Music over lyrics

Montreal-based Malajube continues to find fans in English-speakers

For their newest album, La caverne, Malajube returned to their pop roots.
For their newest album, La caverne, Malajube returned to their pop roots.
Credit: 
Supplied by Joseph Yarmush

A U.S. tour seems like a bizarre choice for Malajube. But the drummer of the French-speaking band said you don’t need to speak French to understand Malajube’s music.

“I used to attend a lot of African shows,” Francis Mineau said, adding that he isn’t fluent in any African dialects.

“Even if you don’t quite get the lyrics or you don’t understand what the singer is saying you get appealed by the music or just the voice and melody of the voice.”

Montreal-based Malajube is now touring Ontario after an eight-day stint in the states with stops in Chicago, Cleveland and Hartford. The band first gained attention in Quebec with the release of their debut album Le compte complet in 2004. They’ve since won many Quebec music awards including five Felix awards — given to outstanding Quebecois musicians.

Malajube was the first French-speaking band to be recognized with a Polaris Music Prize long list nomination, including being shortlisted for the prize in 2006 and 2009.

“It’s the only nomination we had outside of Quebec,” Mineau said. “But in Quebec they’re pretty much all the same for me. I mean, I’m really glad we won all of them.” Mineau said he doesn’t have an inspiration, but the people in their lives have an effect on their songwriting.

“The people we love — or the people we hate — but mostly the people we love,” he said. “I don’t know exactly how they appear in the music, but they’re part of our lives so I guess they’re part of the songs too.”

Mineau’s cousin, Julien Mineau, is Malajube’s lead singer and guitarist. The two have been playing together since childhood.

“In the end it makes no difference because when we create music, that’s another language, so everyone in the band is on the same level,” he said. “So, no it’s not an advantage or a disadvantage, it’s just the way it is.”

Malajube plays the Grad Club tonight with the Besnard Lakes. Doors open at 9 p.m. Show starts at 10 p.m.

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