Tag: Corridor

New Audio: Corridor’s Jonathan Robert Releases a Shimmering New Single with Solo Project Jonathan Personne

Jonathan Robert is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known for being the co-founder of the internationally acclaimed JOVM mainstay act Corridor — and for his work as an animator and visual artist. With his solo recording project Jonathan Personne, Robert released his full-length debut, last year’s Histoire Naturelle, which was  thematically  inspired by the potential end of the world and drew from desert dream pop, Western spaghetti rock and jangle pop. 

Robert’s Jonathan Personne sophomore album, Disparitions is slated for an August 28, 2020 release through Michel Records and the album reportedly finds Robert continuing with intimate and sensitive songwriting — but this time inspired by a moment when music became a source of disgust for him: “I spent a lot of time touring away from home. Towards the end I felt like I was reluctantly going to do something that I had longed wished for,” Robert says in press notes. 

Subtly recalling his work with Corridor, “Springsteen,” Disparitions’ first single sees Robert boldly drawing  from and then meshing several different eras of rock music: glistening  psych rock through the use of a looping and shimmering 12 string guitar line, 70s AOR/radio rock through the use of bluesy guitar soloing, glam rock-like four-on-the-floor and a soaring hook paired with Robert’s plaintive falsetto. And much like his full-length debut, “Springsteen” is centered around observations and feelings about the seemingly inevitable end of the world as we know it. 

Musings: A Decade of JOVM

I started this site 10 years ago today. . .

There aren’t many things in my life that I’ve done for every single day for a decade that I’ve loved as much as this very unique little corner of the blogosphere. When I started this site, I  didn’t — and couldn’t — imagine actually having readers, let alone readers across the US, Canada, the UK, the European Union, Australia and elsewhere. After all, this sort of work is deeply rewarding and yet strangely isolating.

I couldn’t have imagined the over 1,000 shows I’ve covered all across the New York Metropolitan area. I definitely couldn’t have imagined it being possible for be to cover shows for JOVM in Chicago while on a business trip for a day job; nor would I have dreamed of the possibility of covering M for Montreal last fall.

I couldn’t have imagined being a panelist on a Mondo.NYC Festival panel on PR and promotion for indie artists.

I couldn’t have imagined having a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s video several years ago. (It’s a noticeable and prominent spot towards the end of the video, too. No one has called me up for acting gigs, so I may need more work on that. Or I need to stick to the writing and photography!)

I couldn’t have imagined photographing Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Charles Bradley  Sharon Jones, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.

What will the next decade hold? I don’t know. If you asked me that question last November, I’d probably discuss my the very real possibility of repeated visits to Canada for festivals like Canadian Music Week, Montreal Jazz Fest and M for Montreal — with the hopes of building a deeper Canadian audience. I’d talk about my interest in music from across the African Diaspora. I’d spend time talking about my interest in covering acts outside the US. I’d also speak about my interest in wanting to cover more artists across the diverse LGQBTIA+ community  — particularly those of color. I’d probably also mention my deep and abiding interest in covering women artists and women led acts.

Live music won’t be a thing for quite some time to come. And whenever it does, the landscape will be different — and something we’ve yet to envision. So far, beloved venues have been forced to close because of economics. That will continue for the foreseeable future. What will happen to bands, who no longer have a place to play, where they can hone their sound and their live show? Who knows? After watching an industry-based panel, I don’t feel particularly optimistic about things in the short term. Some of us will figure out a way to adapt and survive; others sadly, won’t.

But in the meantime, JOVM will continue. It’s only the first decade, as far as I’m concerned!

**

I also wanted to talk a bit about some of my favorite albums of the past decade. This is by no means a comprehensive list; but I think that they might give some insight into the inner world of JOVM. And

Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape — Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin — can trace the project’s origins back to a short film they collaborated on when they were both in college. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Montreal-based said of their initial collaboration together in press notes. Interestingly, since that collaboration, Weitzman and Boivin have continued working together on a series of creative endeavors that have combined their interests in music and visual art, including a lengthy local DJ gig, which eventually led to the creation of The Beat Escape.

