TALK has come along way in the music industry.

He’s surpassed 90 million streams on Spotify alone, and more than 10 million views on YouTube. Reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s Adult Alternative charts. Played to more than 80,000 people, two years in a row, at the Festival d’été de Québec. Hit No. 1 on the TikTok viral chart in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, South Africa, Ireland, and the U.S (in a rare case, it was because of the videos he and his team created, not the ones made by others on the platform). Made his American television debut on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Signed a record deal with Capitol in the U.S. Received a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award. And contributed to the charity single “What I Wouldn’t Do,” to benefit Kids Help Phone’s Feel Out Loud campaign for youth mental health.

TALK, "Run Away To Mars"

Sélectionnez l’image pour faire jouer la vidéo YouTube de la chanson Run Away to Mars de TALK

The key that opened all of these doors was his song, “Run Away to Mars,” recorded with only an acoustic guitar, an electric bass, no drums, and a glorious choir in the chorus, created by overdubbing TALK’s voice many times. Like David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” the song encapsulates the loneliness of the long-distance astronaut, so far away from home, and isolated on their own.

Below, TALK (born Nick Durocher, in Ottawa) discusses how the song was created, and how it went viral, twice, on TikTok:

“It was March 2020, the pandemic had just started. I went back to my parents’ place [in Ottawa]. I had this whole ‘Armageddon, the-whole-city’s-gonna-shut-down in Toronto, so I gotta get outta here’ thing [going on]… I was watching a lot of space  movies, and just got inspired by these faraway places: where you could go, and how far away you could go. Everybody, including myself, wanted to get away from the pandemic. It just kind of clicked: ‘Hey, what if I ran away to Mars?’

“Middle of the night, I sat up. I had a guitar beside the bed the whole time I was there. I’d wait for silence, and then see if I could hear anything coming. And that melody just came. Sat up and played the whole song once, all the way through, with lyrics. I still have the original voice note for it somewhere. It was pretty much the whole song. There were a few things that changed when I edited it.

“I recorded it. Made a bunch of versions through April and May [of 2022], and ended up going back to that first version, just stripped back, with guitar and vocals. I think there’s, maybe, 10 tracks total in the mix of the song.

“Songs that are gonna be hits, whatever you call ‘hits,’ half of it’s the song, but half of it’s timing. I think it was just the right, perfect time. Everyone was feeling what I was feeling. It took more than a year to come out after I wrote it. We’d filmed the music video in November 2020, and the song came out in June 2021.

TALK, SOCAN, No. 1 Song Award, "Run Away To Mars"

Receiving a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award. Left to right: Lord Quest (SOCAN); Connor Riddell, guitarist in TALK’s band, and one of the co-writers of “Run Away to Mars”; TALK; and Racquel Villagante (SOCAN).

“[At first] I was posting videos and getting 1,000 views, maybe, and that was a win. Then a couple came out, and it was like 200,000, 300,000, and ‘Wow, we did it! We really did it, guys!’ I went and signed a record deal, and the song was still doing well. It took till the next summer [of 2022], and that’s when it really jumped again on TikTok. We played a festival [Festival d’été de Québec] for a lot of people, and made what we thought at the time was just a video [of the performance]. We’re, like, ‘We may as well use this. We should just try.’ Then the first one had a few million [views], then every video we posted after that did the same. And it got picked up internationally, and radio…

“I think good  songs just kind of happen. I think there’s elements you can control to increase the chance of having  a great song – [if you’re co-writing,] the people in the room, your relationships with them, energies that work well together. [Writing on your own,] the best way I’ve heard it explained is… it’s like tuning a radio in your head, and eventually you just hear something: ‘Oh, that’s sweet, let me figure out if that works.’”

Beau NectarMarie-Clo and éemi each have their own, separate, musical project, but when they work together, they become Beau Nectar, a bilingual electro-pop affair that tackles topics like feminist issues, or nature. Indica Records recently released their album Two Lips, a universal, accessible representation of eco-feminism.

Franco-Ontarian and Franco-Saskatchewanian, respectively, Marie-Clo and éemi met through a musical competition presented by the now defunct BRBR TV show, hosted by TFO.

“Then, the pandemic separated us and made us want to write an album as a duo,” Marie-Clo explains. “We wanted to express how passionate we feel about nature, and its fauna and flora.” Beyond their shared interests, especially in feminism, they took their quest for knowledge a step further by pursuing Gender Studies at the University of Victoria, training in herbal medicine, and recording in the woods – to tie it all together.

Each in their own province, they were able to take Beau Nectar forward as if there was no physical distance between them. “The technologies that emerged during the pandemic really helped us forget the physical distance,” says éemi. “With Zoom and Google Drive, we strive to get as many creative residencies together as possible, but everything else is do-able.” Among the songs on Two Lips, “À fleur de pot” tells the story of a houseplant that dreams of living outdoors. “I wrote that during the pandemic,” explains Marie-Clo. “We were stuck inside and we couldn’t wait to go out.”

The two partners explore the world through a shared vision: “Woman and nature under the capitalist and patriarchal umbrella,” says éemi. “We love to improvise when we get a chance to get together,” adds Marie-Clo. “We love effects pedals, we record ourselves and try all kinds of stuff. We have less and less creation time because of touring, but we tour because our project is successful, so it’s a good thing.”  éemi adds, “It’s when you’re noodling around that the best ideas come out.” There’s one recommendation to remember.

