Created in 2010 by Maybe Watson, Vlooper, KenLo Craqnuques, Claude Bégin, Robert Nelson, Eman and Mash, Alaclair Ensemble released their first album 4,99 in June 2010, followed by Les maigres blancs d’Amérique du noir (2013) and Toute est impossible (2014). The sextet’s last album, Les Frères Cueilleurs (2016), gave birth to the Ça que c’tait video, which now has one milion views ! In 2017, Alaclair had 5 nominations at GAMIQ and also 6 nominations at ADISQ, where they won 3 awards including Video of the year (Ça que c’tait) and Hip Hop Album of the year. After touring multiple festivals in Canada and France, Alaclair is ready to release their next album on both continents !
Agent – Michaël Bardier
After retiring his project Dirty Beaches, Zhang has been focusing on explorations of improvised music, Free Jazz, and his new role as a composer. His newer compositions predominantly works with saxophone, synthesizers, percussion and piano, furthering his research on ritualistic music of liminality. Besides his solo work, he is also a member of a Free Jazz/experimental trio with Portugese minimalist/architect David Maranha, and Free Jazz Drummer Gabriel Ferrandini in Lisbon. Zhang currently works as a composer for film soundtracks, along with acting in independent films.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
On their debut album ‘On’ (Bongo Joe Records), the band show what happens when you open doors between Turkish folk songs which were passed on from generation to generation on the one hand and a dirty blend of funk rhythms, wah-wah guitars and analogue organs on the other. The Amsterdammers who come from various backgrounds (Turkish but also Indonesian and Dutch) comfortably create their work in the adventurous no-man’s land that exists between these two worlds.
Older generations of Turkish musicians have also experimented with opening doors between previously unconnected sonic worlds. During the seventies, artists such as Baris Manço, Selda Bağcan and Erkin Koray practiced a way of songwriting and composing similar to Altin Gün’s.
Manço, Bağcan and Koray have all influenced Altin Gün, but their foremost inspiration is Neşet Ertaş, a Turkish folk musician whose musical legacy is invaluable. Comparisons are almost impossible to make but imagine someone with the same impact and status as Bob Dylan or George Gerschwin and you’re getting close. Many of the songs he wrote have become standards in Turkey, national treasures which are cherished up until the present day. Altin Gün retain the lyrical and thematic structure of Ertaş’s songs, though they often alter their time signatures and add fuzzy bass sounds, sweltering organ sounds and raw saz riffs. Ertaş wrote the majority of the songs on the album even if these are hardly recognisable after all the work Altin Gün have done on them.
Let Altin Gün open that door for you and get ready to indulge in their fresh and beautiful sound.
Chloé Soldevila and her musicians have built a psychedelic pop world with twangy guitar riffs & haunting synth lines. A bed on which the singer’s catchy vocals lay, an ode to love.
Coming from a family of artists, Montreal native yet, raised between Barcelona and Montreal. Chloé grew up in the arts which have led her to be in musical training from a very young age, graduating from high school with special mentions in classical piano and flute. After pursuing jazz piano studies in Cegep, she left musical training to pursue her own specific goals within different mediums, she engaged with Photography and Film study at Concordia University. It’s the photography that inspires her at first. Through the medium, Chloé had the chance to meet several Artists such as Allah-Las, La Femme or Broncho, who she traveled with – mostly in the United States (California) and France – to photograph. These travels had ignited for Chloé a desire to write and compose her own music. Spending hours with Miles Dupire-Gagnon, Zach Irving and the rest of the band was the inspiration she needed to move from flirting with music to actually engaging with it. Her strong classical and countermelody composition background came into play, but this time, influenced with words about her life during those years, directly inspired by the observations she would make on herself and on the life of the many people she met along the way.
Agent – Ouss Laghzaoui
Annika Henderson is a musician, poet and artist who rose to fame as ANIKA with two highly acclaimed eponymous records (Recorded with Geoff Barrow of Portishead and his band Beak>, released on Stones Throw in the US), and was touring the world. She is well known as a DJ too, hosts a radio program on BCR – Berlin Community Radio, is seen and heard in experimental cinema and collaborates with a variety of Berlin, London, or Mexico City based artists and musicians among them Jandek, Shackleton, Michael Rother (Neu!), Dave Clarke (Skint BMG), Andreas Reihse of Kreidler, T.Raumschmiere (Sleeping Pills and Habits), Doireann O’Malley, Ricardo Domeneck, Stine Omar / Max Boss (EASTER), Phillip Geist (Live Video mapping project and soundtrack in Tehran, Iran) or Yann Tiersen. Last year, Anika released an album with her new Mexico City-based project, Exploded View on Sacred Bones (US).
Agent – Michael Bardier
Bernardino Femminielli works in media including music, performance, poetry and film under the guise of a hyper-sexual, genderless provocateur. His work and character are a synthesis of mysticism, transgression, danger and pleasure– a detached crooner deep within a distopian discotheque. Narrating in French and Spanish, from classical arrangements to brutal Italo-disco, from heavy cosmic drone to mutant industrial: his sonic ventures reflect his adopted personas. His lyrics explore an imagined illicit paradise full of excess, drugs, bars, pleasure, darkness and companionship. Much of his poetry is arranged using the cut-up technique and is composed similarly to works of transgressive fiction. On stage, the confrontational yet intensely vulnerable performer explores the rich and dark energy of French and German cabaret– emphasizing the “total” performance where poetry, music, film, and dance coalesce.
