“Nowadays, I know the words that work well in her mouth, but it wasn’t always like that. We worked by trial and error. It wasn’t rare that I would present her with words and she knew right away that it wasn’t going to fly. I remember a long work session where I told her, stop, the music is gorgeous, let me leave with a recording of your voice, let me play around with that, and I’ll come back with words. To me, the beauty of it all is succeeding in writing lyrics specifically for a person so that they feel so comfortable with them that they feel the words are theirs,” explains Gaële, who’s also written for Damien Robitaille, Alexandre Désilets, Jipé Dalpé and, more recently, collaborated with Gardy Fury on the summer hit Aller!

Arthur and Gaële’s creative process doesn’t happen in isolation. Arthur even says that “sometimes, Gaële’s words make me want to change my melodies. Actually, it happens more and more. I used to come up with a theme, an idea for a melody, a few words, even, and [I would tell her], ‘Here, work with that.’ Nowadays, we really create four-handed. I come up with song topics and melodies, sometimes with a complete verse and let”s go, we just run with the ball.”

“As time goes by, inspiration comes easier because we know each other better.” – Gaële

Says Gaële: “It’s a question of confidence for her, she needs to trust in her words and what she’s trying to say. I obviously had more confidence than she did because I had been writing for longer and for other people…”

“That’s because she’s French [from France], so she has a few more words in her vocabulary!” says Arthur, laughing. “Wanting to write songs because you hear so many beautiful things, and you want to do just the same, but have no experience, can give you a complex. It’s dizzying.”

“And when the music is as groovy [as Arthur’s],” continues Gaële, “it’s a whole different ball game than trying to write words for a song whose music you’ve never heard. We work within a different framework. It’s inspiring.”

Their work pace resembles that of their relationship, relaxed and easygoing. They generally work during the daytime and allow themselves the time needed for inspiration to come. “We get together, we chit-chat, sometimes it can be hella long to finish a song,” giggles Arthur.

“As time goes by, inspiration comes easier because we know each other better,” adds Gaële. “After talking for awhile, I get flashes of inspiration and sometimes everything happens very fast from that point on. It was the case for “Fil de soie.” It was a beautiful creation process; she was looking to create a song to reassure her son, but she wasn’t ready to sing in the first person yet. Marie-Pierre felt guilty for leaving her baby behind to go on stage, and didn’t know how to put that in a song.”

MariePierreArthur_Gaele_ByLePigeon_InBody_2“She told me all about it,” continues Gaële. “I told myself, let’s try. I’ll write this from the perspective of the babysitter who’s comforting the child. And it worked. It’s a good example of a song that was created really fast, in one go. I sent her the lyrics that were supposed to go over a given [piece of] music, but as it turned out, it fit perfectly with another one.”

And what are their models of well-written and well-composed songs? For Gaële, her romantic side makes her lean towards Richard Desjardins’ “Jenny.” “The song makes us want to be all of its characters. I want to be Desjardin’s Jenny. The lyrics, the super-simple melody, the overall sobriety and the very deep topic. Lyrics, music, singing, everything is perfect. I’m very touched every time I hear it.”

“For me, Desjardins, I just can’t play his stuff. It stuns me,” admits Arthur, who prefers the composition work of the Beatles’ John Lennon. “Because of the way he builds his songs. He can grab you with a simple phrase. In his solo work, he has this knack for simplifying his songs that makes you feel like you understand precisely what he means. It turns me inside-out.”

mariepierrearthur.com/
gaele.net/


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Rumour has it that a synth for sale on Kijiji is the genesis of Le Couleur. Singer Laurence Giroux-Do confirms: “We were at the guy’s place who was selling it, and all three of us flipped out on the sounds coming from the instrument. We decided to draw at random to find out who would get to keep it. Steeven (Chouinard, drums) and I are a couple, so we figured we had the best chances, but as it turned out, we lost. We exchanged phone numbers with Patrick (Gosselin, guitars and keyboards) and ended up going for drinks… And that’s how Le Couleur came to be.”  

“It’s more natural for us to play in Berlin than in Chicoutimi.” – Laurence Giroux-Do of Le Couleur

It was during a brief stint as the keyboard player for the band Plaza Musique that Giroux-Do – classically trained on the piano at renowned music school Vincent-d’Indy – had her first taste of pop music. “In the beginning, I was thinking ‘If this is what making pop music is all about, it’s definitely not for me,’” she says. “But the more we rehearsed, the more I played and got acquainted with the genre, I started liking it, to the point where I wanted to start my own project. For different reasons, I ended up leaving Plaza, and that’s when I saw the ad for that synth on the internet.”

Last February, Le Couleur launched their first, slightly kitschy yet suavely titled EP, Dolce Désir. One of its songs, “Club Italien,” was inspired by the cafés in Little Italy where men spend their days talking, sipping espressos and watching soccer on TV. “I’d love to know what these guys are talking about,” says Giroux-Do. Out of the five songs on the EP, only “Club Italien” and “Autovariation #64” are new material. The other tracks were either re-visited, inspired by their re-mixes, or by their live show’s evolution. The contrast between the slick and ethereal album versions and the very Disco-tinged live versions is indeed quite marked.

“We’re completely smitten by the live approach of Norwegian producer Todd Terje,” says Giroux-Do. “His live sets are completely insane! Steeven studied drums and pop music at UQAM. On stage, he plays really loud and it propels our songs. The tempo gradually accelerates and although we navigate through various atmospheres, one thing remains constant: driving bass. It’s a recipe that works well for us and it’s that type of show we’re going to deliver during the FrancoFolies on June 18.”

