Acoostic Sessions: Live musical performances done in and around Montreal. Season three is presented in conjunction with Seratone Studio.
“Dance to your own rhythm.” It’s not a new creed, but to Soulhouse it’s an important one. And it’s a belief the band are preaching via their groovy soul sounds.
Comprised of Dahlia Caro and brother/sister combo Aidan and Lea Keeley (herself no stranger to Acoostic Sessions), Soulhouse were born in the Montreal streets and have continued to grow their sound throughout the city. If you happen to stumble into one of the MTL’s various live music venues, pubs, or open mic nights, chances are you’ve encountered one or all of the trio.
They brought the sweet pop-soul sound of their track “Stages of Love” to the Seratone Studio stage, and afterwards chatted about the night they were formed, what Montreal means to them, and what they instinctively believe to be awesome.
Late one summer night, Soulhouse was born as an a capella group, so the legend goes. Take us back to that night, because there surely is a story there.
Dahlia Caro: So we basically met doing open mics in the city and there was a specific one at Brutopia, which I think – well now actually, Lea, you’re hosting…
Lea Keeley: I’m now hosting at Brutopia which is interesting. Open mic night, once a month. Comes full circle…
DC: Yeah I didn’t think about that actually. So it was late one summer night – it would have been a Sunday night – and it was past 3AM at this point, and we just broke out into – sang some a capella songs in the street. Some MJ tunes, and *sings* “What is Love?” Just breaking out in the street…
Aidan Keeley: Yeah, I think it started with Michael Jackson…
DC: MJ. “The Way You Make Me Feel…”
AK: Yeah, and we were just – it was like five or six of us – and yeah it was after last call…
DC: …And then, classic, we hit up Boustan…
AK: …Yeah and we were just singing for like 20 minutes, through the streets…
DC: …And people were in cabs, and had their phones, taping us beside…and it was, yeah, so that’s kind of how…
LK: …That’s how it started initially….
DC: …In the streets, if you will…
LK: …In the street. Soulhouse in the streets!
Aidan and Lea are brother and sister. Dahlia, how have you infiltrated this family?
DC: I infiltrated the family. So, I met them that summer – I’m originally from Ottawa – and so when I permanently moved to Montreal we moved in together. So we lived together. And initially, with the name Soulhouse, I think we kind of… It was an informal name. We ended up keeping it just because, you know, we all live under one roof, in one house, and we love soul music, so it’s like soul-house in the literal meaning, but in a figurative sense we house soul inside of us if you will. You know, there’s several layers and meanings.
Your Facebook cover photo says “dance to your own rhythm.” How does this soul-house or “house full of soul” live up to that creed?
DC: Well you know, we’re in harmony. We find our moments of harmony. There are some moments of, you know, where it’s maybe some dissonance, as life goes of course. But overall I feel like we’re on the same wavelength. Stevie Wonder and MJ are some artists that really brought us together. Still stands true today. We have a mutual love for soul music.
AK: Yeah. We like all the same styles. I think we compliment each other well too.
Dahlia, you said you’re from Ottawa. Lea and Aidan are from…?
LK & AK: Stratford…
Stratford, Ontario. How did you all end up in Montreal?
LK: I came here eight years ago after seeing Stevie Wonder perform at the Jazz Fest (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal). Aidan and I went with our mum and dad. And I was just like, “I need to move to this city. I need to move here.” So I moved the next fall – the same year – and have been here since. And then Aidan came a couple of years after.
AK: I followed Lea basically. She kind of inspired me to move up here, and then I really liked the city so I stuck around and…
LK: …We lived together…
AK: …Yeah Lea and I lived together for like three years…
LK: …But I can’t take him anymore. *laughs*
Aidan, you went to university in Toronto, right?
AK: Yeah, just for a year, but not for music, for philosophy and English, and then I decided I didn’t want to do that.
And Dahlia, how did you end up here from Ottawa?
