Last year, she re-visited Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a Francophone adaptation that transported us to the edge of this scent of decline, that feeling of withering away a little more every day. This fall, without the song even appearing on her third album, Maude Audet’s reprise sits at the epicentre of her entire oeuvre like a pillar. Comme une odeur de déclin, which was released on Sept. 29, 2017, is slowly seeping into the zeitgeist. “It’s about the decline of life, which remains a fact we all have to contend with on a daily basis,” says Audet. “We’re all going in that same direction,” says the Groose Boîte label’s new protégé, absolutely un-pessimistically.
A seasoned sailor of the many intimate musical seas, what sets Audet apart from the rest is that her melancholy writing imbued with a raw strength. Whereas some calculate every last detail, she feels more instinctive. “I forget to plan ahead, but on this project, I felt I needed to re-invent myself,” she says. “I could’ve done hip-hop. I love hip-hop, but I wanted to retain my essence,” she says laughing.
Contrary to 2015’s Nous sommes le feu (We Are the Fire), this new offering manages to create strong links to its themes because most of the songs are presented in the second-person singular. “They’re conversations, whether it’s with a friend, a lover, or even a stranger,” says Audet.” Each song is a dialogue.” Musically, we find ourselves navigating the calm waters of folk, yet with several additional musical layers added to her silky-smooth sound. “I wanted this to come across as vintage folk-rock, generally,” she says. “But I need my distorted electric-guitar songs, just as I need my guitar-voice-and-cello songs.”
The lyrics and mood of Comme une odeur de déclin might inspire concern for Audet. It certainly did so for writer Erika Soucy, who helped with the lyrics after being seized by Audet’s artistic outlook, very similar to her own. “We know each other well, but on a professional basis,” says Audet. “She has a very raw and sensitive kind of writing. It’s feminine and strong.” Audet wasn’t looking for complements, or add-ons, she was looking for validation, and a catalyst for good ideas.
“Just as with Ariane Moffatt’s production, I let people’s suggestions run free,” says Audet. “You can’t collaborate with someone and put road-blocks on their path at the same time. It’s like painting an artwork with four hands. You need to accept that the other person will paint their part,” she says, adding that through it all, she managed to remain true to her core. “It’s funny, because when I told people I was going to work with Ariane, everybody thought I was going to do an electro album,” she says. Instead, producer managed to rein it in without stripping it of its essence.
Moffatt was a natural choice for Audet’s when she decided she was going to work with a woman on this album. “The choice is indeed rooted in solidarity and awareness,” says Audet. “When I was thinking about a producer, only guys came to mind. And then I thought, wait, why not a woman? I’m always acting instinctively and, yes, at some point, there are some wake-up calls that need to happen.”
The critical acclaim is almost unanimous, and Audet isn’t worried about the absence of commercial radio support. “I do what I please, and commercial radio is very narrow,” she says. “I’ll never conform to that mould, and even if I wanted to, I just don’t get what the formula is,” she says with a laugh.
Audet’s art resides in keeping a balance – between musical genres, with other people, in her own life. “I have a family, so my life is not about writing songs until three in the morning on weeknights,” she says. “It mostly happens during the day, when I’m alone at home. I’m guided by concerns, troubles, hopes or sadness.”
Still, sometimes, inspiration strikes like lightning: “Léo is for Leonard Cohen,” she says. “I wrote it the day after he passed. Trump had just been elected, I was at home, and I didn’t know what to do. That song came out on its own. It allowed me to take a pause.”