Bernardino Femminielli performs as a solo act but is often joined on stage by musicians Pierre Guerineau and Asael Robataille from Montreal electronic projects Essaie Pas and Bataille Solaire, as well as with his side project Femminielli Noir (Jesse Osborne-Lanthier) and is a long time collaborator with Alex Zhang Hungtai (Dirty Beaches).
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Beverly Glenn-Copeland is already known amongst collectors and music heads for two sought-after albums of folky jazz in the key of Joni. But it was this album, Keyboard Fantasies, originally self-released on cassette in 1986 that really caught our attention. The album, entirely recorded on DX-7 and TR-707, lies somewhere between digital new-age and (accidentally) early Detroit techno experiments. The inimitable style of BGC here is both peaceful and meditative while simultaneously rhythmic and bass heavy. The album was recorded in the northern Canadian town of Huntsville where BGC was living at the time and is a beautiful fusion of personal vision, technology and place. It is not surprising that Red Bull Music Academy, Sappy Fest, Suoni Per Il Popolo, Kazoo Fest invited him to perform.
Beverly Glenn Copeland, born into a family all of whom were very musical, essentially studied the classical piano repertoire from ‘cradlehood,’ listening to his father playing the piano four to five hours a day. He went on to study classical music at McGill, and then after a few years of concertizing – singing the European song repertoire – he suddenly felt called to write music that would weave all the different musical cultures he had come to love.
During his lifetime thus far, Glenn has written a large body of music for adults, music for film, four musicals for children, recorded six albums of his songs, and been the recipient of composition awards from the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, and Arts NB. His songs have been performed by various Canadian artists including Rita MacNeil and Jackie Richardson, as well as by the Toronto Pops Orchestra under the direction of David Warrack.
Concurrent with writing compositions for adults, Glenn wrote music for children’s television programs in England, Canada, and the U.S. He also had the wonderful opportunity to spend twenty-five years entertaining kids as a regular actor on the Mr. Dress-Up Show.
After many years of absence from the concert stage, Glenn has resumed performing with his new band, Indigo Rising, in Canada and Europe. He is also providing Artist Talks for audiences in his concert locations. With great joy and appreciation Glenn acknowledges his deep connection with the younger generations that are now so enthusiastically embracing his music!
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Cadence Weapon is the musical project of Edmonton-born, Toronto-based rapper, producer and poet Roland “Rollie” Pemberton. The son of a pioneering hip-hop radio DJ, Pemberton was introduced to a diverse library of music at an early age. After teaching himself to rap at age 13, he would soon enter freestyle battles and sit in as a member of his uncle’s funk band. Inspired by Edmonton’s burgeoning experimental electronic and underground rap scenes, Cadence Weapon developed a singular production style harnessing aspects of both worlds. He released his debut album Breaking Kayfabe to international critical fanfare, earning him record deals with Big Dada and Anti Records. That album was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize; his album Hope In Dirt City would do the same in 2012.
Known for his sharp lyricism, Pemberton served as Poet Laureate of Edmonton from 2009 to 2011, making him the literary ambassador of his hometown. His debut book of poetry Magnetic Days was released by Metatron in 2014 and his poem “The Garden” was incorporated into a bronze sculpture at the Alberta Legislature Grounds in Edmonton in 2018. Pemberton also acted as the narrator for the VICELAND TV series PAYDAY and Mister Tachyon and has hosted lectures for Red Bull Music Academy and Native Instruments.
Cadence Weapon has returned with a new self-titled album on eOne Music Canada that expands his stylistic range by incorporating elements of trap, funk, electro, techno and grime. Featuring production by KAYTRANADA, Jacques Greene and Blue Hawaii and appearances by Deradoorian and Casey MQ, this record finds Cadence refining his songwriting as he explores themes of individuality, race, technology and existentialism through his expressive lyrics.
Carla dal Forno is an Australian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, currently based in Berlin. She is a member of the groups F ingers and Tarcar, and formerly cult Melbourne outfit Mole House. Autumn 2016 sees the release of her debut solo album, You Know What It’s Like, on Blackest Ever Black.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Chocolat was. Chocolat is.
First came a band bursting with unpredictable rock and roll violence, Chocolat released a straightforward and erotic self-titled EP in 2007, followed by Piano Élégant in 2008, a suavely romantic debut opus infused with rock and yéyé influences. More fierce and fiery than ever, they released Tss Tss in 2014, an album whose expansive psychedelic sound and kraut-inspired repetitions earned the band international recognition and many tours abroad. Chocolat is now well into its second incarnation. On Rencontrez Looloo, the group has parted with its sprawling explorations and moved towards a more modal hard-franco-prog with punk and folk accents.
Awakened minds already know it: Rencontrer Looloo is like seeing the future in the bottom of a bottle of Cherry Coke, or accessing the infinite through the twists of a pretzel.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Montreal’s Corridor take familiar elements but assemble and scramble them in a way you may not have heard before. There’s a twin-guitar interplay that recalls the late-’70s mutant new wave of XTC, The dB’s and The Feelies, with a sense of melody that shows a love of ‘60s psychedelia and sunshine pop. Putting a hometown twist on things, Corridor sing entirely en français. Don’t let that put you off though: the creativity and abundance of killer tunes found on their acid-baked 2017 album Supermercado breaks through the language barrier. Corridor are even better live, with a real joie de rock that knows no borders — guitars slash, harmonies soar, bodies a constant blur.
