Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Best Of Lime (Denis & Denyse Lepage) Part 2

By Richard Flohil (From Canadian Composer - January 1984)
Denis and Denyse LePage stay home with the baby, and make million-selling records Denis LePage and his wife Denyse don't look an international platinum-selling recording act that has sold well over a million records in three years.
They don't talk very much about the internal gossips and concerns of the music business. They don't have a huge house, with gold records on all the walls.

There is no Mercedes in the driveway. Instead, they like to sit around the dining room table of their Montreal home, sipping coffee, while their new baby shuffles around their feet. They are a perfectly contented quiet.
The homebody couple who have been married for years and like it that way. And they are quietly proud of what they have been able to achieve.

Denis and Denyse LePage are known as Lime. And, unlike most recording artists, they do not appear in public, they have no 'live act', and they do not work with other musicians.
They rarely leave the 150-year-old farmhouse they live in at the north end of the city; they make their records - three best selling albums so far - on their own, in a tiny studio off the living room.
They are, in short, a perfectly self-contained couple who stay home and happen to make a living in a business other people perceive as packed with excitement and glamour.

Denis LePage was always a musical kid. His first taste of music was playing harmonica at home, then the bugle in the Sea Cadets' marching band.

My brother was a drummer who used to work weddings and parties, so sometimes I'd get a few dollars for playing trumpet in the group.' From there to five years at the Conservatory - 'the lot, trumpet, piano, musical dictation, solfage; their goal was to prepare classical musicians, and if there were 30 students it was fairly obvious that we weren't all going to turn out to be Maurice André.'

Denis LePage started writing and recording when he was just 16 Indeed not - and while LePage was studying his way through the courses at the conservatory, he was also a working musician. He did his first album recording session when he was 16 (for a group called The Stringers; he also wrote two of the tunes), and soon he was leading his own band, The Persuaders - a group good enough to appear on Music Hop, the CBC-TV network pop show of its day. 'I guess I was always a natural hustler when it came to music.He says now.

Denyse, on the other hand, was a pretty blonde girl from a quiet home - her father was a funeral director - who used to roller skate around the empty schoolyard, singing at the top of her voice. 'When I started to go to English school, I started hearing these great records - people like Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles... I never liked the chansonniers very much.

I liked to dance and listen to my records. She met Denis at a dance hall - he was in the band and I really liked him. And the band was pretty good, too great to dance to.
Then I found out we had both been at the same high school, but he was on the boys' side and a year ahead, and of course, in those days, the boys and the girls never mixed, two days before Christmas 1965, he asked me around to his house, and I guess that was it!

Such a true life teen romance makes great reading, but it doesn't allow for Denyse's single-mindedness. At 19, anxious to learn the way things really are in the music field, she began to study classical guitar. Her husband, now, grins and says 'she was a natural musician, she had the feel, the rhythm for it.

After four years of training, she did a year at McGill University. I stopped playing classical guitar it was too solitary, and also I started swinging the scales. So I took up playing congas, and learned how to work on stage, which, when I was 19, and very shy, was the scariest idea in the world for me.

Denis and Denyse became a great team. Denis LePage continues, I was doing a lot of arranging for all sorts of Quebec artists, Nicole Martin, and many others, and Denyse was my copyist. Do you know how hard it is to get a copyist when you need one?

They're always busy, always working for someone else, hey, she was always available, and she was the best! Eventually, the team began to work for Tony Green, a well known Montreal producer who specialised, early in the initial dance music boom, in disco music.

I'd arrange the material, and often I'd write the stuff too as a phantom writer, a ghost writer, and they'd pay me maybe $ 500 or $ 1000 a song, and I thought that was pretty good money, because by now I had the first Moog, polyphonic synthesizer in town, and I was learning how to do most of the parts myself. So I could get maybe $ 1500 for a song, which was a lot better than making union scale for my time in the studio.

After a while, people would give me a little more of an 'in' on things; we'll let you be the writer, they'd tell me. That's okay by me, I told them. then LePage had his first hit. It was a piece I'd written called The Break, and we weren't even playing on it, it was done by a studio group.

Soon I saw it was on the Billboard charts, then they used it at the theme of a TV series called The Big Show, but that didn't last too long. Then I'd hear it on Wide World of Sports. It was on top of all the charts and staying there. So everyone figured out, hey, Denis has made it. He's gonna be a millionaire! They said, they're going to be too expensive, so we'd better use these new kids. And here we were, with a huge hit on our hands, starving, because it takes so long for the royalties to come through!

