Bell Centre, May 9, 2003. Two-thirds of the way through a Ginette Reno concert, Jean-Pierre Ferland steps on stage to duet with the evening’s star on “Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin” (“A little higher, a little further”). The concert was part of a series that celebrated Reno’s decades-spanning (‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s) career and hits, and Ferland’s appearance took on the air of a major event in and of itself.

As I sat in seat 5, row M of section 123, I thought to myself that the surprise guest could also show up during the next night’s concert, where her hits of the ‘70s would be performed. It is, after all, during that decade that the singer made Ferland’s classic song hers. But there was no chronological mistake, since the song was indeed written in the sixties.

The song, a true monument in the “Chanson Québécoise” catalog, has, it turns out, quite an uncommon story. It’s a song that was a hit twice, with two different titles, and many, many singers, and its very meaning has evolved with time.

“I wanted this song to be an anthem for hope. A song is the reflection of the songwriter’s mood.”

How does a homegrown hit come to be? Sometimes, they’re born on foreign soil. “It was composed and written in a small hotel room in Paris’ eighth arrondissement,” Ferland recalls.

Jean-Pierre FerlandBack in 1969, the singer-songwriter was signed with Barclay Records. “Un peu plus loin” was its original title. It would become the title song of the upcoming 1969 album, which also contained “Les femmes de 30 ans” and “Qu’êtes-vous devenues?

It would also be featured on the greatest hits compilation launched three years later – Les grands succès Barclay de Jean-Pierre Ferland – but it wasn’t released as a 45 rpm single, and was overshadowed by Ferland’s other hits at the time. “Je reviens chez nous,” the 45 launched in June of 1968, became a huge hit and his signature song. Then came the album Jaune, in December 1970, which firmly established Ferland’s output in the ‘70s.

The artist, however, has a different explanation for the the lack of initial success for “Un peu plus loin.”

“The song didn’t get to have much of a solo career,” he says. “When I first recorded it, it was with a large orchestra. But that didn’t work. When we started singing it in a more pop, and sometimes even rock, way – after re-recording it in 1972 – that’s when people started noticing it.”

In the meantime, it had also found its way onstage. Renée Claude, who’d been singing Ferland’s songs since 1962’s “Feuille de gui,” frequently sang “Un peu plus loin” during her shows. But the song’s true renaissance would come during the 1975 St. Jean-Baptiste Day (Quebec’s “National Holiday”) celebrations in Montreal.

On June 24th – which also happens to be Ferland’s birthday – of that year, he was the star of a free concert on Mount Royal that also featured Ginette Reno, Renée Claude, Emmanuelle, and many more.

“Ginette was just back from her foray in the U.S.,” remembers Ferland, who the previous year had recorded the duet “T’es mon amour, t’es ma maîtresse” with her. “She felt like her trip was somewhat of a failure. She’s the one who asked to sing “Un peu plus loin.” She thought it was ‘a good song for (her) comeback.’ I asked Renée Claude if she minded letting Ginette sing it. Renée was incredibly generous to agree and the rest, as they say, is history.”

The rest, in this case, is a mythical interpretation of “Un peu plus loin” by Ginette Reno in front of hundreds of thousands of people. That night’s rendition became epochal, and is still flabbergasting to this day.

That is also the exact moment where Ferland’s song took on a whole different meaning, where it transformed into something else in the collective mind. What was, at first, a song about broken love, became a whole people’s anthem for hope and emancipation in a tense political context.

“Contrary to popular belief, it was a song about breaking up,” confirms Ferland. “I’d just lived through a painful breakup and it was my own personal way of finding solace. But I also didn’t want it to be overly sad. I wanted it to feel like a hymn to hope. One story ends and you move on. A song is the reflection of the songwriter’s mood. Yet, a song can have several layers of meaning: revolutionary song, love song, dream song…”

Ironically, Ferland never thought “Un peu plus loin” would become a hit, but that was before he sang it alongside stellar signers such as Reno, Mireille Mathieu and Céline Dion.

