Bibi Club's Raw Chemistry Taps Into a "More Complex Feeling Than Joy"

Adèle Trottier-Rivard and Nic Basque are partners in life and music, and their connection is felt on 'Feu de garde'

Photo: Dominic Berthiaume

BY Sydney BrasilPublished May 8, 2024

Running along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River is Autoroute 40, an austere highway between Ottawa and Quebec City. Along the way, it finds itself within the borders of Montreal, imposing itself on locals who cross under it so often it becomes routine.

Such is true for Adèle Trottier-Rivard and Nic Basque, the pair who helm Bibi Club from their home next to this "huge piece of concrete." The arches of the 40 frame their travels to their kid's school, and their reluctance to neighbouring it blew their new record Feu de garde into another homey direction.

"I spent a lot of summers, even winters, in the woods, spending some time with friends around the bonfire," Trottier-Rivard tells Exclaim! of her time as a Girl Guide, where she found the power of her voice. "I learned some old rounds and old songs. These were precious moments for me, because I just discovered how much I loved singing with other people."

In the glow of that same fire and the warmth that radiates the community around it is where Feu de garde lies. It's the same sense of comfort that comes after a cold plunge — a not-quite-indie-pop venture that's not tethered elsewhere either, serving an affection for chorus-filled, jangling guitars and reverberated backing vocals like those of "Le feu," calling back to that vision of Trottier-Rivard's childhood.

Those rounds she was taught as a girl spin their way in, as her and Basque's circle of musical friends blend vocals — sung in French and English — into an infinite spiral. Some of these were recorded in their friend's Parisian home, which the band credits with its "kitchen party feeling," making their sophomore effort an agile one.

Many facets of the life Bibi Club have built together find their way into Feu de garde, though they keep returning to that sense of community. Even through that strong sense of the elements, their loved ones shine through.

"You can feel those songs would work with just a guitar and a bunch of people singing, and a lot of the way Adèle arranged the vocal melodies, there's often rounds or question and answer," Basque says, reflecting on the return to nature that informs an album composed of mostly electric instruments.

That doesn't mean that everything is drawn from outside the city. "Parc de Beauvoir" was written in London, UK, while their kid was on a playground. Like most Bibi Club songs, the scene is laid out plainly. It was sketched with a phone demo, a guitar they brought with them, and their raw observations. Basque remembers, "I guess we were describing what was happening, and then it kind of revealed itself with deeper meanings."

Trottier-Rivard adds, "I guess in these moments, we're also pretty tired and overwhelmed. But that's when the magic happens."

Despite finding comfort in community and nature, it's not all about the joy of being and creating together. Feu de garde finds itself in blue-hued nostalgia, even when it's outweighed by optimism. "I think you're right, there's like a little weird, melancholy, like something between night and day, or, that weird, foggy morning feeling," Basque says of this observation. "It's a more complex feeling than joy or sadness or surge in spirituality."

Any flicker of sadness is shut off once Bibi Club's partnership is mentioned. Their relationship blossomed when Trottier-Rivard sang some backing tracks for Plants and Animals, of which Basque is a founding member. Their raw chemistry is even more apparent on stage, where they gaze intensely at each other without ever skipping a beat.

For Basque, this magnetism comes from a place of security: "I really, really like playing music with Adèle, and she's always been — even before we had a band — one of my favourite performers. So it feels like a safe space."

Being partners in music, life and parenthood may result in some blurred lines, but for them, it comes naturally. "It's not that easy, yet it's actually pretty fluid in a way," Trottier-Rivard says of those boundaries — or more accurately, not needing them. "I think we love to share music together, it's not a problem, and we actually communicate so well through music also."

It's these flowing margins that make up Feu de garde, as Bibi Club navigate different streams of being together. Whether fireside, at the park or through the wind tunnel of a interprovincial highway, there's a reassuring pull that ties them all together into a bouquet.

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