New York City with you, through the eyes of Jeff

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

The Blind Boys of Alabama, Cold War Kids, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Passion Pit, Courtney Barnett, are just a few of so many artists who played the iconic Lower East Side Pianos in New York City. I spent countless afternoons and evenings between those walls, watching bands from all around the world giving everything they have to climb a few more stairs to their dreams of making a living out of playing music! I’ve witnessed so many broken dreams right underneath my very own eyes where managers, agents, festival owners, publishers, music supervisors were leaving the room, one by one, during those cold October CMJ days. I come down to New York every month of October wearing my band’s manager cap, since those industry people don’t really like to deal with artists directly, which I don’t really mind since I never saw my band like a typical, classic band. Being DIY ever since the beginning, we simply know nothing else than to rely on ourselves, our guts, our philosophy, and way of embracing not only music but life in general… I love New York, as I always feel I’m surrounded by people just like me, whose dreams and vision are going through their veins, for our freedom to bloom even more at every heartbeat.

It was in October 2014, the San Francisco Giants were visiting the Kansas City Royals to start the World Series. I entered the Pianos on a Tuesday night, a little early as CMJ really starts on Wednesday. The game was playing really loud and there was this guy screaming at the tv set when the Giants scored! “Hi, my name is Steven, I’m the Pianos talent buyer”, he tells me as I come closer proudly wearing my SF cap for the occasion! No need to tell you we became friends as the week passed by and the Giants were playing and as I was spending my afternoons there meeting people! “I really love your band Jeff”, I could hear from Steven as I came in again on Saturday afternoon! “I would like for you to play here”, he mentioned. “I think this place could be a real good fit for a band like yours!” He’s been pushing ever since for him to be the very first venue to play YFE in New York outside of those CMJ showcases we did. For us, the band isn’t about being part of something, wether it’s a scene, a movement. Even adding a music genre to YFE is a little challenge after those 10 years where so many different musical projects came out from “And if I was to Die” to “Vague Souvenir”, and even “Between Illness and Migration” to “Tokyo Sessions”! For us, it’s about music, soul, and guts, nothing else… If we feel it’s too good to be true, we won’t trust it, since outside of each and every one of you, our extended family from all around the world, no one ever gave us any gifts whatsoever. It’s always been like that 2014 edition of the Giants, who ended up being champions for the third time in five years, always being the underdogs; how much do you want it!

I remember stopping in front of the artists’ entrance of the Pianos, where, for the first time, not only we were performing in one of the coolest venues in NY, but you were all coming down by bus from Montreal or Quebec City to share what would become one of the most soulful moments of my life! For weeks, I’ve been reading each and every story of those who were joining this crazy two-day trip to New York and I couldn’t be more inspired. For some, it was the first time they were leaving the country, for others it was a long time dream becoming true to go down to the Big Apple, where for others, it was another not to be missed opportunity to see the band play and meet new friends! No matter the reason, I’ve been really touched and blessed to read you and to silently witness how meaningful this could be for you. I was always bringing your stories with me in the rehearsing room since this is what we were hoping the most to see happening when we decided to do this crazy thing, YFE’s way! People came down from Europe to be part of this trip, and I even have a friend living in Chicago who decided to come to Montreal, in order to be part of the bus trip with everyone else, even though, the language spoken on the bus was mainly French! What can you say to that, I was simply blown away by all this love, this joy, and humbled to be part of everyone’s stories! To me, this is what matters the most, since this is the true power of music, stronger than any Grammy Award you could win, since music, is all about gathering, no matter our differences, and to live life to the fullest!

Times Square will never be as bright as that night of March 1, 2016! Time simply stopped for us to realize what it really means to be there all together and simply be, which is why we chose the Celeste wine from Torres, dedicated to the exact positions of the stars in the sky the day of the grapes’ harvest. I raised my glass to you all, as you were all so beautiful that night, underneath the lights of New York City, to you all who give us the necessary courage to defy the impossible. When passion is filled with love, even the smallest of all stars can outshine the entire galaxy on its own. This is what we looked like all together standing on Broadway and 45th Street, a small piece of the sky that will forever live in our hearts! I’m looking at the stars tonight, enjoying again what it feels like to matter for some, since as long as we’ll keep this night alive, even the sky ain’t the limit anymore…! I love you my friends, and I thank you for being in my life, since this New York City trip was only one of many more to come!

