Galaxie“It’s fun to make people dance—it’s a welcome change from head-banging,” says songwriter, singer, guitarist and producer Olivier Langevin, the mastermind behind Galaxie. When it burst onto the scene in 2002, the band – then called Galaxie 500 – was dubbed a stoner-rock outfit; but no longer, as the bombshell album Super Lynx Deluxe confirms. It’s the boldest of the Galaxie albums so far, a collection of infectious grooves that tips its hat to The Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine, and other such alternative music heroes of the ’90s.

Langevin will provide many a revelation during our long conversation in a second-hand vinyl record store in Montréal’s hip Plateau neighbourhood – where the axeman dug up an old LP of instrumental improvisations by Robert Fripp, Let the Power Fall, released in 1981, and containing a preface written in Montréal’s own Château Versailles hotel!

Here’s another shocking revelation: he’s a Rihanna fan.  “And I’ve always been a huge Prince fan,” he adds. “As a matter of fact, even if it’s not obvious, there are influences of James Brown [on the new album].” The Godfather of Soul is even quoted in album’s title track, in which James Brown and La danse à Saint-Dilon are juxtaposed in the same sentence, to underscore the urge to dance.

“I’ve always loved pop hits,” says Langevin. “I’m like a collector of hits that get on people’s nerves. Just like Rihanna’s songs – those tracks are superbly done! Then, my trip is to bring that pop nature into the Galaxie universe. It’s a universe with strict parameters, and by that I mean there are things I could never do with that band. Yet it’s very much a playground.”

And, oh what fun can be had in that playground! Over the course of 33 minutes and 10 tracks, Langevin and his partners in crime – Pierre Fortin on drums, François Lafontaine on keys, Karin Pion on back vocals, Fred Fortin on bass and Jonathan Bigras on percussion – explore new territories. Here, Galaxie’s usual shaggy “rawk” goes nuts, and flirts with techno and tribal rhythms, most notably in a collaboration with percussionist El Hadj Diouf, who guests on two of the album’s most exhilarating tracks.

Langevin agrees: “Super Lynx Deluxe is the boldest sonic leap forward that band has accomplished so far,” he says. As far as exploring new musical avenues, he says, “It was mostly with the integration of electronic sounds on Tigre et Diesel [2011] that we settled that. Some of our fans really had a bad trip when we came out with that album, by far our poppiest. But it was totally intentional. We had a blast from just daring to do it, and taking the measure of people’s reactions. From that point on, everything changed for us. All of a sudden, we could do whatever we pleased.” As long as it fits within the “galactic parameters,” of course. “I want Galaxie to make you want to Olivier Langevin of Galaxiedance and to be fun for us to play live,” he says.

Langevin says “we” a lot when talking about Galaxie, despite the fact that it’s his project, and he’s the main songwriter. When working on a new album, he’ll jot down a few sentences, come up with a beat, hit on a guitar riff, and record a minute-long demo in order to avoid, as he puts it, “demo-itis.” “It’s a disease that afflicts a lot of singer-songwriters when they get to the studio to record their album,” he says. “You can re-record it as many times as you want, there’s always something f___ing magical about the demo – pardon my language. Always something great in it that, even though you record it in the best possible conditions and with a ton of the best musicians around, and even though the session couldn’t go any better, there’s always that little something on that demo that you just can’t quite re-capture in the studio.” That’s why Langevin also keeps his demos as short as possible: to avoid the symptoms of “demo-itis.”

“I’ll come up with the songs, the melodies, and then we get together to flesh them out with arrangements,” Langevin says. “The groove will come first, then the melody – on the demos, I sing the melody without lyrics, like a lot of people do. As for the lyrics, I very often write without thinking of a specific song or melody, and later I’ll dip into my lyrics bank to match them to a song. Otherwise, most of the time, I write purely for the rhythm and the groove.

