Anemone Started as a Word, Then Became Montréal's Best New Psych Band on 'Beat My Distance'

Anemone Started as a Word, Then Became Montréal's Best New Psych Band on 'Beat My Distance'
Photo: Maya Fuhr
Before Anemone was a band, before they'd released their new album Beat My Distance, even before Montréal songwriter and band founder Chloé Soldevila had even thought to start a music project, there was that name.
 
"At first I would always say an-em-on, but over time I realized it was a lot easier for people to understand if I said an-em-on-ee," says Soldevila over the phone in an Exclaim! interview. "When we were touring in the States no one could understand what we said so we just switched it. What we're trying to do is make it free form, and that way it doesn't matter, because sometimes I even say an-em-own. I think it's cool that way. But an-em-on is natural for me. I think the name will define itself more this year. My band likes an-em-on better."
 
Soldevila wasn't inspired by the flower or the sea creature, but by a song by cult psych-rockers the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
 
"I was familiar with the plant but it had nothing to do with it," she explains. "A long time ago I was travelling and someone just put the song on. I had never heard the band before, but I looked at the song title and realized how beautiful that word was. So I fell in love with the song, fell in love with the plant, and fell in love with the name. And at that moment I felt it would be an amazing name for the project I would have some day. The band didn't really exist."
 
Once Soldevila had the name she began to look for musicians to help bring the sun-kissed psych-pop songs she had in her head to life. She eventually came in contact with members of fellow Montreal band Elephant Stone, despite knowing little about their own psych-pop music.
 
"I wasn't that familiar, but the reason I reached out to them was because when I started writing music I was really into psychedelic pop, so I was trying to find people in Montreal that were into the same genre as me," she says. "And I heard about Elephant Stone touring with Brian Jonestown and the Allah-Las, so they seemed like the best people I could ask to jam with. So I reached out to them and immediately we became friends for life."
 
The chemistry between Soldevila, drummer Miles Dupire-Gagnon and guitarist Gabriel Lambert was immediate, and soon they began to find a sound and write songs. Despite the fact that Soldevila has become Anemone's focal point and some have confused it as a solo project, she insists she is but one member of a five-piece band (which also includes guitarist Samuel Gemme and bassist Zachary Irving).
 
"It's definitely both a band and a bedroom project, but we are slowly trying to transition it into more of a team project," she says. "Basically I started writing songs and wanted to play them with a band. I love rock'n'roll, I love loud, live music, and I love the energy of a live band. I write the songs and at first did most of the arrangements, but we eventually started working on the songs together and had such an amazing connection. So it started as just me but my ultimate dream was to make it a band with people who were 100 percent committed. [And] I'm happy because it's been accomplished."
 
Titled Beat My Distance, Anemone's debut album is a mesmerizing blend of psychedelia, space-age pop, Krautrock, and '60s soft rock. Soldevila, who admits she is "already thinking about the next record," says the album's title — taken from the track "Sunshine" — is integral to the music.
 
"When I wrote this record I was travelling a lot," she exclaims. "I was running towards something and I didn't even know what that was, I just had to go for it and always be in the moment, meet as many people as I could, explore as many places as I could. I wanted to go as far as I could, like I was racing myself. So by 'beat my distance' I mean to beat the distance I've already reached and constantly go forward. And with 'Sunshine,' it's about being in a relationship with someone who all of a sudden goes silent. My reaction was to distance myself even more from the person instead of face them because it was so hurtful. So both this person and I were having distance, and it was like seeing who could go farther. The record is kind of all about this."
 
Beat My Distance follows up last April's debut EP, Baby Only You & I, but only because their full-length wasn't quite finished. In fact, the EP featured newer material than the LP.
 
"First of all, the EP was done before the album was done," she explains. "I could have waited to finish the album and put that out first but I didn't. The release of the album was really special to me so I really wanted to take my time, but I also wanted to release some music and I felt my EP was ready. I felt comfortable releasing it because it fit my state of mind at the time. I think it's kind of cool that the style of the EP and the album are both different, but they both represent me and the band."
 
Soldevila acknowledges how strange the decision was, but thinks Anemone will continue to make those types of leftfield decisions as they go along.
 
"It's funny how I put them one after the other, but I wanted them to be in that order," she adds. "The album is all of the first songs I ever wrote, like four years ago, whereas the EP is my most recent work. The themes are different [though]. It's definitely something I want to keep doing."