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Depuis le grand débarquement de Radio Radio dans le paysage musical, le public québécois est tombé plusieurs fois sous le charme d’artistes acadiens, et pas qu’en raison de leur accent. Lisa LeBlanc, avec sa sincérité désarmante, ses textes crus et sa dégaine de prétendue cow-boy est la dernière en date. « Les gens parlent d’un renouveau de la scène acadienne, moi je considère que le couvercle a été levé sur quelque chose qui mijotait depuis des années, analyse le sympathique et lumineux Joseph Edgar, » originaire lui aussi de l’Acadie.

À l’image de ses collègues, Joseph Edgar poursuit son ascension, mais de manière un peu moins fracassante, sans brûler les étapes. « Ce que je fais est ni tout à fait pop, ni vraiment underground et les gens ont parfois un peu de misère à me situer au début… » Avant d’officier comme artiste solo, l’auteur-compositeur a connu, de 1993 à 2003, l’expérience de chanteur/parolier au sein du groupe Zéro °Celsius. « Des bands sont arrivés et ont introduit de nouveaux sons sur la scène musicale locale : Idée du Nord, qui avait même été signé sur la prestigieuse étiquette indépendante Sub Pop, Les Païens, et puis nous. L’indie-rock est arrivé sur cette scène jusqu’ici plus ancrée dans la tradition et c’est là qu’à mon avis on a pu commencer à parler de renouveau de la scène acadienne, car les nouveaux sons ont non seulement traversé les frontières, mais aussi commencé à être acceptés par chez nous. Au début, les gens avaient des réserves : la guitare électrique et l’approche plus punk, c’était presque un sacrilège aux oreilles de certains ! »

En 1995, Zéro °Celsius signe avec Warner. « Puis les choses sont devenues bizarres… On a fini par briser le contrat de disque et nous sommes devenus anti-industrie. À la fin, nous étions tellement anti-toute, qu’on était devenu anti-nous-mêmes… On s’est auto-sabotés. » Il y a eu un déménagement à Montréal et de nouvelles fréquentations… Puis une petite voix s’est manifestée, pour finalement prendre toute la place. « J’avais toujours co-composé… Pendant un an et demi, j’ai eu un band transitoire, Joseph Edgar et la société sonore. » Mais l’artiste de Moncton a fini par faire cavalier seul et il vient de lancer son quatrième album solo, Interstices.

À fleur de peau
Ce qui saisit d’abord à l’écoute de cet album lancé au printemps dernier, c’est la voix. Il y a quelque chose de viscéral dans la livraison chantée, quelque chose de vrai, de brut. « Moi j’aime la musique imparfaite. Je care pas si y’a une couple d’erreurs, j’aime que les artistes laissent des traces de leurs phases exploratoires. » Voilà pourquoi, il a confié la réalisation de l’album à Joe Gagné des Breastfeeders, rencontré en Louisiane, puis croisé à nouveau à Montréal.

Parmi les modèles de Joseph Edgar, il y a Neil Young et Zachary Richard. « Neil Young est celui dont l’esprit m’inspire le plus, car il va lui aussi du folk à l’électrique et ses meilleurs albums ont ce côté imparfait dont je parle. D’ailleurs, c’est de lui que m’est venu le titre de mon disque. Après Harvest, qui contient tous ses gros hits, il a lancé quelques albums où tout est un peu croche et émotif : des chefs-d’œuvre à mes yeux. On lui a un jour demandé pourquoi il avait tourné le dos à l’occasion de devenir une star populaire. Il a dit : “J’étais sur la route et soudain j’ai regardé dans le fossé puis j’ai réalisé que c’est ce qui vivait là, tout au fond, qui m’attirait.” Après la fonte des neiges, c’est dans le fossé que tu vois les déchets et les sédiments qui se sont déposés pendant l’hiver, mais aussi les premières fleurs, au printemps. Le laid et le beau s’y côtoient. Le titre de mon album, Interstices, est un synonyme de fossé, en clin d’œil à cette anecdote. »

Quant à Zachary Richard, ses premiers albums ont été déterminants pour le jeune musicien qu’il fut. « C’est quelqu’un qui continue de prendre des risques et il avait même fait une reprise d’une des chansons de mon groupe sur Cap Enragé. “Petit Codiac”, c’est de nous, ça. »

Vous l’aurez peut-être croisé en lever de rideau pour Daniel Boucher au cours de l’été dans le cadre des tournées du ROSEQ, ou en duo avec Lisa LeBlanc. Tendez l’oreille si vous aimez les paroliers inspirés par les détails inusités, par les petites choses que personne ne remarque. Il est aussi habile quand vient le temps de ficeler des portraits de personnages un peu décalés (« Pont MacKay », « Chemin connu », « Le fantôme de Blanchard »). Montez avec lui pour une road-song qui vous mènera jusqu’au bout de la route 56, là où s’étend le delta du Mississipi… « Tu vas là pis tu tombes sur un joueur d’harmonica qui ressemble à ta grand-mère, c’est quasiment un pèlerinage… »

Embarquement dans 5, 4, 3, 2…


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Don’t let their name fool you. Halifax-based modern rockers Wintersleep have certainly not taken any time out for creative hibernation during the past five years. They’ve been decidedly prolific, releasing three acclaimed albums during that period, all supported with extensive touring through North America, the U.K., and Europe. They’re now back on the road in all three regions for the rest of the year, showcasing their new (and fifth) record, Hello Hum.

