Based in Québec City, SOCAN members Louis-Étienne Santais and Thomas Casault are Fjord, a duo that’s just released its first official offering, Textures, the music of which is rooted in the late-‘90s chill-out movement, as well as 2016’s electronic music vein.
We spoke with the guys who are likely to dominate playlists in the coming months.
P&M: Tell us a bit about your creative process?
Fjord: We totally work in a collaborative way. We usually start by settling on a viable key progression, and then we build on that quite rapidly; we add percussion, bass, other sounds, according to our inspiration. At that point, even though it’s still a draft, we have a better idea of where we’re headed, and that helps us remain inspired. Then, we spend a lot of time looking for the right melody, and we’ll often improvise and record dozens of melodies on our iPhones for a single song before we settle on the one that’s just right. The words or sentences that come to us spontaneously often remain in the final version of the song, because it’s hard for Thomas to find something to sing that comes more naturally. Then we complete the lyrics, always together. That’s probably the hardest part for us. We spend a lot of time in the studio working on demos and we throw many away. We often need to take a step back. Take “Blue,” for example. We couldn’t find anything that thrilled us, so we put it on the back burner for a while. Months later, we were going over our demos and it gelled; we had enough material to turn it into a great song.
P&M: As a matter of fact, you took off because of “Blue,” which was extremely popular on Spotify, with more than two million streams to this day. How do you approach this success in the light of the heavy criticism directed towards Spotify lately?
Fjord: Spotify has been and remains a very important springboard when it comes to visibility, and the money it’s earned us, thanks to our songs being in rotation. We’ve actually managed to self-finance Fjord. Our band was born right in this paradigm shift from record sales to streams, it’s been a part of our lives and careers from the get-go. We’ve realized that the majority of people who listen to us, do so on Spotify and Apple Music. Our songs end up on their playlists. Those playlists are curated by people who follow the music biz very closely. That has a very positive influence on the reach of our music.”
P&M: Textures was done with the help of various producers. How do you achieve that without compromising the Fjord sound?
Fjord: We always produce much of our own stuff – like, 90 percent. Other producers are incredibly helpful, because they help us decide what’s good to keep and what can go, and we give them plenty of leeway to try stuff, and bring in their own ideas. We always have the last word on artistic decisions, and luckily all of our collaborations have gone smoothly so far, we didn’t have to reject a lot of their ideas. It’s always helpful to have a third pair of ears, and the people we’ve worked with are super-talented. It was easy to trust them and build together, whether it was Claude Bégin (Karim Ouellet, Alaclair Ensemble), Gabriel Gagnon (Milk & Bone, Daniela Andrade), or Dragos Chiriac (Men I Trust, Ghostly Kisses).
P&M: What’s coming up for Fjord?
Fjord: A few great opportunities have come up since we released Textures, but we can’t say much about any of them yet. One thing’s for sure: we’ll be playing shows in 2017. Certain collaborations are underway, some are even finished. Whatever the case may be, we’re entirely focused on creating music, right now. We’re working on new tracks that will be accompanied by new visuals.