Watch new Milk & Bone Video for “Nevermore”

Milk & Bone Open Up About the Transition from Solo to Duo Songwriting and Touring

Simon and Garfunkel, Fripp and Eno, Sonny and Cher, The Black Keys, to name a few, are some of the great duos in music. It would seem that when you find your other half, musically speaking, you hold on tight. And that’s what Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin of Canadian band Milk and Bone have done. They have found each other, found what works for their music and will keep working it, as with their newly released sophomore album Deception Bay. We spoke with Lafond-Beaulne about the band’s journey, the new LP and the duo’s creative process.

Can you tell me the origin story of Milk and Bone: how you two found each other and the collaborative process from when you first started to where you are now with the creation of your new album?

Camille and I met when we were both studying music, we weren’t in the same class because she was a year older than me in school, but after we finished our studies we both started playing with a local band and started touring a little bit with those bands and we happened to be playing together in the same band for a little while. So, we got to know each other very well, personally and also musically because we were playing together every night.

And we felt like we’d really like to think together and that’s when we tried to write together and that went well, and we had a pretty good response right away. So, we decided to just keep going in that direction. We released our first EP, and then we toured with that for three years and then we started working on our second album.

Had you done any songwriting as a solo artist, or did you discover songwriting together?

I’ve actually been writing alone for quite a little while…so that’s why when we just got together and started writing together, we both had some songs that we had already written that we got into the project. From there we just started writing songs together.

Photo by Jerry LePigeon

Can you talk a little bit more about that, what the songwriting process is for you, by yourself and then how you had to adapt to write with another musician?

Well, what usually happens is that, you know, we both record little ideas of songs in our phone and in our notes, and we know that we’re going to have a session together at some point where we can bring all of that up and see if any of that just speaks to the other. And when that does happen, then we work on those songs together.

So, for us a song always starts with an idea from one of us. You know, sometimes it’s going to be just a title or maybe it’s going to be a verse or it’s going to be half of a song and we just need some help to finish it. When we bring it to the other, it’s always a matter of seeing if we can bring it further, if we can finish it together, if we want to add a bridge or something. So, it’s always nice, you know, it’s very different, the solo writing and the dual writing because you always have someone there who can bring you further in your writing and who has a different point of view, obviously. So, it’s a very, very different process.

Do you ever butt heads about some of the decision-making?

Not really, because we’ve known each other for five years now. So, I think that if we do, if we don’t agree on a certain thing, I think it’s because we don’t want to agree. I think we got good at compromise because we’ve been doing this for a little while now. So, we never argue over ideas or anything. I think sometimes it’s just a matter of seeing it from a different point of view.

You worked with long-time producer Gabriel Gagnon, and then for this new album, included Howie Beck along with numerous other collaborators. What was that process like, of bringing in new folks and how did you decide who was a good fit with what you are aiming for in this new album?

You know, when we did the first album we wanted…we just worked with a friend of ours because they were our friends in the first place. We were really happy with the results so when it came time to do the second album, for us it was just to get to work with the same team again. But what we wanted to do was to bring more people you know, to… to keep the same creative brain in the middle, which is like the three of us, but then to bring in other collaborators in order bounce some ideas a little bit more with…get different point of views. If we can bring our ideas further, if we can bring up other colors into our music. Howie Beck did all the mixing for all the songs, so that was really fun to have him on this project.

How do you work as a duo on the road? What does touring look like for you, and do you do any writing on the road?

We’re such a small team, you know, it’s just those of us on stage and what we did for the first tour was we traveled with just our sound engineer, so it was just the three of us. So, a very, very light group. But for this time around, I think we’re going to add more people because we want to have a steadier stage setup with lights and everything.

Generally, we’re very chill people on the road. I don’t know how other people live on tour actually because I was never really on someone else’s tour. But, when we do song write on the road, it’s… we do it on our own, in our downtime and our personal time. We never get together and write together, that doesn’t happen. We will both just write our own stuff and then share it together when the time comes that we want to share things, you know?

Deception Bay album artwork

Bringing in more folks on tour sounds like an exciting change, what’s your vision for all of that?

Well, we will have the stage set up with lights and it’s going to be motorized as well. So, it’s going to be like a… I don’t know how to describe it, you know, for the first tour we didn’t have any of that. It was just us with our keyboards and sometimes in venues where the lights are kind of boring, then the show kind of looked a little boring. But what we want for this tour is to always have our own setup. So, you know, whichever venue we go to, we can have the same kind of vibe that we want for everywhere we go. And we changed our instruments as well. So, this is just going to be a very exciting time for us to have a completely new show.

On that note, what is your favorite piece of gear while touring?

We both use Roland SPD-SX pads and I think that helps our show a lot since it’s just the both of us on stage, you know, it helps us to manage sequences and also just to punch some samples sometimes. It makes the show more dynamic. So, I think that’s really awesome.

Can you go back and talk a bit more about some of the benefits of being a two-person team? When times get rough, on the road or when creating new music, is it important to you to have a partner in it all?

It’s definitely more helpful; we both know that we can’t be a hundred all the time, you know? And when that happens, it helps to have someone there who can just lift you up a little bit or, you know, maybe grab a few more interviews or run some errands for the other when they’re feeling low or in need of more energy. So, just that helps a lot. She knows exactly when I’m not feeling it, if I’m not comfortable with a certain situation and I need a break.

Looking forward, where do you hope Milk and Bone will go, where do you see yourself down the line? What do you hope to accomplish with Deception Bay?

Well, we have this upcoming U.S. tour that’s already booked and we just want for that to go really well and we can’t wait to meet people in every city. Hopefully, with this album we can come to the U.S. more often and go to cities that we’ve never been to before. And… we’re hoping to go into territories that we’ve never visited, as well. We really hope to go to Australia, that would be really cool. And more of Europe as well, definitely. And hopefully just to be able to tour for as long as possible with this show.

And what do you hope that listeners will get from Deception Bay?

I hope that they’re going to see a bit themselves in there, and that hopefully they feel empowered and that it’ll make them want to come see the show. And I hope that it can soothe some moods, if it can.

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