-Bill Pearis, Brooklyn Vegan
Agent – Ouss Laghzaoui
Chad VanGaalen is a notorious homebody, a visual artist, an animator, and an incredibly prolific musician. Across the course of a diverse and unique career, VanGaalen has become one of Canada’s most celebrated and unpredictable artists. An accomplished animator and illustrator, VanGaalen’s hand-animated music videos and his own animated short sci-fi film have been featured in film festivals and galleries worldwide. Over the course of his six studio albums (Sub Pop / Flemish Eye) —and countless other releases— he has built up a devoted fanbase, self-producing and playing almost every instrument. He lives a quiet life and rarely leaves his rickety house in Calgary, Canada, and can often be found drawing anthills in the nearby schoolyard.
Agent – Ouss Lagzhaoui
Duchess Says was created in late 2003 by four influent members of the Church of Budgerigars who decided to collaborate together in a common musical project. Their goal was to insure a faithful representation of the message of the Duchess (or spiritual budgie) through a precise artistic dialog. Composed of A-Claude (vox, keytar, guitar), Ismael (keyboard,guitar), Phil (guitar, bass,feedbacks) and Simon Says (lo-fi beats, drums and doubtful noises). Duchess Says is serving us a repertory of “moog rock” songs strong in images and enormoustly intense live performances!Their musical influences range from no wave, new wave, punk, to cinema and visual arts. If you pay attention, you could see them perform in the most unusual places such as golf courses, shop windows, vacant building sites etc.. Duchess Says has the mandate to decontextualise the rock and to promote simultaneously their Church on the way.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Eli Keszler is experimental electronic music’s favorite drummer. A regular collaborator of Laurel Halo and Oneohtrix Point Never (both live and on record), the virtuosic percussionist helps bring surreal, digital compositions to life. In his solo work, Keszler lets his imagination run wild: A piece from 2011 called “Collecting Basin” turned a water tower in Louisiana into a giant piano. His upcoming album, Stadium, is inspired by his recent move to Manhattan, and it seeks to mimic the city’s mercurial mood.
Eli Keszler is a New York based artist, composer and percussionist. Keszler’s installations, music and visual work have appeared at Lincoln Center, MIT List Center, 67 Ludlow, Victoria & Albert Museum, Sculpture Center, The Kitchen, South London Gallery, Hessel Museum, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Luma-Foundation, Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Barbican-St. Lukes, Walker Art Museum, LAX Art, and Greater New York at MoMa PS1. His work has been featured in Frieze, Bomb Magazine, The New York Times, Wire Magazine, The Washington Post, Gramophone, Modern Drummer and Modern Painters among others. He has released solo records for Empty Editions, Esp-Disk’, PAN and REL records. As a composer Keszler has received commissions from the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, ICE Ensemble, Brooklyn String Orchestra and So Percussion. Keszler is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and was a 2016 New York Foundations for the Arts fellow.
Stadium will be out via Shelter Press in October 2018.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Elle Barbara is a Montreal-based artist and singer. Rising from artist-run spaces at the turn of the current decade, their recent efforts are centered around transgender community organizing. With a group called Black Space and a lineup made of musicians of Sub-Saharan descent, Elle Barbara aims to recenter contemporary blackness via the rejection of racialized tropes. The Black Space consists of Markus Lake, Hans Jean-Charles, and Mitch Holtby.
Agent – Ouss Laghzaoui
Montreal-based electronic duo Essaie pas is comprised of Marie Davidson and Pierre Guerineau. Both are respected musicians in their own right – Marie having released two acclaimed solo records, with Pierre being best known for production work on underground Canadian musicians such as Dirty Beaches and Femminielli. Essaie pas was born on a hot summer night in 2010, releasing some ultra-limited singles which culminated in their debut LP, Nuit de noce (Teenage Menopause Records) in 2013. The mix of drawling guitars, français mumbles, and minimal electronics caught the ear of DFA Records, who booked the pair to open for Factory Floor on their first North American tour.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Exploded View, the international music project of Annika Henderson, Hugo Quezada, and Martin Thulin has returned and taken flight with their second full length, Obey. The album was recorded at Hugo’s and Martin’s studios in Mexico City with Annika visiting from Berlin. Leaving behind their raw, live recording process, and embracing overdubs and multi-instrumentalism, the band has crafted their most ambitious work to date. The four-piece that recorded the band’s self-titled debut album and Summer Came Early EP became three to create a more concise collection of songs. Their motivation for creating together remains purely passionate and the improvisational spark the band is known for has morphed into the emotional flames of being close friends with a deep desire to make music with each other.
This passion serves as the main conceptual thread throughout the album and the result is an almost hypnotic dream sequence that lulls the listener into a lucid state. Once in this state you become free to experience all of the classic dream motifs that the band has in store: intrigue, danger, ecstasy, visions that are hard to place but feel primordial, and a constant sense of movement. From the aptly titled opener “Lullaby” the record weaves you through 10 apocalyptic yet soothing songs. By the time you reach the song “Obey,” you are firmly in the band’s palm. And the titular track delivers, bringing you on a hypnotic voyage with a shuffle 3/4 rhythm, where singer Annika Henderson’s voice is caught in a rotating, inescapable rabbit hole tale, accompanied by the high-pitched modular bleeping sounds of the Moog and eerie landscape of the Solina.
