Toronto indie folk-pop band, Trouble & Daughter, are currently busy getting ready for the release of their forthcoming EP, Thrills. Dual vocalists, Jenni Pleau and James Mascola, took some time to sit down with us to discuss what we can expect from the new album, Jenni’s past life as a metal band frontwoman (!!!), their affinity for lawn games, and more!
Check out the full interview below and be sure to pick up the Thrills EP when it comes out May 27, 2014.
Do you have any plans for the rest of the day?
James Mascola: Yeah, we’re playing with our friend’s company, Vitaly, they do jewelry – cool stuff, really cool stuff. So we’re playing at their pop-up shop tonight. Just an acoustic jam with illScarlett.
Have you been able to catch any shows for Canadian Music Week?
JM: Mmm, no. We’ve been playing a lot of out of town shows, so we haven’t been able to soak it up.
Jenni Pleau: We’ve been sort of avoiding playing it, we decided to not play Canadian Music Week because the new EP is coming out in like, a couple of weeks. So we kind of wanted to save the Toronto show for when we’re really ready. It’s like, maybe not as many people will come out if we play Toronto too much (laughs) We wanted to save it for that one.
Moving onto your forthcoming EP, what was the creative process like for Thrills?
JM: Creative process… I’d have to say Jenni and I got together alot. Me and Jenni did a lot of the writing on that one.
JP: We didn’t really get together a lot to write before, but with this one, we kind of just randomly would get together and have a night and then start writing something…
Both: …And it turned into this! (both laugh)
JP: There’s a couple of old ones from before that we had recorded, so we put some of those on.
Are you allowed to tell us which ones those are?
JP: “Like A Bomb” is going to be on there.
JM: “We Once Thought” and then we’ll be releasing “Rough Around The Edges,” so that’s gonna be on it. And then two new ones – brand new, smack new.
How’s it like in the studio?
JP: It was really fun. When you’re in the studio, you’d think that it’s gonna be a lot longer , but there’s just a lot of going back. Like, going back to do a couple of extra things here and there, but it was kind of one full day of just waiting and then doing all your parts. So it was like, we’d get there at 11AM, and didn’t finish until like the wee hours of the morning.
Did you guys get together with John and the rest of the band?
JP: Yeah, we were all there.
JM: Oh yeah, we all had a big impact on the product.
Who writes most of the lyrics? Not only for Thrills, but for past material?
JM: Pretty equal, I think.
JP: It’s mostly [James], me, and John, that lyrically write… the lyrics. (laughs)
Who designed the album artwork?
JP: James did everything, he drew the pictures by hand, went and got them printed and…
JM: Yeah, my buddies are graphic designers – I drew up all the pictures and I’m not really good at the ol’ photoshop thing so they definitely helped me. They’re called Trend Collective, and they kinda put the whole thing together.
Did you design the Trouble & Daughter logo as well?
JM: The Trouble & Daughter logo was done by our friend Ben Swantek.
This one [Pulling up his sleeve to reveal skull and heart tattoo], I designed this. But the other logo, with the triangles was done by Ben Swantek.
What is your all-time favourite track that you’ve done so far?
JM: I’m going to say “Rough Around The Edges” is my favourite. I think it’s kind of more poppier that anything that we’ve done, that gets me going (laughs).
JP: Of all time? I’m gonna go with “The Lucky Ones,” I love “The Lucky Ones.” it just means a lot to me, y’know, that song is really close to my heart and it’s like one of the first ones we did, so it just makes me happy. Off the new album, I would say “High School” – that’s one of our new ones. And I like “Rough Around The Edges.”
Are you guys writing from personal experiences?
JP: Yes and no.
JM: It’s personal experiences, yet…
JP: Personal experiences of other people (laughs).
JM: Yeah (laughs), to be the most relatable in songs is something we like to do.
Why the name change from Condokrew to Trouble & Daughter?
JP: Why not the name change? (laughs)
JM: Condokrew was our Youtube channel and Condokrew wasn’t even designed to be a band, it was moreso us getting together and making videos that are funny. And then we started making music and posting under that channel, and we’ll always have that channel under Condokrew but decided that we needed a solid name as a band – something that actually represented us.
How did you come up with the name?
JP: Well, there was a lot of talk of different names and that one was just one of the ones that stood out, and I think it definitely represents kind of like the male/female thing we have going on.
JM: [Referring to the guys as Trouble and herself as Daughter] Sometimes it’s switched…
JP: Sometimes I’m the daughter.
JP: Yeah (laughs), sometimes I’m the trouble.
How did Trouble & Daughter become a ‘thing’, like you said, it started with YouTube, but what made you want to turn this into a band?
