Serge Fiori is smiling and relaxed. Sitting in a comfortable chair in his Longueuil home, he talks about topics ranging from his Harmonium and Fiori-Séguin days to his 1986 début solo album, through the creation of the famous Just For Laughs music theme and his contribution to Nanette Workman’s Changement d’adresse album. But there’s one recurring theme – his new self-titled album. Fiori is quite proud of that one, and it shows.
“I was not interested in making more albums. I was totally absorbed with the film music I was writing. I enjoyed myself tremendously, and thought I would be doing that for the rest of my life. After scoring Luc Picard’s Babine, I talked with Normand Corbeil, with whom I was planning to develop a new film music project, but he left us before he and I had time to settle down to work. What a loss,” Fiori says sadly.
Fiori’s new project started materializing when Pierre Lachance, his producer, introduced him to singer-songwriter-producer Marc Pérusse (Luc De Larochellière, Daniel Boucher), and they instantly got along. “This album is the direct result of our meeting. Half of it is Marc, and half of it is me. Our sounds harmonize. And there is more to come. We’re planning to continue making music together,” Fiori, a great fan of Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan, promises.
Performed in the same bluesy voice (“Demandé” [“Asked”], “Zéro à dix” [“Zero to Ten”]) and on the 12-string guitar that made him a household name four decades ago, Fiori’s first album in 28 years is a sophisticated collection of aerial Fiori/Pérusse string-brass arrangements including super catchy melodies such as “Seule” (“Alone”) and nods to Harmonium (in the L’Heptade-like guitar riffs and the contribution of former band member Monique Fauteux to “Jamais” [“Never”]). While Fiori found no interest in listening to his previous recordings in the past, things are different with this album’s 11 titles. “It’s the first time this is happening,” he says. “It’s strange, I have the feeling this is an album made by someone other than me. It feels like the result of an out-of-body experience. It comforts and cuddles me. And this has nothing to do with ego. I have nothing to defend or prove. I listen to it simply because it’s a blast. It’s just an album, but it’s alive!”
“I have no control over my creative channel. It’s frustrating. When it opens up, it’s torrential. In the meantime, I just get ready. And wait.”
Alive, and thematically contemporary too: a song like “Le monde est virtuel” (“The World is Virtual”) could not have been written in Harmonium days. “Over the past four years, on Facebook, I’ve tried to coin phrases that many people could identify with. Some very distressed have been writing to me. They are so lonely. This is where that song came from,” Fiori believes.
Written over just ten days (“one song a day”), the new collection is the result of a concentrated output not unlike the creative bursts Fiori had experienced in the past: “The channel opens up,” he explains, “and here we go again. It can last for any given period of time, and I write everything at once – words and music. I still don’t understand how this really works. I am always shocked when it happens. I couldn’t write a tune the way a craftsperson does. Instead, this energy comes over me. I have no choice – I’ve got to work that way. I’m also aware that my approach must be honest. I can’t censor myself or target an audience. I have no control over my creative channel. It’s frustrating. When it opens up, it’s torrential. In the meantime, I just get ready. And wait.”
What is Fiori’s take on today’s music industry? “There’s so much talent, yet no consumers. I my early days, things were raw. We created our own industry by going against the flow. The difference was that we had followers. Today, no matter what you do, people aren’t interested. It’s become a singles market. Worse still, the new generation is wont to neglect our musical roots. Way back when, I used to buy a record, sit down, open a bottle of wine, stick my head between the speakers, and groove. I don’t see people doing that today.”
Asked about his future projects, a weary looking Fiori smiles, and insists that what he needs right now is some rest. “As soon as the process was over, I collapsed. I hadn’t realized how much this was taking from me. This album caught me by surprise, and I’m not sure where I’m going to go from here. I take it a day at a time. I know is that I’d like to try something new – a visual show, a 3D show, something with Cirque du Soleil… I think I’m done with film music. I’m ready to take on a new challenge. If it works out, fine. If not, let this last recording be my singing off, my final word.”
Those hoping to catch a live Fiori show will be glad to hear that he’s seriously considering recording his current album’s songs on DVD in an intimate venue. “I’m looking into lots of ideas right now. I would like something with specific moods. I’m looking forward to performing again. I miss that. And I would like to work with a fantastic band. I want us to indulge!” So, no doubt, do his fans.