When asked about the title of the record, singer Annika said “this is in reference to so many things. We live in a society where we must obey or risk punishment. This can be social punishment, legal punishment, emotional punishment – if you dare to step outside, you will reap the reward. We live in a time when we are self-certifying a lot. Whether it’s how we present ourselves on social media or our diet or our job – we obey the social norms. Our fears are used against us by advertisers. Our fears of growing old or being excluded – we must conform or pay the high price – buy this and you will be accepted. We must obey.” She adds musingly at the end “It’s also funny because in the band we often feel like we are all compromising, so we must all obey each other’s wishes to some extent too.” The meta nature of this sentiment, wanting to break free and also recognizing necessary emotional compromises, is just one of many juxtapositions in this record. The band recognizes that some of the freedoms they advocate for are only attainable in sleep and have thus created this dream state record to help release us all.
Striking the balance between precise and wild, between unshackled and grounded, grooving and unhinged, has always been Exploded View’s specialty. They have a special knack for making the esoteric feel accessible and crafting pop music out of seemingly raw consciousness. This unique ability to make beautiful music that feels written beyond the veil is at the heart of what makes the band so captivating and powerful, and it’s on full display all over Obey.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
When Edmonton’s Jessica Jalbert first began performing solo under the name Faith Healer, the alias was her way of avoiding being pigeonholed as a singer-songwriter. Now, however, times have changed: Faith Healer has turned into a band, with singer-guitarist Jalbert joined by drummer/multi-instrumentalist Renny Wilson. Their first LP as a duo is called Try ;-).
Balancing melancholic lyrics with playful moods, lush melodies with straightforward arrangements, Try ;-) is the sound of an introspective loner leaving her bedroom to make a rock record with her best bud. It’s what happens when you stop taking life as it comes and instead, throw all of your efforts into making timeless pop songs. Forget what the bullies told you in middle school—there’s nothing cooler than trying hard.
The intensive creative process inspired the title of Try ;-) and serves as a reminder that sometimes you need to grab life by the horns rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. As for that winky face: “I always use that winking emoticon,” Jalbert says with a laugh. “I think it’s hilarious. I think it’s cheeky and fun, which is something I was trying to access a little more with this record.”
Agent – Ouss Laghzaoui
Freak Heat Waves second full length beams through like a soundtrack to a dark and greasy tale of a futuristic post punk band that follows their adventures through sleazy discos, underground punk venues and gleaming white art galleries. The album explores this strange world. The first single, “Design of Success” is a strange and sexy look into an alien nightclub. “Dig A Hole”, features Steven Lind’s sharp guitar riff and monotone vocals riding the skeleton of a bass line into an incendiary proto-punk guitar solo. Thomas Di Ninno’s robotic drums and retro-futuristic production make “A Civil Servant Awakening” sound like a great lost UK post punk single. The propulsive bass of James Twiddy on “Comfortable Conversation” brings to mind the endless drives of a DIY touring band. The record follows their self-released and out-of-print debut LP and extensive touring of North America on their own and with friends Viet Cong (Jagjaguwar/ Flemish Eye) and Each Other (Lefse). Freak Heat Waves calls Victoria BC home but the album was recorded and mixed over the course of a year on islands and cities and small towns across Canada.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Montréal’s Helena Deland writes songs that are a testimony of a given time or place, converting her memories to something that sounds, in a word, unforgettable. A myriad of influences filter in and out of her writing, from ’60’s Parisian pop to indie folk to fuzz rock. She describes her songwriting as a collection of ‘unsent letters,’ perhaps fuelling her self coined genre, ‘sincere pop.’
Helena captures the unapologetic aspects of womanhood the world needs today, highlighting powerful femininity in her vocals and refined writing in her unique lyrical choices. Helena will be touring the world over the next year, promoting the release of her upcoming EP’s, ‘From the Series Of Songs Altogether Unaccompanied’.
Helena Deland has been subtly collecting songs for a while now. After having collaborated with artists from different backgrounds such as Men I Trust, Ludovic Alarie and Cri, she teamed up with Jesse Mac Cormack in the Fall of 2015 to record her first group of songs, a powerful EP called Drawing Room. Her ever growing interest for words and literature and her constant journal keeping has made her songwriting increasingly coherent and mature. As such, recent collaborations and friendships have given her the tools and the will to share her music.
Helena Deland’s latest two couplets from Vol. I and II , ‘There Are a Thousand’, ‘Perfect Weather For A Crime’, ‘Take It All’, and ‘Body Language’, are poetic, catchy, and undeniably magnetic. Helena’s voice runs shivers down spines and guides her self-described “sincere pop” to a completely irresistible state. Her songwriting sounds like a more melodically driven Courtney Barnett, equipped with clever word play and lush rock instrumentation.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Hoan formed in 2015 with the intention of exploring sonic terrain without inhibition. Their work gives subtle nods to the darker side of new wave music adding an understated melodic intelligence that is reminiscent of bands such as Deerhunter or Broadcast. Their debut release, “Modern Phase”, will hit the shelves on April 28th via Fantôme Records.
Agent – Ouss Laghzaoui
Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) returns with Daqa’iq Tudaiq, the third full-length album from the Montréal-Beirut contemporary Arabic audio-visual duo, following the acclaimed 2015 release If He Dies, If If If If If If (year-end lists at The Wire (#39), The Quietus (#24) and A Closer Listen (Top 10), among other accolades).
