Drop the Ego, Make Some Art

It’s taken a lot of work and frustration to get my new album to sound how it should.  Sometimes, all it takes is removing an instrument, re-recording a phrase or adding a tiny detail.  But knowing what to alter is the hardest part.  I can get stuck in a cycle of adding more and more layers, but sometimes less is more.

We recorded most of the album back in April, went on tour in May, and spent June and July editing, re-recording, re-thinking the album. For a while, I thought the album was absolute turd. But the list of details, clean-ups and re-takes is getting smaller and I can hear the songs as they’re supposed to sound and I am so happy! It’s turning out to be dancey, fun, serious and silly and I can’t wait for people to hear it!

I remember recording the last album and mentally telling my future-self “this is hard! But don’t give up, just push through it!”

The one important thing I’ve learned while making this new album is: “drop the ego.” I’ve noticed that I have a notion of who I am and it fits into a me-shaped-mould.  But I have to break out of that conception of myself to do what the song calls for.
-That’s too rough / too sexy / too weak a thing for me to say.
-Just drop the fucking ego, get into the song, perform it, record it!

Self-doubt, comparing oneself to other artists, being over-sensitive to friends’ criticisms, are all part of my ego.

Today, I’m proud to say that we’ve made lots of progress and I feel grateful for the album being almost finished!!!!

The release is set for October. (The exact date will be announced soon.)

Now we’re driving off to the Maritimes (road trip with MY MOM!) to take part in Action Week and Messtival! Woohoo!

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Sex, Drugs & Hip Hop: Last One

The soundman snorted lines of white powder off the mixing console. The show was being promoted as the venue’s last live show, because of too many noise complaints and visits from the Polizei.

The club owners were like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jekyll would walk by smiling and say “Have anything you like, I’m here to help,” Hyde would walk by yelling at us for any number of reasons, like having someone on the guestlist, or trying to start the show too early. (And they were never in the same room at the same time…SUSPICIOUS!)
We didn’t perform until 2am because Hyde kept telling us to wait.

I was performing with SPT and the venue was full. SPT and I used to perform together for many years. He lives in Berlin and has gone viral (which I’m totally not jealous about…) You may know of him from the SHITs FUCKed video.
The performances ended as the sky lit up neon blue. The crowd was wonderful and the atmosphere of the venue was Berlin-esque, with concrete walls, found art and eccentric individuals.
We had agreed upon a 75/25 door money split, but when the time came to get paid, Hyde tried to convince us to take a 60/40 split! What the Hell?!
Thankfully, SPT did not agree to get hoodwinked and Hyde gave us our 75%.

The next day, Robert and I went to soundcheck at Gelegenheiten, which is run by an enthusiastic, smiling, happy collective (what a difference a day makes!)
The night was incredible! It was a Cyborg party, so I performed to a room packed with costumed Berliners. Terminators, tin-foil hats, people painted silver with red contact lenses and someone with a 6 million dollar price tag…(Get it?)  Robert did amazing visual projections for my set.
The party was wild and very loud, but since it was the venue’s main party (held but once a year) they informed their neighbours well in advance…But that didn’t stop the police from showing up in the wee hours.

The next day we recovered by going to see Mad Max and having beers in the park with Robert’s old roomies.
We got up early to catch a plane to Paris and take in as much as we could in one day. It’s such a beautiful city full of people too busy to enjoy it. We went to Montmartre, Notre-Dame and a bar with my friend Laurent.
Then we took a train to Toulouse and caught our plane back home to Montreal. Another tour over, with a bucket-full of new memories.

Thank you to all the bookers, sound people, crash spots, audiences and friends for making this tour the most beautiful, gritty adventure I could ever dream of!

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Sex, Drugs & Hip Hop: Berlin

Transportation can be very cheap in Germany.  On the weekends, one can take the ‘Schönes Wochenende’ ticket (translates to ‘Beautiful Weekend’) to anywhere in Germany.  The ticket is 44 euros and up to 5 people can ride on one ticket BUT you can only take local transport.  We started in Antwerp and only 7 transfers and 14 hours later, we were in Berlin!

500ml of beer = $0.60.  Cheaper than water and just as plentiful.

We hung out by remnants of the old Berlin wall by the spree, drinking beers with Tim and trying to come up with a name for his solo project.  (‘The Anxious Anus’ and ‘Gooch Parachute’ were amongst the forerunners.)

The next day, Tim and I played a secret show at a new venue in Wedding.  Tim played first, followed by me; our shows went really well.  The crowd was great and the sound wasn’t bad.  Then SPT went onstage, but before he could finish his set, the police were called and he had to end his set mid-song.  LEX, the British hip hop headliner didn’t even get to set foot onstage.  We were all pretty bummed about not getting to see LEX perform, but had to heed the strict Berlin sound laws, which forbade loud music after 10pm.

Robert and I met in Berlin, so we felt right at home staying at his old room-mates’ place.  We did laundry! We showered!  We slept really well!  I played ping pong for the first time ever against Simon and Jo who are seasoned professionals, and I kicked their asses!! (Well, I won once out of thirty matches…)

1 Berlin show down, 2 more to go…

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Sex, Drugs and Hip Hop: Tour Diary Part V

Robert’s sense of direction is quite impeccable, without it, I’d be lost. One forgets to prepare for getting lost. Not Robert though. We got on the wrong tram at the Antwerp train station, the most beautiful train station I’ve ever seen. But we still made it to the venue with time to spare.
De Audio Plant is an old, multi-storey carpentry workshop converted into art studios, bars and venues. It’s really cool.
Warra showed us around. He renovated the spaces to look like they’ve been around forever, with old, used tiles he found online, wooden panels stained chestnut brown and bars made of doors. I met an old friend Kay. She showed us the silk-screening studio and books she bound and printed with her students.
De Audio Plant offers a vegan dinner to the public, and I was the after-dinner entertainment.
Warra set up microphones around the stage to record the show. The sound was impeccable, with high-quality speakers hand-made by a friend of the venue.
A corner of the huge attic was quartered off by felt blankets, making a cozy room for us to sleep in.
We rose early for a long train-ride to Berlin… (14 hours)
Instant coffee, appelsap, brood and ham.