– Jeff

When the Big Apple approves you…

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

We drove all the way to New York City on Monday night, arrived in Brooklyn where we would stay for the next few days. Brooklyn, our home away from home (one of many, at least!). All tired, it didn’t take long before we went to bed and gave in to Morpheus.

A clear blue sky awaited us on Tuesday morning. No doubt about it, it was an early spring we eagerly longed for. We had breakfast, and the guys then took their paper cups of coffee outside to enjoy the warmth the city had to offer. 4 steps outside, on the sidewalk, a police car quickly drives up to us and stops by our side:

Police officer, with a suspicious look behind his sunglasses:
– Good morning, gentlemen. What is this you are drinking so early in the morning?

Jeff, clueless about this first contact by the American police:
– Well, that’s coffee, sir.

Police officer, with a desire to shake Jeff’s conviction of actually drinking coffee:
– Coffee, uh?

Jeff, not knowing what to say anymore:
– Yes, coffee, you know, we are a band and we are playing at the Pianos tonight, we are from Canada and…

Police officer, interrupting Jeff:
– Ah, Canada, EH? Ha ha ha! Well, have a good day, gentlemen! (Leaves laughing)

A few moments after this peculiar encounter with police officers, I was leaving home to welcome the bus full of travellers that were coming to NYC to see the band perform tonight. For many of them, it was their first time in NYC, for some their first time outside the country. I waited, waited, waited. I was super excited, figuring out where I would be when they would arrive in front of the Pianos where YFE was to play in a few hours.

Random guy parked in front of the venue when I got there.
– Lady, what are you doing here alone outside?

Me, super excited:
– I’m waiting for my friends to arrive!

Random guy:
– They’re not really good friends for making you wait for so long.

Me, half insulted and half amused:
– You can’t understand. They’re 50, from all over the world, they’re in a bus and many are coming here for the very first time, so I need to see them as soon as they get here! (Looking at my phone) Oh well, I just received a text message and they can’t make it here, so the bus has dropped them somewhere else. Good day, sir!

So much for my excitement of seeing everyone get off the bus…!

I walked to the Starbucks, and finally met with everyone. I couldn’t help but think of my first time in NYC, when I was 16, during an organized school trip. Although we somewhat looked like this, we also looked totally different. This time, there was a unity like I have rarely seen before. Many people had met for the first time less than 12 hours earlier, but the bond was already pretty strong. And then we headed out to explore the city!

The day went by quickly, and very soon it was time for the concert. It was my first time staying at the venue and waiting for the band to come back for the show; I usually go back home with them. The excitement got somewhat more intense though; for the first time in forever, I could live the excitement of waiting for my favorite band to get on stage! The concert was out of this world. The band was raging on stage, and the crowd was giving it back to them in a wonderful way. It was the first time for people to see Miss Isabel play with 2 keyboards, but also the very first time for them to see Alex play keyboard and guitar live. And the reaction when that happened? People went MAD! The sound was clear in the room, we could hear all the little details that make Your Favorite Enemies’ music so unique, and it helped in bringing the whole experience to another level. The chemistry between the band members was deep and intense, though there was nothing to let you see it; you could just feel it through their music. It was a brand new YFE; assumed, arrogant, in your face, yet all in subtlety and very inclusive.

The show over, it was time for our traditional toast on Times Square. Despite the cloudless blue sky we had seen all day long, it was now raining over Manhattan, forcing to reschedule the toast inside the bus instead. But once we got there, without a word said, we all wanted to go anyway. We walked the block that separated us from the eternal artificial daylight that shines on Times Square, and then the rain stopped. As if New York was telling us that she had allowed this very specific moment only for us. As if the city itself was allowing us to have that moment. As if it was telling us that indeed, nothing could stop us. As long as we’d be willing to confront the circumstances, not allowing our fears to take over, everything would work out.

We came back home past 4:00am. Went to bed at past 5:00am. For many of us, the adrenaline of the toast that had just happened took over our need to sleep and it was hard to drift off, somehow… And it made the morning come way too fast! After a breakfast punctuated with laughter and stories, we headed out to our traditional stops on departure day; Starbucks on North 7, Rough Trade Records, and the Bushwick Inlet Park where we have a “goodbye toast”.

The wind was strong and awfully cold. Being by the side of the river, nothing could tame it down it either. It is with shaking hands and shivering that we walked all the way to the river, to that same place we always go. But this time, we could go further in on that little strip of land that goes well into the river. Every time we go there, we manage to go a step further on that little strip, as if the city was once again approving of us and every step that we were taking in our journey. And somehow, that cold wind was there to remind us that even though we might not always feel comfortable as we walk, the journey is always unexpectedly worth it.