Adapting to the solitary life wasn't easy for the couple, so Denis and Denyse LePage went out to work, forming a jazz quintet that soon built a strong following. They were paying the rent, winning applauses, learning how to get in shape on stage again. Denyse was playing congas and loving it, and the visiting jazzmen would drop by each night to listen and jam.

Meanwhile, their fascination with synthesizers was growing. 'We also figured that if we couldn't get work in the studios, we'd better have our own studio, so we saved up and got an eight-track recorder, and started working in the house. It was an intriguing time; on one hand, the duo missed the social life of the studio scene.

Before The Break we were working, more and more, on our own doing all the parts of the synth. We didn't have six or seven string players and half a dozen horn men any more. LePage says. We had a hard time adapting to a solitary lifestyle for a while we thought we'd lost all our friends and we were in the cold.

Now I prefer to work with my instruments than with people. I know what these synthesizers and computers can do, I know how to control them and get the best out of them. They're built properly they don't go wrong.

The experimental work in the small home studio was beginning to bear fruit, and in 1980 the duo's first album, Your Love, was released on the tiny Matra label. Only a few weeks before, they had taken one song, Your Love to a local club called the Limelight, we wanted to know how it sounded on a big sound system. It sounded just fine, the club's disc jockey suggested the name Lime, and when the album came out, it turned into the group's first major international hit under Lime's own name.

I didn't know the people at the recording company had all these international connections, he says, and I was really impressed by the way the material on the first album was edited. Editing records, splicing the material, rearranging the order of the sounds, cutting and fixing and adjusting, all as opposed to simply mixing was a new thing back in 1980

The people at the record label knew about it, however, and it really helped make that record a hit. For a while, LePage owned a part of the record company, but he gave it back to the other partners in the project. I hated that business, he said. talking to distributors and pressing plants, that world is crazy, it's a world where people argue all the time and yell at each other, because what they're all really doing is hustling pieces of black plastic.

Your Love was to become a major hit around the world. Gold in Holland and Mexico, getting incredible airplay in France, a smash at home in Quebec. Lime II consolidated the success, and the third album - released last year - put the icing on the cake, although the couple regret that they didn't mix the record themselves. It, too, has had its share of hits. I thought there were at least four super hits on that album, Denis LePage says now.

Fitting the making of albums into the family routine can be a difficult job. Meanwhile, PolyGram distributes Lime around the world, except in Canada, where the Matra label is now distributed by CBS.

The couple stays home in the tiny studio, jumbled woth equipment, keyboards, and monitor speakers. There is much less of Denyse on the third album. I was busy having Claudine, but I did do some of the vocals. But the material for Lime IV is coming along, slowly filtering its way through the routine the family follows. The duo worked on one song at a time it may take as long as a month to finish a song. We're much more organized, in a way, since we had the baby, Denyse says. Her husband adds: We take a long time, because, after all, we have to write the tunes, create the arrangement, write the arrangement, programme the computer to read it, and then we have to record it, and edit it and mix it as well.'

Their music remains unrepentantly disco - a term neither scoffs at. To me, that's the modern sound,' says Denis, as his wife nods agreement. Rock and roll is a term people use for what's in fashion, but I find most of the rock and roll I hear pretty stale it hasn't changed, except that it's better recorded, better played, and more intricate. Now, you have the best of the new artists using the dance beat that we've been playing for years. People like David Bowie and The Police? 'ViolĂ ! Exactement!' they respond.

The equipment in the studio off the living room continues to proliferate the latest additions are huge Fostex monitor speakers ('he said he was just renting them to try them out, but I knew he'd bought them,' Denyse laughs). All the LePage equipment is manufactured by Roland - there's a TR 808 Rhythm Composer, two polyphonic synthesizers (a Jupiter 8 and a Juno 60), an MC4 computer ('the brains of the whole studio'), and two digital delays and a Vocoder. The Tascam 5A board has 20 tracks; the recorder itself is a TEAC 8568.

All of this fits in a tiny room, leaving hardly enough room for the two of them to work, but, as Denyse says, I can always record my vocal parts in the living room - or the bathroom if I want to! The LePages have been particularly pleased with the Roland equipment and have special praise for Ralph Dyck, himself a composer, and a senior member of Roland's design staff. 'He's got X-ray vision, I swear it, says Denis. He really taught me the basics of synthesizer programming.

