It was 2 years ago, when Joey changed my mind on the importance of Pop Music, during our interview.
Since then, the world has changed in ways we would never had anticipated, but the importance of music has only been made more evident, as we hunker down during this storm.
Listen to the song now on all streaming platforms: Sugar Daddy
During the interim, Collin Steinz (Flara-K) joined Joey Langlois, Alanna Martin (keys/vocals), and Justin Wiley (drums) as their new bass player.
Joey was in communication with Collin since 2016 trying to coordinate playing a show together. A year later, Flara K (Collin Steinz & Sam Martel) and What If Elephants finally shared a stage.
When founding bass player Eric Letourneau left for other projects, Collin filled in enough times for the band to “propose to him. Do you want to marry our band?”
The band also picked up another friend along the way, Maya Malkin (Motel Raphaël), who contributed to the new single Sugar Daddy.
Before Motel Raphaël was even a thing, Joey met Emily Skahan busking in Montreal. Sensing a musical connection, Emily invited Joey to a birthday party where there would be signing, and there he met the other members of the band, Clara Jones and of course, Maya Malkin. A connection was made.
“When we were pretty far along in the writing process of Sugar Daddy, I got a sense that if there was someone that would bring this character from verse two alive, it would be Maya. She has a really unique voice and a great ability to give life to a story. It was just asking for her.”
The contrast between Joey and Maya’s characters plays off each other perfectly.
Traditionally, a sugar daddy is someone that financially backs a relationship for mutual gain. Being a musician lately is almost a vow of poverty, so it’s believable when Maya sings:
I’m wearing your sweater, it’s covered in holes.
It’s true we’ve been better, money comes and it goes.
When asked what the most valuable thing in a relationship is, the first word that comes to mind, for Joey, is trust.
It reminds him of a saying that goes somewhat like: I give away my trust easily, but if you break it, it will take a long time to win back.
He then contrasts that type of person with someone who may be slower to give away their trust, where an investment of time is needed to gain it.
“How far you can go with someone and the endeavors you can tackle together has to do with how much you trust them.”
The band trusted Maya to enhance the song, and she delivered, cementing that trust.
“Sugar Daddy is the story of two people who trust each other quite a bit.” While they don’t know what the future holds for them, given their financial struggles, “it’s a mutual agreement that is being expressed by sticking with each other till the end.”
As this couple double down on love, the difficulties around them pale in comparison. This overcoming adversity vibe transcends into the real world, and for that brief 2:48 of time, we feel hope.
The band received hope, amid this Pandemic, and a second wind, after being backed by their own sugar daddy: FACTOR.
Covid-19 “brought us closer together”, Joey states on the topic of “the friendships you really want to maintain.”
“For myself and the band, there is a new level of vulnerability that we’ve opened up with each other because we are going through a crazy situation, all together.”
“I’ve got everything I need as long as your with me.” – Sugar Daddy
Maybe this lyric applies not only to the song’s main characters, but to the band as a whole.
In our first interview, I quizzed Joey and Alanna on Elephant facts. I gave Joey a break this time and only brought two to the table.
Fact 1: Elephants can’t jump.
What is something that Joey can’t do?
Joey is a creator. He loves creating new things, so he has a hard time with repetition. While he loves the challenge of the unknown, while performing a room, the preparation before the show, that repetition is what he has a hard time with.
Maybe that explains the new songs being gathered for an upcoming EP. Joey loves to collaborate and create. It is what fuels his passion, both in front of the microphone, and behind the console as he produces.
Sometimes, collaborations come from past encounters.
When Joey was around 10 years old in Gatineau Quebec, he would go to concerts, with his older brother, where Tokyo Speirs was the drummer, and they formed a friendship.
A decade later in Montreal, Tokyo Speirs helped Joey on some vocal editing and mixing for some of the older What If Elephant tracks.
This time around, he took a more active role in the creation process and co-produced Fighting For You, soon to be released.
“He feels like an extension of myself.” says Joey on working with Speirs. Tokyo will quickly identify the vibe that Joey would instinctively go for, “then he will take it one step further.”
An intellectual sparring match develops where each push the other to new heights of creativity.
Fact 2: Elephants use their brain power to mine for salt, which they desperately need to stay hydrated.
What is essential for Joey’s survival?
Movies & TV Shows. Why? It comes down to stories in their basic form. “I’m someone who is addicted to good storytelling and it’s something I aspire to.”
Maya & Rosanne Baker Thornley co-wrote some upcoming songs. It’s their ability to tell stories in song that inspires Joey, just like he is inspired by Christopher Nolan because of his visual stories.
Some may look down on fiction, but both fiction and music allow us to escape into a story.
I would venture to say that if given a choice, I would rather have a conversation with a musician, than a famous movie star. Why? Movie stars are talented at becoming someone else, while musicians will often tell their own story, displaying vulnerability and connecting us to them through shared experiences.
We may even fit a song’s narrative to our own lives, and that is OK with musicians. They don’t hold on to the stories, but give birth to them, and allow them to change for every listener. This is something that, in my mind, elevates a musician over an actor, any day of the week.
Joey and Alanna recently discovered SUPERBLOOM by MisterWives. “It totally brought me somewhere else. I was just enamored by it.”
“Music and storytelling are essential. If you are a really good storyteller, you have this ability to bring a lot of people with you and have them relate and connect. It’s the essence of who we are. Everyone wants to connect right now because we are robbed of the occasions where we would normally do that, so it’s a good time to be telling stories.”
We all need to dream and taking a break from the real world is soothing…it’s survival.
Fantasy Rock/POP Band
I asked Joey who he would choose to make up the ultimate band.
Vocals: Julia Michaels “A potential for spice in there.”
Keys: Chris Martin “What he has is an ability of writing melodies and really iconic sick riffs on keys.”
Bass: Dua Lipa’s team (Stuart Price, Tom Barnes, Koz and Denzel Baptise)
Drums: Tokyo Speirs “He’s right up there…world-class.”
The Fantasy Pop Band gives us a good glimpse into the inspirations of the band. Joey first chose the bass, as the foundation for the band.
Like Dua Lipa, What If Elephants can craft a great pop song that will get stuck in your head. Joey might be a great storyteller, but there is a part of his own story in all these songs if you dig deep enough.
We look forward to the upcoming EP launch and maybe we can escape into more stories and come out the other side with a smile.
Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs with out of the box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives.