Imagine getting vocal coaching from a four-time JUNO Award winner, or guitar tips from a veteran session player who’s shared the stage with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Roger Daltrey and Rod Stewart. Join the League of Rock and you just might experience that – and maybe more.

From a burned-out lawyer, looking for an outlet to blow off steam, banging the drums, to a management consultant looking to revive his childhood dreams of playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, these are just a couple of the success stories of this adult, 10-week, join-a-band professional program.

“This is an authentic experience. You’re in a band. You’re rehearsing. You’re performing live three times.” – Terry Moshenberg

League of Rock founder Terry Moshenberg went from selling his software company to an epiphany for a new business idea, which is how the league was born.

“When your heart and mind are open, shit happens,” says Moshenberg, explaining how the timing was right nine years ago, when he came up with the idea. “I saw fundamental changes that were illuminating,” he says. “One: guys my age were pulling out their axes again. I started to see pockets around the city… Facebook mentions of guys in their fifties getting back to jamming again. I even pulled out my guitar and started playing again.

“At the same time, I noticed the music industry was changing,” he adds. “Musicians were an untapped resource, not on tour, not doing the same things as they used to do, and they were looking for work… hence, the League of Rock was born.”

In nine years, more than 3,000 people have completed the program. The league’s added benefit is that participants network like crazy with the professional musicians who coach them. The League of Rock also organizes corporate team-building events and company Rock Leagues. And, for the past four years, the big four consultancy firms (Deloitte, KPMG, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, and Ernst & Young) have held a Battle of the Bands, with proceeds going to the United Way. Besides Toronto, there are chapters in Ottawa, Montreal and New York – and discussions are in the works to expand to other cities, including Vancouver and Austin, Texas.

If you can play three chords, keep time, or sing, you can join the League of Rock. Imagine knocking another item off your bucket list. On draft night, you’re enlisted in a band with four other strangers. Then, over the course of 10 weeks, you learn a few songs, and get coached by professional musicians. At the end of the session, your band performs live and records a one-song demo in one of the top studios in your city.  In Toronto, the sessions wrap up with a weekend of recording at Phase One Studios – whose past clients include Rush, Keith Richards, Alice Cooper and Bob Dylan.

“You’ve heard the cliché that the creative classes are running our economy now,” says Moshenberg. “That’s what we’ve harnessed, but we bring a cool factor to the experience. It’s not tacky, like ‘Be a rock star for a day and shake Gene Simmons’ hand.’ This is an authentic experience. You’re in a band. You’re rehearsing. You’re performing live three times… You really get a taste of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle without leaving your family and going on the road. People are starving for this. They quashed their creative outlet when they had kids and the guitar went away for 10 years, until their wife finally said ‘Get out and go do something.’”

To learn more about the League of Rock, you can watch a documentary about it here.

At the time of our meeting, on a lovely April day, Ariane Moffatt admits to suffering a bout of post-partum depression. It’s got nothing to do with her two-year-old twins, Paul and Henri, who were carried by her partner Florence and have greatly inspired the songs on her latest album. Ariane is mourning the creative cycle that led up to the launch of 22h22. “Most of the promo’s done now, and after the initial buzz, the media has already moved on to covering something else,” she says with a smile.

One could say the same thing about Moffat, an artist whom anyone would be hard-pressed to accuse of remaining in the same spot for too long. To her, every new album is a chance to explore new ground, to share with new musicians, and 22h22 is no exception. She even switched record companies for the occasion, moving from Audiogram to Simone Records.

“Deciding to not put my songs on Spotify doesn’t really make much difference, but it gives me an opportunity to explain what’s going on for us.”

But if Moffat, by her own admission, can be fairly fickle, she still relies on a few loyal friends. That’s how it is with old pal Jean-Phi Goncalves – who she met when he was the drummer in Plaster and Beast – who co-produced 22h22. “He’s a special kind of collaborator, because he’s also my best friend,” explains Moffat. “Energy flows naturally between us; we don’t need to say a word to understand each other. Obviously, as a producer, he contributed greatly to the sound. But I went to him with an almost finished album, as I tend to think about everything at once: the melody, the song, the arrangement.”

