It’s the day after the world première at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for Viking, the new feature film by director, screenwriter – and, in a parallel life, singer-songwriter – Stéphane Lafleur. About 15 people involved in this story, which mixes psychological drama, comedy and science fiction, attended the screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, “an incredible theatre,” as Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux puts it. He’s the one who wrote the music with his accomplice in the band Organ Mood, Mathieu Charbonneau. “Usually, at a première, we try to hear our music in the mix,” he says, “but last night the sound was so loud!”

“The whole team was there, it was electrifying,” says Charbonneau, thrilled by the fact the public was also there. “It was fun to feel people’s reactions,” which seem to echo Viking’s early rave reviews. The film will open in Québec on Sept. 30, 2022.

Coincidentally, Bravo Musique will be releasing Organ Mood’s soundtrack, an assembly of selected excerpts that dress up the scenes of Viking, as well as several other compositions left on the cutting room floor. All of that represents good 30 minutes of instrumental music where synthesizers fade away in favour of the saxophone, guiding the listener through the themes, textures, and atmospheres created by Lamarche-Ledoux and Charbonneau.

“I bought an alto sax to record the music,” says Lamarche-Ledoux, joined by Charbonneau in their Toronto hotel room, before returning to Montréal. This isn’t the duo’s first film-scoring rodeo: Charbonneau already has almost a dozen productions to his credit, including the music for Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s La Déesse des mouches à feu (2020) and Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ Une colonie (2018). Lamarche-Ledoux recently composed the music for Félix Dufour-Laperrière’s animated feature film Archipel (2021) and the sultry Saint-Narcisse (2020) by Bruce LaBruce.

On top of that, they’re both members of the folk-rock outfit Avec pas d’casque, alongside one Stéphane Lafleur, who writes, sings, and plays guitar for the band. It is, so to speak, complicit that the director called upon his friends to imagine the sound design of his strange feature film.

“Stéphane thought about the music while he was working on the film,” Lamarche-Ledoux explains. “He didn’t want an orchestral film score with tons of synths. Before we even looked at the task at hand, he’d done his research; he actually envisioned the music as more jazz, and that’s the path he set us on before we even saw any footage, just by reading the script, right at the beginning of the process.”

Viking

Photo: Caroline Désilets

Jazz? Perhaps something along the lines of Sun Ra, the master of cosmic jazz, a pioneer of the afro-futurism concept, the man who claims he was once teleported to Saturn? They talked about it, Miles Davis, too, and “ambient music” such as Lamarche-Ledoux and Lafleur create together with their feu doux project (styled in lowercase, referring to the low heat setting on a stovetop). “He obviously knew he had hired Organ Mood, so that’s the sound he was after, but slightly different at the same time,” says Charbonneau, who’s also involved in an ambient/avant-garde project with composer and cornetist Pietro Amato.

As a matter of fact, Lafleur and Organ Mood experimented with a new modus operandi for all of them while working on the music for Viking. “Most of the time, we write the music after the final editing of a film because that way, we know the exact duration of each scene. This time around, we had plenty of time before and during filming which afforded us some images to work from to create a lot of music,” says Charbonneau. Thanks to this approach, “we really captured the film’s ambiance. I never suspected it would work this well and, for Stéphane, it was interesting because it was his first time working with composers who were creating at the same time he was. And since we’d recorded tracks before filming even started, it allowed him to quickly edit some scenes with the music.”

“Plus Stéphane is such a close friend that there are a lot of informal aspects to this process,” adds Lamarche-Ledoux. “We’d have dinner at his place, and we’d talk about other stuff than work or the movie, but we always circled back to that. There’s so much informality and friendship in this process that I think it was the perfect context to try to work in such an organic way. Usually, with the directors, you send in your proposals and you wait for them to reply via e-mail; this time, in the critical moments of the film’s final touches, we were on the phone every day. Communication was very easy, and for composers of visual music, immediate feedback is the key. We can immediately adjust the music to the scene.”

The saxophones suggest a recurring musical theme, in one form or another, throughout the film. “We really wanted to try and set the tone,” says Lamarche-Ledoux. “The movie is quite funny at times, but the music was there to prop up the dramatic side, rather than try to make things lighter, or highlight the punchline. That’s why, more than once, viewers are caught off-guard when a series of jokes follows serious music.”

