Today’s interview is with indie power pop/rock band Menage from Toronto. Their new single “Black and White TV” just dropped and it features Portishead’s bassist Jim Barr. Describing the band’s single, Out Magazine says, “Layering American and Portuguese influences the three Ferreira siblings weave an enwrapping sound that’s driving and ephemeral.”
Menage has collaborated with producers David Bottrill (Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo), Michael Phillips (Stone Sour, The Cliks), Dale Penner (Nickleback, Holly McNarland), and Ted Jensen (Sigur Ros, Coldplay). The band has been featured on Diffuser.fm, PopMatters, CraveOnline, Exclaim.ca, The Huffington Post, and has won awards which include Rock Song of the Year at the International Portuguese Music Awards.
Check out the interview with Menage’s vocalists Basilio Fernando Ferreira and Bela Ferreira below.
Uncanny Pop: How did you get into music?
Basilio: We are not from a musical family at all.. just mid class working Portuguese parents.. BUT our parents were huge music lovers. Growing up in a cold climate we are indoors a lot as kids, and in our home there was always country music playing on the radio and muchmusic (Canada’s mtv) on the television. Early on our parents’ living room soon became a rehearsal space with a drum kit, keyboard and guitars.. Actually if you walk into our parents’ place now, you can probably put together a jam space with old gear we have there…
UP: What inspires you to create music?
Basilio: I think we’re pretty fortunate that we travel a lot, meet new people, bands from everywhere, drive many many miles, make new friends… All of these things have songs in them. They just need to be found.
UP: What’s the best thing about being a musician and what’s the hardest?
Basilio: The best thing about all of this is performing live. The connection that is made, the adrenaline, the instant feedback, the one chance you have to create that moment with no retakes. It’s pretty special. That is also part of the hardest thing about what we do… Leaving family and loved ones back home for long periods of time.
UP: What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you a better artist?
Basilio: Don’t chase anything or create something you don’t love… Trends go by, styles change. I guess we never paid attention to that which has kept us doing our own thing and not really part of any wave.
UP: What advice can you give musicians who are just starting out?
Basilio: Although I don’t feel too comfortable giving advice as I don’t think we are at a role model position yet, I can say.. Just be really really good at whatever you do. If you love what you do, you will spend all of your time on it. If you spend all of your time on it you will be great. No one can deny that.
UP: What inspires you to write and when did you begin writing?
Basilio: All of us work in different ways. I don’t really “practice” guitar or sit down to write, but I am never on the couch, in bed, watching tv, making my own score to whatever I am watching etc.. without a guitar in my hand. The constant guitar noodling seems to bother whoever is around, but a hard habit to break. The music I write usually starts this way.
UP: What inspired this album and what was the creative process?
Basilio: Pretty non fiction day to day life inspires what we do.. One of us will walk into rehearsal with a basic idea and this will get developed as a band from there.
UP: What genres of music are you most influenced by? What artists are you currently listening to?
Basilio: We were at the Viper room this passed month and they were playing Niko Vega really loud in between bands. That reminded me how much I like that band. I have aIso been listening to Devotchka lately. I think they are great. I don’t really think any specific bands influence us.. I think we try to have other things besides music to inspire us.
UP: If you could meet any influential woman, whom would you choose? What questions would you ask her?
Bela: The most influential women I would like to meet again with would be my grandmother. She was my greatest hero and biggest influence. I would like to be able to sit with her one more time and hear her recount the stories of her life.
UP: Which female role models have had an impact on your life and how have these women influenced you?
Bela: Same as above.
UP: What’s an important cause or issue you support?
Bela: Operation Smile.
UP: Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?
Bela: John Frusciante. He has a way of creating sounds like no one else.
UP: What future goals do you hope to achieve with your music? What type of future projects would you like to do?
Bela: We hope to continue to perform live, as many days in the year as possible. That is when we each feel most alive. I think we all have heroes we look forward to collaborating with so that is in the plans.
UP: What has been important to you as a woman in your community?
Bela: Redefining “beautiful”, “sexy”, “feminine”.
UP: In your opinion what are some of the biggest challenges that women face today?
Bela: I think there are endless challenges.. too many to name, if you really choose to dwell on them. I choose to ignore them and am blissfully ignorant to challenges or ‘red lights’. I think our experience here, to some extent is created by or at least shaped by our own attitudes and the strength in ourselves. our journey is made up of what we choose to tolerate and what we choose to ignore. It may not be how everyone sees it, but it’s what works for me.
UP: This year the theme for Women’s History Month is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.” Why is it important to weave our stories – individually and collectively – into the essential fabric of our nation’s history?
Bela: I think it’s important for us to share our stories so no one feels isolated. After all, we all are connected. It’s good to remember that.
Follow Menage on their website and at the following social media sites: