Here’s the return of our series about the happy creative meetings between two songwriters. Together, Louis-Jean Cormier and Daniel Beaumont wrote one of the biggest hits of the last few years in Québec, the unifying “Tout le monde en même temps,” (“The Whole World at the Same Time”) from Cormier’s first solo album, and they’ve continued their collaboration, right up to the recently released “Le ciel est au plancher” (“The Heavens are on the Floor”).

“There’s nothing easier to plant in the mind of an artist, diving into a solo project, than doubt,” says Louis-Jean Cormier. It was 10 years ago, after four albums as a member of Karkwa, that he took a leap of faith and started working on his first solo album, Le Treizième étage (2012). “I’m a band guy,” he says. “I felt I needed someone, a sounding board. I like bouncing ideas around, I like to think that two heads can work on a single project. I prefer that than doing everything on my own.”

A few years earlier, at a writing workshop during the Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée, Cormier had noticed Daniel Beaumont. Still in his early days as a lyricist, he collaborated on songwriting with his brother Matthieu and his sister-in-law Catherine Leduc, who formed the duo Tricot Machine. “He’d come up with these sentences where the words always fell in the right place, and it stuck in my head,” says Cormier. “It was really well crafted. That’s when I got in touch with Daniel, even though I barely knew him.”

The first text Beaumont wrote was for his brother Matthieu, who was a contestant in the Cégep en spectacles competition. “I grew up with a love of language,” says the man, who considers himself “the trouble-shooter” for those seeking the right word. An advertising copywriter by trade, he still suffers from impostor syndrome when it comes to music – having collaborated with Cormier, but also Andrea Lindsay, Fanny Bloom, and, more recently, Alex Nevsky.

“With Louis-Jean, as with the others, it’s not my soul that I bare on paper,” says Beaumont. “I just try to meet the artist where they’re at, and help them write something that resonates with them. That’s my job. “It was a trip for me to write lyrics because I’ve always loved Québec music. I would write new lyrics to a song by Les Chiens and use it as a model; then I wrote using English songs, so I wouldn’t be distracted by the lyrics, since I was paying less attention to the English lyrics.”

Between Cormier and Beaumont, a working method was established: the former provided the latter with the raw material, the basic ideas for songs. “Then, we talk about it,” Cormier explains. “Daniel comes back to me and says, ‘When you say that, this is what I see.’ He has a very down-to-earth, concrete side. I’m not saying he’s not creative; on the contrary, he writes wonderful things, and when he’s given a lot of room on a song, he comes up with good ideas. ‘Le Ciel est au plancher,’ for example, that’s totally his idea.

“As a copywriter, Daniel is used to coming up with ideas in a split second,” says Cormier. “And he’s a real workhorse: You should see our Google Docs with all the alternative words he suggests in any given song. He’s got this thoroughness of spreading out all the texts of the album on a table to identify where we repeat ourselves, where a word returns in several songs, and how we could introduce more variety. He’s highly technical.”

As a lyricist as well as a copywriter, Beaumont says he puts his writing talent at the service of others. It’s this healthy distance that allows him to offer the best insight into the words and ideas of Cormier. “I’m not that much a part of his world, so when he knocks on my door, it’s because his project is mature, and he’s at the stage where he needs a hand,” says Beaumont.

“I’m not contaminated by all the discussions he had about his project, which allows me to arrive with a detached look. In fact, I’m always a straight shooter with Louis-Jean, and I think that’s what he appreciates. When it’s your girlfriend or a friend who gives you their opinion, they’ll always be a little complacent, and that’s normal. I don’t know Louis-Jean that well, we’re not the best friends in the world, so I tell him what I really think. In a sense, I feel a bit like the guardian of the listener” vis-à-vis the creator.

Cormier likes to say that Beaumont “rakes” his texts and his song ideas. “He gets hands-on and bullies my ideas a bit,” says Cormier. “What I like is when your collaborator takes your ideas and says, ‘This sentence makes me tick, for this or that good or bad reason.’ It’s as interesting when it’s time to re-hash an idea, as when it’s time to confirm that it’s a good idea.”

Post ScriptAmour fatal, released April 14, 2021, is their first exclusively French EP since the three songs they released in 2013. Since they started, they’ve released a bilingual album in 2015, French singles, and then an English EP in 2019. The Franco-Albertan duo Post Script crafts melodies that are at ease in any language. Instead of wallowing in their “isolation,” Paul Cournoyer and Steph Blais embrace what makes them unique, and they’re willing to play all the cards as long as the music is in the deck.

Being part of the cultural scene in Alberta is akin to being the member of a small family. “I grew up in a Francophone family,” says Blais. “Every year, my aunt would give a show for the Francophones in the area. That’s how I got into music. Schools are very involved in music programs, too. It’s nice to see that, even though there aren’t many of us, there’s a core group that produces new material and wants it to last.”

“There are people who’ve inspired us,” adds Cournoyer. “We’ve also had [the] examples [of musicians] that showed us we can sing in both languages. For our show requests, it’s more appropriate sometimes to play in English, but we have everything we need to play both cards.”

Building a network is where the going gets tough. “There’s an interesting summer festival scene in Alberta, but we don’t have a network of venues like ROSEQ in Québec,” says Cournoyer. “It’s impressive to see what opportunities artists have there.” With a smaller population, even if they’re performing in English, the venues are fewer and further between. “We don’t really have medium-sized venues,” adds Blais. “We either play for 50 people, or in a stadium. Except in Edmonton and Calgary, there’s no music industry to speak of, no record labels, except for Anglophone country music.” “It could be worse, but it’s far from perfect,” concludes Cournoyer.