Featuring voice, electronics, buzuk and other instrumentation from composer-producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Matana Roberts, Suuns, Big Brave) and complemented by the 16mm analog film work of Charles-André Coderre in live performance, JIMH continues to expand the horizons of its profound conceptual and aesthetic engagement with Arabic/Middle-Eastern traditions. Daqa’iq Tudaiq translates as “minutes that bother/oppress/harass” – which presumably needs no further explanation – and features two distinct album sides of music.
Side One realizes a long-held dream of Moumneh’s to record a modern orchestral version of the popular Egyptian classic “Ya Garat Al Wadi” by the legendary composer Mohammad Abdel Wahab. JIMH assembled a 15-piece orchestra in Beirut, enlisting the celebrated Montréal-Cairo musician/composer Sam Shalabi (Land Of Kush) as arranger and musical director for the session. Anchored by the stately hypnotic pace of plucked and percussive instruments (riq, santur, derbakeh, kanun), the piece unfolds with lush, languid, reverb-drenched manoeuvrings through virtuosic Maqam shifts (Oriental scales). Moumneh’s melismatic lead vocals and electronic production sensibility pay homage to the genre’s documented historical recording traditions, while pushing things subtly and respectfully into new territories of sonic distortion and noised, artefact-laden transmission. The song’s original title (with lyrics penned in 1928 by the poet Ahmad Shawqi) translates as “Oh Neighbour Of The Valley”, but JIMH takes a different line from the original lyric as the new title for its orchestral-electronic re-interpretation. “Wa Ta’atalat Loughat Al Kalam” (“The Language Of Speech Has Broke Down”) is an expression of wordless love and transcendent communication between two lovers’ eyes in Shawqi’s poem; JIMH re-titles the song with this line, exploding the sentiment with more complexity, tragedy and socio-political meaning – also prefiguring the formal aesthetic ruptures JIMH bring to the piece itself. Love in a time of politics, politics in a world conspiring against love, and the specificity of Arab diasporic experience in our brutish 21st century.
Side Two comprises four tracks of non-ensemble “solo” material by Moumneh which push rupture and decomposition/recomposition of tradition further into avant-garde territory – voice, buzuk and electronics take the lead on a suite of emotive and evocative songs, including the percussive loop-driven instrumental “Bein Ithnein” (“Between Two” ) and the stunningly unsettling processed vocal track “Thahab, Mish Roujou’, Thahab” (“The Act Of Departing, Not Returning, Departing”).
Daqa’iq Tudaiq is a masterful, mesmerizing artistic statement and confirms Jerusalem In My Heart as one of the most engaged and forward-looking avant-Arabic projects at work in contemporary music today. Thanks for listening.
Montreal violinist Jessica Moss has performed and recorded with a wide spectrum of ensembles over the last two decades. Best known as a permanent member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, she was also a founding member of avant-klezmer group Black Ox Orkestar, recorded and toured with the Vic Chesnutt band for the two albums released on Constellation, and worked extensively with Carla Bozulich’s Evangelista. She has also performed and recorded as a guest with many of Montreal’s best known artists, most recently with Big|Brave on their acclaimed 2016 record for Southern Lord. She was featured in Jem Cohen’s Empires of Tin project, and joined members of Godspeed, Fugazi, White Magic and Dirty Three to perform the live score to Cohen’s film We Have An Anchor in various locations at Europe and the USA. Most recently she’s been collaborating and performing with the band Laniakea, featuring Daniel O’Sullivan (Ulver, Grumbling Fur, Æthenor, This Is Not This Heat) and Massimo Pupillo (Zu).
May 2017 heralds Jessica Moss’ first official full-length solo release. Comprised of two side-length multi-movement compositions, Pools Of Light is a stunning work that unfolds at a stately, inexorable pace, combining sound-art and signal-processed timbres, extended melodic and contrapuntal lines, and the periodic deployment of stark, minimalist vocals. Recorded with kindred spirit Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and released on the only label home she knows, Jessica says she “is feeling fucking grateful to be doing what I’m doing right now” and hopes to see you on the road.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
It’s through an eponymous album released in October 2010 on Grosse Boîte that the general public got better acquainted with Jimmy Hunt as a solo artist. Critical acclaim followed as the singer-songwriter was awarded numerous accolades in Quebec, and was selected as one of the Révélations Radio-Canada in 2011-2012, a program that highlights the excellence of upcoming francophone artists.
Seasons passed and Jimmy Hunt returns in October 2013 with Maladie d’amour, a new album with a sound reminiscent of the graceful folk of his debut. But of course, Jimmy was not going to stop there – Maladie d’amour also blends dense electro with minimalist lyrics. We wouldn’t want to go overboard, but here goes: there’s definitely some Gainsbourg in the innovation and the unusual texture of this album. Plus… have you seen that cover?
These sonic explorations also owe their unique directions to two of Jimmy’s close collaborators, who have previously joined him for shows. Keyboardist and sound programmer Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux (Organ Mood) handled recording and arrangements on selected tracks, and multi-instrumentalist Emmanuel Éthier (Passwords) directed the sessions. Both also play on the album.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Akena Lohamba Okoko aka KNLO is a producer from Sainte-Foy, member of Alaclair Ensemble. Apart from is instrumental color series intitled Craqnuques circulating through the web since 2007, KenLo as produced for many vocalists between Montréal and Québec (K6A, Karma Atchykah, Sarah Linhares) and published ten EPs, worked solo or in duo (VLooper, Caro Dupont). In a dj set, KenLo navigates the night with selections of joyful music (rare funk, afrobeat, reggae, hip hop and other traditional music) and exclusive home music, fruit of the Tout’Nou Laboratoires Incorporés.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
Marie Davidson’s music dives deep into her internal psyche. Her new album draws on the influence of her assorted musical heroes, an array of important thinkers, and her recent experiences as an artist. On Working Class Woman, she takes the same building blocks as before but knocks them together into something bolder. Crafting a more timeless sound than she’s done previously, it’s the logical next step for a career built on a far-reaching worldview.
