I learned english through “hooked on phonics”. Let that sink in a minute. #90s
I grew up in a very small rural town in Ontario Canada, as part of a francophone minority. Canada has two official languages; english & french. Often, people erroneously assume that all of Canada’s french speakers reside in the province of Québec. Although many do, this is not true and only serves as a disservice to the diverse community of francophones from the 9 other provinces and 3 territories. So many unique accents/dialects, numerous different cultural references and some seriously cool art stems from these places that are often dismissed entirely, both politically and culturally. So today I decided to shift the focus from Québec to a few “Hors Québ” francophone artists that I quite enjoy, who released french/english music in 2019-2020 from all over Canada. I tried to include as many genres as possible. Here are 10 of them, in no particular order. (The list could go on & on as there is so much talent in the hors Québ pool, so I encourage you to keep discovering them.)
Song: La petite douleur
éemi & I have a crazy past. We both competed in a Canada wide reality tv contest in 2017 called “Planète BRBR” for singer songwriters. With 10 participants total, we made it all the way to the finals. It was challenging, emotionally charged and ultimately made us the artists we are today. A friendship slowly bloomed (via instagram) for the years that followed. When she released her EP “Honey” in 2020, her single “La petite douleur” left a lasting impression on me. It’s no surprise it did so well.
Song: Patio Monday
Though this Polaris shortlisted formation ultimately calls Hull Québec home, some of its members are Ontario natives. Namely, Olivier Fairfield, who produced all of my music thus far. FET.NAT already stands out with its unique art punk/free jazz/poetry vibes. However, what I love most, other than the obvious joy it sparks, is the way the bilingual lyrics flow so well. This amalgamated way of speaking just makes sense to my bilingual brain. “Patio Monday” is from their 2019 album “Le Mal”.
P’tit Belliveau- Nova Scotia
Song: Les bateaux dans la baie
I first heard of P’tit Belliveau on the Canadian tv series “Balade”; a fantastic series (I had the pleasure of being featured on) which focuses on artists from all over french Canada. He struck me as someone I’d like to be friends with almost immediately. His electro country cassette tape aesthetic music speaks for itself, and his ever so interesting Baie-Ste-Marie dialect fascinates me. This song is reminiscent of squinting in the sun on a perfect day.
I’ve only met Mario a handful of times at large scale french canadian music events. I could tell we were both (most likely) fans of Radiohead, based on his music. Filled with gleaming synths and really satisfying vocal hooks, I knew early on I’d want to work with him someday. (I’ll be able to check this off my musical bucket list come June 2021). “Alamo” is my favorite song of his.
Les Hay Babies- New Brunswick
Song: Fontaine à voeux
This retro feeling folk/rock trio is just so pleasant in all of the ways; the music, the visuals, the lyrics. Their stuff is self described as “Fresh as the wind yet, as old as time.” Their song “Fontaine à voeux” is one of my favorites, though I also have a soft spot for their french cover of the Rolling Stone’s “Play with fire”. It certainly is appealing and refreshing in this male-centric industry to see a trio composed of three (very cool) women.
Anique Granger- Saskatchewan
Song: Le choc de l’amour (Radio edit)
Even though Anique and I met a handful of times, and are part of the same artist booking agency , I’d actually never heard her music. Not consciously anyways; which is very unfortunate for me. Her recent album is a collection of stories/songs that she collected via conversations and interviews with individuals. We then get to witness the entire process through her podcast, “Le ruban de la cassette.” I heard the song this week for the first time and I must have played it 200x in 2 days. I will admit that hearing the story beforehand from which it stems gave it a luster; but that was the entire point wasn’t it? Nonetheless, the beautiful contrasting melodies in her songwriting have left me speechless.
Mehdi Cayenne- Ontario
Mehdi is from all over the place, that’s very much part of his narrative. I do know he calls Ontario home in a big way. I for one met him during our time in high school. He was (and continues to be) a very bold, vulnerable, quirky human. That being said, I feel these words don’t truly encompass who he is as an artist. Mehdi manipulates words, breaks arbitrary rules, elicits the urge to dance and conveys a sense of urgency that I don’t quite know how to explain. His song Croque-pomme features this array quite vividly.
Kelly Bado- Manitoba
Song: Mama hé
Kelly Bado’s music is influenced by her African heritage & filled to the brim with uplifting melodies. Her soul/world/pop sound makes me breakout in choreography. Her vocals are soothing. I am slowly discovering her as an artist and I particularly like her song “Mama hé”.
Joseph Edgar- New Brunswick
Song: Espionne russe
I met Joseph during a difficult period in my life, both personally/professionally. He was my assigned mentor for the televised singer-songwriter contest mentioned above named “Planète BRBR”. To say Joseph was a down to earth human during this immersive/stressful experience would be an understatement. He greeted me in the industry as an emerging artist with a kindness I won’t forget. Years later he invited me to sing back vocals on his track “Boule miroir” in Montréal. He is a wonderful performer and songwriter. The song that remains one of my favorites however is “Espionne russe” for which he released a live version in 2019.
Song: On en a assez
Flo and I also attended the same amazing arts high school together many years ago. I did not know him well then because he was MUCH older than me (2 years). In the last few years him & I had the opportunity to perform together more than once. He describes his genre as multicolored hip hop; both in message, and the audiences he connects with. This is definitely accurate. Flo has a way of uniting artists together. He has taught me a lot. Sometimes his Caribbean sounds make you want to dance, and other times, the important messages about racial inequities, such as “On en a assez” make you want to stop everything and reassess. This song’s video came out a mere 11 days before George Floyd was killed. The words need to be heard on a loop.