The Paradise Club

Claudia Bouvette

The Paradise Club

Montreal singer Claudia Bouvette likes to keep things spontaneous and intuitive. “I can’t say what I’m going to do for my next album,” she tells Apple Music. "With me, things always come naturally.” That might explain how, after first appearing on the musical reality-TV series Mixmania in 2011, she took a detour through acting for the next few years, before she met producer Connor Seidel (Charlotte Cardin, Matt Holubowski, Les sœurs Boulay), who proved to be the perfect creative partner. “From the first time we met, our relationship has always been intense,” she says. "Connor has a knack for making you feel comfortable.” Before beginning the creative process, the two had to submit to a work discipline: “In 2017-2018, we decided to create 30 demo tapes of songs to help us find the right tone, the style best suited to me,” she says. They chose 10 tracks to flesh out her debut EP, 2019’s Cool It. Once their collaboration was underway, the idea of an album soon became a given. “For me, an album is more serious,” Bouvette says of The Paradise Club. "It’s a complete universe: From the lyrics to the music to the visuals, I wanted everything to come together.” The singer-songwriter chronicles her often difficult relationships over electro-pop production that's danceable and festive, divulging a good deal about her personal world along the way. “I’m pleased to have delved this deep into the intimate,” she adds. "Listening to it again, I see a genuine narrative arc and I realize just how much I have evolved,” she explains. Here she walks us through that evolution, track by track.
"Welcome to the Paradise Club" “I felt like letting people into my universe through this short musical intro. The title makes you dream and evokes a glamourous place by the beach, but ‘Paradise Club’ is the name I’d given to my old apartment in [Montreal neighbourhood] Hochelaga. People who pay attention to the lyrics will see that, behind the rather light-hearted music, things are not always going well. The drum loop that sounds a bit tinny, the out-of-tune synthesizer—it creates a certain discomfort that sets the tone for what follows.”
"BBZ" “I think this was the hardest one to produce, probably because we knew it was one of the stronger tracks on the album and we wanted to do it justice. At one point, we were working on five different versions at the same time. It was inspired by a love-at-first-sight experience I had when travelling. There’s something magical about encounters when you’re on vacation, and I now realize that I idealized that person, who I didn’t know before and never saw again after.”
"Flowers" “The first words were improvised using onomatopoeia that I usually sing on a beat, but I was unable to finish it. So I asked my friend [composer and rapper] Emma Beko to help me with the lyrics. I had this image of flowers in my pockets as a starting point, and I clearly remember the moment when I finished the track with Emma. It was a rainy winter day, and we’d gone to work under the roof of the Japanese Pavilion at the Montreal Botanical Garden. It was magical.”
"Douchebag" “It’s a word I use all the time and which has the advantage of being unequivocal. Okay, so not all my exes are douchebags, but let’s just say I’m drawn to a certain type… I’ve allowed myself to express what I hadn’t been able to say when I was in an uncomfortable situation. To do so in song is truly liberating; it enabled me to expunge all the bad stuff. That being said, even though there’s a very personal side to the whole album, I’m not going to reveal any names or talk about specific people. I sing for myself because it makes me feel good.”
"Miss Blumenfeld" “Probably the song that came to me the most naturally. I was at home and I’d started off with a little drum loop and then I added different instruments one by one using my synthesizer. The melody just came to me on its own, and I ended up with an almost complete track. I finished it on Île d’Orléans, where I spent some time during lockdown, in the middle of winter. There was something apocalyptic about that landscape of ice, which was constantly changing, but it was magical. We were in our own little world, far from the imposed curfews. It’s a song that talks about a rebirth at a time when I was febrile, fragile. I needed to be alone, even though I didn’t feel like being alone.”
"Pardon Me" “We wrote it at the very beginning of the process, when I was at the very height of my discomfort. I wasn’t doing well and it shows in the lyrics: it talks about the desire to be loved, even in a toxic relationship. The music is epic and grandiose, there’s a huge crescendo, but it contrasts with the more somber lyrics.”
"I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye" “It’s undoubtedly the most personal track of the entire project. I have a really hard time saying goodbye to people, and that’s precisely what the title conveys. It’s perhaps the most stripped-back song in terms of the production but there are amusing little details. Connor and I peppered the entire album with all kinds of little guilty pleasures, including the Auto-Tune you can hear here, which reminds me of tunes by Akon that I listened to as a kid. A processed, manipulated voice, like Imogen Heap or Bon Iver, really moves me.”
"Mamie Lise" “I was at my grandmother’s place in Montmagny. We were spending some relaxing quality time together, chatting and doing jigsaw puzzles. She started talking about the beauty of wildflowers and I found it so lovely, so poetic, that I turned on my Dictaphone and asked her to repeat the sentence: That’s what you can hear in this short interlude. She’s had a totally amazing life, and she inspires me by the way she handles adversity with such serenity.”
"Solo Night" “It refers to a really mediocre date with someone who spends the evening bragging. It led me to this conclusion: Sometimes, all you want is to be alone with yourself or with your girlfriends. I realized that I didn’t fundamentally need a boyfriend and that the moments when I feel my best are the ones when I’m alone. What’s nice about being single isn’t having the freedom to flirt left, right and centre—it’s having the option of being alone with yourself and accepting yourself.”
"Solo Girl" “The first time we jammed to ‘G-GIRL’—Connor, my keyboardist Caulder [Nash], and I—in 2019, I recorded the session on my phone. We ended up deciding to use the demo as a transition between ‘Solo Night’ and ‘G-GIRL’, and it formed a whole. The rest of the album is very staged, so I thought it would be fun to draw the listener into the original, raw version of the song. There’s something very intimate about it; it’s like we’re inviting people into our creative process.”
"G-GIRL" “We’d had the demo tape kicking around for a long time, but ultimately it was the last song we produced for the album. It came really naturally, in a single day, and the only thing I remember was that I wanted a heavy, dirty bass. It’s not very serious. It talks about acting like a ‘good girl’, just for an evening, to seduce someone from a completely different background. The title is also a nod to the superhero character played by Uma Thurman in the film My Super Ex-Girlfriend.”
"Touchée-Coulée" “This one stems from a jam with my friend [composer] Kodakludo. I’d had it in my files for a while and then one day, I got it back out because I wanted to tell a story which, unlike the other songs, isn’t about me. It talks about a friend who was stuck in an extremely toxic relationship with a narcissistic pervert but who, thankfully, managed to get out of it.”
"1000 Bornes" “Another collaboration with Kodakludo. Initially, it was a very intense trap song. I had the voice and melody but something didn’t seem quite right, so Connor suggested a simpler, more stripped-back approach, and we started playing it, just guitar and vocals. I think it’s well suited to the lyrics, which talk about choosing yourself, of never letting the flame go out. That sort of creaking noise you can hear throughout the song is the sound of ice moving on the river, which I recorded while I was staying on Île d’Orléans.”
"I Lost My Keys & My Manners" “It’s a strange coincidence, but the last three songs are all collaborations with Kodakludo. We have such a great time playing together; it’s always very spontaneous. I remember I’d just come out of a dark period in my life and I didn’t really care about anything, I was completely nonchalant, but there was nothing negative about it. Sometimes, it’s good to just let yourself drift.”

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