“When I let go of a key, there are wood chips all around, it’s almost like craftsmanship.” Patrice Michaud is not one of the most brilliant authors in the Quebec music industry for no reason. For more than ten years now, sculpting songs has been an art that this lover of literature and the French language has been refining with “a lot of trial-and-error and childishness”.
• Read also: Patrice Michaud becomes a space tourist
“For me, writing a song is not trivial. It’s a job, ”insists Patrice Michaud, who spoke with the Journal on the sidelines of the release of his new album, Great disorganized trip.
Very early in his career, when he won Granby, in 2009, and when his album was released The Bermuda Triangle, in 2011, we noticed: words are at the heart of the artistic approach of this artist from Cap-Chat, now 40 years old.
It is his trademark. Its bread and butter.
“This is my first love. I studied literature at Laval University in Quebec City, and I came to music through this door. ”
From his studies, he kept a keen sense of the formula. Of Canada Notebook To The great Escape, Passing by Kamikaze, General mechanics, or whatever title you prefer from his repertoire, each of his songs contains a little literary find.
They don’t fall from the sky. Patrice Michaud blackens leaves to find the effective sentence he likes.
Take the subtle reference to Elton John in the chorus of You are here, one of the excerpts from Great disorganized trip launched in recent months: “I want to buy myself a drone and film my trip on the yellow brick path.»
“I’ve wanted to place it for a long time, the yellow brick,” he laughs.
A, B, C et D
The hardest? Write the lyrics to a catchy pop melody. “The worst,” he admits.
“Songs like The great Escape Where You are here, it often requires considerable work to match the text with the mood of the music. I remember that for the verse of You are here [j’ai l’âge de bronze, l’âge du bronzage, pas toujours eu la tête au-dessus du cou depuis l’invention de la roue], I had sentences A, B, C, D. I swapped, I tacked one of them. Strangely, it’s one of the less verbose songs on the album, but it’s one where I have the most alternate versions of the lyrics. ”
Conversely, the key phrase of a song with a more complex musical structure such as A heart of a blue whale, «cking your fingers, make a wish that our hands smell of fire», Is the result of a flash of genius.
“Our hands smell of fire, it came pretty quickly. When that happens, I trip my life, but there are more saws than lightning bolts of genius, ”he points out.
“Singing in French, a political gesture”
Even if he does not directly address the subject in his songs, Patrice Michaud is a fervent defender of the French language.
In his eyes, singing in French in Quebec, in 2021, is a clear and clear position.
“I’m not very politicized, you can hear it. I follow it a lot more in my everyday life than in my creations, but you have probably noticed that there is not a great chorus in English in what I do. My artistic approach is in French, it puts this language forward, it makes it ring from all sides, all sides. In itself, that, in Quebec, is a political gesture. ”
He considers himself lucky to be able to “make records in French, to be broadcast, to be able to [se] defend in spectacle, that people come to see us ”.
“Obviously,” he continues, “being broadcast in French on radio and on TV is a daily struggle. It’s necessary to be vigilant. We will not hide that the entertainment dollar speaks in English ”.
Heroes from here
Moreover, when he is asked to name the names of his heroes, he makes a point of naming local artists who sing in French. Greats like Dédé Fortin, Richard Séguin, Mara Tremblay, Richard Desjardins.
“Desjardins is perhaps the guy who first made me realize that in a performance, between songs, there is still a space to create, a space to make something beautiful, which has always happened to me. inclined to work on my relationship with the public, to make sure that these moments are not wasted breaks. ”
For ten years, Patrice Michaud has held high the torch of French that his illustrious predecessors have handed him. Count on him to keep the flame alive and pass it on to another generation.
► Great disorganized trip, on sale now.
► In concert at MTelus in Montreal, November 16 and 17. For all dates, consult the website patricemichaud.ca.
Star Academy: “I was due to shake myself off”
«Star Academy confirmed to me that taking professional risks does not kill anyone. ”
Patrice Michaud only retains the positive from his first experience hosting a television show.
“I was due to shake myself up a bit. All the stars were aligned so that I could try this. If there is no pandemic, my album comes out faster and the tour as well, do I have the mental space to do it? I do not know.”
Will there be a follow-up?
“I have realized that with experience and being well led, this is something that I can do with pleasure. Did that prompt me to test the waters on radio or TV? No. Have I had any offers? Yes. In the more or less near future, would I like to do it again if the idea is good? Why not.”
Great disorganized trip
Words and music: Patrice Michaud with the collaboration of Julyan (1977, OK maman, Origami), Mélanie Noël (OK Mom)
- 2014 : Folk Year Album (The fire of every day) at the ADISQ Gala
- 2014 : SOCAN Song Award (General mechanics)
His other albums
- 2011 : The Bermuda Triangles
- 2014 : The fire of every dayr
- 2017 : Almanac
follow the guide
How to find your way back in the Great disorganized trip developed by Patrice Michaud? Who better than its creator to serve as a guide. Here are 8 of the 11 stops on this musical journey in the words of the Gaspé artist.
«I wanted to have a musical direction focused on the 1970s, and 1977 is a date where two major events will have influenced the writing of several songs on the album. First, sending Voyager 1 and 2 probes into space. It’s an event that has haunted me over the last few months, because it’s crazy to send an ultimate bottle into the sea for someone, somewhere, to pick it up. Then, four days after they were sent, my parents were getting married, which would produce an event that was quite difficult for my music to circumvent: my birth. For me, these two things have never stopped mixing and it’s all in the song. “
You are here
«It’s a lucid attempt to look at yourself in the mirror and I take myself as an example. I put all the faults of modern humanity, which are often mine, accompanied by very rock music, Bruce Springsteen, with monstrous strings. “
«It refers to an object contained in the Voyager 1 probe, which is a testament to who we are for a potential recipient and on which there is music. The song is the story of a guy who goes unnoticed, but has everything to offer. He too wants to engrave his name on the Golden Record and toss that out into the universe to make it resonate with someone else. ”
A heart of a blue whale
«Despite my origins, I have never abused references to the sea. Basically, it is a tribute to the beautiful book The heart blue whale, by Jacques Poulin. It’s a song about the pangs of loneliness. She is the sister of Golden Record, but in a deeper fashion. “
I love you when i lie
«It’s one of the first songs in the project and it has morphed a few times. Antoine Gratton signs string arrangements that I find really beautiful. I’m talking about the fact that we sometimes lie so as not to hurt someone. ”
The great Escape
«It’s part of what I call effective songs on an album. She’s the one with the most knives between her teeth, she wants to defy all the prohibitions. It’s short, like in the sixties. I wanted it like a slap in the face. I listened to the Strokes album a lot while I gossais this song.”
«I went to do a benefit show in Richard Séguin’s village. There was an exhibition of photos and poetry, I came across a sentence that said: “Die after me, please”. I couldn’t get over it, it haunted me for weeks. I found the woman who wrote it, Mélanie Noël, a poet from Sherbrooke, and I told her that I wanted to build a song around this phrase. ”
«I challenged myself to write a song about friendship, which is not a subject that we dwell on so often. There are 300 love songs for one about friendship. I asked my friend Julien Chiasson, who collaborated with me for a few songs, and it came to me with a piano melody of great simplicity and also of great clarity. “