Davidson’s relationship to music started with the violin. She was raised in Montreal, the city where she still resides now, and her parents nudged her toward learning an instrument. Her request to learn the piano was rebuffed. The violin was a cheaper option, and one which she would be able to transport between her separated parents’ houses. She had classical training for several years and played in orchestras while she was at high school.
In the meantime, she hungrily consumed the music which she heard around her. That meant Nirvana, hip-hop and R&B: the sounds which were taking root in the ‘90s. By the time she was 19, she had picked up the guitar and was starting to play in bands around Montreal, as well as incorporating those contemporary influences into her own music. She started playing synths, and returned to the violin too, finding inventive ways to record and process the sounds it produced.
She spent a brief period at college studying drama with aspirations of acting, but soon dropped out in favour of focusing on music. She found herself in the city’s then-flourishing DIY scene, going to places like Le Brique, a warehouse space where bands could hang out and experiment. She looks back on that time as her training: the preparation for making her own music, where she found her voice and made important connections.
That included her now-husband Pierre Guerineau, with whom she now records with as Essaie Pas, releasing two albums together thus far for DFA, the latest aptly described by the Guardian as “cyberpunk coldwave”. She also started working with Xarah Dion as Les Momies De Palerme. They recorded an ambient-influenced record, “Brûlez Ce Coeur”, which was released on iconic Montreal label Constellation (also home to Godspeed! You Black Emperor) in 2012.
David Kristian was another collaborator in that period. A longtime fixture of the city’s music community, Kristian guided her to explore production and encouraged her to start making her own music. He and Davidson inaugurated their DKMD moniker, where Davidson fronted the vocals for 2012’s synth disco-styled “On The Other Side” EP. (They later reunited, too, for a horror-tinged Italo record in 2015.) Crucially, though, Kristian introduced her to using sequencers, which have since become a vital part of Davidson’s approach.
It was the catalyst which led to her self-titled debut EP in 2012 and debut album “Perte D’Identité” in 2014. Those first releases spoke to many of the interests which still occupy her now: textured atmospheres, spoken text – rather than spoken word, which she sees as a distinct tradition – and a melange of influences which includes Italo disco, proto-industrial and electro. Nodding to forebears which span from Chris & Cosey to Harold Budd, those first tracks were poised between propulsive, looped sequences and bursts of unguarded exploration. On “Un Autre Voyage” in 2015, she took that same approach and expanded its scope. The album found space for a wide span of sounds, encompassing both gristly arpeggios and lush balearic washes.
She also started to bring together the live set which she still tours now. It sees her play on her own, marshalling a table of gear which includes sequencers, synths and a mic for her to sing and talk into. It allows her to improvise and play each set in a different way to the last. There’s a fiery, direct energy to her shows, which has picked up more momentum the longer she’s spent playing with that set-up.
It was with 2016’s “Adieux Au Dancefloor” where the foundations that Davidson had laid down started to grow into something bigger. She released it with the Cititrax label affiliated to Minimal Wave, the latter having carved out an important role in discovering lesser-heard music from the cold wave and synth pop era. It was punchier and more dancefloor-oriented than previous releases and drew praise from the likes of Pitchfork (“Davidson presents a project that indicates exciting and near-exponential growth in her ability as a writer and producer”), The Fader and Resident Advisor.
Her new album “Working Class Woman”, set for release on Ninja Tune, continues in the dancefloor-minded trajectory charted by Adieux Au Dancefloor. The album’s heavier moments – of which there are many – deliver a gut-punching weight, combined with her characteristically-deployed spoken text. Sometime the text is a peak into her thoughts and state of mind; at other times, she employs a bleak humour, directed both at aspects of club culture and in more oblique critiques of the modern world.
The album’s early moments include lead single ‘So Right’: matching pared back lyrics with a melodic bassline and bright synths, her words sketching out a euphoric feeling that chimes with the music. It all aligns together to create a warm glow, backed by a John Talabot remix, where he slows down the momentum, creating a mellow pace guided a languorous bassline. In ‘Work It’, she probes her workaholic nature. In her opening spoken line, she declares, “You wanna know how I get away with everything? I work, all the fucking time.” The track is, appropriately, unrelenting: it’s a robotic, jacking groove that’s short but sweet. ‘The Psychologist’ – which also alludes to a course she’s currently studying in psychology – is carried by a moody techno swagger that suggests a playfulness evident throughout the record. On ‘Day Dreaming’, soft chimes provide a moment of colourful respite, swirled around with a soft-focus ambience. In contrast, ‘The Tunnel’ is an ominous deep-dive into industrial sound-blasts, focused around Davidson’s dark narration. And in ‘Burn Me’, she takes a turn at a more straightforward club rhythm, building up drones, an acid bassline and flashes of percussion into a tense slow-burn.
Davidson sees the album as an honest document of her state of mind. As she puts it, “It’s an egotistical album – and I’m okay with that.” It’s in part a reflection of the past year, where she spent part of her time living in Berlin and a lot of time on tour – an experience which can be enriching, but draining in the persona which you’re expected to project for people.