As someone famously sang, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”
And “making it” is still being together, still being passionate, still being alive. All over again. Whatever it means.

– Stephanie

PS: Behind the scenes videos have been uploaded on the band’s fan club, the SFCC! Make sure to check them out!

Watch more, become a member of the SFCC

A dying season; a new rebirth

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

5:00am Sunday morning. The dogs were outside, barking so loud at nobody really knows what that they woke up the entire household. Too early, too late? It was a little hard to say, and we couldn’t really comprehend if the sun was rising or setting; blame it on the jet lag we still suffer from, only a few days after coming back from Japan. Needless to say, waking up wasn’t our first idea, and going back to sleep hasn’t been easy. A soft snow was already falling at that time, covering everything in a frosty, sparkly white blanket. A season was dying as another one was replacing it. Did we have to be happy about it? Should we have been sad about it? This, too, was a little unclear.

We arrived at the venue much later than expected… This long drive gave me the time I needed to read all the comments and the expectations people had about the night. Yes, this would be Your Favorite Enemies’ last concert in 2015… and yes, it would be mind-blowing, nothing less. The closer to the venue we got, the more convinced I was. Tonight would be a memorable one.

Soundcheck went well, very well. Everything went on smoothly, so smoothly that we could just look forward to the concert. The guys from Buckcherry were nice and welcoming, the promoters were incredible as always, the sound was great for everyone, and it allowed everybody to be relaxed backstage before the show… something that doesn’t get to happen very often!

And then the show happened, upon us and over sooner than we would have expected! Words are lacking to express exactly what has happened. It went by in a flash, with an energy I didn’t think the guys could have at this very moment. Somehow, it’s as if everything I thought I knew Your Favorite Enemies were about was different. And I think many others could tell the same thing. I don’t count the number of times I’ve heard praises about the performance. Not only because they were technically playing their parts well. But because what was going on stage was powerful in a way the band has rarely showed us. A new season, the end of another? Maybe. But I think I can say in full knowledge that a page has been turned…

We came back home late, and as these words were being written, everybody else still was around the table, eating the traditional Sunday night grilled cheese and chips, sharing stories of the moments we have lived with you! Now, everybody is fast asleep… Good night to you as well!

– Stephanie

A concert, a moment, a stepping stone

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

We were November 13, a day that should have been just like any other. The guys were having their last rehearsal before leaving for Japan. A very different show, a very different ambiance, a moment they were envisioning with great excitement. Halfway through the set, they took a short break, and this is when they learned about the tragedy that happened in France. The night took a very different turn. Suddenly, the main focus shifted. They all took to their computers to contact their loved ones, to write to the people who, there or not, were deeply affected by the tragedy that took place. It continued all night long, none of them slept, through to the very moment Alex and Jeff’s boarding took place. Unable to sleep, unable to calm down, even from a distance, I think we were all affected by what happened… It didn’t matter if it was in France, across an ocean… It continued until the guys boarded the plane (that they almost missed). And then came the doubts… “What do we do? Are we really going to Japan? Are we really going to give a concert? In such a poignant time of need, is this really what people need? Is this really what best we have to offer them?” But music has the power to unite people in the most wonderful way… 

And this is exactly what happened… A powerful moment. A moment that was lost in time and space, that became a little universe of its own. It brought us to a place we didn’t know existed before. A place where chaos was peaceful. Where noises were melodies. Where a punch in the face was soft. It was not music. It was way beyond that, way beyond what my understanding could see. I knew it was real, but it somehow didn’t feel like it. It felt as if I was dreaming awake. The guys played the album “Between Illness And Migration” from top to bottom. For the very first time. An album I love to hate, hate to love. It brought me through so many different emotions, and I know it’s the same for many people who were there at the show, and many others around the world who didn’t have the chance to be there. The show started with a brand new intro, making it sound as if you were about to lose your mind. Too much speaking all at once, different voices, different sayings, all different, but all the same in the way that they were coming from the deepest of the soul of those who were uttering these words. And then the music started… Satsuki Yami took a complete different turn, where the lyrics changed completely, and where the words “my heartbeat” were repeated over and over, sometimes in a way that seemed painful, sometimes in a way that seemed joyful… And I stopped for a second, and looked around me, and I could say: “Yes, this is what it feels like to be truly alive”. 

