Galaxie is Olivier Langevin and a bunch of his friends, guys from Lac Saint-Jean (“the Lac” to locals) that like to have fun, play hockey and who don’t fuss over their looks: jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps… Simple and authentic people. But when they get together to play music, they kick ass, no pussyfooting, they get down to business. That’s been his a priority ever since his teens.

Among that bunch of friends is one Fred Fortin, Langevin’s best friend and mentor. “I met Fred when I was 16 or 17,” he says. “When he released Joseph Antoine Frédéric Fortin Perron in 1996, no one else self-produced with such talent. Like Richard Desjardins, he’s always relevant, yet knows how to be touching and poetic.” Langevin doesn’t lack in that department either. He’s an accomplished musician whose intensity is surpassed only by his love of the guitar.

The young man born in St-Félicien followed in the footsteps left for him by Fortin, who hired Langevin for his first solo tour. Later, in 1998, they were the core of Gros Mené. The band played a dirty, heavy kind of garage rock that clashed with industry standards but was totally aligned with the output of such luminaries as Jon Spencer (sound wise) and Beck (the experimental approach).

Ever since he fell in love with the guitar at 13, Langevin has never stopped experimenting, thanks in no small part to the support of his parents. “When you drove in St-Félicien, you thought what you heard was the noise from the pulp mill, but in fact, it was Olivier Langevin playing guitar,” says Peter Paul in Bandeapart’s documentary titled Face au mur which traces the special sound of the bands from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. A completely self-taught musician and producer, Olivier Langevin eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s what keeps him alive.

Being True to Oneself

Galaxie’s sound (the band started out as Galaxie 500) is distinctive, and evolves from album to album. The band’s first, eponymous album came out in 2002, and already one can hear that unique mix of hard blues-rock and electronica that’s still present on last February’s Zulu. Tigre et Diesel was a finalist at the prestigious Polaris Awards in 2011. Langevin is a great example of how rock and the French language aren’t mutually exclusive. Québécois, however, is even better. And he is totally unashamed of his “joual du Lac,” the dialect/accent typical of the area.

With lyrics like “Le diable me donne le beat” (“The devil gives me the beat”) and “À cause de toi le ciel est comme un dancefloor maléfique” (“Because of you, the sky is like an evil dancefloor”), Langevin clearly signals that he doesn’t care about the “universality” of his lyrics. He sings like he speaks, he sings like he wants to. “The truer you are to yourself, the better,” he quips.

Openness Leads to Renewal

Speaking of which, where do Langevin’s lyrics come from? “Often times, it starts with the music,” he says. “While I record, I simply hum the melody, I don’t have the lyrics yet. Then when I’m happy with the music, I dig around the notes where I’ve organized certain lyrical flashes I’ve had, ideas, song sections. I seek those that would work well with the music and the feeling I’ve laid down. Other times, everything just happens in one jet. It depends.”

We know Olivier Langevin as the the guitar hero whose style channels Jimi Hendrix as much as Jimmy Page. But few people suspect how much wider his musical horizons are. “I’ve always loved blues from the ‘40s and ‘50s,” he says, “as well as guitar players such as John McLaughlin and Bill Frisell, who’ve just played everything. I also love Ry Cooder and and Pete Anderson, kings of the blues and country.” So, a super-soft folk album, could that happen? “Absolutely,” he says. “Not now, because that’s not where I’m at right now, but yeah, it could happen. It wouldn’t be a Galaxie album, though. It would have to be something else. I’d love to do a hip-hop record, that’s something I’m really into.”

“I’d love to do a hip-hop record, that’s something I’m really into.”

Among other accomplishments, Langevin has produced records for Vincent Vallières (folk), Mara Tremblay (country-ish), and the Dales Hawerchuk (super heavy), and he also likes to compose movie and corporate soundtracks. “It really is a stimulating challenge!” he says. “I have to create very precise moods that will play in a very specific way within a professional context. It’s a very stimulating exercise that allows me to earn a living while still making music.”

At the time of this interview, Olivier Langevin was just back from the Lac, where he’d been working with Fred Fortin on a new solo album that should be released in 2016. “We also recorded material for a new Gros Mené album,” he says.

Langevin is a happy man: his musical creativity has never been so high, and the birth of his daughter made him feel rejuvenated, and gave him a tremendous boost of energy. Everything is on track and full-steam ahead.

Galaxie played in Abitibi’s FME, in September, and the band has been touring all over Quebec, including Alma, Amqui, Joliette, Québec City and Val-David, to name but a few.

More details on the band’s web site,