For this record, Moffat laid down a few ground rules: no guitars, lots of synths, all the while ensuring that it didn’t sound like all those super-trendy New Wave revival acts. Goncalves understood the vibe and got right into reconciling extremes, amplifying the catchy pop of “Debout” or “Miami” (a gem which, strangely, almost didn’t make it onto the album), or opting for minimalism on sadder songs like “Domenico,” an homage to a well-known homeless resident of Montréal’s Mile-End neighbourhood.

What Goncalves brings to Moffat’s music, Tristan Malavoy Racine  brings to her lyrics. The poet and journalist is one of her closer friends, whose advice she heeds. “He’s my first reader; he does to my lyrics exactly what an editor does for a novelist,” she explains. “Of course, he’s open to poetry, but he’s also a great listener. We talk a lot, with no ego involvement, and he helps me to make personal things accessible.”

Since the album launch, she’s spoken at length about the meaning of 22h22, whose elegant symmetry matches that of her twin sons. Beyond its aesthetic qualities, the titular time was the expression of a transition between two states. When her sons were finally falling asleep, the mother in her gave way to the artist. This seems too good to be true; but…  “No, no, it’s all true, I didn’t make this up,” she insists. “I was seeing those numbers everywhere when I started working on the record. After, of course, I asked myself if I wasn’t talking about it a little too much, if it wasn’t risky to insist on a concept that might ultimately overshadow the songs on the album. But I take responsibility for it and I intentionally chose the title track as the album’s opener: it’s kind of like the decoder ring that allows you to understand the rest of the album.”

There’s no denying that on this album, Moffat lets us into her inner world more than ever before. On “Matelots & frères,” samples of her sons’ voices, and the cry for help of “Tireurs fous,” it’s Moffat the mom who’s at the forefront; whereas on songs such as “Les Deux Cheminées,” a veritable declaration of love for a girlfriend, she brings forth the inner lover.

But no matter where Moffat decides to go, she can count on the fact that her fans will go with her. Several times during the interview, she mentions, almost in disbelief, the young woman she was at the launch of Aquanaute in 2002 and, above all, the incredible journey she’s made since then. She seems to have come to terms with her pop-star status, and doesn’t hesitate to use her fame to address important issues, whether it be gay parenting or music industry changes.

“I don’t think I’ve become a militant, but I think it’s important to talk about these things when you have the opportunity to be heard, like I do,” she explains. “Deciding to not put my songs on Spotify doesn’t really make much difference, but it helps me to explain what’s going on for us. Those who are making the big bucks nowadays are paying us peanuts and are, unfortunately, not re-investing anything in artists’ careers.”

Montréal’s new electro-pop sensation, Foxtrott, is poised to conquer the world with their excellent first album, A Taller Us, that will be released later this year on London, England’s One Little Indian imprint.

It’s a rare breed of musical talent that has a knack for grabbing your attention within the first few bars of a song, taking you by surprise, almost mystically. The sounds just take all of your senses hostage, as if nothing else mattered but the notes bouncing around your inner ear. Call it an auditory love at first sight – or first hear, as it were. Euphoria.

“I wanted to take a chance and break big with an international label right away. It was a longer process, but I made it.”

It’s not the first time Marie Hélène Delorme has pulled such a trick on our unsuspecting selves, but both previous times were under a different moniker. And that’s no coincidence. The first was in 2009. It was as MHMHMH that she remixed Bernard Adamus’ song “Rue Ontario,” transposing his voice into a low-frequency electronic realm. The contrast between the singer’s blues roots she thus created was remarkable.

Then, in 2012, she struck again by presenting the first three-track EP as Foxtrott, her new project, on her Bandcamp page. Some listeners succumbed to the track “Shields,” an enticing electro number that seemed created for a good run. Many fell in love with “Colors,” a slower, sublimely hypnotic, sensual affair. More adventurous listeners were wooed by the experimental approach of “Heads Under Water,” a piece that confirmed Delorme’s impressive versatility. Although it’s always tricky to play the comparison game, one might say that Foxtrott cavorts in a minimalist electro-pop playground where the energy of La Roux, the sonic explorations of Braids, and the pop sensibility of Lorde are her playmates.