 



From his shaggy, vermillion-dyed hair to his multitude of tattoos, Jutes is the image of a rockstar. Over eight years of making music, he’s amassed more than 20 million global streams, while experimenting with various genres, infusing them with his unique edge. However, he’s never made a full-on rock album. It wasn’t until he met his current partner, Demi Lovato, and participated writing sessions for her new punk-rock album HOLY FVCK, that he decided he should.

Jutes grew up as Jordan Lutes, on a farm in Kars, Ontario, about 44 km South of Ottawa, surrounded by 300 acres of forest; the nearest property was a five-minute walk away. He enjoyed his childhood, riding horses and hanging out with local kids his age, but he was far more interested in basketball and filmmaking. “I always felt like a black sheep,” he says. “Growing up, I just wanted to be in the city, and in the mix.”

He enrolled in the film program at Humber College, but quickly lost interest. He spent all his time in his dorm room, working on his new hobby, making joke raps on his webcam microphone with GarageBand. “I was skipping all my classes just to write these stupid songs,” he recalls. “I made the songs as a joke, ’cause I didn’t have the confidence to say, ‘I’m going to be a rapper now.’”

After deciding he wanted to make music, he dropped out of university, moved to downtown Toronto, got a job, and spent all his free time pursuing his dream. His first hit was “Cocaine Cinderella,” an angst-filled pop-rap song that garnered attention online in 2016, amassing thousands of streams. Recorded on his couch with his first real microphone, it showcased what made Jutes unique: his raw, emotion-filled vocals and highly personal lyrics.

After several years of consistently releasing tracks, he moved to Los Angeles. Initially signed to Capitol Records as a hip-hop/R&B artist, Jutes soon began to see himself working in a different genre. “I wanted to make pop-punk music,” he says. “We can still have hip-hop drums, but I want to make pop-punk.” After being urged not to switch, he compromised, adding more rock elements to his music; his popular singles “When You’re Around” and “Backseat (Kiss Me)” mixed catchy trap beats with big guitars and passionate vocals.

In 2021, during the pandemic, he parted ways with his label and became independent again. The following year was all about musical experimentation: Jutes attempted to write a song every week, and released Careful What You Wish For. In March of 2021, he told Nuance magazine, “I really live to write songs – it’s what I do every day. Sometimes at 3:00 a.m. before bed, sometimes while I have my morning coffee. It’s my therapy, and it’s how I first started being honest about my emotions and mental health, so my connection to it is very deep-rooted.”

Returning to L.A. from a Christmas holiday back home, he received a message from his manager asking if he wanted to participate in a writing session with Demi Lovato for her upcoming album. He was excited but nervous: he’d be working with Lovato and acclaimed producer Oak Felder. Was he the right fit for this? Listening to songs from Lovato’s previous project, he was unsure.

The session started, and they showed him a few of the already completed tracks: “Freak,” “29,” and “Heaven.” Anxiety quickly turned to excitement; he was helping Demi Lovato make a punk-rock album. “I couldn’t believe I was making the music I loved with Demi Lovato,” says Jutes. “It just felt comfortable immediately. We left that session as good homies. It felt like we already knew each other.”

Jutes was invited back for two more sessions, and is now a co-writer of three songs on HOLY FVCK: “Substance” (the video for which has more than 6 million YouTube views), a discontented call to arms; “CITY OF ANGELS,” a raunchy, raucous ode to L.A.; and “Happy Ending.” Lovato and Jutes became friends while working together, chatting and sending song recommendations back and forth. Eventually, they started dating.

Working in those sessions lit a fire under Jutes’ creativity. “Working with Demi and Oak, I was really inspired, and I wanted to make music that made me feel like that,” he says. He started working with a group of trusted collaborators on a new album. The upcoming record will have mostly live drumming, and include grunge, punk, rap, and some pop.

At the moment, Jutes is having fun creating whatever he wants, as evidenced by his most recent singles, “Hollywood Hillbilly” and “Out The Door,” two high-tempo, upbeat tracks. “It feels like for a very long time I chased what people wanted to hear,” he says. “[Now] I just want to make stuff that I would want to listen to non-stop.”



A new revelation on the prolific Québec City music scene, Narcisse is de-constructing some of our most tenacious pre-conceived notions on La fin n’arrive jamais, a concept album where he weaves together electropop, spoken word, and documentary music.

NarcisseWhat might come as a surprise, knowing this, is that Jorie Pedneault’s main inspiration for this debut album is a pop-punk album from the 2000s.