“We haven’t really stopped to think about taking a break,” says Wintersleep singer, co-songwriter and guitarist Paul Murphy. “It just seems the songs are there. If they weren’t, I don’t think we’d be afraid to chill and wait, but it always seems like the time is right. It’s like ‘Oh, we have six or seven songs and a little time off. Why don’t we make a record?’ Then when you make a record, I feel you have to give it its due in terms of presenting it to audiences and making sure it is out there.”

“It’s like ‘Oh, we have six or seven songs and a little time off. Why don’t we make a record?”

Quality has paralleled quantity in their output, with the sonically adventurous Hello Hum arguably being Wintersleep’s best reviewed album yet. It has come out a full decade after the band’s self-titled debut, but it was only with 2007’s Welcome To The Night Sky that the band made a real impact. The album produced a rock radio smash hit in the form of “Weighty Ghost,” and earned Wintersleep a New Group of the Year Juno Award. Murphy notes that “we were playing so long before radio or the industry in Canada really knew who we were. That was the first record where people in the industry started taking notice.”

“Weighty Ghost” still scores airplay, and Murphy concedes “there may be a public perception of our band as having just one song. I don’t see it as a weight on our shoulders, though. To me, it was a very strange thing that song caught on the way it did. We’ve never been about pushing singles, we get excited about making whole albums.”

He views the track as “a gateway into our band. Lots of people may only be interested in hearing that song but then there’ll be a few people who’ll want to hear the rest of that record. That’s why we played it again on David Letterman [years after it was released].”

Murphy shares songwriting duties with Wintersleep’s two other original members, drummer Loel Campbell and guitarist Tim D’Eon, though newer members Michael Bigelow (bass) and Jon Samuel (keyboards) also get credited on, respectively, one and two of the songs on Hello Hum. Murphy says the songwriting dynamic within the band has changed since their formation.

“There may be a public perception of our band as having just one song. I don’t see it as a weight on our shoulders, though.”

“The first recording was more me having a bunch of songs, and Loel, Tim, and [then-bassist] Jud Haynes worked on those in the studio,” says Murphy. “Now everybody writes songs and parts. We’ll usually have a few different parts, then we all work together to flesh out the musical idea. I usually come up with the lyrics and melody, but it has definitely grown into everyone putting a lot of effort into every song. They’d sound very different with anyone removed from the picture.”

Internationally, Wintersleep have gained real credibility and attention by recruiting two of the world’s premier rock producers to work on their recent records. Scottish producer Tony Doogan’s resumé includes influential groups Mogwai and Belle and Sebastian, and he’s manned the console for Winterleep’s previous two albums. For Hello Hum, he partnered with famed production maverick Dave Fridmann, best known for working with the likes of Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, and MGMT. Doogan handled the recording, Fridmann mixed, and the sessions took place at Fridmann’s Tarbox Road Studios in rural upstate New York.

To Murphy, these two heads proved better than one. “Initially, it almost felt ridiculous we were working with Dave in his studio, as he’s so high-profile,” he recalls. “He brought more of an intensity to it. I thought he might be a little more eccentric, but he is just a real hard worker who knows how to use his gear. He’s not afraid to bring something to its sonic limit, as an engineer. It was nice to see he and Tony interact. They are really good friends and good at working together. I think there’s a bit of wanting to impress each other as well, when you’re working with someone you respect.
“They’re our songs, but getting to sit back and watch them work in helping to create the songs was a real treat.”


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Rollie Pemberton, better known as rapper Cadence Weapon and Edmonton’s 2009 Poet Laureate, has always pushed boundaries on his tracks, but for his third and latest full-length album, Hope In Dirt City, he chose a rather unusual way of getting from point A to B.

“It’s a completely different process than before,” Pemberton says. “The way I went about making these songs, I wrote them the way I would normally do, recording myself, creating samples and making beats with the computer, but then I took those songs to a band in Toronto and basically made interpolations of my own work with the help of this band.

“I’d never done that before. Then I took the results of those sessions and I sampled them again to make the final beats for this album.”

Pemberton created the sounds, recorded them at Chemical Sound with live musicians – Jered Stuffco (DVAS) on keyboards, Ian Koiter (Shad) on bass and string arrangements, Eric Lightfoot on drums and percussion, Paul Prince (The Cansecos) on guitar, and Brett Miles (Magilla Funk Conduit) on saxophone – then didn’t use them. Or at least, not the way they were played.

“I was influenced by a bunch of rap albums that incorporated live sounds.” – Rollie Pemberton

“They weren’t manipulated that extremely,” Pemberton says. “When you hear someone playing guitar, it’s a guitar take. But then again, there’s some examples, like on [the single] ‘Conditioning,’ where it’s something you wouldn’t necessarily notice, where all the samples are live instrumentation chopped up.

“But, again,” he stresses, “most of their work is based on original compositions that I wrote.”
While Hope In Dirt City has been recognized by a short-list nomination for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize in late September – an honour his debut album, Breaking Kayfabe, also received in 2006 – the innovative hip-hop musician, who has made his most accessible album to date, likely won’t go this route again.

“It was a vision I had, ” he says. “I was influenced by a bunch of rap albums that incorporated live sounds, like albums by UGK and Outkast and Devin The Dude. I just wanted to see what it would be like if I put my own spin on that.

“But that said, I probably won’t do exactly the same thing the next time I make an album. The idea is, now that I know how to do this, it will be much easier to do this next time, and I can incorporate aspects of this process into what I do in the future. That’s the way I’m looking at my future with producing music.”

Track Record
• In the single “Conditioning,” Cadence Weapon sings “My SOCAN strand is in high demand.”
• He now lives in Montreal to immerse himself in the city’s creative and supportive musical environment
• He created music with Laura Barrett and Mark Hamilton for a short documentary about Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park as part of the National Parks Project


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