Two Qu?coises walk into a rave. Yes, it sounds like the opening line of a particularly bad joke, but this one doesn’t have a crappy punch line. When Doriane Fabreg (the Doba part of the band’s name: DobaCarocal) met Carole Facal (the Carocal bit) in a sunny field in the middle of a huge outdoor rave in 1998, a musical love affair blossomed.

We just started chatting, Fabreg says. And it was love at first sight, an instant friendship, an instant connections. We talked for hours.

The women talked of music, mostly (Fabreg at the time was a percussionist, Facal a guitar player), and it wasn’t long before they put their musical minds together. After performing for a while as a duet, they picked up four band members, slowly building an audience among world-music fans in Quebec. They sang in several languages and refused to limit themselves to one style of music, mixing electronic sounds with traditional folk music, African rhythms with breathy French voice. And they were happily plugging away on the independent circuit for years.

It wasn’t until 2004 that DobaCaracol started to command serious attention. In the past year their most recent album, Soley, charted well in Canada -“ so well, in fact, its single became one of the most-requested songs on Canadian radio and music TV. A gig at the global Live 8 concerts alongside Neil Young and Bryan Adams followed. Fabreg said the band never expected to be playing such large performances, or appearing in the mainstream media.

It’s a big surprise because we have always been considered an underground band, a world music band, she said.

But our last album had more French singing in it and I guess that made us more accessible. We also worked really hard on the album and we thought it was going to take us somewhere, but we definitely didn’t think we would become number one on the radio. We never compromised in our artistic approach, so it’s nice to see that you can stay true to yourself and your music.

Fabreg and Facal have also stayed true to their politics, using their increased profile to raise awareness of environmental issues, global poverty and the rights of women.

We think it’s very important, Fabreg said. As artists we’re able to send a message to the world. It’s work that has to be done, and if you have the means of doing it it’s like you have a duty to do so. We can be heard and it’s good to have something to say.

DobaCaracol perform with Coda and DJ Slimy Frog at The Basement, 29 Reiby Place, Circular Quay on Wednesday 21 September from 9pm. Tickets are $15 (pre-booked 9251 2797) or $20 at the door.

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