If Men I Trust’s musical journey is a well-paved one, it’s because the band members laid down every single cobblestone in it. Although the trio evolves in an environment where one has access to everyone else’s two cents, it prefers that if you want something done right, you do it yourself.
Longtime friends Jessy Caron, bass, and multi-instrumentalist Dragos Chiriac founded Men I Trust in 2014, and gained full power in 2015 with the addition of Emmanuelle Proulx on vocals and guitar. Strength in numbers.
We speak with Dragos on the eve of a key concert in Men I Trust’s tour, their show at the Festival d’été de Québec. Sure, the band has gigs in Copenhagen, Zurich and, earlier this month, even flew to Egypt, but a homecoming gig in a huge venue is pretty special. “We’re playing the Impérial,” says Chiriac. “It’s much bigger than the venues we usually play. And crowds during the FEQ are always maxed.”
“Finally, we’re getting some good musicians in Egypt,” read a post on Facebook about ten days earlier, when Men I Trust landed in the kingdom of Pharaohs. But just how does an electro trio from Québec City end up on the bill of an Egyptian music festival? “Our followers are sprinkled all over the world,” Chiriac explains. “It’s hard for us to tour intensively in a given region, because at the end of the day, we’re not that well-known. We are known a little, but all over the globe.”
This global sprinkling of followers is, according to the band’s co-founder, a complete fluke. But one thing’s for sure: everywhere they go, they sell out the venue. “They’re small venues, but they’re always packed,” says Chiriac. “What we like to do are very intimate shows for a very specific crowd.”
Although the band does list Montréal as its hometown on social media, it is a bona fide “Made in Québec City” group. “You see, most places we go, even when we say Montréal, people don’t know where that is, so imagine saying Québec City,” says Chiriac. “It’s sad to realize that even in the States, people are barely able to locate, even approximately, where Montréal is on a map.”
But ultimately, the band’s origin doesn’t matter, because the welcome the band gets in their niche music scene is unanimous. “It’s quite surprising to get to a town we’ve never been to before, and people still buy our t-shirts,” says Chiriac. “The power of the internet helps us a lot. We have a ton of plays online. Every time we release a new song, we gain new followers. Our social network following doubles every six months.”
And whereas emerging bands often actively look for a record label to show them the way, Men I Trust doesn’t. “We’ve had a lot of offers, but we’re not interested,” Chiriac admits. “We manage all of our stuff without a problem. It’s about 10 to 15 e-mails per day.”
The trio practices an aesthetically cohesive do-it-yourself approach. “It’s a big plus not to have to wait for a team to spring into action,” says Chiriac. “We can release a song and video, aligned with our basic idea, in two weeks. And by making our own videos for each song we release, we consolidate the band’s universe.”
The time-consuming part of their business is bookings. That’s why the band has delegated those for the U.S. and Europe. “Everything else – production, recording, image, photography – we love doing it ourselves, and we have the know-how. As long as we can make it work, we’re gonna keep doing it that way,” says Chiriac.
The band’s appeal comes from catchy, mellow melodies that willfully target a niche audience. “It’s not a commercial style,” says Chiriac. “We don’t play on the radio. We do appear on certain playlists and specialized media.”
He says Men I Trust want to obey the silence. “We want a music that breathes, music that takes its time, even in more uptempo songs. Even when it comes to images, we consciously prefer long sequence shots, and distance. It’s a calculated choice.”
Two new songs were recently introduced onstage, notably in Québec City. They’ll both be on the upcoming album, planned for February 2019, at the end of a lengthier and more substantial recording process.
Meanwhile, the band keeps on touring, and their calendar has more than100 gigs left in 2018, from September on. “I think we’ll write the album in August,” sats Chiriac. “We’ve got a small 2-week break then…”