“I never thought it could become a hit. No more than ‘Le petit roi,’ for that matter. But I knew all along, however, that ‘Je reviens chez nous’ would be a huge hit.”

Nowadays, the song is known as « Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin. » It’s been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Goes to show a song can, through time and popular recognition, not only become a major pop song but even change titles.


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You may not have heard of SayWeCanFly (aka 20 year old Braden Barrie) but trust us…there are a lot of people who have.

The essence of the do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic, he began recording his brand of emo-influenced singer-songwriter anthems and shooting his own videos from his home in Lindsey, Ontario, and soon began amassing a large, dedicated online following.

Now he has more reach on social media than most established artists, with hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and YouTube views, and more than half a million likes on Facebook.

“It’s been so amazing spending so many years connecting with people all around the world through social media,” says Barrie. “But now it’s time to put myself out there and reach them face to face.”

He’s been touring steadily around Canada and U.S. for the last two years, joining the Vans Warped Tour in 2015. His debut album, Between the Roses, comes out this winter.


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In 2014, trade publication Playback placed Todor Kobakov on their New Establishment Top Five in Canadian film. The acclaimed film composer, keyboardist, string arranger and producer has since justified the tag with his prolific and high-quality work. The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) premiered four films scored by Tobakov: Bruce McDonald’s Hellions (co-composed with Ian LeFeuvre), Stephen Dunn’s Closet Monster (with Maya Postepski), Robert Budreau’s Born To Be Blue (with co-composers David Braid and Steve London), and Andrew Currie’s The Steps (LeFeuvre again).

Prominent earlier films Kobakov has scored include the infamous Young People Fucking and Bruce McDonald’s The Husband, and he’s been the only composer used on the two seasons of hit Space TV series Bitten.

“Every project is different. It keeps my life interesting.”

The film bug hit the Bulgarian-born, University of Toronto-educated Kobakov early, he explains. “My mom worked in television all my life [as a music programmer] so I grew up on the set with her, around cameras and editing suites,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to work in film but it takes awhile to have those opportunities. It requires a little more maturity and experience to get into film, and I followed some different musical avenues.”

Kobakov has long worked as a keyboardist, string arranger and producer for such major Canadian artists as Metric, Stars, Dan Mangan, Emily Haines, k-os, and Luke Doucet. “That experience has been invaluable,” he says. “For example, on season two of Bitten, I used a real string quartet for each episode. Having done so many string arrangements for pop artists, that was an easy transition. In the pop world, you’re working on projects that may not have your own songs, but you’re trying to complement them as much as possible. Being a producer or arranger is very much like being a composer, [because] film is very much a team effort.”

Film suits his eclectic tastes, he says: “Every project is different. It keeps my life interesting, and I always try to inject some of my own thing into everything I do.” Career advice he treasures came from Robert Messinger, the agent for Mychael Danna, Kobakov’s mentor at The Canadian Film Centre. “He told me, ‘Make sure you’re known for the work you do, and do movies that reflect your musical voice, rather than just as the guy who does everything. Make sure you’re cast in the movie, as opposed to being hired in the movie.’”

TRACK RECORD:

  • In 2006, Kobakov and acclaimed singer-songwriter Lindy Vopnfjörd formed indie rockers Major Maker and notched a 2007 Top 40 radio hit with the song “Rollercoaster,” which was then licensed for a TV ad campaign. Kobakov is now producing the new Lindy album.
  • In 2013, Kobakov was part of the inaugural Canadian Film Centre Slaight Family Music Lab composer residency, an experience he calls “life-changing.” He met Bruce McDonald there, and nine months later he and Ian LeFeuvre were scoring The Husband.
  • Kobakov released an acclaimed piano album, Pop Music, in 2009. He was once named Toronto’s Best Keyboardist by NOW

FYI
Publisher: N/A
Selected Filmography: Young People Fucking (2007), The Husband (2013), Bitten (TV series, 2014-2015), Hellions (2015), Born To Be Blue (2015)
Member since 1999
Visit http://todor.ca/


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