Five Questions With DRAE

Award-winning Ottawa, ON-based duo, DRAE have unveiled their new single, “Take Cover”, from their upcoming EP, TARDIGRADE, which is set for release this year via Montreal’s Dance Plant Records.

“The revolution won’t be televised.”

“This song was written as a hypothetical view of a world where a government and its systems — particularly law enforcement — have turned on its own citizens”, says frontman and producer Andre Thibault. “Unfortunately we are seeing this become a reality, both with our neighbours south of the border, as well as our own federal police force with minority groups and Indigenous peoples.”

“It’s a rally cry of sorts”, drummer and percussionist Matt Robillard adds. “A declaration that real change doesn’t come from burying our faces in screens and staying informed, it comes from confronting the source of the issue head on, no matter how ugly that may be.”

Check out “Take Cover” below and find out more about DRAE via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

We’re DRAE, an alternative hip-hop duo from Ottawa, consisting of vocalist/producer Andre Thibault and drummer/percussionist Matt Robillard.  The two of us have been playing together in various bands for over a decade, spanning numerous styles and genres.  With both of us having a background in sound design and audio engineering, all of our work is managed in house start to finish.  This extends even to our content manager Andrew Lessard, who has worked with us on social media, music videos, press photography, and more since day one.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

Through years of growth and experimentation, we’ve arrived at a genre-blending sound that fuses a number of our cumulative influences.  We combine hip-hop lyricism, heavy blues-rock guitar riffs and arrangements drawn from electronic music to create a high energy, soulful sound.  Lyrically, Andre uses nuanced wordplay to speak on social and political issues, in the hopes of sparking conversations and encouraging meaningful change.  Our music is our message – we understand we have a platform and we seek to use it as such.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

Unfortunately, with everything ongoing with the pandemic, we have had to postpone or cancel all live performances.  We’ve now had to adapt and find new avenues to share our message and interact with listeners.  This means more online content – music videos, impromptu remixes, live-streamed performances.  Anything we can do to create a community and engage with fans who feel as strongly about the state of the world as we do.

As far as our live performance, it’s really something to be experienced.  It’s what we do, what we love, and we “leave it all on the floor” so to speak.  The energy we bring to our studio recordings translates tenfold to our live show – you don’t leave a DRAE show without breaking a sweat.  Andre has a tendency to get up close and personal with the crowd – to him, the stage is just a starting point.  There is always plenty of crowd interaction, and you can expect a new take on our music watching our show vs listening to our recordings.  We pride ourselves in giving our fans two unique but equally memorable experiences

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

If we were to recommend one song, it would definitely be our most recent single “Take Cover”.  Musically, it is the culmination of a decade of experimentation and learning to create a sound we’re truly proud of.  Lyrically, it speaks of a system designed to protect its citizens from turning on them – a vision that becomes less and less hypothetical day by day.  This prescient view of current affairs seems to have connected with fans on a level deeper than the music itself.  Attach that to an in-your-face, bare-bones, live performance music video, and we draw comparisons to artists like Rage Against The Machine and Grandson.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

We’ve both grown up with and drawn significant influence from Alexisonfire, so it’s great to see them back performing and making music.  We also love USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) – another band that fuses genres and has made a name for themselves by not necessarily sticking to the script.  We touched on Grandson previously; he speaks to us both through his music and his message.  We also LOVE to listen to Ottawa artists; you’d be surprised at the quality that comes from right in our own city.  Blakdenim, Zoo Legacy, City Fidelia – the National Capital area is definitely becoming a global music hotbed.

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