Released in early 2018, the Montreal-based duo’s full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long thematically and sonically found the duo returning to their origins — somnambulant, atmospheric art that feels like a half-remembered waking dream. Personally, the album’s material evokes a weird two-and-year period of international and domestic travel, in which I’d wake up in a hotel room and briefly wonder where I was, what time zone I was in and if I was even in the right place. Additionally, it evokes that weird sensation of everything being the fundamentally the same, yet different. If I’m in Grand Central Terminal, I think of Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof and of Amsterdam Centraal Station. If I’m traveling underneath an elevated train, I’m reminded of the Chicago loop and so on.

I obsessively played Life Is Short The Answer’s Short through my time in Montreal. And now whenever I play it, I can picture specific locations, specific paths I took to get there, certain Metro stations with an uncanny precision.

Throughout the course of the site’s decade history, I’ve written quite a bit about Superhuman Happiness. The act has managed to survive through a number of different lineup changes and sonic departures necessitated by those lineup changes — and from the act’s core members following wherever their muses took them, Hands though is a joyous, mischievous yet deeply intelligent work that will make you shout and dance. Considering the bleakness of our world, this album may be much more needed than they ever anticipated.

Deriving their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a traveler, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend his life then but who cruelly  gets dragged back to brutal reality, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake — currently Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass), Brendan Doherty (drums), and a rotating cast of collaborators, friends and associates — received attention with 2014’s self-released debut EP Dandelion, an effort that firmly established the act’s uniquely sound: deeply influenced by and indebted to  Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, the Irish act pairs McAuley’s tender and soaring falsetto with cinematic arrangements and expansive song structur es.

Released in 2018, the act’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut Malingerer is an ambitious, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful work that’s part film score and part cosmic meditation, full of aching yearning.

A couple of years ago, I caught the Irish act play at Rockwood Music Hall, as part of the Lower East Side venue’s monthly Communion showcase — and their set was met with awed and reverential silence.

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan — Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar) — have one of the most unique and perhaps most 21st Century backstories of any band I’ve ever written about: four of the band’s five members emigrated to Sweden from South America with the remaining member being the band’s only native Swede. With the release of their debut album, 2015’s Caballo Negro, the members of Sudakistan received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for crafting material that draws from Latin-tinged garage punk rock with lyrics sung in English, Spanish and Swedish. Interestingly, the alum is arguably hardest and most mosh pit friendly of the band’s albums to date, the album’s material found the band expanding their sound through the incorporation of non-traditional punk rock instruments — seemingly inspired by the band’s desire to make each of their individual roles to be much more fluid. . “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” the band’s Michell Serrano explains in press notes. . “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album’s lyrical and thematic concerns draws from the band members’ everyday reality with each individual member contributing lyrical ideas. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

The album’s material resonates in an age of divisiveness, xenophobia, fear mongering and strife because its an urgent and passionate reminder of what’s possible with cultural exchange, empathy and curiosity —  bold new ideas, new takes on the familiar, as well as equality for all with everyone’s story behind heard, understood and championed. One day that will happen but we will have to work our asses off to get there.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Corridor on KEXP

Over the past year or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed and rising Montreal-based indie rock act Corridor. The French-Canadian JOVM mainstay act, which currently features longtime friends and collaborators Dominic Berthiaume (vocals/bass) and Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar/synths) along with Julian Perreault (guitar), Julien Bakvis (drums) and the band’s newest member Samuel Gougoux exploded across the Francophone world and elsewhere with 2017’s sophomore album Supermercado, which received glowing praise from from NPR and Vice, who referred to the album as “the best French record of 2017, 2018, 2018, 2019, 2020 2021 and even 2022 .  . . ”

Building upon a growing profile, the band signed to Sub Pop Records, who released their third album, last year’s excellent Junior, making the band the first Francophone act ever on the world renowned label. Continuing their ongoing and highly successful collaboration with their friend, producer (and occasional roommate) Emmanuel Ethier, the album found the band jettisoning the languorous creative process of its predecessors — out of inspired necessity.  Although the members of the band had only just signed to their new label home at the time, they had firmly committed themselves to releasing a new album worth of material every two years. And the band fully intended on fulfilling their long-held commitment. Naturally, when the folks at Sub Pop were informed of this, they gently warned the band that if they wanted to release new material that fall, they needed to send the label a completed album by early May.

