Andy Shauf was in high school when he first discovered songwriting. “It was empowering,” he recalls. “I realized, ‘why play other people’s songs when you can play your own’?” Not long after, unable to land a job in the summer before his graduating year, Shauf, who grew up as part of a musical family in rural Saskatchewan, decided he would “stay home and make a record,” eventually selling it to his peers for pocket money.

While he’s relieved the album no longer exists (“it’s still pretty embarrassing”), the impulse to make and share his music had taken hold. Upon graduation, Shauf worked odd jobs, but only to support his life on the road. “I was always touring,” he recalls. “I have always toured. I would get in the car and go and play for months.”

Now nearly 29, Shauf is making a name for himself thanks to his quirky, imaginative approach to songwriting and a distinctive voice that has drawn comparisons to Elliot Smith and Paul Simon. In 2015, he signed with Arts and Crafts in Canada and Anti- in the U.S, and is gearing up to launch his latest full-length album, The Party, in May.

“My focus in on the day-to-day, song to song – to just keep writing.”

While he is hesitant to call it a concept album, Shauf, who “prefers writing in stories” more than in “personal narratives,” says each song is centered around a party and focuses on mundane moments and an awkward cast of characters – from a girl who dances alone and un-selfconsciously in the middle of the room, to a guy who steps out for a smoke but can’t find his lighter. “I think they’re all awkward, because they’re filtered through my personal awkwardness,” says Shauf, who admits he’s shy.

Shauf is also the first to admit that he’s controlling when it comes to making music. That’s the reason he scrapped the first iteration of The Party, which he started recording with a band in Germany in 2014. “Those sessions didn’t go very well,” he says simply, explaining his decision to start again – alone – at Studio One in Regina, the city he currently calls home.

As with his 2012 LP The Bearer of Bad News (created in his parents’ basement over a four-year period) and his 2009 EP Darker Days, Shauf plays all the instruments, with the addition of strings played by Colin Nealis. “It’s just easier for me to work by myself and to come to a conclusion that’s mine,” he says of his solitary creative process.  Shauf’s desire for solitude ends onstage, however: he tours with a band (they’re currently in the U.K. opening for the Lumineers) and appreciates when his audiences connect with his music.

But while he’s proud of his latest album, Shauf is clear he won’t let success distract him from what matters most: writing and recording. “My goal right now is to just try and get better each time I make an album or write a song,” he says. “I think you would drive yourself crazy if you were trying to achieve different levels of fame or whatever. My focus in on the day-to-day, song to song – to just keep writing and to try and keep having ideas for new songs.”

Yann Beauregard-Lemay and Julien Bidar, the duo behind the publishing startup Outloud, are driven by a deep-seated desire to do things differently.

After honing their skills in the various businesses run by Sébastien Nasra – Bidar is an alumnus of Éditions Avalanche, and Beauregard-Lemay of Disques Vega and the M for Montréal festival – the two friends decided to join forces and create a publishing company that they intend to keep nimble and innovative, two crucial elements in this constantly evolving music industry.

Says Bidar: “We work with smaller budgets in an industry that generates less money than before. That, however, must not stop us from moving forward and being dynamic for the bands we represent as publishers. For example, we don’t wait for an album to come out in a given territory before encouraging that band to tour there. That’s the case with Coco Méliès, who are currently touring Europe for the second time – thanks to our contract with Kalima Productions, and despite not having a record contract. The first tour was profitable. So for us, that was a development effort with a return on investment.” (Editor’s Note: On April 26, Audiogram announced that it was signing Coco Méliès, whose catalogue will now be managed by Éditorial Avenue.)

Bidar and Beauregard-Lemay work in close collaboration with all the bands they sign. That’s a necessity when one manages a catalogue that’s mainly centred on emerging talent, such as Secret Sun, Orange O’Clock, Fred Woods, AléatoireTechnical Kidman and Dr. Mad. “We establish partnerships after meeting with the artists. We want to bond with them, sharing a vision,” says Bidar. “That allows us to come up with strategies that are in their image and in ours.” To them, managing musical works is synonymous with the development of an artistic process. If this seems very close to a manager’s job, both men keenly deny that they want to meddle. “Our job is not making sure everything runs smoothly during a tour, or that they have water bottles next to their mike stands,” says Bidar. “That’s very important, but it’s not our department.”

“There’s always a lot of luck involved, but you need to always be pro-active” — Julien Bidar of Outloud

Right from the get-go, in 2014, they managed to land two successful ad placements in Europe, which gave their publishing endeavour strong momentum. They placed a song by Jean-Sébastien Houle in a TV ad for the Bank of Austria. Outloud also placed a song by Locksley – a work in a British catalogue, So Far, managed by Outloud – in an ad for Polish beer Zywiec Warianty. “There’s always a lot of luck involved, but you need to always be pro-active,” says Bidar who’s made it his specialty. “I send at least two or three pitches a day to get only one ‘yes’ back every 50 pitches or so. The goal is to create the perfect match between a song and a product. An artist’s notoriety can influence the outcome, but it’s not the only factor in play.”

