“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.”
“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.”