Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Jaw-dropping Juveniles  

By Marcus Mark Ramos

Not Quite Juvenile: French band, Juvenile, may be a new kid on the block but their presence on Clarke Quay’s fountain stage certainly didn’t give them away. PHOTO CREDITS: MARCUS MARK RAMOS

Standing together in cliques, the crowd seemed like mere groups of curious onlookers before French electronic-pop band Juveniles stepped onto Clarke Quay’s fountain stage on 22 May 2014. But when the opening riff to their first song ‘Through the Night’, blared out from amplifiers, the crowd instantly eased up and swelled to an enthusiastic collective that filled Clarke Quay’s main square to the brim.

This being the first time that the unique sounding quartet had charmed Singapore with their scintillating performance, the response they received came as a pleasant surprise to them.

“This is the first time we’ve ever been here, and people actually checked out our name. Some people who came down and saw us said they knew us even before today’s show, which is amazing,” remarked Jean Sylvain Le Gouic (JP for short), the band’s lead vocalist.

Hailing from a northwest region in France named Brittany, the band is currently on its world tour. They have brought their addictive sound and catchy tracks to various places like China, Hong Kong, and of course, Music Matters Live 2014 in Singapore.

The band stood out not because it was the only band that originated from France, but because of its nostalgic synth-pop sound, which one would usually only hear in cheesy love songs from the ‘80s.

That didn’t matter, though- the French band’s sumptuous synthesizer and keyboard textures were awesome, and it definitely attracted the crowd with ease.

On the night of its performance here in Singapore, Juveniles performed infectious tunes such as Truth and Strangers, tracks which had no difficulty making everyone want to simply let loose and groove to the beat – which was exactly what the masses did.

Just watching the band from amongst the crowd, one can’t help but notice JP’s voice. A departure from the tenor-dominated vocal style of the genre, Jean’s boisterous vocals swells over the electrifying synth-driven soundscape of the band. With a distinctive baritone vocal style which was particularly soothing and bewitching as it echoed throughout the vicinity, his melancholic lyrics didn’t matter one bit. He could have strung incomprehensible sentences together and I would still be allured.

With such an interesting sound, one of the things that I wanted to find out the most was their inspiration. Just what was it that motivated them to proceed in such a bold direction? It wasn’t easy, but I managed to catch up with JP for a mini interview just before the band left the venue.

When asked about his influences, this was what he had to say, “Well, it’s funny you should ask. Just three days ago, I was with Andy Rourke, the bassist for The Smiths. I told him that he was a very big influence for me. The guys from The Smiths, they did something new back then. Morissey is clearly a big vocal influence for me.”

But of course, the biggest game changers in the indie scene during the 1980s: The Smiths. You could easily spot the similarities between JP’s singing to that of the legend that is Morissey.

When asked about his thoughts on the local music scene, JP had nothing but praises. One that stood out was how he described Singaporeans as “curious” – a trait that serves foreign bands well, when the latter is invited to perform here.

Without even two years under its belt, Juveniles has already garnered millions of YouTube views and also created a name for itself in the French music scene.

Needless to say, the band’s raw talent and passion for music will only further surpass expectations all over the world in the long run.

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