Two years ago, at Strathcona Park under a moonlit sky, Alex Millaire and Kaitlin Milroy discovered they had an instant musical chemistry, as they sat with a guitar and voices bonded in a natural blend of ideas. The two admitted that magical moment happened during “The Sunny Side Of The Street”, which opened the floodgates to a wealth of creativity, woven from their combined influences, experience, diverse talents, and a fresh discovery of common ground. With Millaire’s classical background, and Milroy’s choral training, they united to become Moonfruits, and have since been performing their unique repertoire of creative covers and originals everywhere from local and regional venues, to the street corners of Europe.
The two put on a dynamic show, their passion clearly displayed in their songwriting and in their performance, as they move together in a playful exchange, constantly in each other’s pocket, and voices wound around each other, creating an almost singular entity in their sound.
“Certainly with a choral background, you can be singing really different kinds of harmonies, static ones and also ones that move, or even counter melodies, which we love to do. We fell into doing this naturally…we like being a duo, and not a duet in that it’s not only using your voice to sing the melody and convey a meaning, but also as an instrument to add colour, warmth, and texture to our arrangements. It’s part of sharing a song and a story, and there’s words, but there’s also a lot of play and goofiness.”
Their album, aptly entitled Debut (2014), is a celebration of their Canadiana blend of rootsy folk, bluegrass, and traditional influences. It begins with “Portage”, a magical one-minute music box guitar instrumental that instantly whisks you away with its harp-like quality. From there, it delves straight into their vibrant remake of Louis Jordan’s, “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, with wonderful harmonies, intensities, and swells that completely display the spectrum of their vocal instrumentation. Their clever take on a French children’s classic, “Trois P’tits Chats”, not only showcases their whimsical banter, but demonstrates their vocal dexterity with crescendos, sweeping tempo changes, and counterpoint proficiency. Similarly in 40’s standard, “Enjoy Yourself”, the two combine some impressive harmonies and onstage theatrics with their a cappella performance.
“I think it’s really interesting to take these songs beyond the campfire. A lot of people know these songs from Scouts, etc…that’s where I learnt them. There’s so much content there, you can dig even deeper if you want. There’s always the socio-political context in which it was written, which often points to the racism or sexism of the times, but you can do some historical revision as you go… give them new meaning and life. That’s how folk music keeps on going… it’s constantly re-inventing and adds to the test of time. The doors are open there… it’s part of what being a folk musician is all about.”
“Salt”, the final track on the album, also displays a traditional sound, with its charming and tender melody, poetic lyrics, and its raw purity captured in a live performance recording. Millaire’s classical training is evident in his impeccable guitar playing, as he moves between the bass and upper strings, plucking and strumming his way through varying scales, intensities, and rhythms in every song. From the quicker-paced catchiness of tracks, “Rotterdam”, and “The Erie Canal”, to the lovely melancholy mood of “Amalfi”, each of the 8 tracks on the album offer something different and refreshing, in this full-sounding exhibit of vocals and guitar.
Marvest is an off-shoot series of performances created by CityFolk, which will feature over 60 local acts during the festival, and take place inside various shops, venues, and storefronts along the Glebe area of Bank St., as well as inside the Aberdeen Pavilion on the festival site. Moonfruits will be appearing along with the MATT Dorgan PROJECT, and Kelly Sloan, as part of Apt613’s curated showcase at Original Burger Joint, 873 Bank St., on Fri. Sept. 18 @ 9pm. To purchase Debut, please visit Moonfruits’ Bandcamp. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.