With the ink barely dried on the finalized record contract, the band rushed into the studio and recorded Junior in an inspired and breakneck blitz, finishing the album in mid-April: Six of the album’s 10 songs were conceived in a single weekend — with the album closer “Bang” being written the night before they were to start recording sessions. Reportedly, Corridor’s Jonathan Robert wrote that song’s lyrics while panicking over the possibility of not being able to properly finished what they started.

Because of the quickened nature of the Junior sessions, the material features fewer expansive jams and less reliance on overdubs. Even the album’s artwork managed to come about in the nick of time. In spite of other more meticulous and gorgeous artwork they received as potential album art, Robert’s “shitty last minute” collage of an egg saying hello was the one his bandmates wound up approving.  “Part of the beauty of the thing is that we didn’t have time to think about it,” the band’s Berthiaume says of the Junior recording sessions.

Album tracks like Topographe,” “Pow,” album title track “Junior” “Goldie” and Domino” manage to reveal a wide range of influences: a bit of post-punk here, a little bit of XTC over there, a little bit of The Beatles, a dash of The Beach Boys here and so on. And with some deft craftsmanship and musicianship, they manage to whimsically and mischievously create something novel out of the familiar.

Late last year, the Montreal-based JOVM mainstays went on a West Coast tour, and during their tour they made a stop at Seattle’s KEXP where they performed songs off Junior in one of the better live sessions I’ve seen in some time — and it the session included “Agent Double,” the gorgeous krautrock-like album title track “Junior’ (one of my favorite tracks on the album), the brooding “Grand Cheval” and the explosive and jam-based “Domino.” Of course, like most of the KEXP sessions, there’s a playful  interview with the band, in which they reveal that the album and its title is a loving homage to their guitarist and friend Julien Perreault. They also talk a bit about the band’s formation and their creative process — while touching upon how they came about their unique sound. It’s a fascinating look into a band that personally has stolen my heart quite a bit. 

New Video: Corridor’s Surreal and Psychedelic, Chad VanGaalen-Animated Visuals for “Grand cheval”

Over the better part of the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the rapidly rising Montreal-based indie rock act Corridor. And as you may recall, the French Canadian act, which currently features longtime friends and collaborators Dominic Berthiaume (vocals/bass) and Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar/synths) along with Julian Perreault (guitar), Julien Bakvis (drums) and the band’s newest member Samuel Gougoux first received attention across the Francophone world and elsewhere with 2017’s sophomore album Supermercado, which glowing received praise from NPR and Vice, who referred to the album as “the best French record of 2017, 2018, 2018, 2019, 2020 2021 and even 2022 .  . . ”

Corridor spent the following year touring across Europe with stops at London Calling Festival and La Villete Sonique Festival, and the States with appearances at SXSW and Northside Festival. They followed that up by touring with Crumb on a sold-out Stateside tour.

Building upon a growing profile, the band signed to Sub Pop Records, who released their third album, last year’s Junior, making the band the first Francophone act ever on the world renowned label. While continuing their ongoing and highly successful collaboration with their friend, producer (and occasional roommate) Emmanuel Ethier, the album found the band jettisoning the languorous creative process of its predecessors — out of inspired necessity.  Although the members of the band had only just signed to their new label home at the time, they had firmly committed themselves to releasing a new album worth of material every two years. And the band fully intended on fulfilling their long-held commitment. Naturally, when the folks at Sub Pop were informed of this, they gently warned the band that if they wanted to release new material that fall, they needed to send the label a completed album by early May.

With the ink barely dried on the finalized record contract, the band rushed into the studio and recorded Junior in an inspired and breakneck blitz, finishing the album in mid-April: Six of the album’s 10 songs were conceived in a single weekend — with the album closer “Bang” being written the night before they were to start recording sessions. Reportedly, Corridor’s Jonathan Robert wrote that song’s lyrics while panicking over the possibility of not being able to properly finished what they started.

