La Bronze is far from a newcomer on the Montreal music scene. She released a self-produced EP in 2012. “I kept things simple, to me, that EP was like a business card,” she says. As for her first, eponymous, full-length album, it came out in September 2014 and it definitely didn’t remain below the radar.
Born in Montreal of Moroccan parents, La Bronze, a.k.a. Nadia Essadiqi, was raised in the Aylmer area of the Outaouais region before returning home. A die-hard music lover, her musical taste is as eclectic as can be, ranging from Lhasa to James Blake to The Black Keys. Her outside-the-box pop songs incorporate many influences and genres, with strong lyrics veering on slam poetry at times, some rock energy and splashes of electro. The artist also mentions “some trip-hop somewhere in the mix, too.”
“Bronze is all at once soft and rough, dirty and clean. I like its inherent poetry.”
The fusion of genres culminates on the track “Explose-moi” [“Explode Me”], a song which sees La Bronze give everything she has and rip her own heart out of her ribcage to give it the the one she loves, still beating in her hands:
J’aurais voulu être celle que tu veux toujours pour dessert / I wanted to be the one you always want for dessert
J’aurais voulu être celle qui te manque même quand je suis là / I wanted to be the one you miss even when I’m next to you
J’aurais voulu être celle que ta mère préfère / I wanted to be the one your mom prefers
Her delivery is still animated by a youthful ferocity, and it’s obvious even on record that she has a magnetic stage persona, where she plays drums standing up, accompanied by a guitarist and keyboard player. The opportunities to see her live last fall were scarce, thanks to the buzz she started generating (over 28,000 downloads of her track “La jeunesse feline” on iTunes!), but such occasions will be more plentiful during the winter and spring of 2015.
“Yes, I can confirm that. I just changed bookers,” she says. “I feel very confident with my current team. I don’t have any expectations, I don’t know exactly how things are supposed to happen, at what speed and in what order. I’m grateful for what is happening to me and I’m ready for whatever’s next,” says the artist, who got a chance to perform in front of industry movers and shakers last June in Los Angeles. La Bronze presented her live act during three SOCAN-sponsored showcases, one of which was on the stage of the mythical Sunset Marquis Hotel. “It was an awesome experience, my music was very well received, and the fact I sing in French wasn’t a problem and, as a matter of fact, it was even a plus… People there found it exotic!”
La Bronze might have been absent from concert venues last fall, but Essadiqi was still busy as she starred in Le cœur animal, a stage play she wrote and starred in at Théâtre La Chapelle in late October. The play bears the same themes as her songs do: devouring passion, burning desire, sexual or otherwise, thequest for freedom… She says, “I did write the songs and the play at the same time!” It’s through acting that the 28-year-old came to a career as a professional artist. These days, one can catch her in several popular Québec TV series such as 30 vies and Toute la vérité, as well as in movies such as Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, where she played “a small role as a bitchy secretary, one of the few funny moments in the movie.
“But through it all, I was always drawn to music. I started making music when I came back to live in Montréal, where I started in street percussion bands; I can do music through rhythm. One thing led to another, and playing percussion instruments made me want to write songs and sing them.” Essadiqi is a very instinctive person, and whether it’s music or theatre, she’s mainly self-taught, but does attend the occasional private class and professional development workshop.
“Bronze is an alloy made of copper and tin, known for its electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion,” she says. “It’s used to make weapons, medals, and jewelry, notably. I love what the name evokes: metal, vibrant colours, contrasts. Bronze is all at once soft and rough, dirty and clean. I like the sonority of it, its inherent poetry.”
Bear her name (and face) in mind. The Bronze Age has just begun.
Turning the Page
In this era where so many performers – from your run of the mill pop sensation to the most left-field songwriter – are “discovered” through talent contests, La Bronze thought she too would give that a go… No luck, though: For three years in a row I tried getting in Les Francouvertes, but I was never chosen. At some point, I just decided I’d go about it some other way, via a different route. I was a bit disappointed, but in the end I just let go and I turned the page.”