I mean, if you don't know what an oscillator is, what a voltage control filter does, what a voltage control amplifier does, where the sound is coming from, where you can patch it in to get what kind of timbre you want; the right attack, the right sustain and delay and release and all these elements - then you don't really know the instrument. Once you learn the elements it's easier to get right to what you are hearing in your mind. These instruments, after all, can simulate nearly every kind of sound you want.

Like many composers, the pair have learned to work under outside pressure - deadlines imposed by the record company, for instance - but find that often this results in 'songs that are on the sad side.' We're normally happy people, they insist. Denis adds; Hey, you sit behind here, programme some Hammond organ sounds, and play a 16-bar blues and then - whoops - you stumble over a neat chord change, and then you imagine the world enjoying it, and you've got a new song! Occasionally, they miss the world of live music, the world of clubs and good bass players and getting into a groove. But, almost all the time, they find the satisfaction of creating their own music, by themselves, in their own home. They don't listen to the radio much - 'except to see what the competition is up to'. And when Denyse writes lyrics she imagines herself as a young girl in a discotheque, maybe hoping she's going to meet a man tonight.

For Denis LePage the studio has been replaced by a more controlled world. I feel like an astronaut in a space shuttle. He lives in a sterilized world, with a glass helmet, and he travels outside our world. I feel very sympathetic to that. When the astronaut returns to earth, people cheer and journalists interview him, and he has experienced something most people will never experience. Denyse and I feel like that when we have a hit. It's the same. We're living in a high tech world, and we like it very much, but, high-tech or not, Claudine needs feeding, There is quiet, now, in the old house. And this happy, pleasant, relaxed couple - whose music makes people dance around the world - seem about as far from the fantasy world of discos and space shuttles as anyone could be.

Their last album together under the name Lime is Caroline and released in 1991.In the late 80's they also release three 12" singles under the name LePage on Prism Records, with a proposed album called Slice of Lime which is never released.

In 1994 they released the album Reason of my life under the name Step By Step on Future Tell Records in the U.S. Two 12 inch singles are released: Don't let it get you down and Your Love.The record company owned the name Lime and did not put pictures of Denis and Denyse on the album covers. (Except for the german release of the single A man and a woman.) They also hired in stand-ins to perform as Lime and some of them show up on some of the recordcovers. Known names are Joy Dorris, Chris March and Jeff Streger.

Denis LePage also releases several solo instrumental disco tracks (Hot Wax being the most successful) before Lime, and write and perform songs for other disco artists including Carol Jiani (Hit and Run Lover) and Voggue (Dancin' the Night Away / Love buzz - Denyse LePage doing vocals with another unknown girl on the first one.) and the popular instrumental disco track The Break by Kat Mandu.

He also produces other groups like Mystery and Mother F. In 2000 a remake of Your Love is released mixed by Michael Simard and Joe LaGreca. In the spring of 2002 a new album called Love Fury is released. It's produced by Denis LePafe, Allan Coelho and George Cucuzzella.

Denyse is no longer part of Lime on this one. Denis LePage has also something to do with the following releases in 2002: 'Blush - I want love', 'Love Express - Your love is tumbling down' and 'Direct Input - Human Race' (vocals by Denis LePage on the last one). They were all released on Igwana Records in Canada on 12 inch and cd-single.

To all the Lime fans all over the world:

This article was very enlightening and inspiring to me that I had to do a proper mix compilation of the songs that were written, arranged and produced by Denis and Denyse Lepage.
I made part 2 first, which features all the music they made from 1981 to 1991. The albums featured are Lime II, Lime III, Unexpected Lovers and Caroline (see pictures of the albums above).

As a proud Canadian myself I dedicate this mix compilation to my fellow Canadians, To all the Lime fans all over the world, Dominique from France and of course to the Lepage family of Denis, Denyse and Claudine.
Please support the artists by buying their music.
Mixed and recorded on the fly. 100% All original vinyl.

DBX Enhanced 16 Bit Digital Stereo 44.1 khz, 320 kbps, 152 mb, 1:06:50

02.Gold Digger
03.Do Your Time On The Planet
04.My Lovely Angel
05.True (Surrounded By Love)
06.Say You Love Me
07.I'm Falling In Love
08.Profile Of Love
09.Give Me Your Body
11.Angel Eyes
13.Take It Up
14.Unexpected Lovers
15.My Love
16.Come And Get Your Love
17.Babe We're Gonna Love Tonight
18.Bonus Track: Mystery - Hold On To This Moment

To Listen or DL:

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