FM – the acronym of François-Maurice – Le Sieur has long stopped counting the films and TV series that he’s scored. The definitive trait of his music is that it illustrates the subject at hand, but never obfuscates it. His latest work can be heard on Tou.TV’s series Doute raisonnable, but he’s also launched an album of solo compositions. Piano, Désert & Machines was born of the inspiration provided by the piano when the man has some free time.
“A lot of artists work on multiple platforms – video, instrumentals, songs, TV – but I’m a film buff,” says FM Le Sieur, as an opener. “Screen music isn’t just one aspect of my work, it’s everything I do – and like to do.” In other words, his intense desire to share is what motivated him to release Piano, Désert & Machines. “I liked listening to it, it’s relaxing, and even though I’ve been in a band before and I did compose other stuff than screen music, I’d never actually done an album like that,” he assures us.
He first re-visited a few pieces written for Émile Gaudreault’s films and then, without thinking about it, he drifted towards inspiration from Steve Reich, an artist he greatly admires. “Serenade for Steve Reich” opens the album, even though the clear connection between the piece and Reich’s melancholy only became evident after the composition was done.
“Whether I’m working on an ad, a TV series, or a film, I always get flashes of music when I look at moving images,” says Le Sieur. “That’s why my album of compositions certainly wasn’t pre-meditated,” he adds, about the genesis of the project. “When the pandemic hit us like a shovel in the face, I took some time off to have fun. I worked on the project, and also on a violin concerto that’s on a tablet somewhere at home.”
But once he was done recording those bits of “fun,” he still craved moving images. “I don’t like the ugly layout of iTunes, where you listen to songs without cover art,” he says, giggling. “At first I always used still lifes or images of solitude and isolation, then, finally, I let myself be carried away by the photos of Luc Robitaille, who I know. His impressive images guided me for the remainder of the project.” He humbly admits that he was moved by his own pieces, which led to the creation of the album. “I don’t want to imply it was an accident, but I had time on my hands and a strong desire to make music for myself. As with many projects, if my creation moves me, I know it can move others.”
A chameleon of musical composition, he knows how to find his place in a project without taking centre stage. His music plays a secondary role, but a strong and essential one. He’s the man who says a lot without uttering a single word. “I’m a good subject for silly things, or for dramas. I do bespoke,” he says. But how does one know if one has hit the target? “Everything I do musically is a happy accident,” says Le Sieur. “The software I use is always recording, even when I didn’t hit the ‘record’ button. That means I sometimes find stuff I totally forgot about. And in the end, some magic happens.”
Work on Doute raisonnable was supposed to start in June of 2020, but the pandemic changed those plans. “It’s a story about the creation of a sex crimes squad inside the Montréal police department. It’s incredibly well-written, dark and intelligent. But there’s also a kind of fragility, because of the victims. It’s a series that’s demanding of its audience, and I like that,” confides Le Sieur. He consciously doubled down on being at the service of the story, to avoid yanking the viewers out of the delicate subject matter. “I played with textures a lot and tweaked sounds, like the violin for example, so that they were two octaves lower and sounded even sadder,” he says. “I didn’t even go near more flamboyant instruments.”
If the TV projects were indeed paused or at least slowed down by the pandemic, Le Sieur is rapidly going back to “normal life.” “I’m going to work with François Avard again for the first time since Les Bougons,” he says. “It’s an irreverent and intelligent script, a reflection on society, that revolves around a college professor who’s fed up and decides to move to the countryside.” Work will also start soon on Season Two of Doute raisonnable, as well as two other “secret” projects that should come to fruition in the spring. “There’s also my violin concerto that I should probably release,” he says absent-mindedly. “Maybe an album of violin, if I feel like it. Maybe not, if I don’t. We’ll see.” Well, we’ll hear, as it were.