Less than a week before the release of her fourth album, Des feux pour voir, Marie-Pierre Arthur played a surprise gig at L’Escogriffe (Licensed to Play) on Jan. 23, 2020.
SOCAN was on hand to capture this important moment for our member, while she presented most of the new songs on her album, which is already earning widespread praise:
“An inspired and inspiring album that’s right on target” – Geneviève Bouchard, Le Soleil
“Des feux pour voir de facto becomes the first major release of this decade in Québec” – Mathieu Valiquette, ICI Musique
“A great record that foretells Spring!” – Claude Côté, Le canal auditif
You can download or stream Des feux pour voir here.
To find out Marie-Pierre Arthur concert schedule, click here.
Photo by Jean-François Sauvé
Brown Family: Like father, like sons
Story by Dominic Tardif | January 29, 2020
If being a good father means being an admiring father, Robin Kerr was undoubtedly a good father to his sons. “I remember recording this tape on a Fisher-Price tape recorder. It was a big deal back then, when you wanted to record something,” laughs the youngest of those sons, Greg Beaudin, while sitting in the record store and café 180g to discuss brown baby gone, Brown Family’s sophomore album, a trio composed of said father and his older brother Jam (K6A, Jam & Pdox).
“So, yeah: I recorded this tape with all the songs I’d written and gave a copy each to my mom and dad for Christmas. My dad would play it EVERY DAY! It must’ve been horrible, but to my dad it was the best rap in the world just because it was me. I was 9 and I was a rap genius. I was the Mozart of rap.”
Some 20 years later, this mutual admiration between a father and his sons is one of the main engines that powers the evocative and profound aspect of Brown Family’s music, which lies somewhere in between rap, soul, and reggae. You see, even though the songs don’t directly celebrate family, at their core they all contain the ideal of a true father-son dialogue – a precious and rare opportunity that sadly eludes so many fathers and sons.
“This project enriches our family,” says Greg. “We didn’t see our dad very often, at some points, and this brought us closer. It was the occasion for good in-depth discussions on all kinds of topics that we’d never talked about before.”
Thus, the creation of their second album was the opportunity to have bona fide debates on the meaning of a text, for example. With a background rooted in reggae, daddy Robin prefers writing that has a simple nobility at its core, such as on “Tomorrow Night”: “The sky is grey, it can be blue right now / Life is sweet, it can be sweeter somehow / The sun is shining, yes, it shines so bright / Yes I say the moon is shining, shine so bright.”
“My brother and I like writing abstract stuff,” says Greg, better known as Dead Obies’ Snail Kid. “But our dad, he names things. If he writes a love song, he’s going to tell that girl he loves her at least eight times. He’s very down-to-earth. We clashed a bit on this initially, but he explained to us that it was important to him that what we say was understood by his people in Jamaica.”
So what does the man think of the sometimes “profane” language of his sons? Greg giggles, “He said it bugged him a couple of times. When something just doesn’t fly, we’re totally cool with fixing it. That’s what’s cool about this project: we have to all meet in the middle, everything has to be coherent. Without compromising what I want to say, I do realize that, sometimes, there are things that don’t fit within this project. The whole party-all-day and ego-trip culture is OK for Dead Obies, but not so much when I’m working with my dad.” In other words, one doesn’t behave the same way with one’s family as with one’s buddies.
For Brown Family’s Greg and Jam, the most important thing is to throw as many ideas as possible out there, as fast as possible. “We’ll start with something simple, a looped sample, and we just spit out whatever comes to mind. It’s not always words, often it’s just sounds, a flow with two or three ideas. When you don’t work from a pre-written text, you’ll sometimes surprise yourself doing stuff you’d never have thought of otherwise. If I write my lyrics line by line, I always know where my punchline is going to land. So I play tricks on my brain.”
The Brown Family travelled to Jamaica for the first time towards the end of the creative process. It was back to his roots for Robin Kerr, and a first visit to the land of their ancestors for Greg and Jam, while producer Jean-François Sauvé took the opportunity to film a mini-documentary and a couple of videos.