“On the first two albums in particular, I would come up with song skeletons and then call upon my hard core, as I like to call them, Frank [Lafontaine], Pierre Fortin and Pierre Girard on sound engineering. From that stage on, I give the guys a lot of latitude, so that they can come up with arrangement ideas, textures, even though it may take the song somewhere else entirely. “We work in a very instinctive way, but we always know when a song is on the right track, and once that happens, we dive right in. That way we do things is both very abstract and extremely precise.. I don’t know how to explain it any better…”

Alongside his hard core, Langevin plays ping-pong with ideas, because “we need to surprise ourselves, we need it to remain stimulating.” On Super Lynx Deluxe, the end result is striking: the guitars are juicy as ever and, this time around, drenched in the very particular flavour of the flange guitar effect, a bit like a wave coming to shore. “We dug up this old effect that happens to be ‘in’ at the moment,” Langevin admits. “We often record in blocks of three or four days. I think we recorded a lot of flanged guitars!”

This effect injects a dose of tension in the rhythmic, nearly techno tracks that Galaxie offers this time, and they turn into purely tribal affairs once Diouf’s djembe is added on top of it all. Another new addition to the Galaxie sound comes from the two opening tracks, reminiscent of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” (from 1994’s Ill Communication) and its energy, edgy guitars and crunchy drums.

“I played that so much as a teen,” says Langevin. “‘Sabotage,’ ‘Check Your Head.’ It’s something I wanted to do for a long time, and hadn’t done yet. For a while, there, in the studio, we embarked on quite a hip-hop buzz, and then I said to myself: OK, this is when I get that out of my system! The ‘Sabotage’ sound is exactly what I wanted, that kind of hip-hop beat with fuzzed drums; that’s exactly where my mind was at.

“You know, Galaxie has always been a mix of dance music and blues. The songs on the new album may sound like they’ve been worked into something akin to techno, but when you boil it down, we play those songs as if we were an old blues trio. It reminds me of the Rolling Stones’ disco phase, you know, like ‘Miss You’? They were great, hooky songs, but it’s Mick’s thing, you can tell that Keith wasn’t into it so much… It’s disco, yet the guys play as they’ve always played. It’s like there’s something shady going behind those songs…”

Super Lynx Deluxe will be launched on Jan. 31, 2018, at Cabaret La Tulipe in Montréal.

The album comes out Feb. 2, 2018.



Sometimes the cosmos provides a signpost of what road to take next. When it comes to Amy Eligh’s career journey, that’s the case. A combination of divine intervention, a health issue, and an inspirational lecture added up to her chosen vocation as a music publisher.

Flash back more than 12 years. Eligh, then a Humber College student majoring in jazz performance, dreamed of a professional music-making career. Her chosen instrument: the trombone. After graduating, she discovered she had TMJ Syndrome – a disorder that causes pain in the jaw joint, and in the muscles that control jaw movement. Her dream of a performing career no longer an option, she wanted to stay in the field of music. While she struggled with what path to choose next, she enrolled in the Music industry Arts Program at Fanshawe College.

“My first week at Fanshawe, Professor Terry McManus talked about publishing, telling me that it was all about the song; he explained that it’s the first step in a long career for an artist,” says Eligh. “I found that extremely attractive, because I get to be there right at the beginning – when it’s just an idea – and work closely with a songwriter to create something amazing.”

Following this epiphany, the second sign occurred when Fanshawe alumnus Angela Fex (now Manager, Client Services, at FACTOR) lectured at the college between Eligh’s first and second year. Says Eligh: “After this lecture I said to her, ‘I want to get into publishing, and want an internship. What do I need to do?’”

Fex suggested Eligh contact Ed Glinert at Casablanca Media Publishing. An internship followed, along with a full-time job after graduation in 2005. “Casablanca gave me a job offer in September,” says Eligh. “Right after my internship finished, and just as I was starting second year. But they said I could start in May, when I graduated. I felt fortunate that I had work in the field that I wanted to be in.”

About 12 years after graduating, Eligh has carved out a successful career in music publishing. She spent almost all of those years with Casablanca Media/Red Brick Songs, where she rose from working in copyright/royalties as a co-ordinator — handling data entry and dispute resolution — to the Director of Synch & Creative Services. Six months ago, she moved to the Arts & Crafts music label to head up their publishing and licensing. FACTOR also recently appointed Eligh to sit on its Board of Directors.

The move from Casablanca to Arts & Crafts was the hardest decision she’s had to make in her career to date, but the time felt right to move on. While at Casablanca, she learned the profession from Jana Cleland and owner Jennifer Mitchell (who currently sits on SOCAN’s Board of Directors).

