La Force is the stage name of Ariel Engle, of Canadian creative collective Broken Social Scene. However, if she keeps delivering quality albums like her self-titled debut La Force, due to drop on September 7, 2018 from Arts & Crafts Records, she will soon be a household name on the level of festival headliners. Check out our interview with Engle below and our review of her upcoming album!
La Force Interview
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I pursued it casually at first, but I really didn't start to do it in earnest until I got together with Andrew, (Andrew Whiteman) my husband who is one of the members of Broken Social Scene, so that was about 9 years ago. Even then, when I think about it, I didn't sing in front of them for a year. So probably more about 8 years, took me a while. When I met him, I was singing casually in part of a really interesting experimental Egyptian orchestra."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Yeah, usually what happens is I'll be playing around on keyboard or a guitar, or sometimes just a rhythm track, like sometimes Andrew gives me a rhythm track and I'll begin to improvise on that. I try to approach it from a feeling perspective, 'does this feel good?' I never come at it from a song perspective or musical theory, you know 'this chord is complemented by this chord'."
3. What was the most challenging aspect of writing this record?
"Oh, my god, there's landing the ship we kept calling it. I'm going to land this ship. I started it a while ago; I started it with Andrew in our project AroarA. So we had this record, and then, it became clear we weren't enjoying writing together. Then, I remember him saying, 'I really want to miss you a little bit, I don't get to miss you, you're always in my face'. So, we get along, but uncharacteristically, we would fight in this creative space, and finally, he said, 'I think you just need to do this alone'. We struggled because I don't have the language to express what I wanted (in music), so I would say, 'I want it to be a little hill and then a valley and then water and you just need to do that', and he would be like 'What are you talking about? I can't help you', and finally, he said, 'You just need to do this'. So, I went and worked with someone else in a position where it was very clear I was at the helm, and he was right."
4. What was the most rewarding aspect of writing it?
"Really just that I could do it and trust myself at every stage. Also, just to make mistakes. I can't expect perfection, but I can celebrate these accomplishments. I had a very intense dream (during recording) that my father visited me and said 'trust yourself', and it was very nice. I lost my father during the process of making the record; it was terrible, so it's in there. There's a lot of loss in it."
5. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"A lot of strong women, Aretha Franklin, Annie Lennox, Sinead O'Connor, a lot of Middle Eastern music. Strong female leads, you know when Netflix is like "Strong Female Leads"? I like that."
6. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I'm not a gear head per se, but I do have a lefty Gibson SG and a chorus pedal called the Waterfall (by JAM Pedals), it adds a lot of warmth and body to the music. I use an Ego Compressor (by Wampler) on my vocals."
7. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"Sight lines are very important and being able to see everyone and knowing that everyone has equal access to the music and the experience is important. Also, that we can experience the music together is important. So, the feng shui of the room becomes important as a result of that to maximize the experience for the audience."
8. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"I don't want anyone to tell them to like it or not. I really just want them to feel something, and if they don't feel something, that's okay too."
9. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
The album releases on September 7, 2018, and La Force will be performing on the following dates:
La Force Tour Dates: (for tickets visit here)
9/4 - Brussels, BE - Ancienne Belgique - with Feist
9/5 - Paris, FR - L'Olympia - with Feist
9/8 - Braga, PT - Theatro Circo - with Feist
9/9 - Lisbon, PT - Coliseu De Lisboa - with Feist
9/19 - Ottawa, ON - The 27 Club
9/20 - Toronto, ON - The Drake
9/21 - Montreal, QC - Phi Centre
9/22 - Sherbrooke, QC - Boquebière
9/23 - Quebec City, QC - L’Anti
10/10 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
10/12 - Philadelphia, PA - Ortlieb’s Lounge
Album Review, La Force - La Force
1. "The Tide" - A great opening track that sets an upbeat tone for the album. Great drumbeats help showcase La Force's fantastic vocal work. Upbeat indie/pop with fantastic vocals we have come to expect from Ariel Engle. A lot's going on on this track musically through electronic music, but never feels cluttered. Engle teases the listener with the vocals throughout with effects ridden vocals as well.