Because of the quickened nature of the Junior sessions, the material features fewer expansive jams and less reliance on overdubs. Even the album’s artwork managed to come about in the nick of time. In spite of other more meticulous and gorgeous artwork they received as potential album art, Robert’s “shitty last minute” collage of an egg saying hello was the one his bandmates wound up approving.  “Part of the beauty of the thing is that we didn’t have time to think about it,” the band’s Berthiaume says of the Junior recording sessions.

Album tracks like Topographe,” “Pow,” album title track “Junior” “Goldie” and Domino” manage to reveal a wide range of influences: a bit of post-punk here, a little bit of XTC over there, a little bit of The Beatles, a dash of The Beach Boys here and so on. And with some deft craftsmanship and musicianship, they manage to whimsically and mischievously create something novel out of the familiar.

Last year, I caught was luckily to catch the band live twice — a Union Pool set shortly after the release of Junior and a headlining M for Montreal set at Montreal’s Le National that was in my opinion one of the best live sets I caught that year. The band is creating up for a headlining, Stateside tour that begins with a show at Rough Trade tomorrow night, as well as appearances at this year’s SXSW and their first ever shows in Florida.  The band recently extended its international tour to support their critically applauded third album, with an extensive series of UK and French dates. (You can check out the tour dates below.)  

In the meantime, Junior’s latest single is the slow-burning “Grand cheval.” Centered around shimmering guitars, a propulsive and steady bass line and drumbeat, the band’s gorgeous harmonizing and atmospheric synths, “Grand cheval.” may arguably be the prettiest song on the album — and the most bittersweet. “The song is inspired by a grumpy old man, who came to bother us in a park once,” Corridor’s Jonathan Robert says in press notes. “He talked about mediocre poetry and philosophies of life, while asking us for cigarettes and beers.  When we asked him to leave us alone, he became angry, climbed on his high horse (grand cheval) and became this  old demagogue belittling the youth.” 

Directed by and featuring animation by Chad VanGaalen, the recently released video is a surrealistic and hallucinogenic fever dream set on a brightly colored alien world with rising snow, where we follow a lonely alien gatherer.  “I sewed a jacket, pants, and hat to rotoscope myself as this alien gatherer,” Chad VanGaalen explains in press notes. “Everything was drawn onto a malfunctioning 15-year old Cintiq. You can buy them for $20 on eBay, although I wouldn’t recommend it. The music made the snow fall up and not down. No matter what I did on Final Cut, it would always fall up. I filled my body and mind with many ingredients in order to go from monocular to trinocular, now my vision is blurry but my tailored clothing feels amazing. I can’t believe it is finished.”

Interview: A Q&A with Corridor’s Dominic Berthiaume

Corridor
Photo Credit: Dominic Berthiaume

Over the better part of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the rapidly rising Montreal-based indie rock act Corridor. The French Canadian act, currently featuring longtime friends and collaborators Dominic Berthiaume (vocals/bass) and Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar/synths) along with Julian Perreault (guitar), Julien Bakvis (drums) and the band’s newest member Samuel Gougoux received attention across the Francophone world and elsewhere with 2017’s sophomore album Supermercado, which glowing received praise from NPR and Vice, who referred to the album as “the best French record of 2017, 2018, 2018, 2019, 2020 2021 and even 2022 .  . . ”

The members of Corridor spent the following year touring across Europe with stops at London Calling Festival and La Villete Sonique Festivaland the States with appearances at SXSW and Northside Festival. They followed that up by touring with Crumb on a sold-out Stateside tour.

Building upon a growing profile, the band signed to Sub Pop Records, who released their third album, last year’s Junior, making the band the first Francophone act ever on the world renowned label. While continuing their ongoing and highly successful collaboration with their friend, producer (and occasional roommate) Emmanuel Ethier, the album found the band jettisoning the languorous creative process of its predecessors — out of inspired necessity.  Although the members of the band had only just signed to their new label home at the time, they had firmly committed themselves to releasing a new album worth of material every two years. And the band fully intended on fulfilling their long-held commitment. Naturally, when the folks at Sub Pop were informed of this, they gently warned the band that if they wanted to release new material that fall, they needed to send the label a completed album by early early May.

