Heartstreets carves out a place on the Montreal music scene
The local duo talk about creating outside the boundaries of the genre
A quick Google search for “Heartstreets” will show a description of the band as being part R&B, soul, dance and electronic. In this case, Google is also at a loss for words – or at least one that encapsulates defiant sound from any (or two or three) categories. But that might not be such a bad thing.
According to Gab Godon, half of this Montreal duo, the beauty lies in the ambiguity. “Our music doesn’t always make sense, and I don’t think we have a single song that will fully describe what we do. We are a lot of things, ”said Godon. “What we are are two girls, always singing, rapping and creating together, and it becomes Heartstreets.”
On paper, Heartstreets is a collaboration between longtime friends Godon and Emma Beko, who bonded around a love of music and enduring creativity. Getting to know their music sonically, however, brings a whole new understanding of their partnership. Hard-hitting electronic beats and flowing beats provide a dynamic backdrop for intricate raps influenced by ’90s hip-hop and soulful vocals by Godon, which draws on the R&B mastery of Lauryn Hill and The Fugees. Each contrasting element brings out the best in the others, blending harmoniously and eroding the tight boundaries imposed by preconceptions of their sound.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the musical partnership has played out the same way. Like a plot scene from a movie, everything fell into place for the duo around a bottle of wine and a song by Adele. “Hometown Glory,” Beko recalls, was the song Godon showed him that pivotal night. “She sang it and I thought it was so beautiful, and there was a blank space in the song and so I was like, okay, I’m going to show you some of the raps that I have. written. “
The rest was history and the duo haven’t stopped creating together ever since. “It was so much fun,” Beko said of their first time in the studio. “We did a second and a third and at one point we had four [tracks] I think? And the producers were like, let’s put it out. We hadn’t even really thought about forming a band or having a music band really; it was just for fun. And it’s always for fun. All they needed was a name for the new project. “We had a bunch of brainstorming and ideas, and a friend of ours suggested ‘Street Hearts’ because there are two of us, and the duality between grain and the soft side that we have,” Beko recalls. . “But there was a band called Street Hearts – a Rolling Stones cover band – so we just did Heartstreets. “
Godon described their first outing as the moment the couple realized that making music could be more than just a hobby. “Once the EP was released, there was the release party at the Fairmount Theater. It was a big hall and the first show we were producing. I remember after that I was like, yeah, it’s happening. We are in it and we do not come out; we want to go all the way.
Carving out a unique place on the Montreal music scene seemed to be happening unintentionally for Godon and Beko, as they began to gain popularity following the release of their debut album, You and I, in 2016.
“I guess we were very innocent at first and didn’t really realize what was going on in our city. We were more focused on becoming artists and creating our identity and our vision, ”said Godon, noting the large Francophone presence on the local hip hop scene. “We make music in English, so that separates us from a lot of French-speaking artists who are more present. “
“After eight years, we still feel a bit like strangers, but not in a negative way I think, we just assume that. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to achieve our goals, ”said Godon. “Making music is not easy. I discover more and more that it is a world of sharks. But it’s like that. We always try to do our best.
Several years later, the duo performed at festivals such as Osheaga, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Pop Montreal, Canadian Music Week and, most recently, Mile Ex End Montreal. They worked with local producer Kaytranada on the single “Blind” and with Ryan Playground on the song “Lead Us”, one of Beko’s favorite collaborations.
“When we do it live […] she will accompany us without rhythm, so it’s just her acoustic guitar and our voices, ”said Beko. “It’s super cool to do. Since our music is mostly electronic, we make a formula of our show where it’s us and a sampler, but it’s fun to break it down sometimes and make it acoustic and intimate.
For those who haven’t yet added Heartstreets to their playlists, Godon and Beko have a few recommended starter tracks. “Listen to ‘Under My Skin’ and ‘Cruising With You’ which are two of our most popular songs that have very different vibes,” Godon said.
“Completely different vibes, but you’ll feel a continuity in the music because, like Gab said, when we’re together, we give off that vibe,” Beko added.
The next step for the couple is a new song, this time a collaboration with the French-speaking singer, Ariane Brunet, which passes by L’Isle. “This is our first feature film in French, our first bilingual song, and it’s great,” said Beko. The song is slated for release on September 21. Beyond that, Godon said the duo are continually exploring their collaborative creativity and are excited to see where it takes them next. “We really do this because we love to make music and we love to share it with our fans and play. It’s just for the sake of being able to share this.
Photo by Mackenzie Lad