Right from the start, Patrick Lavoie dove into music with urgency and versatility. Those qualities drive his entire career as a multi-instrumentalist whose love for all musical genres knows no bounds. Animated by a desire to write songs – and throughout his university degree in classical cello – Lavoie was looking for a vocation. “It rapidly became about earning a living through my music,” he says. “I even busked in the metro. I wanted my income to stem from that passion, not even from teaching music. If that didn’t pan out, I was going to abandon the idea and study biology.”
Thanks to his friendship with screen director Yves Christian Fournier, Lavoie was able to delve in composing music for TV ads during the first decade of the 2000s. That’s when he realized how much joy he derived from composing music. “The toughest contracts are the first ones,” he says. “In that domain, no on asks about your diploma. They want to hear what you’ve done before. I can’t even count the number of demos I produced during that period.”
A special work relationship began to develop between the composer and director. Early on, Fournier picked up the habit of sharing his thoughts and desires concerning each of the projects he’s working on. Lavoie decided to create temporary demos ahead of Fournier’s shootings. “Music is a big source of inspiration for him. It opens the way,” says Lavoie. Such was the case for the feature film Tout est parfait, in 2008, and for the 2015 TV series Blue Moon – during which Fournier juggled 37 different temporary soundtracks throughout the shoot. The movie adventure carried on with Fournier for Noir (2015) as well as with director Martin Talbot on Henri Henri (2014), a soundtrack that earned Lavoie a nomination at the Canadian Screens Awards.
Nowadays, Lavoie also scores the music for TV series such as Feux (directed by Claude Desroriser) and the aforementioned Blue Moon. It’s a demanding mandate that requires the composer to be highly organized. Well aware of the value of time, Lavoie has stuck to his method of composing based on the script, even before seeing the first few episodes. This head-start, he believes, gives him more efficiency and more sensitivity when he delivers the final product.
“Time is of the essence with series,” he says. “It takes me a week to compose for a 52-minute episode. That’s a total of 30 minutes of music per episode. One needs to be super-organized and methodical to achieve quality in such a short time. If I haven’t finished composing by noon, I know I’m going to run out of time to produce that music over the course of that day.” Every morning, Lavoie enters his home studio with a tight, efficient work plan. For Blue Moon, he came up with an ambitious, string-based orchestral score that requires him to record up to 50 instrumental tracks on his own. And not a second goes by where efficiency doesn’t also include emotion and beauty.
As for Feux, he began composing without knowing what the conclusion of the series would be. This time, the composer didn’t want the the main musical themes to be tainted by the psychological thriller’s ending. Instead, to guide him, he relied on a very fine understanding of the characters’ psychology. Lavoie is the first to admit that a series like that, which forces us to look at our own dark inner workings, is quite demanding for him. “The music for Feux came easily, but it was very hard on a personal level,” he says. “I was exhausted at the end of each day. I was going through so many emotions… A soundtrack that works is a soundtrack that carries strong emotions. And to achieve that, I had to live every moment of it, from composition to delivery. Music doesn’t deceive. You need to be true, because it’s the language of emotion.”
One thing is undeniable for Lavoie: Music expresses our emotions without a single word. And to achieve this, music uses the composer, their life and their emotions as the path to its true nature.