Friday, 1 June 2012

Indietracks interview #14: Doggy

Doggy is a three piece jangle pop band from the glorious city of Limoges, France, with a love of Subway, Sarah and Matinee Records. Washes of ultra-bright guitar teamed with Field Mice style percussion!
The band was born in the mid-90s, as a side project for Guillaume Bassard, guitarist of the French band Caramel (several releases on Marsh-Marigold Records).

The first Doggy set was in 1995, sharing the bill with legendary bands such as They Go Boom!!! and La Buena Vida for a couple of gigs in France. Their first record was released in 2003 on Anorak Records, the label runned by Guillaume and his friends Fabien Garcia and Fanou (aka Skittle Alley). Mon Colonel was released in 2009 on Anorak Records. We chatter to  Guillaume ahead of their Indietracks appearance...

Doggy have been in existence since 1995, with the first release in 2003. How has Doggy changed over the last decade or so?

The story of Doggy is indeed quite long, but not very complicated!!! I started writing songs some 20 years ago. I quickly recorded them myself on four-track tapes, on my own, because in my town of Limoges, which was not much into indiepop at the time, I didn’t know any musicians who shared my tastes in intimate, Sarah Records pop!!!

Then I met Fabien Garcia and the musicians of Caramel, who I joined as a guitarist, leaving Doggy aside for a while, until 1998. I was also part of another band called Corner Kick. It took me 4 years to write and record, always on my own, the songs of my first album “Des stars dans tous les bus”.

I would obviously like to devote more time to Doggy, but I have lots of other activities! I have a job, a family, and I manage, with the help of my friends Fabien and Fanou (aka Skittle Alley), the Anorak Records label. So I don’t write very quickly, which may appear to be strange when you know the songs I play are very simple and last 2 minutes and a half at the very most! But the lyrics always take a lot of time. Since that first album in 2003, Doggy has been a band made up of 3 or 4 people, at least on stage. But 90% of the second album, “Mon colonel”, was also recorded by my own means...

For the last few years, Doggy has been a proper band, with Guillaume (me, vocals, guitar),
St├ęphane (drums), and Fanou (bass). Even though I’m the one writing the songs, arrangement ideas are more and more collective, and the recordings definitely are!!!

You began as your solo project before transforming into a band. Was that an easy transition? How did you all find each other?

I’ve known St├ęphane for a long time, as he played drums in Caramel. He didn’t hesitate long before joining Doggy when, around 2006, Fabienne, our drummer at the time, wanted to quit. As for Fanou, we had been helping each other for quite a while. He has been taking care of the bass and backing vocals since 2004, and I have been helping him on stage for Skittle Alley gigs, on keyboards and backing vocals. All three of us form a real band, we have known each other and have played together for so long that everything seems so easy!

Please tell us a bit about your most recent record Mon Colonel?

We released “Mon colonel” on our own label, Anorak Records. I like this album because, even though I recorded almost all the songs on my own with a beat box, the three of us manage to transcribe it on stage, with real energy!

You're admirers of Subway, Sarah and Matinee Records. How well-known are bands from those labels in France? Is there much of an indiepop scene in Limoges or elsewhere in France?

It’s difficult to do indiepop in France. As our Friend Baptiste from the excellent Wendy Darlings said, in reference to his favourite film “Cool Runnings”, it’s comparable to trying to put together a bobsleigh team in Jamaica! In France, indiepop, as you can hear it in the UK, namely a sensitive, simple, melodic music based on short and effective songs, almost doesn’t exist. At any rate, it is almost never picked up by the media, small or big. But there have always been bands, and good ones! At the moment, besides the Wendy Darlings, who we played a few gigs with and who are fabulous, I can think of Skittle Alley (Fanou, our bassist’s band) and his beautiful melancholic songs, My Raining Stars, Aline (ex Young Michelin), Anne Bacheley...

As for Limoges, I don’t know if you can really speak of a scene, but at least we have Anorak Records, Skittle Alley and Doggy! The fact that with Anorak, we organise each summer the “Pop et Merguez” festival (on the 14th of July this year, with, amongst others, Standard Fare, The Garlands, Tender Trap, The Proctors...) in our region may help our town, which we are really proud of, to be heard of outside! To my knowledge, there is no other popfest organised in France, so some might say we are the first! In Paris, Another Sunny Night frequently puts on great gigs, where bands like Tender Trap, Peru, or Soda Fountain Rag got to play... We trade contacts, and try to have bands play in Paris, and at Pop et Merguez. A few years ago, we made a compilation with Anorak, with bands, indiepop or related, from Limoges (Pornboy, M. Milton, Start !, Dead TV Star, as well as Doggy and Skittle Alley). I will have a few CDs at Indietracks, as well as lots of Anorak Records CDs!!!

You started recording some new songs earlier this year. How's it going?

For once, everything went very fast: in two days, in a small studio lost in the Limoges countryside, we recorded 4 songs. We added two other songs I had recorded alone shortly before and now have a nice 6-track EP with short and effective songs!!! The first label we contacted was immediately interested! And that’s how this record will be produced by Bristol-based label BIG PINK CAKE, which must be the best thing to have ever happened to us... We met Matthew and Heather when they invited us to play at the Big Pink Cake Weekender in November 2010 and they are really impressive! Very nice and cool, and true professionals!!! We hope this record will be released in time for Indietracks.

Do you enjoy playing live, and have you ever played in the UK before?

We love playing live! More and more... At the beginning of Doggy, I played a lot of gigs on my own or with another guitarist and pre-recorded tracks. It would be hard to come back to that now... I think the three of us have found the right formula. It’s very simple, bass – guitar – drums, that’s what works the best for us. We are always really happy to play, because we don’t rehearse that often. And that’s what keeps us spontaneous! We only played once in the UK, for the Big Pink Cake Weekender 2010, and it was incredible! We met loads of people, and we played our songs in front of people who didn’t look at us as though we were aliens, which has often been the case elsewhere in the past...

What are you most looking forward to at Indietracks this year?

First of all, we’re really happy to play and are really honoured to have been invited to do so! There are lots of other bands I’d also like to see: Bart Cummings, Gordon Ballboy, the June Brides of course, Rose Melberg, Tender Trap... And lots of others I don’t know yet! I was lucky enough to see Standard Fare in Bristol, and it was great! And it’s also the opportunity to meet lots of new people, in an atmosphere which is, apparently, very friendly!

1 comment:

  1. Doggy is great, a charming man and a guitar hero...