DC: I was studying psychology and after I finished my degree – I was born and raised in Ottawa as well – I did that, and then I just knew something inside of me wanted to move either to Montreal or Toronto, and many people that knew me were like, “You’ve got to go to Montreal. It’s way more you. It’s so unpretentious and cool, and really good vibes.” So I decided to give it a shot and I lived there for one summer, and I totally fell in love with the city. I lived in the Plateau, which I still live in the Plateau now. And that’s when I met Lea and Aidan, then I met a bunch of musicians and kind of found a community of musicians because up until… I didn’t really start singing until I moved to Montreal. My background is more in dance, actually. So I grew up doing ballet, jazz, tap, and it’s more in Montreal that I kind of found my singer identity I would say.
What keeps you in Montreal?
LK: Each other.
DC: Yeah, each other.
LK: Actually, though, it’s the music I think still.
AK: Yeah, honestly. This is the only city I’ve been able to just make a living off music, and I don’t foresee myself moving anytime soon.
LK: And it’s endless – endless people that you keep meeting. It’s incredible you know? All of these amazing musicians, artists, all sorts of things.
DC: Yeah there’s a lot of talent.
AK: Festivals… Jazz Fest, Mural Fest, it’s like there’s always…
LK: …Little pockets and gems.
DC: I mean, I’m still in Montreal. I’ve been focusing a little bit more on actually teaching dance and ballet barre classes, so I do that during the day. And I was hosting a jam night called Balagan Jam. It’s on a temporary hiatus now because the bar I was hosting it at got closed down. But basically it was a live improv soul, funk, R&B, jazz kind of music night, and I would bring out my tap board and also do improv tap dancing because I wanted to try to fuse my passions for dance and live music and singing all into one place. And so Lea was coming through a lot – Aidan you came in sometimes too – it’s like a jam night. And now these guys are both hosting open mics in the city, which is cool.
LK: Yeah… And now I’m also trying to finish wrapping up my album here – yes, solo album – so that’s what I’ve been trying to, you know, finish up that, move on to a different project, work more with these guys, play more shows around town. Just play more music all the time.
Off the top of your head, what are five things that you think are awesome? And no vague general answers like friends, or family, or music. I’m talking like Sour Skittles for me. Lea, go, five things…
LK: Just straight?
First things that come to your mind.
LK: Okay umm… Trees, spaghetti, love, coffee, and… I can’t say weed. Can I say weed?
You can say weed, it’s up to you…
LK: No, I won’t say weed… uhh… now five things… Music! Jesus… Well I guess that’s kind of vague.
Yeah, it was actually a specific example that was used as something that’s pretty vague.
LK: Was it? Oh God!
That’s alright, we’re just going to put weed. Dahlia?
DC: I’ll say my grandmother’s cheesecake. Coming in from the cold on a winter’s night, just being wrapped in warmth. Many layers of blankets – which I guess is related to number two as well – but just constantly having many layers of blankets at an accessible point is very great to have in life. Exposed brick walls – one of the reasons I came to Montreal. I would just say that, exposed brick walls. And lipstick. I really enjoy lipstick.
DC: Red. *gestures to lips and red shirt*
*Aidan and Lea point to Dahlia’s outfit*
AK: What colour does she have on?
DC: Yeah, exactly.
Aidan. Five things…
AK: Okay, five things. Parliament Funkadelic, Twin Peaks. Huge fan of Twin Peaks…
LK: …Oh, not fair!
Lea we’ll get back to you.
AK: Cheese. Big fan of cheese…
What type of cheese?
AK: Specifically old cheddar.
DC: Specifically old, rotten, mouldy cheese.
AK: Umm, what was my fourth? Oh, gardening. I really like gardening actually. And Irish whiskey, how about that?
DC: How about that?
Who doesn’t? That’s great. Lea, have you got something different?
LK: It’s okay. I think I have too many things in life.
To keep up with Soulhouse, and to find information for upcoming shows, be sure to like them on Facebook.
Check out past seasons of Acoostic Sessions here.
Words – Zac Strevens
Cameras – Samuel Schioler, Zac Strevens, Peter Thompson, & Gabriel Alvarez.
Editing – Zac Strevens
Audio – Simon Petraki
Direction – Zac Strevens