Former frontperson of the band Malajube, singer-songwriter Julien Mineau, has always felt more at home in the shadows than in the spotlight – so the role of screen composer fits him like a glove. On a hot day, we pulled him out of the darkness of a Québec City studio to discuss the music he created to enhance the scenes of L’Ouragan F. Y. T., the second feature film by Montréal director Ara Ball.


Photo: Kacim Steets Azouz

The film, which is presumably partly autobiographical – “Ara, he’s a real punk!” says Mineau – is in some ways the complete vision of the story the director originally crafted as a short film in 2013, which won in its category at the Gala Cinéma Québec the following year. “L’Ouragan fuck you tabarnak! A punch in the gut, this film – although it’s still hard for me to judge, I’ve watched it so many times already,” says Mineau, claiming a loss of critical sensibilities.

L’Ouragan is the nickname of the 11-year-old protagonist who, fleeing his dysfunctional family, finds refuge with a punk community in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood. The director, explains Mineau, imagined his film would be punctuated by the refrains of (more or less) well-known punk songs, while the composer’s score would accompany the more (or less) sensitive scenes.

“I tried to draw inspiration from punk, but to create a more traditional soundtrack,” says Mineau. “I was looking for this mix of urgency and nonchalance, without it sounding too polished, but keeping within the codes of film music, that was the exercise. And it was fun – I put in a lot of Moog [MiniMoog synthesizer] Model D and guitar noises, it felt good to move into a different range.”

The story of L’Ouragan F. Y. T. is set in the early 1990s, “but the director was looking for punk songs from the 1970s,”  says Mineau. “It’s obvious that in my compositional work, I didn’t go for the typical 1990s musical codes: we’re more into distortion effects. And in that sense of urgency: I didn’t beat around the bush, my music is very instinctive, and that’s what appealed to the director.”

As in the scene where the character Delphis, aka L’Ouragan, throws a tantrum and smashes windows with his fists: “I had a panic attack all by myself on the drums, watching the scene. I had no limits in terms of punk attitude,” and in his assignment, Ara Ball having given his composer free rein.

Julien Mineau, Louragan F.Y.T., movie, trailer

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the trailer for the film L’Ouragan F.Y.T.

“For this project, I didn’t have a clear direction, since the director didn’t really know what he wanted in terms of music,” says Mineau. “He thought he’d just get the rights to some punk songs, but it evolved into a more narrative musical framework, so to speak. I had the edited footage of the film at my disposal, so I composed everything by watching the scenes. For certain specific, more complex scenes, Ara and I exchanged a lot [of ideas about the role of music]; sometimes I could send him eight different pieces, without knowing exactly what he was looking for.”

Since the end of Malajube, Julien Mineau has become a sought-after album producer on the Québec music scene, welcoming bands into his home studio, or travelling to one in Québec City – the day of our interview – to work on the next album by recent Francouvertes finalist Loïc Lafrance. A self-taught composer with a passion for music and images, his work as a screen composer is, a more recent arrow in his quiver.

“The first film soundtrack I scored on my own was for Game of Death (2017), by Laurence Morais-Lagacé and Sébastien Landry,” he recalls. “However, I also compose a lot of music for videogames and TV series,” notably Sylvain le Magnifique (2018), directed by Henry Bernadet. It’s a behind-the-scenes job he’s passionate about, and one that Mineau was, in a way, calling for when he launched his solo instrumental project Fontarabie in 2014.”‘It’s true that this album was a bit of a calling card,” he says. “It allowed me to express my love for instrumental music. I’ve improved a lot in this area over the last 10 years.”