Crossing Boundaries

Le Couleur’s electro-disco-pop fare is easily exportable anywhere in the world, and it’s the Lisbon Lux imprint that had the wherewithal to bet on its success. Giroux-Do’s airy voice recalls those of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mylène Farmer, while the trio’s sound adds the French Touch to Scandinavian Nu Disco or the sexy pop of Montréal’s Chromeo. The band just returned from a few dates in France. The label is working several key markets – such as Francophone areas of Europe, in addition to Germany and Austria, major American urban areas and even parts of Asia – and it’s starting to pay off. “We’re doing great in Europe, and most of our influences are from there,” says Giroux-Do. “It’s more natural for us to play in Berlin than in Chicoutimi. The way things happened for Peter Peter is an inspiration for us; we’d love to follow in his footsteps and go to France for three or four months in order to build a solid base from which to move forward.”

This type of outside-the-box thinking is also noticeable in the way Le Couleur release their music. They prefer releasing EPs, a logical move in a market where album sales are declining new music is constantly pouring forth. The band also does re-mixes for others, and doesn’t shy away from vinyl. This D.I.Y. and polymorphic approach is perfectly adapted to the current multi-format environment, and certainly not a hindrance for the band. “It allows us to go with the flow and follow our whims,” says Groux-Do. “Our label doesn’t try to make us fit in any kind of industry-related mold. We do music, and that’s it.”

Fille ou garçon, on se pose la question / Une robe ou un pantalon” (“Girl or boy, we wonder / Dress or pants”), sings Laurence in “Télé-Jeans.” This playful transgression also refers to gender issues. “In French, words have genders,” says Giroux-Do. “I felt like playing around with it, to see how one could play with that rule and sidestep it – hence the name of our band. Plus, on a lighter note, I think it’s really sexy when Anglos say ‘Le couleur’!”

Le Couleur and Les Marinellis
Showcasing during the Rendez-vous Pros des Francos
A SOCAN presentation
June 18, 5 p.m., Pub Rickard’s, Montréal


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Every project that film and television composers Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner take on presents an opportunity for them to learn from each other, and face new challenges that add to the set of tools the pair bring to their work, both collectively and individually.

“I love that, even after 15 years, we’re constantly trying to better ourselves and trying to surprise each other,” says Bhatia. “It’s very healthy to have a longtime partner you trust come up with things that challenge you. In fact, the best compliment we give to the other when we hear a piece of music,” he continues, as Posner laughs in the background, clearly knowing what’s coming: “The best compliment is, ‘I hate you.’ When one of us is working on something we’ll send it to the other and say, ‘Do you hate me?’ And they’ll respond by saying, ‘Congratulations. I hate you.’”

“I love that, even after 15 years, we’re constantly trying to better ourselves and trying to surprise each other.” – Amin Bhatia

Their latest project, the CBC Television series X Company, is no exception. The series follows a fictional group of operatives trained in a true-to-life, Ontario-based facility, Camp X, who undertake missions in Europe to undermine the Nazis during World War Two. While both Posner and Bhatia are familiar with broader details of the war, neither knew much about the existence of the Canadian training camp previously. “That aspect of it was really cool,” Bhatia says, “and when [the series creators] asked us to keep our schedules clear, we were like, ‘Yes, we’ll see what we can do.’ But we were jumping up and down with joy.”

X Company was created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern, the same team that produced the internationally successful TV series Flashpoint , which Bhatia and Posner also scored, and for which they’re best known and celebrated. The duo received three SOCAN Film & TV Awards during its five-year run, as well as a Canadian Screen Award for Best Music in a Series. But they started collaborating frequently long before that, since meeting in 1999, on a variety of projects – including Disney’s animated series Get Ed, for which they share an Emmy nomination.

Over time, they’ve also worked on a wide array of projects individually. Posner’s credits include films like All the Wrong Reasons and My Awkward Sexual Adventure and television series such as 24 Hour Rental. And Bhatia’s credits range from albums like his 1987 debut, The Interstellar Suite and its follow up, Virtuality (2008), to features like John Woo’s Once a Thief and Iron Eagle II, and series including Kung Fu and Queer as Folk, among many others.

While the pair have no formal business arrangement, Bhatia says, “Now and then something comes along we both feel would be great to team up on, and we’re always thrilled to have an opportunity to work together.”

Given their existing relationship with Ellis and Morgenstern, X Company was a perfect opportunity to do so. “Mark and Stephanie said, ‘We couldn’t imagine doing this without you guys,” Posner says, but adds that it was essential to prove to everyone involved that X Company’s score would differ substantially from their work on Flashpoint. There’s always a possibility of being associated with your previous work so closely that potential clients can’t see past it. “But we have to be chameleons as composers, and it was great to have Mark and Stephanie rooting for us.”

Filmed in Hungary and produced by Temple Street Productions for CBC-TV, X Company debuted in February 2015 and will begin filming its second season in July 2015. But even before the series began shooting, Posner and Bhatia started creating music for the project. “That’s a new trend,” Bhatia explains. “It’s a way of helping a show find its signature sound. That’s generally more common in feature films than television.”

Ultimately, the result was a library of ideas and melodies that helped nail down a musical approach and overall sound for the show. “Stephanie and Mark were very articulate in helping us find a direction that worked for everybody,” Bhatia continues. “And with the help of our editors Lisa Grootenboer and Teresa Deluca, and the entire sound edit and mix team at Technicolor Toronto, we came up with musical and sonic ideas that changed how the show was edited and put together.”

Although X Company is a period piece, the score is quite modern, and intentionally so, Posner says. “Right from the get-go, they said, ‘It’s set in World War Two, but it has to feel like now’ – in order to make younger viewers see themselves in the characters. There are times when the score needs to be a bit more traditional to put you in that era, and sometimes we erred on going a little too modern, but that’s really how it found its legs.”

“And, in the end, we created a sound everybody’s happy with,” Bhatia adds.


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