Discovery: Milk & Bone
MILK & BONE IN NEW YORK, APRIL 2015. PHOTOS BY KATE OWEN. STYLING BY ANDREA MESSIER CUOMO. HAIR: LAURA DE LEON FOR JOE MANAGEMENT USING ORIBE. MAKEUP: CAITLIN WOOTERS USING KEVYN AUCOIN. PHOTO ASSISTANT: ANDRES ZAWADZKI. STYLING ASSISTANT: KEITH PEARSON.
Camille Poliquin and Laurence Lafond-Beaulne first met five years ago while studying jazz and theory in the music program at Saint-Laurent in Montreal, and their friendship quickly escalated to making music outside of school. After playing and singing backup in other bands, the two decided to branch out, embrace their own creativity, and bring themselves to the forefront. Under the name Milk & Bone, the duo recently released their debut EP Little Mourning via Honeymoon and will soon be touring throughout their native Canada.
Beginning with drafted melodies written on a ukelele, Milk & Bone’s finished music ranges from upbeat electro-pop to smooth and languid R&B-tinged tracks, and Poliquin and Lafond-Beaulne harmonize their dreamy vocals to explore both serious and lighthearted subject matter. A song like “Coconut Water,” for example, focuses on a character that drinks the eponymous beverage while wondering if a girlhood crush will surmount to anything serious. But then, on a song such as “Elephant,” lyrics evoke notions of life and mortality (“My time is too short … The water is trouble … There are rapids ahead”). Just after the release of Little Mourning, we spoke with Poliquin and Lafond-Beaulne over the phone.
AGE(S): 22 (Poliquin) and 24 (Lafond-Beaulne)
JAZZ INFLUENCES: Laurence Lafond-Beaulne: We both liked to learn jazz musical theory, and it’s good for musicians to learn jazz theory because it’s complete and complex, but we’re pop lovers—James Blake, Beach House, Blood Orange, Solange, FKA Twigs, Purity Ring—so we knew we didn’t want a jazz career.
Camille Poliquin: But it does have an influence on our songwriting, the melodies we do. We listen to a lot of jazz, so it has an influence on the way we write, but our musical influences are a lot more electro and pop.
ONE VS. FIVE YEARS: Poliquin: I remember us saying at some point that the album took five years, because we met five years ago. There are a lot of songs that have to do with how we deal with each other and the way we work. If we had met a year and a half ago, the album would not be the same. We’ve been working on the album for a year and a half, but the reason it sounds the way it does is because we met five years ago.
PLAY NOW, SLEEP LATER: Lafond-Beaulne: The hardest thing right now is that we have so little time at home, so little time to see friends and to nap and to sleep. To me, that’s the biggest struggle. I like having a day off in my bed.
Poilquin: I’m aware that we’re not allowed to complain, because everything that’s happened to us is really cool, but I feel like a total diva when I say, “I just need a day off!” I feel like everyone’s judging me and thinks I’m a horrible person, but I just wish I could sleep! Just for one day! [laughs]
FEAR OF RECOGNITION: Lafond-Beaulne: The thing that worries me the most is if we were to explode—I’m freaking out about the idea of getting recognized in the street. We’re not there yet, and we probably will never be, because we’re not Taylor Swift, but I like my independence, my liberty, so that’s scary. I have some music friends that get recognized in the street, and it’s so weird to walk and people come to you and ask for pictures. I don’t know how I would deal with it. I think it would really annoy me.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: Poliquin: My grandfather heard on the radio that there was an open audition for girls from ages nine to 15 to go on this role in Cirque du Soleil. I was going to music school at that time—I was nine—and my mother said, “It’s good for you to experience an audition, just to know what that’s like.” I was there with my sister, we auditioned, and turned out they wanted to ship me over to Japan the day after. My mom freaked out. She was like, “No!” It took two years [for her to let me do it], and I left when I was 12.
I was on tour from 12 to 14 years old in Australia and New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, California, and I ended in Ottawa. I did, overall, 400 shows between those two years. Even if I was a child, they didn’t have a child’s expectations for me. I had to work like an adult—be perfect every night, never miss a nod, and always be a character. When you’re on stage, you can get used to the show you’re doing, but you have to remember that usually the people seeing the show are never going to see it again. Even if it’s the 100th time you’re doing it, you have to give it your all. It was such a great experience to be on stage every night, to do what I love, and to be with people who became my family.
DOGS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND: Poliquin: I’m always looking to Laurence to see where I’m at [emotionally]. I can never get too bitchy because she’s able to tell, and she’s going to fucking tell me. Also seeing my dogs is a great way to stay grounded; they don’t care about what I do!
Lafond-Beaulne: I’m a fish person…or a cat person. I’m learning to love dogs more since I met Camille’s dog, and everybody has dogs and they’re great, but I think I’m more of a cat person. I like cats.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Lafond-Beaulne: My dad’s a musician, so music was a big part of my life when I was a child. He would play the guitar and we would sing together. My mom was on the business side of music—production and all. From a young age I would see classical shows, pop shows, jazz shows, blues shows. My parents always encouraged me to learn music if that was what I wanted to do. They never pushed me to do it, but it seemed like it was the only thing I was able to do well. It’s the only thing that makes me feel great about myself. It helped that my parents were music lovers, but I don’t see myself doing anything else, and I’ve never seen myself doing anything else.
LITTLE MOURNING IS OUT NOW VIA HONEYMOON. FOR MORE ON THE MILK & BONE, VISIT ITS FACEBOOK.