Known as DJ Charny, a nod to the small railroad town where he grew up, guitarist Jean-Michel Letendre Veilleux shows us his love of dancing on this, the first real Beat Sexü album. Concocted over a period of five years in close collaboration with Jean-Étienne Collin Marcoux, this album allowed the pair to project themselves well beyond the limits of the 418 area code. From being mentioned in the nightly news on the Côte-Nord region of the CBC to the four stars the album earned from La Presse, their music has attracted a lot of attention.
“We weren’t expecting that,” says Veilleux, who everyone calls Jim. “It feels like this relationship that’s going around in circles, like f—k-buddies that have been together for two years but never said, ‘I love you’ to take things to the next level. We’d done everything together, but we hadn’t committed.”
His roommate and colleague Marcoux explains the wait more pragmatically. “I wouldn’t call this a side project,” he says, “but we were busy with so many other things that this always ended up being pushed aside… That’s what happened with Anatole. It had to come out as fast as possible because of Alex’s record contract… We were working in the studio, but we made ourselves available to him. Not that we weren’t willing participants, just like when Hubert Lenoir asked me to go on tour with him… But it was still time we were supposed to devote to Sexü.”
Veilleux and Marcoux are also the co-founders, artistic directors, and maintenance men of Pantoum, the epicentre of Québec City’s independent music scene. They were, however, longing to reveal their own material after welcoming so many bands into their studio and rehearsal spaces.
After several lineup changes, Beat Sexü recruited keyboardist and backing vocalist Odile Marmet Rochefort (ex-Men I Trust) and bassist Martin Teasdale. The quartet sealed the deal with the final version of “Plumage,” the album opener that they debuted during the Francouvertes five years ago. The song has evolved considerably since then. Veilleux explains: “Our basic idea is to make people dance. Jean-Étienne and I have always loved dance music. I loved Justice back in 2007. Later I got into house music and discovered cumbia, Brazilian, and African music. We wanted to embrace those influences.”
We’re undeniably dealing with the same band – their desire to make us move remains the same – but the arrangements on Deuxième Fois have grown more refined. “We used to sound very disco rock, but we’ve grown out of that,” Marcoux admits. “I already do disco with Gab Paquet and Anatole. We still love it, we’re still Giorgio Moroder fans… But the thing is, there are so many more types of dance music that let us explore different sounds… Disco is quite archetypal, and you quickly hit a threshold because the 4/4 time-signature is limiting.”
As the band’s drummer, singer and lyricist, he let his enthusiasm run free when it came to choosing percussion. Marcoux plays the vibraphone on “P.S.” while on “De jardin à courge,” he unexpectedly, liberally uses a cuíca. “It’s everywhere in Brazilian samba, especially from the Rio area,” he says. “It’s a skin over a steel drum and the skin has a bamboo stick glued in the middle of it. You use a wet cloth and rub the bamboo stick while you change the pressure on the drumhead with your other hand. The most well-known music with cuíca in it is probably the Austin Powers theme song.”
Beat Sexü’s music is what happens when the barriers between music genres are broken down in the lower part of Québec City. In this era of streaming, where more than ever, the whole world is listening, the pair is thinking globally. “It’s funny, because when you look at the Apple Music stats, you also see the Shazam stats, and the majority of searches for us come from outside Québec,” says Veilleux. “Paris, Calgary, Hamilton, sometimes in the States. It’s not a lot, about a dozen a week, but at least we know our music travels.
“We know what we do can be exported,” the guitarist adds. “We had proof with ‘Corridor’… it can be done in French! We’d like to carry on in that vibe.”