Montreal’s Malajube is currently one of the most internationally successful francophone bands touring today. De- spite constant pressure to conform to the norms of a predominately English- speaking industry, Malajube has prov- en time and again that it can assert its dedication to the French-Canadian language and culture.
Vestiges of its far-reaching success are evident in multiple Po- laris Prize nominations over the past few years, a showcase performance at last years winter Olympics and several songs being featured in popular adver- tisements, including promotions by Rogers Wireless and Zellers.
This week, ANDY caught up with Thomas Augustin, keyboardist and occasional vocalist of Malajube, to discuss the band’s recent success. Au- gustin discussed both the band’s latest album, La Caverne, and forthcoming projects.
“Of course, being part of an event like the Olympics gives a lot of exposure. It was great. There were a lot of Quebecois bands,” said Augus- tin happily. “When we first started we were really concerned with the fact that we were selling our songs but we did it because we needed the money to tour. You can’t neglect that anymore, you have to use these opportunities.”
It was inspiring to hear Au- gustin frequently insist that each of these opportunities was undertaken with the idea reaching the fans as the prime directive. But in spite of all the group’s progress, he was quick to ad- mit that it is incredibly tough for a French-speaking band to break the English market.
“It’s hard to reach the fans. You have to tour a lot and restate your existence to the fans and the people who follow you in each city. There is openness, but we have to work hard at
it. We always do it for the fans.” He continued, “we benefit- ted from the fact that when we started there was a lot of attention on Mon- treal with bands like the Arcade Fire
and Wolf Parade.” Malajube is currently in the
process of criss-crossing North Amer- ica in support of La Caverne, released in April of this year. “We had a pretty precise goal in making the record. We wanted to make a record that was a bit happier, a bit funnier, easier to absorb,” Augustin explained. “It’s sim- pler but more efficient.”
“We are starting to see the preparation for the next album, but we’d hopefully like to release some unreleased outtakes from La Caverne by the end of the year.” Along with a release of extra material, he mentioned the possibility of another full-length al- bum in 2012.
Although Malajube plays in Quebec more than any other province, Augustin praised Canada as a whole for the consistency in audience and continual support Canadians show for the band. He commented that despite the vast tracts of land, Canadians seem welcoming and ready to party wherev- er they go.
“Wherever we tour in Can- ada, the Francophones that live there seem to always come out. They mix well with the Anglophones. There is no difference in an audience from Vancouver to one in Toronto. Obvi- ously, I see much more difference in audiences in the States, comparing Texas or Arizona to New York. It’s a totally different vibe.”