Baby on tour
Placerville electronic pop-folk artist Pregnant and musician girlfriend take kiddo on the road
Daniel Trudeau lifts up his newborn baby girl, Juniper, and hops in the Volvo for a ride. Winding along dirt-paved back roads in Placerville, the two finally come to a stop in the middle of nowhere. Dad grabs a wooden dollhouse out of the car’s trunk, places it in the middle of the road—then drizzles gasoline on it and sparks a Bic lighter.
From a safe distance, he and baby Juniper watch the dollhouse burn to a raven-black crisp. The infant even smiles at the parade of flames.
This is the plotline of “Wiff of Father,” a music video for Trudeau’s solo project, Pregnant. It’s a song that Trudeau says he wrote as a letter to his 10-month-old daughter.
“I want her to be whatever she wants to be,” he explained via telephone from his home in Placerville, where the former Sacramentan lives with his girlfriend and daughter. “She gets to do whatever she wants, and I’m not going to impose on her.” (Still, Trudeau confessed he wouldn’t mind if Juniper was a tomboy.)
Trudeau brought Juniper into the world with his current girlfriend and soon-to-be-wife, musician Jocelyn Jade Noir of Alak. The duo met in high school, then reacquainted in 2007 in Midtown Sacramento, when they say it “got romantic.”
And this coming summer, all three will pack into an RV and tour the United States for a month and a half, part of a joint Pregnant/Alak tour. Like most savvy musicians, the two began a Kickstarter project—which has caught fire as well and sparked more than $1,200 in donations already.
Pregnant has fans the world over—Vice magazine has praised his music as “mutant pop sound-collages”—but this will be Trudeau’s first U.S. tour.
And baby Juniper’s even getting in on the act: Proud parents will dip her hands in paint and press them against buildings and monuments throughout the country while on tour, creating what they call a “memory map” for their little girl to revisit later in life.
But first, reality: Trudeau has a new full-length, Life Hard: I Try, his fifth Pregnant release, that drops this month. Plus more than a handful of shows in March, not to mention full-time work as a chef at a popular Placerville restaurant, diapers, Little Bear cartoons and everything that comes with being a 25-year-old father/musician.
Girlfriend Noir, also 25, is currently recording with Sacramento producer Andy Morin, in addition to booking shows at Cozmic Cafe, a cafe and live-music venue that Noir calls the “cultural center of Placerville,” and playing gigs as Alak. (Read more about Noir and Alak: “Those aren’t boundaries”; SN&R Music; March 6, 2008.)
Before Noir and Trudeau hooked up, he resided with practically every other local musician in the now-defunct Witchdome, a dwelling on S Street in Midtown where many a house show went down during early 2000s. He remembers constant beer tippling and random bands rapping on the door saying there was a show in Witchdome’s basement that night, even though no resident of the house venue had any clue.
Now, both Trudeau and Noir appreciate Placerville’s calm. “We’re old souls,” Trudeau admitted.
Although Noir first began playing guitar at age 9 and is a bit of a musical prodigy, Trudeau, who grew up with his parents’ “yacht rock” and Steely Dan, didn’t really have a clue what he was doing musically until after high school, admitting to just “screwing around on the guitar” as recently as five years ago, including in a band called Hello Mexico with Noir’s brother.
He’s a fast learner.
Pregnant’s sound is microwaved folk pop with a heavy doses of electronic loops, soundscapes and a foothills singer-songwriter’s sharp-tongued lyricism. On Life Hard: I Try, uptempo electronic-dance instrumental tracks with rich tropical and IDM influences, such as “You Can Drink From Bell Peppers,” segue into avant-garde folkish ballads, such as “Letter to a Friend,” with its finger-style acoustic guitar, rich harp and epic cymbal crashes.
The opener, also the title track, starts with a cadenced drum-hit, guitar-arpeggio loop that gives way to Trudeau’s delay-laden balladeering: “Life hard / I try / to be the liquid in a pond.” It’s an unconventional folk song, complete with wild synths and video-game-beep flourishes that, after the first chorus, take a swift 180 and break into smoothed out, pop-jazz instrumental jam, something akin to Teebs’ Ardour with sprinkles of yacht rock and stoner lounge vibes.
“I want it to be something people can groove to, something they can feel,” he said of his new album’s style. “I want it to be, like, tasty, too.”
Audiences often look confused during Pregnant’s live show, which typically consists of Trudeau seated in a chair, guitar in lap, hunched over a laptop and effects pedals, singing into a mic, shaking shakers, emptying his lungs into a harmonica. Because it’s not a conventional band setup, the live-electronic-or-deejay-artist conundrum rears its awkward head.
But Trudeau gets this. “I like it when people sit down and listen to stuff,” he shares. For instance, he recently played a show with punk outfit Japanther; Daniel told the rowdy crowd to just “chill out and listen up,” sit cross-legged and enjoy the sounds.
And, despite baby on board, catching his live gig isn’t as hard as one might expect. “If you want to go see Pregnant,” Trudeau says, “hang out in Davis this month.”
No joke: Even before the Tradition Tour, March is a big one for Trudeau and Noir. Pregnant and Alak perform together next Thursday, March 17, at Chillanova in Davis (look online for the skinny). Next, Pregnant will gig on Saturday, March 19, with Mucky the Ducky and others at the KUSF Common Frequency Benefit Dinner and Show at the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts (521 First Street in Davis; 7 p.m.; sliding-scale donation $5-$25).
And finally, Pregnant performs on March 25 at the Attendance Office (1315 L Street in Davis; 8 p.m.; donation).
That’s a spree of shows—and a chunk of baby-sitter dough.