If your heartstrings are being dragged through the mud, it’s time for a break with Camaromance, a band that thrives on reviving crushed souls. Eight years after The Parade, Martine Groulx offers us Chasing Clouds, an album that allows for discarding heavier moments, lost loves and mourning. And then… “it’s gonna be alright.”
Through her discourse and her songs, Martine Groulx teaches us that things are rarely ever truly over in life. She thought the plan was to concentrate entirely on running Lazy At Work, her record label (Fuudge, Galaxie, Les Dales Hawerchuk, to name but a few),and never again record an album, but music insinuated itself into her life as a form of redemption, of healing.
“Two years ago, I was on the verge of a burnout, and I wanted to take some time for myself,” syas Groulx. “My friend Alex McMahon let me use his studio while he was away in Mexico for a month. Then I spent two months in New Zealand, and everything fell into place. I already had songs. I asked Pierre Fortin to produce the album. I just turned 40. It’s a gift I gave myself to record that album with people I love,” says the woman who, for once, afforded herself the gift of not being in charge of everything. With Pierre Fortin on production duties, and Simone Records picking up the recording, she was able to go with the flow, and receive the support she usually gives.
“I’ve truly lived through a lot of life’s challenges,” says Groulx. “When we grow older, death becomes a part of life around us, I tried, unsuccessfully, to have kids, I had to overcome a lot. Our thirties are the decade when things fall into place and certain losses have to be dealt with.” All the stories she writes end up as love songs, because “it feels good to transform difficult moments into pretty songs”, she believes. As a woman, she is convinced that the thirties are the crux of self-affirmation, a time when we make career, friendship and family choices. “We’re so busy building our career in our twenties. . . We think we know who we are, but not really, in the end,” she says.
Many people put pressure on themselves to accomplish things, and Groulx is no exception. “Every year, I write a message to the future me,” she says. “I never noticed how demanding I was of myself. It’s quite interesting to think about that, to the work we invest and where we put our energy. I’ve reduced the amount of work I give myself. I also want time to remember who I am, what I like to read, who I want to spend time with, the places I want to visit.”
Pierre Fortin co-produced the latest Galaxie album, while he was producing Camaromance, as well as David Marin, whose album is set to be released further down the road. “He was stoked to work on three very different projects at once and I was happy to work with a friend,” says Groulx. “Through it all, I was working on the launch of Galaxie’s album through Lazy At Work. Everything fell perfectly into place in the end.”
After releasing three albums between 2004 and 2010, as well as touring Canada seven times to promote her music, Groulx realized she might actually be a poorly-shod shoemaker, by not affording herself the leisure of being properly represented here. “A lot of people just found out I make music,” she says. “It’s harder to sell oneself when you know everyone. People presume that if you do a good job on a daily basis, the chances you’ll make a good album are that much more limited. People were scared to listen to what I do and have to tell me they didn’t like it.”
The only time Grouolx mulls things over is when she’s writing songs. It’s an impulse. “There’s a song called ‘Marguerite’ because it’s the baby name I would have loved to give my daughter,” she says. “The message is abstract, but I tried in vitro fertilization and it didn’t work. In the song, I sing, ‘I’m not getting any younger.’ It’s all about simplicity. It’s just emotional enough for you to understand that something happened, but you can take however much you want from it to make it yours,” she says, adding that she loves songs that are reassuring. “I write songs to tell myself that it’s going to be alright,” she says.
Active on the music scene for almost 20 years, Groulx believes Québec’s scene is extremely healthy. “The respect artists have for each other is really wholesome,” she says. “We’re not competing against each other. Musicians compete against apathy. People are less interested in culture. The true challenge is making them interested in what we do,” she says, adding that reaching out to an audience requires a lot of imagination.
Groulx is a director on the Board of Directors of The SOCAN Foundation, which has allowed her to notice even more the efforts invested in bringing members to the limelight, and also to help women in music. “I asked myself what I could do to help women,” she says. “There are strong spokespersons. I don’t have that kind of intensity. I want more women to sit on Boards of Directors. That’s how I support this cause.”
Bilingual by birth, Groulx compartmentalizes her life according to the language she speaks: she’s emotional in English and rational in French. “I get angry in English, but I could never do math in English,” she says, laughing. “Accounting is always done in French.” That is why her only French-language song, which bears her name, was actually written by Francis Faubert. “It took me 36 hours to get over it,” she remembers. “He recorded it whispering, because his daughter was asleep, and he specified, ‘It’s not you. It’s the worst day of your life.’ Nothing goes well in that song.”
And just as Faubert did, Martine whispers her songs to us, as an offering, for our own good. Once that’s done, those songs become ours, they become one with our memories. “That what the song ‘Antoine’ is about,” she says. “Accepting things aren’t always exactly as we want them, but knowing things will be alright.”