‘How To Be French’

May 2011 / Toronto

‘New Bodies’

Bernice is the work of Toronto songstress Robin Dann. When Mitch showed me the videos, I was arrested – in a room baring its naked walls and wiring, Robin, too, was baring a ton of her structure. A voice like spun-sugar – airy and saccharine – and accompanied by SS alum Thom Gill on the downtempo synths, Bernice had me asking, ‘but how exactly do you be French?’ Seemed like there was some story to this one.

On ‘How To Be French,’ Robin tells about her time living in France – about falling in love with a culture, but always feeling excluded from the real heart of it, about learning the subtleties of a person in another language, and finally, about coming home to Canada to find you’ve left a big part of your heart behind. Though Robin manages sweetness and gossamer throughout (think Angel Deradoorian or Sophie Barker back in Zero 7), the song is really rather melancholy – marked by exclusion and insolubility. So it seems no one really learned quite how to be French.

Robin and Thomas are co-producing an album under the Bernice moniker with hopes of a late summer release. The album will see Robin’s brother, Nico Dann (Sister Suvi, sometimes tUnE-yArDs), take a seat at the drums and local jazzbo, Dan Fortin, on the bass. Leon Taheny (Germans, Bruce Peninsula) will engineer.

— Chris Hampton

Video by Mitch Fillion