That same interest is reflected in the thinkers and writers – like psychologist Alice Miller, physician Gabor Maté or filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (in particular, his book Psychomagic) – which have fed into her creative process. She was drawn to ideas about psychology and the self, filtering her own reflections through the theories and stories which she’s encountered. It’s an account of an artist taking ever bigger strides in turning those expansive ideas into her own characteristic medium.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
In the crowded scene of Tuareg guitarists, Mdou Moctar stands apart from his peers. Playing in the repertoire of desert guitar popularized by groups like Tinariwen and Bombino, Mdou is pushing the boundaries of the genre with a unique personal sound. With versatile compositions and genre defying albums, Mdou’s music has been an underground success with an international following, set on redefining the sound of the desert.
Mdou Moctar hails from a small village in the Azawagh desert of Niger, a remote region steeped in religious tradition. As a child, he taught himself to play the a homemade guitars, cobbled together out of planks of wood. It was years later before he found a “real” guitar, teaching himself in secret. In an area where guitar music was all but prohibited, he quickly rose to the status of local celebrity amongst the village youth.
In 2008 he traveled to Nigeria to record his first album “Anar.” A psychedelic reworking of the Tuareg sound, the electronic tracks featured innovative pitch bending synths, drum machines, and autotune. In 2010, he teamed up with the label and collective Sahel Sounds, releasing his first international album, “Afelan.” In 2015, he co-wrote and starred in the first ever Tuareg language film, “Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It,” a Saharan remake of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” In 2017, he again shifted gears to another sound with “Sousoume Tamachek,” a mellow blissed out recording evoking the calm desert soundscape, tackling religion, spirituality, and matters of the heart.
In the past years, Tuareg rock music has gotten faster. There is a preference for this new style, both in the raucous weddings of Agadez and in Berlin rock clubs. The wavering guitar solos, rapid fire drums and heavy distortion has become characteristic of the contemporary sound. Mdou takes on this challenge, but with an ear towards tradition. Rooted in traditional, with borrowed polyrhythms of traditional « takamba » and lyrics sung in the style of old nomadic poets, his guitar playing is wild and unrelenting, equal parts nomadic bard and Eddie Van Halen. Mdou Moctar and his band have toured Europe and North America, playing sold out shows from small DIY rock clubs in Portland to New York City’s Lincoln Center. His music has been featured in the BBC, The Guardian, Pitchfork, New Yorker, L.A. Weekly, NPR, Rolling Stone, Les Inrocks, and his film continues to be screened at film festivals around the world. From underground star of Niger to international film star, Mdou Moctar has undoubtedly one of the quickest rises to success.
Toronto native Daniel Benjamin and collaborator/co-conspirator Maddy Wilde have been making music together for most of their lives. As Moon King, they weave dreamlike harmonies over buzz-saw guitars and electronic percussion, with their live performances capturing a raw-nerve intensity that verges on ecstatic. Many of their songs appeal to our darker subconscious desires, reveling in the embrace of fear and ego as a means of escape. Moon King’s first EPs, Obsession I and II, were released on Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuk’s label One Big Silence. They have since signed to indie powerhouse Last Gang for their debut LP ‘Secret Life’, and their extensive international touring history includes tours with Doldrums (Daniel’s brother Airick), Austra, Majical Cloudz, and (Mr) Twin Sister, among others.
Agent – Michaël Bardier
The project revolves around bringing a new approach to sound and arrangements. Comporised of brothers Thomas and Philippe l’Allier, the duo brandishes a unique strain of melodic anti-pop that draws its roots in industrial music and 80’s synthwave. While Philippe’s repetitive grooves and contrasted use of sequencers, synths & drum machines quickly immerses you in the duo’s take on reality – one that seems to come out of a Dark, Dystopian and Deranged world – Thomas grasps the opportunity to bring nuances to the music with his noisy guitar parts and his confident crooning. Their live show is visceral and heavy, it brings you places. Dark ones. Then for a split second, It leads you to believe that after all, everything is going to be okay. These are only love songs.
Nadah El Shazly is a singer and composer living and working in Cairo. She released her critically acclaimed debut album AHWAR in Nov 2017 via Nawa Recordings. Backing up her release with extensive worldwide touring through a solo set and a four-piece band, El Shazly has been featured in local and international festivals including Le Guess Who?, REWIRE, Best Kept Secret, Supersonic and many more. She continues to compose for film and visual art.
Two years in the making, Ahwar was composed, written and produced by El Shazly herself in collaboration with Maurice Louca and Sam Shalabi on co-composition and arrangement duties. The album was crafted across two continents, between Canada and Egypt, and features the best of Montreal’s contemporary-classical and improvised music scene, most of whom are members of Shalabi’s Land of Kush.
Negative Gemini (Lindsey French) is an American songwriter, singer, and producer.
After moving to Brooklyn in 2014, the Virginia-native released her self-produced debut album Body Work, for her own record label (100% Electronica) earning early comparisons to the likes of Hope Sandoval and Gwen Stefani. With its unique blend of underground dance beats and pop hooks, Body Work quickly found itself the darling of many music publications, garnering critical acclaim from prominent media publications like MTVnew, Resident Advisor, and The Fader. Already established as a strong female presence in the New York electronic music scene, Negative Gemini’s new EP Bad Baby seeks to write timeless and memorable music on the fringe of pop. Written over the course of the last two years, Bad Baby chronicles the ups, and downs in French’s recent life.
