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[Entrevue] “Flower of the age”: Mon Doux Saigneur makes things clear

The temperature influences my mood, ”drops Emerik St-Cyr Labbé, seated at the Quai des Mists. Fortunately, he chose a mildly sunny day to do the rounds of interviews around the release of middle age, his third album under the name Mon Doux Saigneur. The good weather suits him well after the winter that we have just gone through “confined, with snowstorms and no friends, in my small apartment. So I bought myself a cat,” he adds, all smiles. It is in this context that he composed and recorded the most luminous of the albums he has offered us.

There will be a few of us to question him that day in the nice little room on rue Saint-Denis, rejoices Emerik. “It’s the first time I’ve given so many interviews, that’s good news,” he says. It is above all a sign that no one has forgotten his previous album, Horizon, one of the best Quebec albums of his cuvée, named among the best “alternative” music albums at the ADISQ gala and winner of the Lucien prize for folk album of the year at the GAMIQ. An album whose country-folk-psychedelic richness unfortunately could not be heard on stage: Horizon was published in January 2020. In the midst of a coronaviral wave!

“Me, my life is very social, even if I am basically a shy person, explains St-Cyr Labbé. Since I’ve been making music, it seems like I don’t need to see people anymore. Music has become my social circle, my inspiration, what fills me; by dint of not seeing people anymore, the pandemic gave me the impression of having nothing more to say or to tell. But then the situation turned into a kind of meditation for me. A peaceful moment to be able to compose “the peaceful songs of middle age“even if every day, I had the feeling that the apartment was getting smaller little by little…”

Like all of us, Emerik “hit a wall,” he sings in Jojoone of those songs that he describes as “très Mon Doux” because of the backbeat propelling the country melody matched with glissandos of the pedal steel handled by his friend David Marchand: “I miss driving, I miss talking to you / I miss sleeping in my tank / I miss the tour above the bars / Can not wait to see you again. “It will come, from May 26, with a concert-launch at La Tulipe.

To listen to this light and smiling middle age, one is struck to recognize in the musician an optimism absent from his previous records. Even the sadder texts resonate with hope: “Whether you go or you stay / We will always come here / In the arms of a melody”, he hums in the chorus of the extract. Melodyon a sober pop-rock rhythm vaguely evocative of a sound of the 1980s. From the opening of the album, on living artEmerik displays his flair for the hook and his affection for the work of Tom Petty, singing in a voice as frank and assertive as the late rocker.

“Do you feel that too? »

middle age is an album “with chapters, each song having its own subject”, says Emerik St-Cyr Labbé, recognizing the optimism that characterizes his new repertoire, if we compare it to his old material, still tinged with the mourning of his father who died at the time. that he participated in the Francouvertes. “It’s only recently that I realized: am I moving on? I like it scratching hollow [dans mes textes]I will never write anything frivolous or decorative, but this time I wanted my music to be the fun to share, so that I can be generous without having to show my pain. I’m more asking people, ‘Do you feel that too? Do you want us to go through all this together?” »

“And then it’s the fun to sing when you can dive into the text and say a phrase that is unambiguous, that is easy to understand,” adds Emerik. middle age is stuffed with this kind of texts with clear emotion. Vaguefor example, one of the most country music on the record, is a love letter to music and to those around it who bring it to life.

“It’s the one on the album that I consider the most a text song, with a lot of verses written in a very common language that speaks to our reality as artists. A tribute also to my musicians who work so hard; consciously or not, I rely a lot on our bond of friendship [en concevant mes albums], it is something that goes beyond the simple musical vocabulary. As if, when we play together in the studio, it goes without saying that [le résultat] will be consistent. That’s kind of my philosophy: we’re not necessarily the best musicians in the world, but we speak the same language. You fall into music right away,” Emerik says, as if talking about falling in love.

Between this new album and theHorizon previous, Mon Doux Saigneur explored new musical lands with his colleagues. Always rooted in folk and country, Emerik St-Cyr Labbé finds other rock colors in his palette, as in Shoegaze — which is not shoegaze, but almost “krautrock”, with this metronomic drumming by Mandela Coupal-Dalgleish, backed by a drum machine manipulated by multi-instrumentalist Eliott Durocher-Bundock.

“I told my co-director [Jean-Bruno Pinard] that I wanted less sound effects. No more dubbed voices, we remove the special effects. I wanted good sound recordings, without having to tamper with them — it’s silly, but just a good microphone, in front of a good Martin & Co. guitar, you can hear it! Afterwards, if you double her, it makes you think of Tom Petty; if your reverb of snare is a [du fabricant américain] Lexicon from the 1980s, you think of the Nashville sound of the time, like that of Willie Nelson. I like that, that kitsch sound, the crystalline guitars, that’s what we were looking for. The less, the more cool. »

“There are songs from my first album [Mon Doux Saigneur, 2017], I listen to them again and I can’t believe that’s the chorus! There, I made an album just for people to recognize me, without hidden messages. »

middle age

My Sweet Tapper, Bravo Music. In concert at La Tulipe on May 26th.

To see in video

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