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Photo of album cover "Breakup song" // Lemon Cash

Catching up with Lemon Cash: A breakdown with a breakout duo

By Ilana van der Merwe, October 25 2023—

Are you the kind of person to boast about knowing an artist before they reach their ultimate peak? The type to listen to underground records and show them off to friends? Allow me to introduce you to Lemon Cash — a fast-rising and chart-climbing Canadian country duo on the brink of becoming a mainstream staple. 

On Oct. 21, Lemon Cash opened for singer Aaron Goodvin at the iconic Ranchman’s and the event was a night to remember. In an interview with the Gauntlet, the duo shared their thoughts on what it was like growing up with a built-in duet partner. 

Since childhood, brothers Cory and Jeff Papineau have been making memories together and music was the soundtrack to their happiest days. With uncles, aunts and cousins jamming with every family gathering, their father indoctrinating them into classic rock and country and their mother showing them the power of playing spoons and whistling, there was not a day without a song played.

“I think there’s just a lot of music in our blood,” Cory Papineau said. “Whether it was in the car, or with the family, there was always music.”

Music infiltrated every aspect of the young boys’ lives; even simple lemonade stands became musical spectacles.

“Our name ‘Lemon Cash’ comes from working a lemonade stand on our own and the cup we had was for the change people put in. It was the money we used to buy more lemons,” Jeff Papineau said.

“The same work ethic we had back then, we have now,” Cory Papineau said.

Since signing with Sakamoto Music earlier this year the duo has noticed an exponential growth in their audience size — which consequently means an exponential growth in critics.

“Now that we have a bigger team, songs that we write are kinda getting more comments and feedback. You always want them to love it but they are always like keep writing, there is a better one out there,” Cory Papineau said.

To which his brother added, “We will never do something that we aren’t fully comfortable doing, but we will sometimes compromise. The musical sacrifice isn’t worth it.”

It is this artistic authenticity and loyalty to their work that allows the duo to honour some of their childhood favourite artists like Blink-182 and the Bee Gees.

“I even went through a rap phase myself, but we always had the country on the side of whatever phase I was going through. Sometimes this other music comes through melodically in our own,” Jeff Papineau said.

Both brothers agree that it is this diverse musical history that makes their take on classic country so unique; something that becomes evident when looking at their success this summer.

“We had always tried to make [music] a career, but we knew we made it big when ‘Breakup Song’ made it to the top 40 on the charts,” the brothers said. 

The two, although playing for their own pleasure for most of their lives, never considered music to be just a hobby. With passion, perseverance and maybe some Pilsner the brothers went from jamming in basements to playing the Calgary Stampede. Both agree there is really nothing comparable to stepping on stage with your brother.

“Cory is at the front, I am at the back, and we got the musicians in between. So we are the foundation of the band,” Jeff Papineau said.

“Sometimes it feels like we are sharing a brain. He’ll go, what if we did this, and I’ll say I was literally just thinking the same thing and vice versa. It’s a real gift that we can be on the same page about music.” Cory Papineau said.

However, every career comes with its challenges. When asked about obstacles, the brothers mentioned two specifically: Writer’s Block and Cheetos.

“We get [writer’s block] all the time,” Jeff Papineau said, “I think you just gotta get out and do things. Maybe reading. But I like to listen to music or go for walks. Getting out, doing something in a social environment. Then ideas start coming.” 

“When you travel or go on a trip I find I always come back with a couple of good song ideas. You just need a break from reality,” Cory Papineau said.

As for the Cheetos, let’s just say, that when filming a music video with food for props, Jeff Papineau suggests that you start the day on an empty stomach.

Lemon Cash is in a position in its career now where they are figuring out where they belong in the industry. Regardless of where they land, their value of hard work will always drive them forward.

“Just keep trying. Don’t give up. That’s my biggest thing. We have been at this for a long time and it took a while for it to finally get some traction,” Cory Papineau said.

“It’s cheesy to say, but it really is all about believing in yourself and if you do have something special it will eventually happen for you. Stay humble. Talk to as many people as you can that are willing to help you or that you are able to gain resources from,” his brother added.

I am of the opinion that regardless of how big Lemon Cash gets, the duo will always stay down to earth. When asked what their non-musical necessities for a jam session were, Jeff and Cory strongly emphasized the importance of comfortable pants, a pair of slippers and a cold drink. But there are few things the brothers seem to adore as much as playing in Calgary.

“We love it here, we love Alberta. We are happy to be back at Ranchman’s. Every time we are here it brings back good memories,” they said.

When you notice the duo’s name on the radio, their faces on billboards, or see a stand-alone lemonade stand, stop for a second and listen to your favorite country hits: some of which may be written by Lemon Cash’s very own Jeff and Cory Papineau. 

More about Lemon Cash can be found on their website.

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