As soon as she released her songs online, her inbox was immediately flooded by messages from both local and international luminaries of the electronic universe. She was immediately snatched up by management outfit Sofa King Raw who, after several months of negotiations, got her under contract with London, England-based label One Little Indian (the home of Björk, Cody Chesnutt, Sneaker Pimps and Sigur Rós) – a deal that was officially inked on April 15, 2015.

“We’ve been in talks with One Little Indian for a year. It was complicated, but I’m happy. It’s a done deal now,” says Foxtrott, who could have easily signed with a Québec label. “The reactions to the Bandcamp-released EP were such that I wanted to take a chance and break big with an international label right away. It was a longer process, but I made it.”

The 29 year-old musician does everything her way, including producing her first album. Raised in a family where classical music was first and foremost, she broke free of the classical training mold as a teen. “My grandmother was a piano and organ teacher at Vincent d’Indy,” she recalls. “I was about four or five when she started giving me piano lessons. I moved on to violin, but I got bored real fast because of the lack of freedom. I was constantly trying to change music pieces, to modify the melodies, which, obviously, drove my teachers crazy.  ‘Bach composed this 250 years ago, you can’t just change notes here and there because you think it’s prettier that way,’ I was told.”


Although tinkering with notes was already part of what made her tick at a tender 14 years old, Delorme will still waited many more years before actually writing her own songs. Once her violin was safely tucked  away at the bottom of her closet, she developed a passion for hip-hop and dancehall sounds and rhythms. “I’m from Tétreaultville, in Montréal’s East End,” she says. “Nobody listened to dancehall in my neck of the woods, but I loved it. I would devour the CD booklets to find out who had produced those songs. And that’s how I discovered Sly and Robbie were the masterminds behind a lot of the tracks that I really liked. I was quite the geek. I was incredibly curious about how those producers created such beats and sounds.”

This fascination for production took on another dimension when a friend lent her a CD-ROM with music production software such as Q-Base and Reason, which she secretly installed on the family computer. “I had created such drama in the family when I decided to give up the violin that I wanted to be very discreet about my love of beats,” says Foxtrott. “It took me quite a while before I mustered up the courage to compose my own songs and play them for others. Things fell into place when illness befell my family.”

Her brother, in his early twenties, was headed toward a brilliant career as a classical musician, but developed mental health issues. This was a source of motivation for Delorme.

“Seeing him wither away, and feeling so helpless about it, gave me a big kick in the ass,” she says. “On the one hand was this incredibly talented musician who was becoming less and less functional. On the other was me, doing everything undercover, because I was afraid of being myself. It was like electroshock therapy. I felt an urgent need to write and finish what I had started.” That’s when, around 2008, Foxtrott’s first songs were created, followed the next year by the remix for Adamus’ “Rue Ontario.”

Delorme doesn’t shy away from the very personal nature of her songs, notably “Brother,” which will be featured on her first album, A Taller Us, released later this year. Several of the songs on the album touch on the melodically-inclined songwriter’s many relationships.

“When you’re classically trained, certain notions are deeply etched into your brain. When you’re trained on the violin, melodies are everything. Nowadays, I’m constantly trying to find a balance between sounds, rhythms and the melody,” says the artist, who records her songs on her own, in her home studio.

“A lot of great beat-makers have incredible sounds, but they’re short on the melody,” she says. “At the other end of the spectrum, a lot of outstanding melodists lay their songs over really sucky beats. I have a ton of outstanding tracks on my computer, but I’ll only use them once I find the melody that works perfectly for them.”

You don’t need a crystal ball to figure out that the coming months will be quite busy for Foxtrott. She’ll hit the stage in a trio formation (alongside Erla Alexdottir on French horn and Christian Olsen on drums) in Toronto, New York and London this spring. Let’s put it this way: it’s about time One Little Indian presented their new discovery to the media. And it’s starting right now with the launch of the first single from her upcoming album, “Driven,” a track with sharp keyboards and creative beats. Grab it before the whole world does!