Her 2017 single “You Weren’t There Anymore” topped the charts of music blog aggregator Hype Machine and was praised by Pitchfork and SPIN among other major publications and was quickly followed by her second single ‘Bad Baby’ which won a spot on Spotify’s Undercurrents playlist.
Agent – Ouss Laghzaoui
Organ mood is a sound and visual artist collective from Montreal, composed of Christophe Lamarche and Mathieu Jacques. Since 2008 we try to change what the notion of what audience means by favoring a more involving relationship with our public. Our tools are analog synthesizers, overhead projectors and custom made instruments we share with our spectators, interconnected through software.
We have toured Quebec as an opening act for pop artists. We played in several festivals in Montreal such as mutek, meg montreal and escales improbables. We turned the atrium of the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art into a psychedelic venue. We played in a church in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. We transformed the backyard of the artist-run center l’Écart in Rouyn-Noranda into an impromptu DIY rave. We performed at the totally rococo teatro Fru-fru in mexico city as part of mutek mx.
We try to make our performances a ritual, where the public can join and discover the inner stregths they have to pursue large scale projects.
Montreal band Solids went to school with bands from the 90s, like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and Superchunk. Formed by Xavier Germain-Poitras (guitar) and Louis Guillemette (drums), the duo has understood that melody never shines as much as when it is forced to fight its way through many layers of distortion and feedback effects. A first EP released in 2010, Generic Dogs, already united fans of chaotic choruses under the banner of their intense rock. A 7” (Fog Friends b / w Blown Out) and a split 7” created with Toronto band Animal Faces have confirmed Solid’s reputation: a rare duo able to reconcile punks, rockers and metalheads. Blame Confusion, recorded by Adrian Popovich at Mountain City Studio (Priestess, Duchess Says, The Dears, etc.), is the band’s first full-length album available on Feb 18th through Fat Possum Records.
Whether playing on stages of majors events such as South by Southwest, Osheaga, POP Montreal and The Fest (in Gainesville, Florida) or in some packed and humid decrepit basements, Xavier and Louis sweat blood because they don’t know any other way of making music. Solids is somehow a gift for all those who never feel as alive as when they’re submerged in decibels!
Agent – Michaël Bardier
You can hear freedom flowing through the 11 tracks on Felt. Self-produced then mixed to audiophile perfection by St Vincent producer John Congleton, it maintains a pleasing economy, the informality of self-production has enabled Suuns to explore bright new vistas – the hypnotic future-pop percolations of X-ALT or Watch You, Watch Me’s organic/synthetic rush of elevatory rhythms and the ecstatic, Harmonia-meets-Game Boy patterns. Never mere fusionists, it’s now pointless trying to decode their sonic signature as ‘dance music that rocks’ or vice versa. Ben Shemie has a newfound vocal range and a penchant for buoyant melodies, showcased in such wholly unexpected delights as the yearning lilt of Make It Real and sax-smoothed Peace And Love, which sincerely comes on like a post-punk Sade. The suitably outré image for Felt – a hand reaching out to touch a giant latex black inflated ball – breaks with Suuns’ earlier darkness for a more optimistic ambience. The record’s playful atmosphere is echoed by its double meaning title.
Tess Roby is an artist born in Toronto, and currently working in Montreal. Accompanied by her brother, Eliot Roby on guitar, her music rides the melancholic line between classic 80s new-wave and lyric-driven pop. The listener simultaneously feels the intimacy of Roby’s bedroom, cut with a romantic urgency akin to Hounds Of Love era Kate Bush. The arrangements are strictly minimal and hauntingly sparse, giving way to the richness of Roby’s voice and the hypnotic pulses of her analogue synthesizer.
Her debut LP is out now on Italians Do It Better (Chromatics, Desire, Johnny Jewel).
On Video Age’s forthcoming album Pop Therapy, out June 15 via Inflated Records, longtime friends and songwriting partners Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli conjure up a thrilling assortment of experimental pop songs. Using a palette of vintage synthesizers and the propulsion of a Sequential Circuits Drumtraks drum machine, the New Orleans-based group’s buoyant synth-pop echoes from some imagined vision of the past, leaning on an invented nostalgia to soundtrack an ideal future that never arrived. Video Age brings that future fully to life on Pop Therapy.
Emerging from New Orleans’ DIY scene and label collectives, Farbe and Micarelli were intrigued by each other’s songwriting among several curiously satisfying guitar pop bands. As a producer and prolific engineer, Farbe has helmed some of the most exciting releases from genre-pushing New Orleans artists, whose singular visions are made possible with his gifted ear and love of tape recording. Micarelli’s talent for crafting simple, tangible melodies complements Farbe’s studio world-building, letting ideas drift until they emerge into impressive arrangements.
The pair’s seemingly effortless gift for crafting earworm hooks was glimpsed on their 2016 debut Living Alone, a gorgeous collection of guitar-driven melancholy. On Pop Therapy, they’re joined by Duncan Troast, Nick Corson and Jordan Odom, taking inspiration from the limitless possibility on sonic canvases of the late 1970s and early 1980s (Yellow Magic Orchestra, McCartney II, Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly). Where Living Alonecatalogued the solitude of reflecting on what was and could have been, the sentimental love songs on Pop Therapy gaze longingly at the likeliness of a brighter tomorrow.