Montréal producer and multi-instrumentalist Moses Belanger, who grew up in the house music tradition, explores new horizons on his debut album Fullum, which features collaborations with Claudia Bouvette, Marie-Pierre Arthur, Mantisse, and David Lee.

Moses Belanger “I totally come from the world of house music, I absolutely adore that genre. I love its groove, its rhythm, but I find it often lacks an emotional component,” says the 30-year-old composer.

He decided to seek out said emotional component by borrowing elements from jazz, hip-hop, soul and UK garage. “This album is a bit like my musical coming out,” he says. “I wanted to showcase what I can do, in terms of sonic composition.”

Although it had never materialized in a large-scale musical project like Fullum, this musical open-mindedness is part of the Belanger’s artistic DNA. Originally from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, on Montréal’s South Shore, Belanger became seriously interested in music in his mid-teens, while learning to play drums and classical guitar.

But urban dance became his first true passion, when he moved to Montréal about a decade ago. Belanger used to go to the now-defunct Bleury Vinyl Bar to participate in dance competitions.

Those competitions were often followed by open mic events for rappers. A whole new world opened up before the young artist’s eyes. “That’s where I met a guy from Toronto, a rapper called ELMNT, and he invited me back to his place for a beer,” says Belanger. “He had a home studio, and we started making beats just for fun. I’d always thought you needed a band to make music. I was convinced that beat-making software was out of reach, and only available in major studios. I had no clue it was that accessible.”

That evening was nothing short of an epiphany for Belanger,  who got into beat-making almost obsessively from that moment on. In 2015, he created house duo 99 Wolves alongside ELMNT, before moving on to solo productions. He then became half of another duo, alongside French rapper Eddy Woogy, for the 2019 EP Ke Za Ko. Throughout all this, Belanger perfected his craft by completing an audio training program at Trebas Institute ,and by taking private piano lessons with Luc Gilbert – best known for writing the theme song of the massively popular sit-com La Petite Vie. “I adamantly wanted to understand music, and know how to speak that language,” says Belanger. “I refused to be a slave to samples.”

This whole journey can be heard on Fullum, a sonically rich, loose album named after the street where he currently resides. One event tuned out to be particularly significant in the creation of the project: SOCAN’s Kenekt Studio song camp. The camp invites singer-songwriters and producers, most of them emerging, to collaborate in a studio for several days. “The camp happened at just the right time, which is to say right at the end of the album production,” says Belanger. “I felt like releasing it, and the song camp gave me the kick in the butt I needed.”

Moses Belanger, Coffee In The Morning

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Moses Belanger song “Coffee in the Morning”

Three of the 10 songs on Fullum – “Coffee in the Morning,” with David Lee and Marie-Pierre Arthur; “Rien,” with Claudia Bouvette and Mantisse; and “Préféré personnel,” with Super Plage and Hawa B – stem from the song camp, where guest artists write a song in a small team, and record it the same day. “It’s an unbelievable experience,” says Belanger. “The result is always interesting, when you’re challenged to create a song from scratch. All too often, when you’re in the studio on your own, things are loose, you don’t have a framework. But when you have a deadline [like at the song camp], there’s a bit of pressure, ensuring that everybody’s on the same wavelength.” Belanger continued collaborating with Marie-Pierre Arthur and rapper David Lee, among others, after the camp was over.

Beyond what the camp brought to Fullum’s production process, Belanger wanted the album to be one of musical encounters. Other featured artists include Moroccan singer Thaïs Sala, who can be heard on three songs; Montréal singer Papaflavor, also known as one half of Bet. E & Stef; and the DJ/producer and long-time collaborator, The Holy.

Only one song on this “solo” album features Belanger alone: “Si je mens, je meurs,” which is the first time he’s “on the mic.” “I’ve always been shy about using my voice,” he says. “I’ve worked with such incredible singers that I felt I was out of my depth. However, I decided to fix that when I realized I didn’t have a single truly solo song. I grabbed my microphone and hummed a melody.”

