Like any other music enthusiast, I’ve developed rather ardent crushes on a handful of musicians. There is just something about talented individuals that really revs my engine. Usually, the objects of my affection are bearded, bespectacled and wearing plaid and/or a harmonica holder.
They’re not necessarily carnal, these crushes (though I’d knock an ice cream cone from a toddler’s hand for a kiss from Ryan Adams). My attraction has more to do with what they create and the massive intelligence and talent behind their work. These icons of indie/alternative perfection earn top billing in everyday conversation and on my iPod, and I care not at all if they will never love me back. But don’t tell me that they won’t. That’d hurt my feelings.
Lately I’ve found that my crush-dar has expanded beyond its predominantly male field of range. More specifically, I’ve discovered the existence of Régine Chassagne. A founding member of Canada’s astounding Arcade Fire, Chassagne is an exceptionally talented singer and musician.
I’m in love with Régine. If she weren’t already married to her bandmate Win Butler (who is so incredible that I have no chance of competing with him), I’d probably devise some way of proposing to her. Why does she have such a hold on me? Aside from the fact that she speaks French, allow me to explain…
Growing up with dark skin, strong features, wild hair and a heavy doseof ethnic ambiguity was not easy for me. Due to taunts doled out by peers (and family members…kids are cruel), I have always been convinced that I’m, well, funny looking. I embrace it nowadays, and it always makes me so happy when the not-so-typical-looking girls of the world are given a new role model to look up to.
For me, Régine is one of those heroines. She’s another strong-featured, toothy-smiled, wild-haired gal, and she makes no apologies for it. She exudes confidence while refusing to straighten out her curls or tame her clothing style. Régine’s beauty gives me a boost on those days when I wish my nose and lips were smaller, or that I was blonde.
Another reason I’m seriously crushing on this woman is her big heart. Born in Canada to French Haitian parents, Régine grew up with stories of the violence and unrest which plagues Haiti to this day. On Arcade Fire’s first album, Funeral, the song Haïti is a personal lament for her family’s homeland. When a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Régine was deeply affected. She penned this piece for The Guardian and rallied her bandmates and fans to donate whatever they could to the relief efforts. It is a powerful thing, using one’s popularity for good. I deeply admire Régine for refusing to sit idly by while millions suffered.
And Régine’s talent? Holy cow. Girlfriend plays the accordion, drums, organ, keyboard and about a million other instruments. And she can sing. The first few times I sat down to listen to an Arcade Fire album, I was blown away not only by the band as a whole, but by the enchanting, airy vocals which punctuated their songs. I still get chills during certain songs, and I’ve been listening non stop for a few months now. I am convinced that no normal music lover could approach the work of Régine Chassagne and walk away unimpressed.
I love Régine Chassagne, and I want you to love her, too. If you’re not yet an Arcade Fire fan, or you’re avoiding them because they seem way too hipster for you, you’re doing a great disservice to yourself. I mean, just listen to her: