By: Shayla Lee
If you asked me to describe Racoon Racoon in three words, I would tell you their music is ethereal, folky, and emotional. I would also tell you that if you are a fan of Angus & Julia Stone, The xx, or Ocie Elliott, you will definitely love Racoon Racoon. Their first EP ‘Our Love’s Funeral’ garnered over one million plays in less than 6 months and was broadcasted on BBC1. Still maintaining Racoon Racoon’s signature sound, their newest track ‘Walls’ blends violins, a mandolin, and double bass which puts out a folkier vibe compared to the tracks on their EP. Léa and Léonard, the two forces behind the duo, shared their musical process, creating their first EP, and their newly released song ‘Walls’ with us.
FEMME RIOT: Can you tell us a bit about yourselves? What led you to working together?
Léa: We are Léa and Léonard. We’re French, and we currently live in the middle of the Italian Alps since 2 years. We met in our 1st year of University and were together by the second. It was 7 years ago. Léo always played music since I’ve known him, and it’s just recently that I actually joined him in doing so. I didn’t know I could actually sing before he asked me to help him with a song he was working on…
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Léo: It’s intimate, slow tempos, quite raw actually with some strings arrangements. We record and produce ourselves, so I guess it’s “Acoustic Indie Folk”.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Do you have any musical influences?
Léa: From our everyday life, but also from our generation… It seems we happen to be very ambiguous as a new generation. From one side we have the world at our feet, we could do whatever we want, wherever we like, yet these endless possibilities create a form of frustration, and I feel like we tend to lose our direction. If there is no possible “What if”, you actually don’t ask yourself the question… I guess sometimes writing songs is a bit like searching for this direction.
Léo: We started the project being admirers of Damien Rice, Mandoline Orange, Neil Young, Milk Cartoon Kids, I think there is a part of them in each of our songs.
Your first EP ‘Our Love’s Funeral’ received over one million plays in less than six months. Congratulations! What was the creation process for this EP like?
Léa: Long rainy weekends locked up in our flat in Brussels…
Léo: We wrote the song “Our Love’s Funeral” in November 2015 in Brussels, our very first one together. It was very natural, took less than one hour. After Christmas, we started to think about recording a minimalist acoustic EP (I had been willing to do it for a while). So I had very those very old songs like “Georgia” or “Heal” written 7 years ago that were never properly recorded. “Young Wolves” was actually written when we arrived in Brussels (it was the first time we left our hometown Bordeaux to settle abroad). We fine-tuned the lyrics and the melodies, and started to wonder when and where we could record them.
We had zero money to invest in the project, because we were both “Interns” by that time… I was working as an assistant in a large studio called Dada along with my friends Baptiste and Marin. We waited for weeks to have the studio empty to start recording… It finally happened in March, a full weekend for us! So we set-up 5 mics on Saturday and recorded the 6 songs live during a long session engineered by Baptiste that ended around 5am. On Sunday we did a few backings, Rhodes and Philicorda.
There was a bit of an emergency in the recording process cause we knew there would be no opportunity for re-recording. The result was too demo, because I had just one classical guitar for the session as it was the only instrument I brought to Belgium. So I spoke to Thomas Fiorini, double-bass player I met while working on classical music recording sessions, luckily he loved our songs and we recorded his parts a few weeks later, tracking everything first take. Thomas was a real game changer. I mixed it in August after we moved from Brussels to Turin. Our 1st EP was done.
You just released your newest track ‘Walls’ – we are loving the folkier vibe! What inspired you to create song that was more folk influenced? Can you tell us more about this song?
Léa: Surprisingly it’s one of the first songs we’ve worked on… It was meant to be vocals for Fellini Felin a friend of Léo doing indie-pop music. “Luckily” for us, this song never came out and we transformed it to become what it is today. It wasn’t mature enough at the time of our 1st EP, that’s why we waited until this year to record it. Regarding the meaning, it’s a song that confronts inner-identity with relationships, pointing out the compromises that are often done at the expense of one’s will. You know sometimes being in a relationship at first it can be difficult to preserve your own personality when all you want is being an “us”. That was kind of the message.
Léo: The song was supposed to be pop ballad, but for the new EP we wanted to add some violins so Thomas introduced us to Emile Verstraeten. We had a recording session with Emile, he brought 3 violins and a mandolin, and created the parts on the go. In the end it sounded folk, which was quite surprising, but it’s no trouble, I’ve never managed to produce a song like I intended to anyway.
What can we expect from you this year? Hopefully we will see you in Vancouver sometime soon!
Léa: We’re actually putting the finishing touches on our 2nd EP that will be out mid-april. It will be a lot more arranged than the first one. Last year Léo worked with Philharmonic Orchestras in the music film industry, and I guess he got a bit influenced… I am really glad we’re taking that direction, it kind of instantly makes things sound BIG, and I really like the vibe!
What 3 songs are you currently listening to?
We want to thank Léa and Léo for sharing their lovely music and for doing this interview with us! The beautiful cover photo in this article was provided by Léa and shot by Julien Fourcade. You can follow Racoon Racoon on their music journey on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify. Fall in love with Racoon Racoon by listening to their entire collection below.💗