The women are free, and thrive in the role of being a bilingual musical project outside of Québec. “We want to avoid being the token artists at all costs,” says Marie-Clo. “Beau Nectar is bilingual without being Québécois, so it’s different. We represent confidence in our linguistic insecurity. We couldn’t be prouder that French is our first language, even though we’re from Canadian provinces that are largely Anglophone.”

Beau Nectar, Buds

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Beau Nectar song “Buds”

Well aware that making music in English only would afford them a much wider audience, they’ve still decided not to go that route. “We don’t need to write in English to be successful,” says éemi. “A lot of Francophiles love what we do, and that makes us very proud. We love all the possibilities French words give us.”

Music is often presented in rigid boxes, but the two singer songwriters don’t subscribe to that approach. “When we were in France, I thought they’d talk about our strange accents, but they love our melodies – and that’s what they talked about, in the end,” éemi remembers. “When we played Phoque Off [in Québec City], we expected to be the ‘from outside of Québec’ act, but everyone kept stressing how our project is important because it’s an alternative one led by two women.”

They flex their strengths even more through their rhythms, and brilliant word plays. “I’m a dancer, a choreographer, and an actress, and that profoundly influences my stage persona,” says Marie-Clo. “éemi is strong in acting, and she’s extremely talented in design, editing, and video projections onstage.”

Their voices work together like two pieces of a puzzle, so much so that they’re often asked if they’re sisters. (They’re not.) In feminine solidarity, they shatter the false assumption that talented women have to be in competition with each other. “We met in a competition and we had compatible energies,” éemi remembers. “Society encourages us to feel intimidated by each other. We realized we were both careerists, and that a joint project could take us even further.”

La SecuriteOne of Quebec’s most anticipated rock albums of 2023 was released June 16. The first opus of the supergroup La Sécurité includes 10 screeching post-punk songs, along with sensitive ballads like “K9,” an ode to singer and multi-instrumentalist Melissa Di Menna’s beloved old female dog. “The moment I listened to it, I knew it belonged on the album,” said lead singer Éliane Viens-Synnott. The other La Sécurité members are Laurence-Anne, Choses Sauvages bassist Félix Bélisle, and Kenneth David Smith.

This first album was speedily recorded earlier in 2023: five weeks of intensive studio work with an eye toward a summer release. “We’d never experienced such a tight schedule before,” says Viens-Synnott, adding that the band was toying with the idea of releasing an album as far back as the fall of 2022. “But seeing that there was already a buzz about the project when we performed our first shows [in the summer of 2022] and started releasing singles, a summer release was the logical thing to do if we wanted to take advantage of the season to perform live shows, and not least because Laurence-Anne will be releasing her new album [Oniromancie] in September, and Choses Sauvages will start writing their next album this winter.”

“Ours is a rather atypical path,” she adds. The band itself is atypical. A supergroup, bringing together an established woman singer-songwriter (Laurence-Anne, who’s already released two albums); the lead singer of Choses Sauvages (Félix Bélisle, who also co-produced this album with Samuel Gemme); Jesuslesfilles’s keyboardist (Melissa Di Menna); as well as Kenneth David Smith and Éliane Viens-Synnott, who were both leading music projects before La Sécurité.

Does Stay Safe! sum up all of those musical achievements? Yes, but no: members have created this project so they could do something different, Viens-Synnott explains. She describes La Sécurité as being “focused on dance-punk, and a DIY approach. It’s a blend of experience cooked up with our own particular sauce. We love blending ambiences, and having a party, with songs that include darker lyrics.”

La Securite, Hot Topic, Video

Click on the image to play the La Sécurité video “Hot Topic”

The singer and keyboardist penned lyrics to the album’s 10 songs, some performed in French and some in English. “I’m not one to write much ahead of time, though,” she says. “I keep a small notebook where I can empty my head, I’ve always done that. Sometimes it leads to a song sketch, sometimes it’s just poetry that nobody else will ever read. When a tune is starting to take shape, I think, ‘Oh yes, I might have something in my notebook that would fit here.’ I take the lyrics and re-work them. When it’s in French, Félix helps me to get rid of English-sounding phrases,” says Viens-Synnott, who’s originally Francophone, but was raised around Calgary.

Musically speaking, “we generally write as a band,” she says. “Félix and Kenny will find a groove, and then we’ll add guitar sounds and synth melodies until we come up with something that makes everybody’s happy.” There are lots of references to the post-punk/no wave/synth-pop styles of 40 years ago (Bush Tetras, ESG, Gang of Four, etc.), with a touch of 1990s alternative rock.

La Sécurité had only performed a handful of shows before recording their album, including one in a Rouyn-Noranda tanning salon during the Festival de Musique Émergente. As Stay Safe! was about to be released, the band’s performances became more energetic and self-assured, says Viens-Synnott.

“We performed six shows as part of the [March 2022] South by Southwest Festival [in Austin, Texas], and it brought us closer to one another just after recording the album. We lived together throughout the festival, we travelled together – we all were friends already, but that experience solidified something in our band. We felt it during our first show at Festival Santa Theresa. Many people commented later that the show had a different feel. Plus the fact that the conditions at Festival Santa Teresa were bizarre, with a roof that was leaking over the audience during our performance…”