Even though they’ve been making music for many years, Cournoyer and Blais are still happy to embody the emerging music of the West, aware that the opportunities are less tangible there. “On ‘Avec toi,’ by the way, we talk about when there were four of us in a hotel room touring. Being [an] emerging [artist] isn’t always easy,” says Cournoyer with a chuckle.

The words and the music are born at the same time for the duo, regardless of the language in which they write. “We’re really the type to focus on the melody. It’s a collaborative process. We often complement each other’s ideas,”  says Cournoyer. It was then a creative choice to go to Moncton to record the EP with Benoit Morier. “He’s from Winnipeg and truly a passionate guy,” says Cournoyer. “We wanted to re-invent our arrangements and take our indie-rock and surf-rock to the next level. Maxime Gosselin, who also plays with Lisa LeBlanc, worked with us. We really gained a lot of cohesiveness by working with those guys.”

Whereas Louis-Jean Cormier, Jimmy Hunt, Chocolat, and Peter Peter are among Cournoyer’s inspirations, it’s the voices of Coeur de pirate, Safia Nolin, and Les sœurs Boulay that influence Blais more. No matter the case, their Francophone musical inspiration is rooted in Eastern Canada. The duo elected to wait out the pandemic before releasing the songs they already had in their back pockets. “We felt like releasing something in French, since we’d already released an all-English EP,” Cournoyer explains. “Releasing something entirely in French or English simplifies things on the human resources side of things. Promoting a bilingual album isn’t easy.”

Life on the road, long-distance love, and opposing schedules are among the topics that inspired the couple for this EP. Although written before the pandemic, “Échos” shackles us to our hopes for better days, with phrases that fit beautifully into the times: “Je m’étouffe sous le poids de mes attentes” (“I’m smothered by the weight of my expectations”), “Est-ce une fin que je vois à l’horizon?” (“Is that an end I see on the horizon?”). “Si j’te disais” is a glance at the voices of a couple separated by distance, of a love that’s on hold, and holding on, despite that distance.

They miss touring, but the duo have rehearsed, and they’re ready for what’s to come. “Luckily, we’re a couple, so we were able to play together,” chuckles Blais. “We’re on a creative kick, both in French and English, and we really think that regaining a sense of community, after the pandemic, is just going to grow our desire to make music for people, in front of people.”

PaupiereThere are beings who know they’re condemned to live a joint existence, but unaware of its true nature at first glance, because it’s so easy to confuse an extraordinary creative bond with romantic love. Such is the case of Julia Daigle and Pierre-Luc Bégin of Paupière, whose life as a couple failed, but whose musical project is doing quite well, thank you, in Québec, Europe, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.

You’d think they were from another era, like one of those biographical passages one reads on the walls of museums during a retrospective exhibition of a great painter, long gone. There’s an artistic aura to Daigle and Bégin that one can imagine permeating even the smallest part of their daily lives. They’re like artworks themselves, right down to the way they dress.

Unsurprisingly, Daigle started out as a painter and hat-maker in Québec City. Bégin, on the other hand, cut his teeth with the band Polipe (a formidable but almost-forgotten trio), but he was in town because he’d recently joined We Are Wolves and the band was on tour.

“I knew Vincent Lévesque and Alex Ortiz of We Are Wolves,” says Daigle. “When they changed drummers, they hired Pierre-Luc. We got along super-well. To be honest, we were a couple when I moved to Montréal,” she confesses with a giggle. “We were together for three years. We started by painting together, and at some point, he suggested I write the lyrics to a song, because it’s something which I was always interested in. Then, he asked me if I’d like to sing. That’s how our first single, ‘Cinq heures,’ was born. I find the realm of music the most satisfying because it involves a bit of everything else. I was able to collaborate on the cover art, work with the videos’ directors… I derive a lot of satisfaction from the visual aspects.”

The title of their latest album refers to how Julia and Pierre-Luc met, to the time that binds them to each other, almost in spite of themselves. Sade Sati isn’t Latin; it’s the name of one of the principles of Indian astrology, a seven-and-a-half-year cycle, which is the total age of the band. In the meantime, Éliane Préfontaine, an actress with the gaze of the sun, has joined them as a keyboardist and vocalist. She stayed on as the band’s third player until she decided, very recently, to have a baby. After one LP and two EPs, the Paupière adventure had come to term. “It wasn’t an acrimonious separation,” Daigle insists. “We’re still friends, it’s just that she wanted to have a child. It’s not one of those sad ‘band splits up’ stories. We’re super-happy for her.”

There’s been much written in the press that Paupière revives or emulates the sound of the 1980s, a comment that rightly annoys the band members. “It’s really the choice of instruments that imparted this colour because Pierre-Luc and Éliane played piano and synths,” says Daigle. “Ultimately, we’re inspired a lot by ‘chanson française,’ by the music of the ’70s – we both love prog rock – but I understand the comparison because of the synthesizers and the bass lines. That said, I don’t think our compositions are necessarily dated.”

That said, Daigle and Bégin have often said in interviews that they think of, and identify, themselves as punks at heart. But how is it that these same punks make such catchy, melodic, and seductive music? Daigle repeats and ponders the question: “I think it’s the raw energy we exude on stage,” she says. “It’s quite aloof. We don’t necessarily respect codes. Pierre-Luc almost always ends up half-naked. We never quite know what to expect. Our punk side comes out in our attitude.”