The lyrics took a while to find their final form. “It’s a highly personal text that tells the story of my journey in music,” he says. “Specifically, it’s about how music always came before everything else in my life: I didn’t have time for love, I turned down jobs… And I experienced quite a bit of solitude through it all,” he confides. “I really wanted those lyrics – because it’s my first solo song – to be deep and powerful.”

As far as we can, it was truly worth the effort.

After making a triumphant debut in 2018 with his JUNO- and Polaris Music Prize-winning album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, Jeremy Dutcher has expanded his artistic vision on his keenly-awaited second full-length, Motewolonuwok (released Oct. 6, 2023).

Jeremy Dutcher, Skicinuwihkuk

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Jeremy Dutcher song “Skicinuwihkuk”

“The record is on a much higher production level than the first record,” he says, just prior to appearing at a roots music festival in Denmark. “That one was so DIY. We were recording in people’s living rooms, and the strings were recorded in a classroom at McGill University. I used a string quartet of friends then, but for this one [co-producer] Owen Pallett made it a full orchestra. We had a couple of voices on the debut, and here it’s a full choir. We turned everything up a dial on Motewolonuwok.”

The core of the new record remains the classically-trained Dutcher’s fluent grand piano playing and rich tenor voice, and it also showcases his evolution as a songwriter. For Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, he crafted compositions based on archival recordings of traditional Maliseet songs and sung in his native Wolastoqey language. On Motewolonuwok, Dutcher includes original compositions, and sings in English for the first time.

“My world is one between English and Wolastoqey. On any album, you’re inviting people into your world and how you see it. Mine is bilingual, and I wanted to make a record like that. For my first record it was important for me that it was all not in English. It was pointing to my community, saying, ‘This is for you, my people,’” says Dutcher. “It then had this life outside, and won all these awards, and I realized people were hungry for knowledge about us. The switch to English now was about  directly communicating with the people that had gathered around the work, that I didn’t expect. Now that they’ve gathered, let’s tell them what’s what!”

The material on Motewolonuwok came together in hybrid fashion. “Some of the ones sung in Wolastoqey are traditional songs I’ve arranged with the band, while some of the English numbers are taken from Indigenous poetry by Qwo-Li Driskill that touched me, and others are straight from my heart,” Dutcher explains.

“Now that they’ve gathered, let’s tell them what’s what!”

As a proud Two-Spirit song carrier, activist, and member of Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), Dutcher has never been shy about expressing himself on the subject of the relationship between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and settler culture. This focus is a strong component of Motewolonuwok, as exemplified by Dutcher’s powerful original compositions, “The Land That Held Them” and “Ancestors Too Young.”

Jeremy Dutcher, Take My Hand

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Jeremy Dutcher song “Take My Hand”

“I just sat and wrote them in a free, stream-of-consciousness way, based on my own experience as a young Indigenous person, and this situation in which we find ourselves,” he says. “‘The Land That Held Them’ is a history lesson as much as a song. Each verse is a different vignette from the news. The first verse is Tina Fontaine, the second Colten Boushie, and the third is the starlight tours, referencing when the police in the prairies would pick up intoxicated Indigenous people in the streets and drive them out of town [and abandon them], sometimes in the middle of fuckin’ winter! It’s unacceptable that we live in a country that would do that.”

One new song with a fascinating back story is the lyrical ballad “Take My Hand,” a co-write with Basia Bulat. “That song is special, and came from a collaborative process over several years,” says Dutcher. “The original melody came from an elder, Maggie Paul, who was influential on my first record. It was only one verse, and she sang it for me in English, telling me, ‘Go sing the song for the people – young people are forgetting how to love each other.’ I didn’t consider myself a lyricist, so I sat on the song for a while.