“It’s hard to pinpoint what’s Jamaican in me,” Greg confides, having been born in Québec, from a Francophone Québécois mother. “We talked a lot about the Jamaican time frame before leaving, and I did notice how everything is much slower there. Poeple don’t rush, they take the time to appreciate things. Nobody fake-smiles, or does small talk. Everything that’s different about our dad in Québec makes sense over there.”
Photo by Stéphanie Bujold
Alex Henry Foster: A communion for the present moment
Story by Claude Côté | January 23, 2020
Flashback: In 2018, composer Alex Henry Foster recorded his first solo album, Windows in the Sky in the studio of his band Your Favorite Enemies. It was located in an old church in Saint-Simon de Drummondville.
After the death of his father, Foster exiled himself in Tangiers, Morocco. Sadness, grief, depression, and spiritual questing followed. The musician and entrepreneur needed a break.
“When I heard the news, we’d just gotten home from a tour, and four days later we were headlining a festival in Taiwan in front of 90,000 people,” says Foster. “That’s crazy. When you’re in a band and you tour the globe, your link to reality is always a little off, and it’s normal that people are nice to you. On a human and emotional level, you wonder how much of it is true. It’s easy to lose track of reality. So I just hid behind the thick curtain of distant screams.”
And even though this Asian tour allowed Your Favorite Enemies to write three songs for the videogame Final Fantasy: Dissidia (they’re the first non-Japanese artists to record music for the game), Foster was fed up. “After Tangiers, I allowed myself to be, simply be, and to re-set all counters,” he says.
Ever since the group was founded in Varennes in 2006, the rapid rise of the sextet — whose sound is reminiscent of Radiohead, Swans, and Nick Cave — has turned many heads. Ardent DIYers, the band has recorded a fair number of albums and EPs in their aforementioned studio, Upper Room, situated in a place of worship they acquired at the end of the 2000s. They’ve played in 10 countries, sold more than 150,000 albums, and their videos have been played more than 500,000 times. Yet they’re relatively unknown in their own land.
The church is also home to their vinyl press, and the source of graphic design for their album sleeves, as well as the printing of their T-shirts and other merch. Your Favorite Enemies are still feeding the net: The Early Days, which will be released on Jan. 31, 2020, is a compendium of the band’s early days, from 2006 to 2009, and will feature re-mixes, a re-mastering of their first two EPs, unreleased demos, alternate takes of their most popular tracks, their entire first concert in Tokyo in 2008, and more. All of that is produced in-house, including the management and booking.
“Windows in the Sky wasn’t created with the idea of making a record, or going back onstage,” says Foster. “It’s not music you play when your family visits for New Years’; there’s a lot of verbiage and narration. It’s completely different from YFE. I mean, there’s trumpet, cello…”
Windows in the Sky is a subtle affair, yet surprisingly vigorous, a blend of nervous tracks filled with the spoken, introspective poetry typical of Foster, who irradiates an orchestrated madness while cultivating the ambiguity of his murky personality. He’s a master at rattling brains with his mix of clear and distorted sounds.
“It took me by surprise,” he says, “because the album wasn’t created with the idea of marketing it, but I think YFE’s fans were eager to hear that universe.”
In the wake of three convincing concerts in New York in early December, Foster and The Long Shadows — his band, largely composed of YFE members — will head to Europe in February and March 2020 for a string of 26 shows. He fondly remembers the shows in the Big Apple: “It was a tiny venue with minimal technical support. Some people in the crowd were crying. That’s why I make music: to experience those emotions communally.”
Kind of like a religious service, then? “You have to live in the moment,” says Foster. “If you resist, that wave is going to spit you out. It’s like being a tightrope walker without a safety net; if you fall it’s a huge drop. People want to experience something that’s bigger than the music itself. I don’t feel it rests entirely on me, because it’s so musical and immersive. And I’m just as exhausted after one of those shows as I am after a YFE concert.”