From their leap onto the Canadian indie-rock scene a few years ago—when they compared themselves to Ellen Page—nothing about Partner’s rise to fame has been typical.
Following a short line of singles, most of Partner’s attention-grabbing activity over the past couple of years has been their extensive touring—showing off one of the most insane live shows that a small band without a production crew can muster.
Finally releasing their debut LP In Search Of Lost Time to starving fans in Sept. 2017, they have a powerhouse record behind them now.
We caught up with Josée Caron and Lucy Niles to talk about the big wait between releases, their mix of raw energy and pop, as well as their self-funded record that even raised some money for charity.
In all their time on the road, Partner had only released a few samples of their music through singles on Bandcamp and YouTube, instead of releasing an EP in the interim while they were on tour. “We didn’t want people to think ‘Okay this is what they sound like, grunge, garage on shitty recordings,'” says Caron. “We wanted to put the record out to establish what we were going for.” That said, fans catching the band on tour may have noticed tracks from their shows missing from their album, despite its epic 19-track length. “We’re going to release an EP called Healthy Release after the album’s out. We didn’t want people thinking we were punk.”
Given their long wait for a proper release, the huge track list wasn’t as much of a shock as the six skits that appeared on the record. “I love hip-hop personally, but skits are pretty classic,” said Niles. “My introduction to skits was an Aaron Carter CD. It magnifies everything by 100 so you can have 12 songs.” Caron even thinks that people who are put off by their goofing around will eventually forget they’re separate from the songs. “After you’ve listened to them five or six times, it becomes a part of the record.”
Even at 19 songs, the album’s run-time is only about 35 minutes, a testament to Partner’s “less is more” mentality. “I always push for a short song because people have short attention spans,” said Niles. “We usually have one thing to say, and it doesn’t take long to say it.”
“We usually have one thing to say, and it doesn’t take long to say it.”
Mixed in with all their raw excitement and grit, you’ll find pop throughout in spades. Part of this balance came from producer Chris Shaw, who not only produced similar sounding records by Weezer and Ween in the 90s, but a few hip-hop greats as well. “I just emailed him a review of our show saying ‘Hey look, we’re legit,'” says Caron. “We did all the mixing over email, and we could really see how his touch brought the album together.”
Once they made the record, they needed a way to get it out to their fans and fund the release. Turning to PledgeMusic, they found some pretty interesting rewards for fans who supported the record. “It was our manager’s idea, doubly for publicity,” says Caron. “We made a funny video, and we all brainstormed ideas for rewards, my dad might even buy a guitar lesson from Lucy.” Niles insists, however, that their lack of fame may have saved them from some of their crazier offers. “We actually didn’t end up having to sell too many of those weirder ideas,” said Niles. “I hope I get to give your dad a guitar lesson.”
While they were funding themselves, they also used some of the money to support the Labrador Land Protectors legal fund, to help fund the group’s legal fees while protesting development. “I am from Labrador and my friend Amy Norman (@amybeatrice) is a Land Protector,” says Niles. “LLP stood out because for the past several years they have been putting themselves on the line to advocate for the land and for their right to be heard by the government and NALCOR.”