Music is a conscious choice that Maude Audet made 10 years ago. Her third album, Tu ne mourras pas, presents itself as a declaration to the trade that she’s chosen and learned. It’s also permeated by the need to re-invent our daily lives after losing something we love. Like Boris Vian in L’évadé, Maude Audet throws a big, solid request out into the universe: “Pourvu qu’ils me laissent le temps” (“I hope they give me enough time”). Time to live, time to not die, and time to re-learn to love oneself differently.
On the song “Nos bras lâches,” she talks about a place that no longer exists, where “we had time.” “My new songs talk about what happens after you fail,” says Audet. “Things didn’t work out, but you’re not dead. That brings us to a renaissance, a place where you didn’t expect you’d end up. I talk about grief, but not just about death: griefs that we have to live through when we realize our relationship with someone won’t be the one for which we were hoping.”
That’s how, ultimately, the title song set the tone and gave a meaning to the project. “Basically, what I’m saying is that when we lose someone, one way of keeping them alive is to remember their laugh, their voice,” says Audet. During the 2018 edition of Coup de cœur francophone, she was given “carte blanche” to build a show with several guests. Among them was her partner, actor and writer Fabien Cloutier, who delivered a moving and humorous text about his father. It was through this examination of what’s left behind after a departure that Maude Audet gave birth to Tu ne mourras pas: “Et mes rêves deviendront notre escale une trêve aux vides des départs. Je saurai me rappeler la douceur de ta voix qui me dit que pleurer m’apaisera” (“And my dreams will become our port of call, a truce amidst the emptiness of departures/I will remember softness of your voice telling me that crying will appease me. It’s also through a planned yet fortuitous meeting on the stage of the Maison de la culture Maisonneuve that she bonded with Philippe B, who co-wrote and sings “Couteau de poche” with her.
Ten years ago, Audet decided music was going to be her be-all and end-all. Following a career as a stage director, she decided to take a leap of faith and put songwriting first, although she was a latecomer to the trade. “Stage directing is a very hard and precarious line of work,” she says. “I was well recognized by the people around me, yet I still worked at a moderate level. If I had done costumes for Robert Lepage and travelled the world, if things had worked out for me, I might not have made that choice, I might also not be as happy as I am today,” says the artist, who considers herself to now be in the right place at the right time.
“I learned this trade by doing it, and it’s been 10 years now,” says the singer-songwriter. “Ten years ago, I could barely play three or four chords on the guitar. It’s a bit of a crazy decision, when I look back [on it] now.” Whereas a good many artists have mastered their instrument since grade school, and have been writing songs since their first school talent shows, Audet’s musical beginning was a leap of faith that came with the demand for incredibly hard work in its wake. It was, in the end, the decision a woman who chose herself through music. “I took singing lessons, and worked on my guitar playing,” she says. “You can hear my progress on all fronts. Even if I lost both hands tomorrow, I’d still find a way to keep creating. I’m a creator, first and foremost. I managed to accomplish everything, I just had to work harder.”
Writer Erika Soucy once again walks alongside Audet on the emotional paths of her lyrics. For Audet, this represents a consistency that takes her back to the creative modus operandi used during the production of Comme une odeur de déclin (2017). “That hasn’t changed: an independent eye, a different writing style with a great sensibility, that’s not afraid of challenging me,” she says.
Audet’s “desire to move towards orchestral pop” explains why she left her usual grungier side behind. “It’s a framework I’ve always liked, and my producer, Mathieu Charbonneau, is really into it,” she says. Timbales, gongs, flutes, choir, bass, and guitar. Maude prepared all of the arrangements that, for her, come to mind at the same time as the lyrics. “Mathieu wrote all of it down on sheet music for the musicians,” she says, “because it would take me two days just to write one line of it,” she adds with a giggle.
Imperfect love is key to the songs on the album, even in the opener “Laura” – a song that came out “in a single jet.” “It’s older people that allow themselves to dream and act a little crazy,” says Audet. Being open to changing everything, to loving, and to never stop learning; these are just a few of the lessons we can learn from Maude Audet.