“Jana and Jennifer were integral to mentoring me all the way up,” says Eligh. “I was fortunate to be in a company where I had a lot of freedom to challenge myself, and move freely… I didn’t have a lot of restrictions. There was a lot of fostering of new ideas and they allowed for a lot of growth.

“I got into this business to help artists grow and succeed, and to grow with them.”

“Switching jobs was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life,” she adds. “Red Brick raised me, all my friends are there, and I love their roster, which I had a hand in growing. After 12 years with an amazing company, though, it was time to shift gears.”

While at Casablanca/Red Brick Songs, Eligh was involved in many rewarding TV synch placements. Highlights include an ad for Canadian Tire, one for Interac featuring AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” and a synch for the Boats song “Advice on Bears,” on the Cameron Crowe comedy-drama series Roadies.

Over the years, the music-publishing executive has also helped arrange showcases for artists in Los Angeles and New York, and hosted songwriting camps for her roster of stars.

An Amy Eligh success story
One of Eligh’s first signings while at Red Brick Songs was Dan Davidson. The former-rocker-turned-country-star found huge success in 2017 with the single “Found.” He shared this success with Eligh, since the pair had worked together for many years.  “Right before Christmas, Dan and his producer Jeff Dalziel chipped in and sent me a Certified Gold Single plaque with my name on it,” she says. “To see his success and growth was so exciting. That [a gold record] was something I never thought would happen. The plaque is now hanging at home over my fireplace.”

Part of the allure of Arts & Crafts was the unique opportunity it presented to see how the label and management sides of the industry work. One of the successful synchs she’s arranged in the first six months at her new workplace was for Lowell (“War Face” in Episode 1401 of Grey’s Anatomy). This past November, she also put on a private showcase in L.A. for Taylor Knox and Cold Specks for music supervisors, film directors, and movie editors.

As she reflects on her growing career, the reasons that Eligh became a music publisher following her graduation from Fanshawe haven’t changed. And she still loves every minute of it.

“I got into this business to help artists grow and succeed, and to grow with them,” she says. “Every time I work with a new songwriter I learn something new. My dad always said, the minute you stop learning in a job, or a field, is when you need to leave – because you never know everything about your job.

“I bounce out of bed every day at 6:30 for my one-and-a-half hour commute, and it doesn’t feel like work. I mean, we’re in the music industry. How much better can it get?”



The Québec hip-hop scene is bustling with fresh talent. Here are three who’ll undoubtedly attract the attention of both audience and media in 2018.

FouKi

FouKi, QuietMikeFouKi’s reputation has soared considerably since he released his first mixtape Plato Hess (a phonetic twist on Plateau-Est, a hip Montréal neighbourhood) in November of 2016. Thanks to the success of his reggae-tinged track “Gayé,” which garnered more than 120,000 views on YouTube, the rapper quickly regitered on the radar of pre-eminent hip-hop label 7ième Ciel, and a firm offer rapidly followed.

For the 21-year-old rapper, the label proffered the deal at just the right moment, because it pushed him to surpass himself artistically. Instinctive but not thoughtless, his writing is constantly refined, and increasingly allows him to navigate more easily “between being serious and being facetious,” between deeper and then more playful subject matter. “I write happy lyrics that make you wanna vibe, and more introspective ones,” he says about this album, where he notably touches upon artistic concerns, and his take on male-female relations.

It’s worth pointing out that FouKi has a major ally by his side: producer QuietMike, who will used this first album to renew his signature organic hip-hop vibe, largely based on piano and acoustic guitar samples. “I sample the Québécois repertoire more and more, because it’s easier to get a clearance down the road,” says FouKi. “Now that we’re signed to a label, we can’t just steal music like we used to,” admits the composer who, early in his career, had extensively pilfered his parents’ record collection, with a particular fondness for the soundtrack to the movie Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain. “Working with samples is still what I prefer, because there’s always an original texture that you can’t just reproduce with a synth.”

