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mardi 28 juillet 2009

Karkwa is a new kind of Québécois group

On the eve of Les FrancoFolies – a festival encompassing 60 indoor concerts and 175 free outdoor shows, which opens on Thursday and runs until Aug. 9 – we examine four careers that reflect these changes, putting their current creativity in context: progressive rock group Karkwa, breaking out in Europe; the polyvalent young prince of Québécois pop-rock, Pierre Lapointe, in between grand projects; Biz, of indépendantiste rap stars Loco Locass, headlining a large free outdoor survey of francophone hip-hop, with a long-awaited album due this fall; and, finally, the grand dame of French song, Juliette Gréco, in the most intimate of swan songs.

Karkwa is a new kind of Québécois group, identifiably from here yet global in scope, with echoes of Radiohead and Sigur Rós. Their association with Patrick Watson (who built a strong francophone following locally) brought this cultural cross-fertilization home, consecrated by the two bands combining as Karkwatson at Le National last year. On the morning before leaving for a third European tour this year, singer-guitarist-composer Louis-Jean Cormier and keyboardist-composer François Lafontaine arrived early at the bistro of Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, eager to talk on a variety musical matters – befitting a popular group that’s riding its bestselling third album Le volume du vent, and pursuing opportunities for exposure outside Quebec.

“We’re beginning to get more comfortable over there,” Cormier says. “We were very surprised by the reaction of les British and the Flemish side of Belgium, who understand nothing of French. All this makes us want to go further, maybe play places in Scandinavia, because I think our music is a little bit everywhere, no matter what the language is. In France, there’s a buzz around indie music from Montreal, a certain curiosity created by groups like Malajube and Arcade Fire.”

The so-called French snobism towards other francophone musical acts might be exaggerated, says Lafontaine, because “while they’re super-analytical, they are not necessarily responsive toward a new band. But once they discover something they like from Quebec, as was the case with Les Cowboys Fringants (whom Karkwa opened for), there’s a network of fanatics. The fans of Les Cowboys are fans of Quebec. These days, we’re attracting audiences that know our music, who sing along to our songs.”

Cormier says the first wave of Québécois singers to have success in France – “chanteurs de variétés” with big voices, like Céline Dion, Isabelle Boulay, Garou – created a certain image of Quebec music that needed to be broken. “Maybe that works to our advantage, as we’re seen as a breath of fresh air from the new wave of Montreal rock. We’ve arrived at a good time.”

This year also has seen Cormier and Lafontaine taking on side projects, such as the production of the much-praised debut album by singer Marie-Pierre Arthur (Lafontaine’s girlfriend) and an homage album to no-nonsense lyric poet Gaston Miron, titled 12 Hommes Rapaillés, which has sold close to 30,000 copies (multiply Quebec sales figures by 40 to get an idea of equivalent potential U.S. sales). A stage version of the album – which includes Cormier, Gilles Bélanger (who set the lyrics to music), Jim Corcoran, Michel Rivard, Richard Séguin, Daniel Lavoie, Martin Léon, Yann Perreau, Plume, Michel Faubert, Pierre Flynn and Vincent Vallières – will be presented on this year’s Francos closing night.

Says Cormier: “My goal on 12 Hommes was to avoid at all costs something like a ‘pizza all-dressed.’ Despite the different styles of the artists, there’s a direct line that runs through all these performances, and that is Miron.” (...)

Karkwa performs at Les FrancoFolies de Montreal at Metropolis on Aug. 7 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $24.50. 12 Hommes Rapaillés, a tribute to poet Gaston Miron, will be staged at Théâtre Maisonneuve on Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50, $44.50 and $49.50.

Extract from "FrancoFolies: Turning point for chanson" by Juan Rodriguez, Special to The GazetteJuly 24, 2009

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Messages les plus consultés

"[Karkwa] qu'on en dise" le cap des 40 000 visiteurs a été dépassé le 21 juin 2011 alors que Karkwa performer à Paris pour le cinquantième anniversaire de la délégation générale du Québec à Paris.

Je remercie tous ceux qui ont trouvé,
depuis avril 2008, intérêt à visiter ces pages dédiées à mes amis de Karkwa et aux musicien(ne)s et musiques qui leur sont proches.

Rendez-vous est pris pour le 50000 éme visiteur ! :-)

Avertissement: Ce blog à pour but de regrouper et archiver les articles parus sur le net à propos de Karkwa. Il est fait par amitié pour les membres du groupe et leur entourage. Les liens vers les sites et articles d'origine sont faits, les auteurs sont cités lorsque possible. Si quiconque se sentait lésé dans ses droits, il n'aurait qu'a me contacter pour que je puisse remédier à la situation.