Bank of Austria ad with Jean-Sébastien Houle’s music:

Hoping to get as many placements as they can, the aptly-named Outloud intends to make as much noise as it can. That’s where Beauregard-Lemay comes into play, a man that Bidar likes to jokingly call “the man who can’t walk down the street without everyone recognizing him.” Beauregard-Lemay is in charge of the social media accounts of the many bands represented by Outloud, which means he maintains close ties with a sizeable number of music blogs. He also manages to get stories in more traditional media. Beauregard-Lemay concurs that this approach yields a lot of credibility: “For us, this link with the media and social networks feeds into a band’s image, and facilitates the ulterior placement of their music. We don’t bill our bands for this work, because we believe we come out winners as much as they do in carrying out these promotional efforts.”

And this online presence is encouraged by Outloud in many different ways. To wit, Bidar and Beauregard-Lemay told Coco Méliès they should release a song created for a pitch as an online-only single. Same for Aléatoire, who managed to reach 150,000 plays with a single song on Spotify. They’ve encouraged Secret Sun to have their material remixed by various producers, like ­ Foxtrott and The Posterz – in order to maximize their variety of styles. “When you want to place music in visual content, you need to be versatile,” says Beauregard-Lemay.

Sonically and territorially boundless, Outloud maintains a versatile and global approach, masterfully piloted by these two businessmen and their common passion for music.

He was behind Délivrez-nous du mal. He was behind IXE-13. He was behind Bonheur d’occasion. He was also behind Le Matou, The Decline of the American Empire, Les portes tournantes, Jesus of Montreal and C’t’à ton tour Laura Cadieux. Each and every one of those times, he was behind it.

Francois DompierreHe is François Dompierre. He didn’t direct these classics of Québec cinema, but this emeritus composer created the music for all of these films and many, many more.

Going through the list of shorts and feature films in which François Dompierre was involved is pretty much like reading the history of film in Québec, from the ‘60s to the 21st Century. Not unlike a modern-era Mozart, the composer has left a deep musical imprint on a vast and universal body or work.

Which is somewhat surprising, since he never envisioned such a career for himself when he was a student at the Conservatory.

“At the Conservatory, they teach you learned music, what is usually called classical music,” says Dompierre. “Film music was not a career plan. At 20, I dreamt of writing concert music, which is now something I’ve been doing for quite a while.

Yet François Dompierre’s name is widely associated with ‘60s singers, thanks to his collaborations with Félix Leclerc, Pauline Julien, Louise Forestier, Pierre Calvé, and Claude Gauthier, to name but a few.

“Yes, I was an arranger for many artists,” says Dompierre, “and I worked with the National Film Board, most notably with [Jacques] Godbout. Film music became a business for me, but rather unexpectedly.”

Learning by Doing

Godbout (IXE-13), Jean-Claude Lord (Délivre-nous du mal) and Marcel Carrière (O.K…. Laliberté) are among the first directors with whom Dompierre worked in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, an era that was quite devoid of any manual on how to make film music.

“I learned everything I know by doing it,” says Dompierre. “I was lucky to be a part of that era. We could try stuff. We were learning as we went, just as those directors were. We were all building something. It was an era where anything went. We weren’t really aware of it, but in hindsight, absolutely.”

Francois DompierreAsk any songwriter and they’ll tell you they either write music for a text, or write a text for a piece of music. There’s no other way. The same goes for film music, but there’s still a specific modus operandi.

“I’ve written music for words and words for music,” says Dompierre. “In the ‘90s, writing music had become the very last stage in the creative process. We were sent images and were asked to base our work on those. Yet, for a comedy such as IXE-13, the music was written before the filming even began. But 85 percent of the time, the music comes at the end of the production, just before the mixing.”

Some Cases in Point

Making a movie is a huge team endeavour, but the composer is generally alone in his corner until he delivers his work to the director. It would make sense, then, that over a period of four decades, Dompierre’s vision was not always perfectly in sync with that of his directors.

“I’ve seen it all; directors always have something to add,” he says. “And that’s when you, as a composer, need to start acting like a psychiatrist. You ask them, “why do you want this?” And they say, “Because my girlfriend likes it” or “Because the images are begging for it.” OK, and why are the images begging for it? Music creation is quite a subliminal creative process. But it’s true that filmed images do call for a certain type of music.”

There are several types of directors,” says Dompierre. “There are those who see the music as a foil for the images. There are those who know exactly what they want. Denys Arcand is an example of that. Denys loves classical music. For The Decline of the American Empire, we based the music on Handel’s Fifth Concerto, and I created variations on that theme.

Although he recently did the music for Léa Pool’s La Passion d’Augustine, it was the first time he’s scored a movie in 15 years, having stepped away from it due to the distinct vision of a film’s stakeholders, and the impact of technology.

“Sometimes producers want music for their film but the director doesn’t,” says Dompierre. “Nowadays, because of technology, it’s possible to intervene on the music. You can, for example, do away with a string part. You know, when you spend hours on a single bar of music and then the editor cuts it out… But you can’t let that affect you. It’s life.

“We worked more like artisans in the ‘60s and ‘70s. We’d give each other advice. We talked with each other. It was teamwork. I worked closely with Francis Mankiewicz on Les portes tournantes. I wrote music and once Francis gave his OK, he gave me carte blanche.”

François Dompierre comments the homage he received at last month’s Gala du cinéma québécois with joyous straightforwardness.

“It was very nice, as it coincided with my 50th professional anniversary.”