The proximity and complicity that exists between the two long-time friends is what matters most. FouKi writes mainly at home, after improvising bits and pieces while walking about, or cooking pizzas at work. But he readily admits being unable to create a song if he hasn’t heard the music first. “Everything starts with the beat,” he says. “Initially, I test-drive some flows, I’ll rap over it using just onomatopoeia, and then I come up with a meaning and lyrics. Ultimately, when I rap something stupid, it’s really just because the onomatopoeia has taken over,” says the young man, who’s recently been included in the Top 10 list of songwriters to watch by Radio-Canada’s premier literary program, Plus on est de fous, plus on lit!. “Otherwise, there are some lyrics that I work on more than others, sometimes for weeks. They’re like dictation with holes.”

 

 

Marie-Gold

Marie-GoldThe year 2018 starts with a bang for rapper/producer Marie-Gold and her quartet, Bad Nylon. Her third mulit-song release, on Jan. 12, 2018, was highly anticipated on the local rap scene since her first single, “Rappa,” which announced a slightly heavier musical direction than on the previous two EPs, from 2015. The new EP, by Marie-Gold – and her accomplices Zoz, Kayiri and Audrey Bélanger – offers nine tracks with laser-sharp focus on dreams of riches, female friendships and professional ambition.

But Marie-Gold is aware that such theme-based, multi-headed creations have their limits. That’s partly why she’ll also present her audience with a different, more intimate side of herself later this year. “When I started, I wanted Québec’s rap scene to have its girl band,” she says, “but now I feel more like making music that represents me. I want to establish myself as an artist, I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a girl rapper,” she says, adding that her solo career is about to start in the coming months with the release of videos and singles.

The 25-year-old Montréaler will use this new beginning to delve into themes “that dig a little deeper,” like her relationship with money and love. “It’s partly due to the stuff I listen to nowadays, stuff like Brockhampton and a lot of French rap,” says Marie-Gold. “I don’t really listen to joke rap, and I want people to sincerely relate to what I say.”

In order to prop up this more personal and thorough artistic approach, Marie-Gold will leave Bad Nylon’s typical party mood and old-school influences behind. Motivated by a desire to widen her horizons, the composer is currently exploring the rich universe of jazz by collaborating with, among other things, a trumpet player.

Inspiration usually arrives in her home studio, and she allows herself creative freedom. “I often try to reproduce the vibe of a song I really like and, ultimately, I end up going somewhere completely different,” she says. “Once I have my beat down, I write my verse in one go, according to the emotion I want to express.”

Rowjay

RowjayThanks to his “international” French accent, his highly articulated flow, and his relentless production work for rising stars of the Québec hip-hop – such as Freakey! and Doomx (of Planet Giza fame) – Rowjay is one of the few rappers in the province to have found some success in France. For the time being, it’s still nascent, but recent metrics on his Soundcloud page are telling: the vast majority of the tens of thousands of plays he’s garnered are from Francophone Europe.

Launched early in January of 2018, his fourth project – and first EP – Hors catégorie moves even further away from his earlier satirical approach. A fan of Roi Heenok in his teens, Rowjay has now distanced himself from this caricatured influence to build a character of his own, with a distinctive set of references and unique discourse. Clearly present in the lyrics of his third album, Carnaval de finesse, launched at the tail end of 2016, the rapper’s motivational message has now taken on a slightly edgier dimension this time around.

“It’s actually more of a call to revolt,” says Rowjay. “Each of the last three or four years, we’ve worked on a project, getting better and better at it, establishing ourselves more and more,” says the rapper, while decrying the media under-exposure he gets in Québec compared to the numerous mini-tours of France that keep raking it in.

Hence the concept on Hors catégorie. Comfortably sitting between two fires, Rowjay doesn’t identify with the street rap scene of artists like Enima or Izzy-S, any more than he does to that of the more “mainstream” scene of Loud and Alaclair Ensemble. “I feel like no one does the kind of music I do in Québec,” says the Italian Montréaler, who describes his style as “St-Léo trap”, in reference to Saint-Léonard, a predominantly Italian borough on the northeastern part of the island of Montréal.

To this end, the contribution of his talented producer friends is indispensable. “I can’t write a song if I haven’t heard the beat. It’s just necessary for me,” says Rowjay, adding that the creative process for this EP was especially complex, given that his collaborators were all busy on other projects. “I’m constantly brainstorming, thinking of new concepts. I’m equally influenced by video games like Mario Odyssey and Zelda as I am by fashion design, for example.”