“Where you go, I want be/ A hole inside your head,” sings Chloé Soldevila on “Daffodils,” the second track from Anemone’s debut album Beat My Distance. The line acts as both a promise and a threat—this is music that will stick with you, that will live inside your brain, that will become a part of you forever. This is music that refuses to be ignored.
Anemone is the brainchild of Soldevila, a Montreal native. Raised in the classical music tradition and formally educated in jazz music, Soldevila came to rock music late, at the tail end of high school, when she discovered krautrock mainstays like Neu! and Can. Traveling as a photographer and filmmaker throughout her early twenties, Soldevila rebelled against her strict musical upbringing, immersing herself into the psychedelic tradition in California, and punk and new wave music in France.
“I absorb every single thing that I’m exposed to,” says Soldevila. “Music, film, photography, all of it. I’m the kind of person who will buy a plane ticket and leave tomorrow. I always have the urge to get out and live something crazy. I want to hear and see and experience as many things as possible.”
When she returned to her native Montreal in her mid-twenties, she began searching the bustling local DIY scene for fellow musical polyglots with which she could form a band. “I was on a search for exactly what I wanted,” says Soldevila, “for exactly the people I wanted to make music with. It was hard, trying to find like minded people to work with when there’s no money, only a vision.”
Anemone officially began when Soldevila met Zachary Irving at a show. Around the same time, Soldevila and Miles Dupire-Gagnon met at a bar, and he introduced her to Gabriel Lambert. The musical connection was immediate, and the four began working on songs together soon after. Samuel Gemme was a friend and sound engineer who worked on their recordings, spending so much time in the studio with them that he eventually joined the band. The final lineup of Anemone was set.
“Something happens when we’re all onstage together,” says Dupire-Gagnon “It’s really special. There’s nothing else like it.”
Lambert agrees. “The focus of the live show is to make people loose, getting them to dance, breaking people out of their shyness. Making people go crazier and crazier every night. Our mission was to capture that feeling on the record.”
At first, this proved to be a challenge. “We had no budget whatsoever,” says Soldevila. “We would record anywhere that would have us.” After an initial batch of recordings didn’t convey the reckless spontaneity and wildness of the band’s live energy, the band decided to play a series of local gigs in order to let the songs grow and change onstage.
“We needed to play the songs loud,” says Soldevila, “to let them jam and expand and grow. They had to fully become themselves.”
Soon the band stumbled into free time at a local studio, recording live after hours. The studio would close at ten p.m., and the band would set up and record until the studio opened back up the next morning. Demos and overdubs were recorded over the next year in apartments and spare rooms through Montreal and the surrounding suburbs, anywhere with equipment and decent acoustics. They finally took the full length to Renny Wilson to be mixed at his Value Sound studio, where the band was simultaneously recording their EP Baby Only You and I. The EP includes bonus remixes by Renny Wilson and ended up being their first release in April 2018. Both albums were mixed on analogue equipment, live off the mixing board.
“Recording the album was a total mess,” says Lambert “It was a cold Montreal winter, and none of us had cars. But all of that difficulty drove us to be even more creative, to make everything wild and perfect.”
The resulting album Beat My Distance is a dreamy psychedelic ride, hopping through genres and moods with exuberance. In the midst of all the swirly shoegaze guitars and krautrock beats, Anemone’s songs are anchored by Soldevila’s voice, always catchy and direct, powerful enough to cut through the mix and carry the song. The record has an experimental feel, but never at the expense of melody or hooks.
“Memory Lane” is a standout track, with a wistful, melancholic song with strong beat and a power-pop feel. “I wanted to write something simple and direct,” says Soldevila. “Sometimes the simplest songs can be the most powerful.”
Other highlights include the dreamy “Daffodils” and upbeat swagger of “Sunshine (Back to the Start)”. On display always are Soldevila’s melodic brilliance and francophone charm. These songs have boldness and power, hooks and instrumental prowess in equal measure. Beat My Distance plays just as well full-volume on a stereo as it does through headphones, reminding listeners that first and foremost, Anemone is a real live band, not just a solo bedroom studio project. This is music to be blasted from car speakers and at parties, a communal experience intended to be shared, the kind of emotional catharsis that can pack a dance floor—sometimes even packing the stage as well— and bring an entire room full of strangers together.
“The music comes from a place of joy and freedom,” says Dupire-Gagnon “It’s not all planned out. It’s a party for real.”