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The show continued, and went on and on and on. I didn’t feel I was listening to an album. I felt like I was witnessing the birth of something that had never happened before. It might be strange to read this, and I do acknowledge it’s not exactly common. I have been with the members of Your Favorite Enemies for over 10 years now, and I have had the privilege of being closely involved in the making of the album “Between Illness And Migration”, probably giving me this love-hate relationship with the album itself. There’s always a lot of illnesses around us. Some we can just push away, some we don’t notice, and some that just keep coming back. And no matter how much you want to migrate away from these, the steps you need to do are not always easy. But that night, I felt like we had flown to the moon and back. No limits, no constraints, no holding back, no “what if”. Nothing was impossible… 

We always talk about the fact that “Between Illness And Migration” is a journey. And it truly is. But as we thought we knew what direction it was going, as we thought we were in control, we were blessed to see our course being changed by this wonderful communion we’ve had with you all. It’s as if, all of a sudden, we don’t know where we’re going anymore. And we can simply, once again, enjoy what “migration” is all about… Discovering oneself, discovering the world around us, with a simplicity we tend to forget. Our eyes are no longer on the finish line, on where we want to go, but they’re back to the world of wonders that surround us, and that we sometimes do not take the time to see… And those wonders, they were the heart of the people we’ve met all over this journey that “Between Illness And Migration” is. Hearts that accompanied us throughout the worst and best moments… 

And even though I have been to Japan for several times before today, as I am about to leave, I can say I have discovered a brand new country… maybe only because the eyes I lay on it are now seeing with a brand new perspective… 

Please join us on December 5th, 5:00pm (ET), to get to know more about this unique moment during our special edition of the Bla Bla Bla: The Live Show! You’ll be able to hear the testimonies of Alex, Ben, Sef and Jeff about their time in Japan! You’ll also be able to watch a short excerpt of the concert! To know more about how you can watch the live broadcast of the show, please check out the event we’ve created on Facebook:

And if you want to push your experience a little further, join the SFCC fan club to watch the band do a live performance of a song from the album “Between Illness And Migration” for the members of the fan club only!

– Stephanie

Not a SFCC member? Become one now!

NYC: A Black And White Tale with Colors of Our Own

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

We hit the road at 11am. Well, in fact, we were supposed to. Have you ever met Your Favorite Enemies? If you have, you probably know that goodbyes take forever. Leaving home ain’t any different. Especially now that we have 2 puppies… You should see Alex with them both!

So, 11:30am, we finally hit the road. We drove all the way to NYC. Alex said he wanted to take in all the wonderful autumn colors. It was supposed to be 7 long hours. But Jeff was sick that day, which never happens. Worried a little bit, we stopped often to make sure he was alright. The road was long… But indeed beautiful, and very poetic, thanks to Alex reading “The Outsider” by Albert Camus out loud in the car.

We arrived in Brooklyn, where we usually stay when we are in NYC. A humble place, but large enough to welcome us all!

Next morning was already show day. No soundcheck, late show, we headed to the city to pick up our badges before going back to the apartment. This being NYC, that “short trip” took 5 hours, that we at least have enjoyed greatly!

Got back to the apartment, packed the gear in the trailer, and headed to the venue. The stage? No stage! The band played right on the floor. The green room? No green room! It’s a “welcome all” type of venue! The lights? No light! A single red light bulb lit the place. Typically NYC, typically LES! Perfect way to really feel “in the crowd”! 🙂

The show ended with “Killing Another”, a cover from The Cure. Did you know that this song had been inspired by the novel “The Outsider”? Your Favorite Enemies’ interpretation of the song has been inspired by Alex’s own perception and understanding of the story.

Oh, and yes, this time again, there’s been body surfing, and some ceiling walking. No kick in the face, though!

The show in itself, and the few days we have spent in NYC were not to the image of the city… Its bright lights, feverishness, ephemeral excitement gave way to a calm, quiet and assured confidence. Somehow, in a way that was completely new to us, the city vibes didn’t affect us like it used to. Amazed nonetheless at the megapolis, it felt more like who we are was rubbing off on the city. The city didn’t define us nor did it influence what we were living in any way. We didn’t need the city. We were self-sufficient, self-confident, self-defined. We didn’t need the city, nor anybody else, to tell us who we were. We knew, and it was more than enough. And it was all that mattered.

We took the road and headed back home, a little tired, but truly happy. All of this to wake up with the first snow of the year in Drummondville…

– Stephanie