Note: I will be performing at Parc Fringe, Pop Showcase!
Saturday, June 20th
7pm
Parc des Amériques (Corner Rachel & St. Laurent)
FREE

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Sex, Drugs and Hip Hop: Tour Diary Part IV

Mons’ train station has massive concrete steps that lead to nowhere and look like they were made for giants with invisible houses.  We walked down streets with red brick walls that reminded Robert of England.

Miss Év lives in a 4-storey slim and beautiful house with a crazy chien named Justin, two cats that hate him and one fish that doesn’t care.

She made us quiche.

We walked to Bateau Ivres, a tall building that usually houses heavy music.  The soundcheck was… well… interesting.  My instruments sounded so different, I couldn’t recognize them.  The board must’ve been e.q.ed for metal / punk bands and the soundman couldn’t picture how my music should sound like.  The “ping!” on my keyboard sounded like a PRRAHH!” and he couldn’t do a thing about it.  All well, the show must go on.

Feeling down, I left the venue for French fries and cola.  The venue began to fill. Two friends came all the way from Brussels to see the show.  I got really nervous.  The venue was full to the brim, I put on a brave face and went onstage.

I played my set as best I could, feeling defeated on the inside but smiling on the outside.  The crowd slowly got into the music and my fears and sadness subsided.  They all managed to come together for a group hug.  Maybe they were noise-metal fans and liked the way my music sounded?

After the show, many people congratulated me and complimented my performance, which made me very happy. I talked to an inspiring organic farmer who left his job and the city to live off the land.  I joked with a charming guy who was high on acid, we acted like robots.  The booker gave us samples of several fine Belgian beers and we spent the night tasting all of them.

The next day, Miss Év took us on a tour on Mons.  Nude people painted in different colours wandered the city and seemed to follow us as we walked about.

A metal monkey you touch for good luck, waffles, crepes, the cathedral, a look-out with a view of rooftops and smokestacks, a beer cocktail, La Chouffe beer on a terrasse.

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Sex, Drugs and Hip Hop: Tour Diary Part III

Gent is one of my favouritest cities ever in the whole world. We had a day off, so I decided to take Robert there. After flying to Brussels, we boarded a train to Gent, to commence what should’ve been a 1 hour journey. The train stopped and an announcement crunched over the speakers:
“Technical difficulties, please leave the train and go to platform three,”
Everybody got off the train and got on the one waiting at platform three. After everyone took their seats, another announcement came on:
“Looks like the technical issues have been resolved, so you can go back to the train on platform one. Don’t worry, the train will wait for you.”
So women scooped up their babies and elderly people eased off the train with their walkers and headed back towards platform one.
As we walked up the stairs to platform one, the train left!
It just. Fuckin. Left.
“Godverdomme!” I heard people exclaim. (“Goddammit!” in Flemish.)
So everyone started to trek back (again) to the train on platform three. Robert and I boarded the train, but some people (like those mothers and elderly people I described) took a little longer to get to the train.
Then the train STARTED TO MOVE LEAVING HALF THE PASSENGERS BEHIND!
“This is not fair!” one passenger exclaimed to the conductor, “Those poor people!”
And I faintly heard an announcement over the loud speaker that resembled something like “SUCKERRRRRRRS!!”

So, with all the kerfuffle, it ended up taking us 4 hours instead of 1 to get to Gent.
But no matter, it was worth it.
There’s a castle in the centre of Gent, a canal, medieval architecture, tiny doors for our tiny ancestors and lots of photo ops. We happily walked around the city in awe.

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Sex, Drugs and Hip Hop: Tour Diary Part II

We walked along a street shouldered by sex and döner shops.  We stopped to drink cafés in cups the size of thimbles.  We entered Le Fiacre, a legendary venue and met the three members of Met.H.ode, the trip hop band and Miss Rock the booker, a girl who likes to party, works very hard and has a big heart.

Carrot quiche, salad, local wine, conversations about French hip hop and La Haine…

The sound was wonderful, the crowd was really fun and after the show, we all went back to Miss Rock’s house.

We drank bottle after bottle of vodka, ordered from a delivery service and the night faded into day.  The sun was shining and we were still drinking.   It was 10am and the room was spinning.  I upchucked once….twice….thrice and went to sleep.

We got up in time for dinner at La Taupinière with Miss Rock and her boyfriend.  We ate duck hearts for the first time (which give one magical duck powers) and glass after glass after glass of Irish coffee.  We got hyper.  We got silly.

We went to a concert, then to a bar to meet more of Miss Rock’s friends.  But when someone decided to order delivery vodka, I had to call it a night.  I couldn’t look the bottle in the eye without getting queasy.  So I distracted myself by cuddling Miss Rock’s pet rat, Chat.

After 3 nights of no sleep, we wandered Bordeaux looking (and smelling) like zombies.

Le mirroir, chocolatines, les jardins botaniques, deux petits cafés…

We met more of Miss Rock’s friends, drank beer but forced ourselves to leave before the night blurred away.

That’s when we walked through a closet and into Narnia… our couchsurfing host’s house.  An immense, white stone staircase, a grand piano, grilled duck thighs, strawberries, whipped cream, cheeses, almond cakes and, bien sûr, wine.

Sleep. Shower.  And a gracious lift to the airport.  On to the next shows in Belgium.