JP: Open mics! We were jamming at the condo, and that’s where some of the songwriting started. So we decided, ‘Why not?’ and play an open mic to see how that goes, see if people like it because people were liking the videos on the channel, so we thought that we’d kind of do it live because it’d be fun and then people really enjoyed it, so it turned into playing another open mic, and then it turned into the open mic asking us if we’d play an actual show, and then started playing actual shows from there.
JM: And now here we are, getting interviewed by BestFan!
There you go! How’d you guys add the other members to the group?
JM: I grew up with Richie in Guelph, went to school with him since I was in like, Grade 1. So I’ve always known him, he’s a fantastic drummer and he reached out to us and was like “If you guys ever wanna jam, I’d love to” and it just clicked. And same with Will, he’s kind of always been a part of it. He was in the recording process for the first album and he did the second one, so he already knew all the music. He was a good friend and he liked the music as well.
Speaking of that, what’s your relationship with illScarlett?
JP: Well, my sister is married to the drummer, so Swav is my brother-in-law, and Will and John both used to be in illScarlett, so it’s like most of the band (laughs).
JM: They took me on the Vans Warped Tour [in 2012], so they kind of gave me an introduction to rock and roll in that sense, but yeah right after that we started the band.
JP: Even with the other guys, Justin Zoltek, I’ve made music with Justin and like we’re always jamming together. They’re good friends.
Would you say Trouble & Daughter is your first professional venture into music?
JP: Yes, when I was in high school, when I was like 16 years-old, I used to sing and scream in this metal band and I felt like that was going places and then we were all young and going different places in our lives and it never ended up working out. It was called Asher. But yeah, this is probably the first.
JM: Yeah, this is the first thing that I’m attached to, unconditionally.
Before playing a show, do you guys have any rituals?
JM: We like to have a couple beers in us, have a nice relaxing time
JP: I try to stay as calm as possible, I speak for myself; I think I’m a little bit different from the guys. I like to be alone..
JM: Jenni likes her alone time.
JP: …Not that I don’t like to talk to anyone, but my body physically gets so anxious before we play for whatever reason before we play. As soon as we go on, it’s so much fun, but I just need alone time before we go on. Calm the nerves, sit in a room and just breathe.
What has been your favourite moment since the creation of Trouble & Daughter?
JM: Favourite moment would probably be when we played in Montreal with Walk Off The Earth.
JP: Same here.
JM: Just the other night we were watching those videos when it was just the three of us: me, Johnny and Jenni. Seeing that we could play in front of that many people and get a good reaction. So yeah, that was like the first time we got to experience something like that.
JP: Because I mean, before we played that show, we were playing in front of 20 people at a bar and then all of a sudden, they asked if we wanted to play a show with them and then it’s in front of so many people. It was the moment that I realized that was really what I wanted for us to do, y’know. Sing in front of all those people, it was so much fun.
That’s awesome. So, what’s next for Trouble & Daughter?
JM: Hopefully a nice tour, like across Canada or even further. Keep the shows going, keep the writing going.
JP: Yeah, I’m excited to see what happens with this EP and hopefully people like it and I would love to go on tour.
Well, we’ll get the word out for you! Since we’re all about being the BestFan, what are you a BestFan of?
JP: Food! Poutine from a roadside restaurant called called ‘Restaurant’ up north.
JM: I’m a fan of…Oh, man, I’m a fan of putting a Junior Chicken inside of a McDouble and eating it (laughs).
JP: (laughs) We like food a lot.
JM: Yeah, we’re fans of food.
Quick Fire Questions
What’s on your playlist right now?
JP: The 1975 is big right now. A lot of The 1975, and I just saw them recently and they played with the band Sir Sly and they’re so good, so I’ve been listening to so much of them since the beginning of the week.
JM: The last song I listened to was…I’d say Architecture in Helsinki. I have that “Contact High” song on repeat.
What do you like to do for fun, away from the band?
JM: I like to play lawn games. So like, horseshoes, ‘Toss The Beanbag Into The Hole’, whatever that game is.
JP: Yeah, I play catch – playing catch is fun. Pool…
JM: Pool’s fun.
JP: Card games, I love card games.
JM: Y’know, drinkin’…
Since we’re at a Starbucks, what’s your signature Starbucks drink?
JP: I don’t usually go here… (laughs) but I think the one time I got a fancy drink and I was thinking of getting it today, it was a Vanilla Bean Iced thing [Frappuccino].
JM: A double-double (laughs). I get a Caramel Frapp.
If you had to get a face tatt to save your life, what would you get?
JP: I’d get a little beauty mark tatt.
JM: A face tat…I’d get my face tattooed over my face. Probably the easiest way to go.
JP: (laughs) That’s a little cocky.
JM: Then no one would really notice!
What’s your favourite Toronto hangout spot?
JP: Soho House, I’d say Soho House.
JM: Soho House is cool, Sneaky Dee’s is awesome.
Connect with Trouble & Daughter
(Photos via Jenni Pleau)