2. "TBT" - Another upbeat track with prominent percussion work. There is a fantastic breakdown here that discusses forgiveness and people's desire to be remembered. La Force goes into a section where she raps briefly. We were initially unsure how we felt about this, but once it fell right into the hook, we ultimately loved the juxtaposition and transition. La Force closes the track by noting that she's never going to forget.
3. "Ready to Run" - This track has some serious cross-over breakout potential. One that we could easily see
skyrocketing up the Billboard Charts. It's got a fantastic melody, that teases and slow burns into the hook. Religious imagery and references are prevalent throughout the track. When the chorus arrives it's bold, it's daring, and it's beautifully executed before it jumps right back into the verse. It's so memorable to the track; it's hard to believe that the hook on this song only happens once, but it leaves you wanting so much more. It's wonderful.
4. "Lucky One" - Another track we had discussed before with major breakout potential. It's a slow track that reminds us of early Radiohead musically, but vocally it is so much more than that. La Force takes the listener on a journey, dancing with you like smoke in the wind. Up, down, and around, but always calculated and with purpose. The beat
evolves a bit as the song progresses, the strings stay Radiohead, but the bass becomes more pronounced. La Force is a master of song structure, and boy, is it ever on display here. When she lets the listener off the ride of the song, you have no idea where you've been but you know you want to go again.
5. "Upside Down Wolf" - An upbeat track that is chalk full of vocal effects and interesting musical breaks and effects. The song builds throughout, leaving the listener wondering where they are going. The momentum pushes upward as the song moves forward as La Force sings of love, charity, and kindness. As the end of the song comes we were waiting for a breakdown or a chorus that never came as the song disappeared as quick as it came.
6. "You Amaze Me" - This is another track from the record that has serious single potential. The song continues the indie electronic sound that is prevalent throughout the album, but it is admittedly a bit more upbeat. This is another track you could see getting major rotation on AltNation and stations around the country.
7. "Mama Papa" - Starting with acoustic guitar and classical jazz-style percussion, this song allows La Force to show off her vocals and props to her because she kills it. This track, similar to many of the others is perfect coffee house music as it provides a great ambiance. However, there is still a hint of Johnny Greenwood to the guitars and Radiohead to the electronic backing in this track, even though it's not overwhelming of the track overall. There is an interesting electronic instrumental breakdown toward the end that reminded us of something from the Sigur Ros playbook.
8. "Can't Take"- Guitar work reminds of The Cure. Good beat that evolves like so many of the others. Vocals have effects laid on them, which works for the track, but they peel and place them when necessary. La Force has such a strong voice; it is truly powerful. This track bends genre a bit, as the beat is almost a callback to hip-hop or R&B and the guitar work and vocals are firmly planted in indie/alt. The song does have a darker tone than the rest of the album, which is a cool change of pace. Again, La Force uses non-traditional song structuring here to keep the listener guessing where you're going. But by song 8, you know this could happen. We think La Force takes the notions of genre and songwriting and turns them on their head for the fun of it.
9. "Epistolary Love Song"- Featuring La Force with a male vocalist, this song operates as a duet. We like the song, but the layer of effect over La Force's vocals does dull it down a little, which hinders the track for us a bit. It cripples the best weapon in the aresnal if you will. This is corrected on the chorus as the harmonies come together.
Closing Thoughts - La Force is destined for big things; it's as simple as that. Fact of the matter is, you can get on the train now or get left behind at the station. She is such a talent not just vocally, but musically which is hard to find. She understands song structure, and she understands when to take convention and set it on fire with a blowtorch. In short, this album is fantastic, and you have got to check it out.
Rating - 5/5
*Special thanks to Arts & Crafts Records, Jen Appel, and Ariel Engle (AKA La Force) for their assistance with this piece.