With the ink barely dried on the finalized record contract, the band rushed into the studio and recorded Junior in an inspired and breakneck blitz, finishing the album in mid-April: Six of the album’s 10 songs were conceived in a single weekend — with the album closer “Bang” being written the night before they were to start recording sessions. Reportedly, Corridor’s Jonathan Robert wrote that song’s lyrics while panicking over the possibility of not being able to properly finished what they started.

Interestingly, because of the quickened nature of the Junior sessions, the album’s material features fewer expansive jams and less reliance on overdubs. Even the album’s artwork managed to come about in the nick of time. In spite of other more meticulous and gorgeous artwork they received as potential album art, Robert’s “shitty last minute” collage of an egg saying hello was the one his bandmates wound up approving.  “Part of the beauty of the thing is that we didn’t have time to think about it,” the band’s Berthiaume says of the Junior recording sessions.

Corridor_Junior_CoverOnly

Album tracks like Topographe,” “Pow,” album title track “Junior” “Goldie” and Domino” manage to reveal a wide range of influences: a bit of post-punk here, a little bit of XTC over there, a little bit of The Beatles, a dash of The Beach Boys here and so on. And with some deft craftsmanship and musicianship, they manage to whimsically and mischievously create something novel out of the familiar.

Last year, I caught was luckily to catch the band live twice — a Union Pool set shortly after the release of Junior and a headlining M for Montreal set at Montreal’s Le National that was in my opinion one of the best live sets I caught that year. I recently caught up Corridor’s Dominic Berthiaume, as the band gears up for a headlining, Stateside tour that begins with a March 4, 2020 at Rough Trade, includes appearances at this year’s SXSW and their first ever shows in Florida. Adding to the growing buzz surrounding the band since the release of Junior, this tour finds the band playing at some larger venues.

In the meantime, with this Q&A with Corridor’s Berthiaume, we speak a bit about Montreal’s food and music scenes, the aforementioned Union Pool and M for Montreal sets, their influences, the upcoming tour and more. The interview is below the jump, as they say. I’ve personally been in some of the spots Berthiaume has mentioned — and they give you a unique taste of Montreal and its people. And some of them I’ll have to check out on a return trip.

For my fellow New Yorkers, if you’re interested in the upcoming Rough Trade Show, ticket information is here: https://www.roughtradenyc.com/shows/detail/389053-corridor.  The rest of the tour dates are below.

Tour Dates

Mar. 04 – Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade NYC *
Mar. 07 – Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub *
Mar. 08 – Tampa, FL – Hooch and Hive *
Mar. 09 – Miami, FL – Shirley’s at Gramps *
Mar. 13 – San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger *
Mar. 14 – Houston, TX – Satellite Bar *
Mar. 16 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 17 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 18 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 19 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 20 – Dallas, TX – Nasher Sculpture
Mar. 21 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 22 – Hot Springs, AR – VOV Festival *
Mar. 23 – Nashville, TN – DRKMTTR *
Mar. 24 – Atlanta, GA – 529 *
Mar. 26 – Richmond, VA – Poor Boys *
*w/ Deeper

______________

WRH: I understand that this is a hotly debated question around Montreal, but who has the best poutine and why? 

Dominic Berthiaume: Well, I’m not a poutine expert, but the “Patatine” at Patati Patata is pretty bonkers. They just add few veggies and a single kalamata olive in it (lol). Close to my place there’s Le Nouveau Système restaurant that is a landmark, its poutine and hot dogs are really legit. The most famous would be La Banquise, a bit overrated, but it’s opened 24 hours. I know for fact that the best pho is at Pho Tay Ho and the best pizza at Pizza Bouquet.

 WRH A lot of my readers are based in the US – an overwhelming portion of them, are based in New York. What’s one spot that New Yorkers should go to get a real taste of Montreal? 

DB: It always depends of what you’re interested in. The Mile End used to have a lot of soul, like Williamsburg in Brooklyn, but recent gentrification/rent increases took most of it. Though, some places are still worth it. Fairmount or St. Viateur bagels, Kem CoBa (I’m not really into ice scream but everyone loves it), Lester’s smoked meat deli (actually better than Schwartz’s), Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore, Phonopolis Records, Casa del Popolo (bar & venue) and Snack’n Blues Bar.

