First name Kalle. Last name Mattson. Notice the two L’s. Don’t confuse the musician with the trendy vegetable. He’s named after J.J. Cale, the late great songwriter, who penned such classics as “After Midnight” and “Call Me the Breeze.” Some tough musical shoes to fill. Then again, maybe that bar isn’t so hard to live up to when you’re already an old soul at 22. You’ve toured Europe, won a pair of Northern Ontario Music awards, and most importantly – thanks to your muse – you’ve learned to grieve.

This past February, Mattson released Someday the Moon Will be Gold. The singer-songwriter’s third album, it’s also his most personal. It’s a record he was unsure he could ever release. Grief got a grip on his muse and demanded he write these songs.

Mattson spoke to Words + Music prior to a showcase for the album at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern. One month since the album’s official release, he’s feeling comfortable with this song cycle about death. The response, from fans and critics alike, has been incredible.

“I felt like it was a risky move to put my life on display.”

“This record is a part of my soul,” Mattson explains. “It took me a really long time to want to make it. I felt like it was a risky move to put my life on display, so I sat on this record for a long time. I’ve learned that allowing that vulnerability is good. It’s cathartic in a weird way and people have responded to that.”

Five years ago, Mattson, then 16, lost his mom. Still too young to fully grasp this life-changing event, he turned to music for answers. Walking home from school, he listened to Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky. Hearing Jeff Tweedy sing about death comforted him; it made him feel he wasn’t alone. That seminal disc, along with Evening Hymns’ Spectral Dusk, inspired the songwriter to write and record the emotive songs that make up Someday the Moon Will be Gold.

In May 2011, Mattson’s grandmother passed away. He moved from Ottawa back to his childhood home in Sault Ste. Marie for the first time since his mother had died. The songs – such as “A Love Song to The City,” one of many poignant compositions, which he wrote in his living room in an afternoon – came fast.

“Looking back on it now, I grieved through this record and came out the other side,” he writes in a blog entry on his website. “I escaped into these songs, and in a lot of ways they seem like all I have left, but at least I have them.”

 TRACK RECORD

  • His video for “Water Falls” has earned more than 250,000 YouTube views, and for “Thick as Thieves,” more than a million.
  • Anchors (2011) received a pair of Northern Ontario Music Award wins, for Album of the Year (Group) & SOCAN Songwriter of the Year.
  • Mattson loves to bowl while on tour: “It’s a cheap way to have fun.”

FYI
Publisher:
N/A
Discography: Whisper Bee (2009), Anchors (2011) Lives In Between (EP, 2012), Someday, The Moon Will be Gold (2014)
Member since 2009
Visit www.kallemattson.com


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Three years after winning the Petite-Vallée Song Festival competition in 2003, actor and singer-songwriter Viviane Audet released Le long jeu (The Long Play), a well-crafted debut album whose theatrical statements sometimes didn’t do justice to her genuine personality and musical talent. Almost eight years later, her second album, Le couloir des ouragans (Tornado Alley), finally reveals a delicate folk-pop artist with a more intimate, luminous and melodious style.

Audet’s new direction is indicated right from the jacket of her new CD, which shows a woman who appears to be running away. “That image was chosen for a purpose,” Audet confirms. “I wanted to leave my first album behind. I needed something more suggestive and less aggressive. I performed my first album as if it were going to be my last. I gave it my all! Bori said to me, ‘It’s strange, but after listening to your songs, we still don’t know you. There’s a veil in front of your songs.’ I took it wrong at the time because I didn’t know what he meant.

“Creating is a truly intimate experience. It’s not something I could share with anyone.”

“Then, I turned 30, and was able to take off my actor’s mask for this recording, which I wanted to be more personal and more restrained. During my last years as a film and television actor, directors used to tell me, ‘Try not to overact – the camera will catch your eyes and facial expression.’ I probably learned from that,” the 32-year-old Gaspé region native now admits.

The reasons Audet took so long to release a second album were her increased activities as a stage and television performer and, on the music side, her need to change record and production companies, create a new repertoire and build a new team. “I took voice lessons and got involved in projects that helped me morph into a musician, such as scoring Rafaël Ouellet’s Camion [with boyfriend Robin-Joël Cool and Erik West-Millette]. I opened my horizons while freeing myself from residual influences. I developed a taste for folk songs in their purest essence. I became interested in seeking the cleanest possible arrangements. I’d be lying if I said giving birth to this new album was easy, but I’m glad I didn’t give up, because this is the creative project I’m the proudest of,” the multi-instrumentalist musician sums up.

And rightly so. Audet wisely surrounded herself with talented people for her new recording venture: the Acadian poet Georgette LeBlanc and authors Baptiste and Émile Proulx on the lyrics side, and, on the production side, Philippe Brault (Pierre Lapointe), whose well-crafted and subtle arrangements enhance the album’s songs. “Composing is candy compared to the pains of finding the right words,” Audet explains. “I do my composing work alone at home in the morning. That way I feel that, as I just came out of sleep, my mind hasn’t been contaminated yet by the outside world. It’s my blank page. I put my hands on the keyboard, press the record button on my iPhone, and start the process. First, I look for a theme. I’m really shy. I can’t work if there is anyone next to me or even in the same room. Creating is a truly intimate experience. It’s not something I could share with anyone.”

After a pause, she adds: “I suffer from the syndrome of not liking anything I write. A couple months later, though, I can look at what I did and not find it quite as bad! I never throw anything out because I know I will see it in a different light later on. I truly have a love-hate relationship with writing, a problem with looking at myself objectively. That’s the reason why I love surrounding myself with authors. It helps me breathe easier. Plus, I love teamwork,” she explains.