“Then, on a songwriting session with Basia, I played it for her. She said, ‘Let me work on this a bit,’ and later she sent me a video of her singing the song, and seven verses of handwritten lyrics, for me to use however I wanted. To me, the song has such a beautiful message: ‘Take my hand and walk with me.’ Let’s have a discussion and walk together. I think this is the turning point, where we are walking together. Now we can talk!”


À boire deboutte is a collection of 11 songs written and recorded over a period of six weeks, at Studio B-12 in Valcourt, a town in Québec’s Eastern Townships. “Six weeks!” exclaims Éloi Painchaud, the ex-Okoumé member, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. “In and of itself, it’s any musician’s dream to have that much time to try all kinds of things and find the right word to say it.”


This follow-up to the band’s two previous albums, Live au Pas Perdus and Gin à l’eau salée, reconfirms the five Acadians’ passion for smiley, happy folk songs so often found in that corner of the continent.

“After five years as a band, we felt like sharpening our pencils, and having fun with words as much as with sounds,” says Painchaud. “The songs on Gin à l’eau salée that had the biggest impact on the audience were the ones we wrote ourselves. “Good Lord” was incredibly well received, so we just told ourselves, ‘Let’s dive in.’

“It’s fertile ground for me,” Painchaud continues. “I’ve spent the last 25 years as a producer, being a mirror for the artists I work with, and trying to illuminate their musical colours. I’ve become more measured, and I like giving others more space.”

Is he surprised by Salebarbes’ success? “No doubt,” he says. “Our audience is as important as we are. They’re the ones who take our band’s festive energy and return it just as powerfully. We’re like a community. Our crowds are vocal, vibrant, and dancing. What completely charmed us were the videos of enthusiasts line-dancing to ‘Good Lord.’ They even came up with their own choreography!”

There are two ex-Okoumé guys in the band: brothers Éloi and Jonathan, who were quite successful in the ’90s. “Jo and I have always had this writing discipline since our teens,” says Éloi. “We like to sit down in front of a piece of paper. We like the game of writing songs. I know how Jo thinks and vice versa. Just like hockey, we always come together on the rink. Everyone in the band contributes, and has an equal chance to score points,” he goes on.

Salebarbe, A boire deboutte

Select the image to play the Salebarbe YouTube video of À boire deboutte

“Salebarbes’ writing is like a mosaic,” says Painchaud. “We tip our hats to our friends in Louisiana and Acadie, and there’s a lot of humour in our songs, as well as a lot of friendship in this band. The glue that binds us together is the unbelievable amount of fun we have.”

Salebarbes’ website offers lyrics to the songs on all three albums, an added value that helps visitors understand the Acadian expressions and accents used, and the folklore associated with them. Take, for example, “Stirer la roux.” Éloi explains, “In any human relationship, if you let things stick to the bottom, it’ll get bitter. Take care of the people you love. In Louisiana, they say, ‘le roux.’ It’s the basis of many dishes, and it’s made with butter, flour, onions, and garlic. Stirer la roux means scraping the bottom of the pan.”

Band member Georges Belliveau is from Memramcook, as is his fellow Salebarber Menoncle Jason. “He’s got an accent as thick as a brick,” says Painchaud. “Jean-François has his Caraquet accent.”

“Up until I was fifteen, I had a very big Îles-de-la-Madeleine accent,” says Éloi, the son of Alcide Painchaud, who was a founding member and the leader of the Madelinois band Suroît – whose Bruce Daigrepont-written song “Disco fait dodo” is one that Salesbarbes often plays live.

Jean-François Breau, the one with the highest profile of the group, is perfectly happy as a member of Salebarbes. “He’s a pillar of the band,” Painchaud admits, “because he’s so enthusiastic, generous, and communicative in everything we do; he’s like a golden retriever who runs after all the balls that are thrown, with the same level of enthusiasm!”

The band just started touring the new album. “It’s a show you experience from both sides of the stage,” says Painchaud. “It’s a connection that’s almost a celebration. It’s jubilant; I don’t have a better word to describe it.”

At Montréal’s MTelus on Oct. 5, 2023