You’re no longer emerging artists, yet you are still not quite “institutions” in Québec’s music scene. Where do you see yourself in Québec’s musical landscape?
Daniel: If the old model of our industry still existed, I think we’d be in a place comparable to where Paul Piché, Richard Séguin and Michel Rivard were in the late ‘80s, when they all launched major albums. Right now, it’s all up in the air. The good news is everything needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. I’ll say it again, it’s a job with boundless possibilities, and the future looks bright, but we really need to find a way to compensate artists for the loss of revenues.
How critical are you of your early work?
Daniel: That’s one of the upsides of our trade: we’re supposed to get better with time.
“Most themes are universal: love, lack of love, loneliness. In the end, it’s our unique personality that becomes our signature.” – Stefie Shock
Stefie: And yet, Paul McCartney hasn’t written a hit in 40 years! I’m proud of my work starting with my second album. I’m not encumbered by over-production, so I can play those songs as-is on stage, probably thanks to the fact that I did not use ugly synth sounds when I recorded them. When my first album came out (Presque rien, 2000), analog synths were already starting to make a comeback and the awful synth sounds of the ‘80s were on their way out… I feel my records have aged well, as have Daniel’s and Dumas’.
Dumas: Our trade is like a marathon, not a sprint, except it’s possible that one needs to take a break at the 25th kilometer to regroup and start anew.
What has changed the most over the past 20 years with regards to how you work?
Dumas: I’ve grown very fond of opening up more and collaborating with others creatively. When I started out, I was very self-centered, which I think is normal because you want to be assertive and carve out a place for yourself with your ideas. Nowadays, I seek collaborations and I even have a co-writer on my latest album. That allowed me to open up and that’s when this job becomes interesting and surprising all over again.
Daniel: During my first tour, I schlepped a briefcase around that was full of pieces of paper. My band members and crew were starting to get laptops, but not me: I liked writing on paper. I finally got a laptop too and said goodbye to napkins!
Dumas: Did you ever leave yourself a voicemail with a song idea?
Daniel: I don’t think I even had a cell phone back then!
Stefie: I still write with a pen and paper. I can’t seem to get my stuff together with a keyboard. I still carry a pile of papers with rhymes and ideas that could come in handy. The big difference for me is being able to cut record-quality tracks right at home. Technology is a big money-saver in that regard.
Have your themes, preoccupations and sources of inspiration changed over time?
Daniel: That’s very interesting: for my new album, the music came really easily, but I struggled with the words.
Dumas: A lot of that has changed for me, too. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting older, but I write a lot less than I used to. Writing with someone else did me a lot of good. It allowed me to have a different perspective on themes I’ve touched upon before, it was very refreshing.
Stefie: To me, things have changed simply because of what life has thrown my way. I try to stay in phase with the Now, to remain true to those emotions, I don’t go out of my way to write about stuff I’ve never written about before.
Daniel: Growing old is a form of renewal, too…
Stefie: I believe there are no bad song topics, it’s all in how you write about it. I write what I feel, and I think it’s the same for Dumas and Daniel. Most themes are universal: love, lack of love, loneliness. In the end, it’s our unique personality that becomes our signature.