“I discovered music with Green Day’s American Idiot. It’s a seminal concept album that even became a Broadway musical. It was the middle of the Bush era, and we follow teenagers on a quest for something. They leave the ’burbs to discover the city, and they kinda get lost in all of it. It’s the kind of thing you go through in your early twenties,” explains the singer-songwriter who plays Narcisse.

It’s a project that also includes bassist Michaël Lavoie, saxophonist Frédérique-Anne Desmarais, performer Philippe Després, visual artist Gabriel Paquet, videographer Félix Deconinck, and scenic artist Laurie Foster.

Far from plagiarizing the American trio’s œuvre, Pedneault imagined a concept album, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. A classic concept album, in other words, but based on resolutely contemporary themes, aligned with the concerns that are his mind on a daily basis. “I wanted to de-construct a lot of concepts, including our relationship to gender identity and polyamory, as well as our relationships to heteronormativity and monogamy.”

Another one of the social constructs he de-constructs on the album is the cliché and very romanticized concept of “soulmates.” “We’ve made it romantic, we associate it with love, with someone you’re going to spend your whole life with,” says Pedneault. “But I like to see it another way: you can meet several soulmates in one life. They can be friends or co-workers. The people I’m working with, for example, are soulmates because it made so much sense to meet them when I did.”

Hence the idea of letting those soulmates speak for themselves throughout the album. Totalling 14 songs, La fin n’arrive jamais is punctuated by four short pieces titled “Interstice.” Influenced by the documentary music of Flavien Berger – an artist from France who combined experimental pop and ambient music with minimalist recordings of interviews and narration on his 2019 album Radio Contre-Temps – Pedneault lets the people who gravitate around him speak. “I’ve been working on the album for three years, but it was really this last summer that there was a shift in the angle of the story,” he says. “I started going around and interviewing people with a recorder about the album’s various subjects. In the end, it’s the story of my peers, of my generation’s youth.”

Along the way, Pedneault saw fit to add his voice to these interstitial testimonies, after heeding to the advice of multi-disciplinary artist Olivier Arteau – who’s credited as the album’s playwright. “He really wanted to hear me, like we hear all the others. He wanted to feel the human behind the persona,” says Pedneault.

From this came one of the most beautiful and powerful sentences of the album, heard at the very end of “Interstice C”: “C’est ben beau tomber en amour toujours avec une autre personne, mais calice man, à un moment donné, il faudrait que je tombe en amour avec moi-même.” (“It’s one thing to fall in love with someone else, but for fuck’s sake, man, at some point I need to fall in love with myself.”).

“It’s something I said in the middle of a conversation [and that’s a good representation of the project as a whole],” says Pedneault. “When I started conceptualizing Narcisse, I was wondering if I should play a character that is full of himself. I quickly realized it wasn’t relevant to play such a character in the public space. It became self-evident that Narcisse had to be a vehicle to make people realize that they need to love themselves.”

Beyond the concepts of de-construction, it’s that love of self that sits at the thematic centre of the album. It’s also a way to push back against prevailing violence, especially when it comes to sexual and genre diversity. “Being non-binary existed when this project started,” says Pedneault. “Over the course of the last few years, I changed my pronoun to ‘they’ and my first name to Jorie. It’s a given for people close to me to call me that now. It feels good. But if I’m at the grocery store and the cashier calls me ‘she,’ it will obviously create some violence.”

Narcisse is a response to this violence, even though his intention isn’t fundamentally activist. “We’re just singing about our realities,” says Pedneault. “It just so happens that those realities are political.”

The participation of the band in the finals of the 2020 Francouvertes was an unexpected showcase for the propagation of these essentially political realities. “We’re a project that’s advocating for things, but we know that this kind of offer can close doors,” says Pedneualt. “The Francouvertes gave us the awareness that this project could exist, and that people would be there to receive it. I’m not sure the industry would’ve been ready for all this 10 years ago.”

At the very end of the album, “Devenir fleur” opens a dialogue about Narcisse. Narrated by Gabriel Paquet, the epilogue directly references the Greek myth of Narcissus, the young man so smitten by his own reflection in a pond that he ultimately perishes and becomes a flower.

“There is a feeling of being killed and resurrected,” says Pedneault. “It’s not a coincidence: I felt like I went through that recently. A flower is also a symbol for springtime, because this album marks the end of a cycle, as well as the beginning of something. It’s a calling card that will lead to all kinds of beautiful things in the coming years. It’s our way of saying, ‘Here we are, among you.’”