 WRH: Where’s your favorite place in Montreal to catch live music? Why? 

DB: I guess my favorite would be Brasserie Beaubien. It’s literally a 1 min walk from my place. Great place to see up and coming bands. Service is great. Slot machines at the back. Cheap ATM fees. It’s “divey” and low key, I love it. Order a tall Laurentideand you should fit in.

WRH: Montreal has a very vibrant and interesting music scene. Is there an act from the city that should be getting more attention and love that isn’t at the moment?

DB: I think Cindy Lee are now based in Montreal. They move every 4 months lol, but their brand- new album What’s Tonight to Eternity is mind blowing. Our dear friends Chocolat released Jazz engagé last year, huge piece of rock. We just played a show with Reviews, they’re great too. You’ll hear about Population II pretty soon since they will release an album on an American label later this year, be sure to check them out. The list could go on and on.

WRH: For a band who sings and writes completely in French, Corridor has received quite a bit of attention in the States and elsewhere. How does that feel? Do you feel any pressure to start writing songs in English?

DB: It’s special to see that our band is getting this attention in the States, quite unusual I’d say. It’s cool though. If we ever write in English it will most probably suck, so we won’t go there.

WRH: A musician couple I know saw you in Philadelphia during your Stateside tour last year. They raved about that set, at one point saying that it was the best show they saw all year. I saw the and for the first time, the following night at Union Pool. After the show, I had a spirited conversation about the show, and it got into this argument about the influences we thought we heard in your sound. They mentioned Stereolab and Slowdive. I mentioned XTC and The Beatles. We went back and forth on it for a while. So, we need this debate settled: Who are your influences?

DB: All of the above and none of them at the same time. We started this band after listening to too much Sonic Youth and Women. Then we moved on finding our own sound. I think Supermercado and Junior sound like Corridor records. I personally didn’t know Stereolab, Slowdive and XTC back when we started to write songs, so none of you were right in the argument ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

WRH: Last November, I caught the band play what was the one of the best sets of M for Montreal, and one of the best sets I caught all year. The Le National set just had a much different energy than the Brooklyn one. Some of being that it was a hometown show in front of longtime fans, friends and family, which gave it this triumphant, local heroes have finally come home sort of feel to me.  Everyone in the audience knew every single song and they were desperate for more in a way that doesn’t seem to happen much in New York.  There’s something about the building, too; it has an important place in the city’s culture and historical and you can feel it everywhere. How did it feel to one of the headlining acts of M for Montreal? And how was it like to play at Le National in front of the hometown crowd?

DB: The Union Pool show was a little bit tricky. It was the second time we were actually playing the new Junior material live, so we were all focused on playing the right thing. It was less spontaneous than what it became by the time we played at Le National. Playing in that venue was kinda insane. I saw Deerhunter, Ariel Pink, Thee Oh Sees and so many other great acts perform there. It felt like we’ve accomplished something. I think that it was the fifth time we played M for Montreal, being one of the “headlining acts” felt good too. After all, we’re starting to become some kind of “veteran band” in our hometown, which I don’t know if it’s good or bad because old bands usually suck.

WRH: Your latest album Junior found the band adopting a completely different creative processor – out of necessity. According to press notes, you signed to Sub Pop and you had every intention of continuing your commitment of releasing a new album worth of material every two years. And in order to do so, your new label told that in order for you to continue that commitment, you needed to submit a completed album by May.  The ink’s barely dried on the contract and you run into the studio to furiously write and record material. Was there any point in which you felt like maybe you weren’t going to make your deadline – or where you maybe regretted being so firm in your commitment? 

 DB: I think our biggest regret is that we toured for two weeks in the U.S while we were in the middle of the recording/editing/mixing process. The tour was fun, but kinda exhausting and frustrating because all we had in mind was finishing that album. When we came back from this tour, we had a very short amount of time to actually finish it. Now I feel that we should’ve taken this “tour time” to work on the album instead. Still happy with what came out of it, but I don’t know. The first six months of 2019 were very intense. Being in a band is a constant “hit or miss” experience, gotta live with your good and bad decisions and move forward.