Asked to name her main musical influences, Audet lists Patrice Desbiens, Thomas Fersen, Barbara, Chloé Ste-Marie, Gilles Bélanger, Yann Perreau, Juliette Gréco, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. “And I should also mention Richard Desjardins, this amazing poet of everyday life with frequently four-dimensional lyrics. This kind of songwriting inspires me,” she says.

Besides scoring Rafaël Ouellet’s next film (Gurov et Anna) with her partner Robin-Joël Cool, Audet is scheduled to perform opening slots for Louis-Jean Cormier and Isabelle Boulay during the next FrancoFolies de Montréal festival. This will be followed in the fall with a Montreal concert and the release of the first EP from her Anglophone folk project Mentana (with Cool). “I see myself as a communicator first and foremost, whether it is through a song, a character, a story or a feeling,” she says. “I need to communicate vocally, to be onstage. This goes all the way back to my childhood. I’m comfortable with that today, and I enjoy performing as part of any kind of project. I hope I’ll be able to do this for many years to come.”


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Typically, you have the singer-songwriters on one side, the performers on the other side, and the authors, composers and songwriters somewhere in the middle. Occasionally, these roles become blurred, and the end result is a rich and varied repertoire such as that of Hugo Lapointe, whose two most recent albums out of four in a 10-year career – Hugo Lapointe (2010) and La Suite (2013) – contain collaborations with a staggering number of Quebec stars, including Daniel Boucher, Luc De Larochellière, Daniel Lavoie, Jamil, Lynda Lemay, Térez Montcalm, Maryse Letarte, Edgar Bori, Alexandre Poulin and Alexandre Belliard.

Unlike most artists, Lapointe released two collections of original songs – Célibataire  (Unmarried) in 2004 and La trentaine (The Thirties) in 2007 – before turning to collaborations. Was this due to a loss of confidence, a failure of inspiration, or the need to do something different?

“I definitely needed to try something new,” the singer reassures us, in a raspy voice that leaves no doubt about the familial link with his famous rocker brother Éric Lapointe. “In the very beginning, I mostly performed other people’s songs. That was my school. But I soon realized that if I wanted to stand out in this business, I needed original material. So I decided to start writing songs. After releasing my first two albums, however, I felt the need to go to places that I would not necessarily explore if I were to continue writing my songs all by myself.”  

“Dealing with someone else’s lyrics is certainly touchy.”

That said, Lapointe admits he experienced some relief in being able to lean on the pens of writers other than himself: “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make it easier for me and didn’t lift some weight off my shoulders… Having access to outside help also allowed me to involve myself more deeply in the recording process, whereas before, I remained fixed on lyrics until they shut off the recording console and locked the studio’s door. I was too absorbed with that aspect of music at the expense of all the rest.”

As he began the process of putting together a dozen songs (including a few self-penned pieces) for his next album, Lapointe started looking for people to help him with words or music contributions: “In most cases, I was presented with turnkey songs. With artists like Bori or Jamil, I did the music myself. For “Te retrouver” (“Finding You Again”), for instance, I set Bori’s lyrics to a music I had carried with me for five years without being able to find the right words for it. With Jamil’s “Moi j’suis qui?” (“Who Am I?”), it was more like a remote work in progress, sending each other words and music back and forth.”

“However,” Lapointe continues, “even with a turnkey song, there was always room for a little tweaking with the author when there were things that didn’t sound quite like me.” In his mind, this possibility should always be negotiated ahead of time to avoid misunderstandings along the way. “Dealing with someone else’s lyrics is certainly touchy, but I’ve always been working with incredibly generous co-writers.”

Lapointe freely admits to milking that generosity when that special connection is there. His repertoire includes three songs by Maryse Letarte (“Soleil couchant,” “Mon grand air” and “Valse d’ici”) and two by Térez Montcalm (“Complice” and “Inconsolable”). Considering Lapointe’s “dude” image, this choice of female songwriters may come as a bit of a surprise, but he can explain it away: “At first, I thought working with a woman’s lyrics might require a bit more adapting, but then I thought, Who better than a woman to know what women want to hear? After all, the majority of my audience is female…”

“After receiving the first song from Maryse,” Lapointe goes on to explain, “we took a chance asking her for more, and each time she was able to focus exactly on what I wanted to express. Same thing with Térez and the way she capture how I relate to music on ‘Complice.’”

Lapointe often suggested topics or themes to his co-writers. One of these songs, Alexandre Poulin’s “L’incendie” (“The Fire”), is based on Lapointe’s activities as spokesperson for Maison Carignan, a Trois-Rivière alcoholism treatment centre. Daniel Boucher’s “Tu l’sais même pas” (“You Don’t Even Know”) is a quasi verbatim reproduction of a story Lapointe told him about not necessarily being recognized on the street.

“When I first receive a song,” Lapointe explains, “I learn it the way it is. Once that’s done, I allow it to mature in my head for a few weeks or months without listening to the original version. Then I go back to it and perform it my way. That’s how I can make a song my own.”

Isn’t this use of other songwriters’ material depriving Lapointe of some performing right royalties in an industry with waning revenues? “Could be… However, these works also help me reach a wider audience and possibly do more shows and generate additional revenues. Plus the fact that I think that the opportunity this gives me to meet and work with all these artists and perform their songs is payment enough. I feel privileged.”


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