The 2011 NXNE Festival marked the first visit to Toronto for Winnipeg sweethearts Enjoy Your Pumas.
After releasing their debut album Commonality earlier this year, the band took off on their first Canadian tour. Not all bands get the chance to play more than one show at the festival but this dashing pop-rock quintet took on an acoustic set at Trinity Bellwoods Park by day and let it all lose at Sneaky Dee’s by night.
"It's different but it's another way to feel our music," guitarist Josh Benoit says of their acoustic sets. "We like the songs we've written so trying them out in different ways is a lot of fun."
Enjoy Your Pumas, lead by vocalist Rosie Blais, are no strangers to stripping down. Before their stop in Toronto, the band performed a few acoustic songs in Montreal for Here and Out. The scene was much like that of Trinity Bellwoods except under the blazing sun, the band performed in the pouring rain.
While common themes are found throughout their album, the overall sound is more diverse. The band isn't shy to flirt with various genres when creating songs. Instead, they proudly seize their different musical backgrounds.
"Our bass player Mark Gomez comes from a more Brit-Pop background. He has a lot of new-wave bass runs in the songs to really give it that flavor. Our drummer Luke Janzen is of a jazz background and myself, just a weird, collective background," Josh says. "With what we're writing now, we're more conscious about it and trying to be diverse and dynamite."
Some of their favourite songs to play live are "Animals" and "Cowboys", which really demonstrates the dynamism within the band. Enjoy Your Pumas, although very fresh on the scene, have successfully established themselves as a band capable of standing out amidst a sea of slumber material.
"You don't want to create a band that's already there," Rosie says. While she admits it's not always flattering to be compared to other bands, at times it's necessary.
"I guess in the same vein, it's just challenging what we did on the album and doing something different, changing the way we look at a verse or chorus. Things like that," says Rosie.
On top of her lush vocal range and classy demeanour, another unique thing about Rosie that she brings to the band is her bilingualism. Being raised a Franco-Manitoban, Rosie pays homage to her roots on Commonality by singing parts of "When It's Over" in French.
"We're Canadian. We should be proud to be bilingual," says Rosie "I've always had a hard time expressing myself and so the very fact that I can choose between to languages is funny."
When asked why French music still feels underrated in other parts of Canada. Rosie passionately explains it's due to a needless disconnection.
"I think the French often segregate themselves too much and they don't let the Anglophones get to them which is a shame. If people know about a band like Orange Orange, I'm sure they would love to check them out," she says. "Language shouldn't be a barrier when it comes to music."