on your second set of recordings for a release on Telephone Explosion. Will that be an LP or another EP? What can you tell me about the new songs you’re working on?
Caitlin: It will be an LP! I think it’s somewhat of an extension of the EP. Still pretty minimal but also more groovy. Definitely some more summer jams!
Jane: Like Caitlin says – some summer jams, but also a few darker tunes.
Your cover of “Calabria” blew my mind when it clicked in where I had first heard the song. Did the idea come from watching a Euro-pop music video show, or have you actually been to an outdoor festival like Ibiza?
Caitlin: I def used to hit the clubs to this jam!
Hélène: I would have loved to go to Ibiza Festival when I was 13!
Jane: Oh, or that weird KaZantip rave fest.
Are there any other Euro-pop songs you’d like to cover?
Hélène: I would love to do a cover of the song “Freed from Desire” by Gala, or “Eins Zwei Polizei” by Mo-Do. Those were very famous Euro-dance songs in 1997 or ’98 and would be on the radio all the time. Also, Mile Me Deaf, a very cool Austrian band, did a cover of “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base. I wish we did it before them!
What are you looking forward to seeing, doing or eating on your tour across Canada?
Caitlin: I can’t wait to drive across the country and eat trail mix and listen to audiobooks. Haven’t looked into specifically what I would want to see, do or eat. Just meet people, hear some new music, and see what happpppennnnssss 🙂
Hélène: I can’t wait to see the prairies, the mountains, the lakes, shows with bands I love, and spend hours in a car with Jane and Caitlin. I just hope we won’t eat too much Tim Hortons and McDonalds.
Jane: I’m really excited about seeing cool bands play and just chilling. I’m bringing some tennis rackets for the road, and my goal is to attend all the BBQs this year.