WRH: With the time crunch involved in the writing and recording of Junior, when did you know that you had finished material?  Would you return to such a creative process?

DB: By the time the Sub Pop contract was inked, we had four finished song and a lot of incomplete ideas. We took a month to write new songs, practice and fine tune them. Then we just played all of the finished and “almost” finished songs to our producer Emmanuel Ethier and he helped us select which ones we would record in the studio the next month. Not sure if we would return to such creative process. We like to try new things. I don’t know what we’ll do next, but I’m pretty sure we’ll take more time to write the fourth album and return with something fresh.

The band features longtime best friends Dominic Berthiaume (vocals, bass) and Jonathan Robert (vocals, guitar, synths). To me Junior’s material and your live show seems to reflect that sort of deep and abiding closeness – that sort of unwritten and unspoken connection really shines between the duo and the rest of the band.  How is like to write, record and perform with your best friend?

DB: We’ve had punk and hardcore bands together. I think some of the live energy still come from there. Performing live is all about fun, I think the moment we won’t be enjoying ourselves on stage we’ll just stop playing shows. I personally never had a band without Jonathan, so writing, recording and performing music with my best friend is kinda all I know. It’s been great, I’d say we agree on most of the things, when we don’t, the other guys settle it. Corridor is democratic, the majority always wins.

WRH: Corridor is about to embark on a Stateside tour, that will include a March 4th stop at Rough Trade. You’re starting to play larger venues on this run, and it feels like there’s some serious momentum surrounding the band.  How does that feel? And what should we expect on this run?  

DB: Since last fall we’ve added new live member Samuel Gougoux, it’s been great to rework some of the older songs with him. Hopefully we will play a different set from what we played at Union Pool; I should keep track of what we play in the cities we tour lol. I guess playing in larger venues is cool, sound systems are usually better quality and it makes Miguel (our sound engineer) happy. I like when Miguel is happy. We’ll tour Florida for the first time, I’m always excited when we play places we’ve never been before. Escaping to the south from a winter month in Montreal is pretty awesome too.

 WRH: After you finish this run of tour dates, what’s next?

DB: Some rest in April. More runs of tour dates in May, June, July and August and maybe more in the fall. 2020 will be a touring year. Hopefully we’ll write some new stuff between tours. We’ll see how it goes.

Interview: A Q&A with M for Montreal’s Program Director Mikey Rishwain Bernard

M for Montreal (French – M pour Montreal) is an annual music festival and conference, which takes place during four days in late November. Since its founding 14 years ago, the music festival and conference has rapidly expanded to feature over 100 local and international buzzworthy and breakout bands in showcases across 15 of Montreal’s top venues.

300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers from over 20 different countries make the trek to Montreal to seek out new, emerging artists and new business opportunities – while hopefully eating a ton of smoked meat sandwiches and poutine. I have the distinct pleasure and honor of being one of those music industry folks, who will be in Montreal tomorrow. As you can imagine, I’m looking very forward to poutine and smoked meat sandwiches, as well as a wildly eclectic array of music that includes the rapidly rising hometown-based Francophone indie rock act Corridor; acclaimed London, Ontario-based DIY rock collective WHOOP-Szo; British Columbia-based psych folk act Loving; hometown-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Ada Lea; hometown-based shoegazers Bodywash; Vancouver-based dance punk act NOV3L; Cameroonian-French pop artist Blick Bassy; and New York-based dance punk act Operator Music Band;  as well as a showcase featuring Icelandic artists and a two showcases featuring locally-based and Canadian-based hip-hop among a lengthy list of others.

Before heading out to Montreal, I chatted with the festival’s program director Mikey Rishwain Bernard about a wide range of topics including Montreal and Montreal’s music scene, what music fans, music industry professionals and journalists should expect from the city and the festival and more. Check it out below.

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WRH: While JOVM does have readers in Canada, most of my readers are based in the United States. Can you tell me and my readers a couple of things about Montreal and its music scene that we probably wouldn’t know but should know?

