It wasn’t long into Duchess Says‘ first few shows, way back into the early ’00s, that frontwoman Annie-Claude Deschênes’ fearless face-offs with her audience began. It wasn’t an antagonistic choice so much as artistic one: Deschênes realized that unless she pushed the limits of live performances, shoving her way into the crowd, “trying different things” each night, the Montreal synth-punk band’s singer would “get bored.” “I prefer to be close to people because there’s more energ,”Deschênes says. Of course, that kind of risk-taking often has physical consequences.
“One night in Quebec City, I was battling the crowd with some newspapers,” she says with a pained laugh. “I fell on the floor and a girl jumped on me. I broke my wrist and asked the crowd if there was a doctor there or someone who could help me. They started chanting ‘Is there a doctor? Wooo!’ Then they started passing me along over their heads, let me fall on the floor, and I got a concussion. I ended up in the hospital. That night was depressing.”