Caturday with Régine Chassagne

Gemma Lacey

We caught up with Régine Chassagne, frontwoman of Arcade Fire and talked about fundraising for KANPE, playlists for lazy Saturday afternoons, being friends with cool girls at the shows and a Europe tour this spring. Make sure to check out Money + Love, a film starring Arcade Fire and Toni Collette by David Wilson.

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Arcade Fire’s sound has always been so big and cinematic in its nature, was that intended or did you just evolve into making something in this way?
I sometimes see arrangements like painting, which can remain 2D, but can be made to look 3D… All this invisible space and time that gets created in music fascinates me, each song being its own universe. That’s just the the kind of stuff I like to think about.
You’re making a playlist for us now, can you remember one of the first playlists you ever made and what was on it?
Hooray! You guys are the first ones to ask me for a playlist! I don’t know what else to say, I usually just play music in my head. This is my first playlist in that way. The theme you gave me was “Lazy Saturday Afternoon” so there it is!
You do a lot of philanthropic work too- what is so exciting and inspiring to you about this? What changes are you hopeful about?
When I co-founded KANPE (which means “to stand up” in Haitian Creole) we committed to help a specific group of people in a specific geographical place, with all work provided through local Haitian partners. No outsiders coming to mess things up. What has been the most exciting to me is seeing the ripple effect after a few years… I am very proud that we invested in the people versus giving things, because right now the locals are taking ownership of their progress and giving the program a solid life of its own. That is what this organisation is for, to help people to stand up on their own two feet. Fundraising is extremely hard though. The most useful programs for the population are often the least “marketable”. I can talk about this forever. I have so many stories. This is a lifetime commitment for me.
You recently recorded a special song for Krewe du Kanaval, can you tell us a little more about it and working with the Preservation Hall Jazz band?
They are like family. We are touring Europe together this spring. The song also features RAM, one of the biggest Haitian groups.
You’ve travelled a lot as a musician and also have a Haitian heritage- what places have made the biggest impact on you as an artist, musically and personally?
Anywhere we play, it’s the people in the crowd that have an impact on me. Don’t think I don’t see you now! Sometimes I see so many genuinely cool girls at the shows, and I keep thinking “Aww… can we be friends?” And I believe on some level we are. Even if that show is the only moment where we share the same physical space, we bring songs to life together in that space.
We’re seeing a huge sea change in the entertainment world for women- what are you personally most excited to see happen because of this?
I am hoping that Mozart’s sister will choose this opportunity to reincarnate.
Your personal style is always exciting too- how would you describe it and what do you like wearing?
Haha! Sometimes I will dress to express an emotion or vibe I feel around… And there can be an artistic part to it which can be fun. But I don’t like to spend too much time thinking about it.  Fashion for fashion’s sake is a death trap! Most of the times I just dress to work, i.e. jeans and whatever.
Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
A little voice told me: Listen to your instinct.

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