Mikey Rishwain Bernard: Most people will identify Montreal with Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and that’s cool as shit. After that Arcade Fire movement, it felt like many creative Canadian musicians started flocking to Montreal for the cheap schools, cheap rent, vast music scene and live venues. All that hype brought a new generation of artists like Grimes, Mac DeMarco, BRAIDS and more. All this to say is that Montreal is one heck of a place for creative space, freedom and affordable rent. Aside all that, there’s an entire francophone music scene that’s considered mainstream and not to forget the top shelf beatmakers and producers, most notably Kaytranada, Kid Koala, and A-Trak. There’s a lot of government funding dedicated in arts and culture and that’s a huge factor.

WRH: This is the 14th edition of M for Montreal. What was the inspiration behind its creation?

MRB: First and foremost, M was created on a whim. It was set up as a showcase to introduce 6 Montreal bands to 12 festival buyers and media from the UK, who happened to be in Montreal, while on their way to NY for CMJ. It helped artists like Patrick Watson and The Besnard Lakes get some action. In short, M is a networking platform for Canadian artists and industry to mingle with international tastemakers. We now recruit over 100 international delegates from 15 different countries to attend in hopes to export these acts into their respective markets. Another inspiration behind M is Martin Elbourne.  He’s our co-founder. A legendary British programmer who books for Glastonbury and co-founded The Great Escape festival in Brighton. He also worked with The Smiths and New Order, and has always had been involved with new wave’s in the making. He saw Montreal as a “sexy city” and wanted to contribute to this festival to help bring Montreal acts to Europe. Since then, M for Montreal has grown into not only a platform for Canadians, but we also make a little room for international acts.

 WRH: What does a program director of a festival do? 

MRB: I curate the music and conference. Lots of listening, making offers, negotiating and waiting. On repeat.

WRH: In your mind, what makes a successful festival? 

MRB: Aside from the talent, it’s the experience. The people you meet and the memories you make. I sound like Hallmark card, eh?

WRH: This is my first time in Montreal – and it’s my first time covering the M for Montreal festival. Besides the cold weather and maybe a little snow, what should I expect as a journalist? What would other music industry professionals expect from the festival?

MRB: You’re gonna feel welcome and our locals treat our guests/delegates with a lot of respect. Quebecers are very welcoming and charming, and they’ll all share their opinions on where to go, who to meet and what to eat. Everyone is going to ask you to try poutine. Just do it, once or twice. Try it sober at least once if you get the chance. Aside from that, don’t be surprised if some women kiss you on both face cheeks.

WRH: As a music fan, why should I check out Montreal? Why M for Montreal?

MRB: Like previously mentioned, the rich music history. It’s always good to see where Leonard Cohen slept & where Win Butler got his coffee, but it’s also a privilege to discover and experience the culture and new music cooking in French Canada.

WRH: I was doing some research and checking out the artists playing this year’s festival. Admittedly, I was very impressed – the bill manages to be very local centric but while being an eclectic and diverse sampling of a number of different styles and genres. There’s also a fair number of Canadian acts from other provinces, at least one American band and so on. How much work went into that? And how do you and the other organizers choose the artists on the bill?

MRB: It’s a mixture of things. We work with a lot of new kids on the block, Canadian export partners and local industry. We book bands and work with people who wanna play ball. Not for the money, but for a chance to play for some interesting people from all over the world. So, like the programming, it’s all over the place.

WRH: So once the festival ends on Saturday night, what happens next for you and the rest of the team?

MRB: The team will close out the festival and close the 2019 file. The week after M, I’m attending a conference in Saskatoon called Very Prairie… From there, I go directly into hibernation, back home, in Stockton/Lodi California (home of Pavement and Chris Isaak). I will start the new year booking another festival taking place in May called Santa Teresa. And the beat goes on.

While in Montreal, I’ll be busy with my social media accounts, live tweeting and Instagramming as much as I can. Keep on the lookout here:

Twitter: @yankee32879 @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: william_ruben_helms

 

For more information on the festival, check out their homepage: https://mpourmontreal.com/en/