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Ariane Moffatt – An “eavesdropping” short series: Moffatt-Tremblay – Post 1 of 3 (#150)

Much like the last three posts, I’d like to keep the same format for the next several posts (a 3-part mini blog-series, with the first two parts featuring two famous people, and the third part directing you to the audio website of L’Autre midi à la table d’à côté, where you can hear the conversation between the two famous individuals).   In this case, we’ll be focusing on Ariane Moffatt and Guylaine Tremblay.  With that, lets get into the first post of this next mini blog-series.

In any culture, there seems to be two types of singers & musicians who garner mass public attention.

There are those who are one-hit wonders (you know the type – they come out with a catchy tune, are overplayed on the radio for a few weeks or a couple months, and then people get sick of them and they disappear forever).

Then there are those other ones who consistently come out with high quality work, a major hit or album here and there over the years, and they always seem to be there in the background, making long-lasting contributions to a society’s music.  Eventually they become part of a society’s collective cultural identity.  Ariane Moffatt is one such singer.

She was born in 1978, and her career really took off in the early 2000’s with a hit album Aquanaute.  Over the last decade, she has released a number of other albums.  Her numerous Félix Awards – one of Québec’s highest music awards – and her platinum and gold albums attest to her popularity.

A couple posts ago, I mentioned that Charles Lafortune is a host of the hit television singing competition program La Voix (The Voice).  Likewise, Ariane Moffatt is a judge on La Voix (You don’t become a judge on a show like that unless you’ve made it, bigtime!).

When discussing singers or actors, it’s always tricky when trying to describe who might be a similar Anglophone Canadian equivalent.   Everyone is truly their own person, with their own style – so I hesitate to give comparisons for fear of overgeneralizing.  But if I had to pick a couple names, I would say that many of her songs have traits in common with the “softer” side of Alanis Morissette’s (and perhaps even the softer side of Ireland’s Sinead O’Connor).  But even with that, Moffatt definitely ventures into other genres, and usually remains loyal to heavy guitar tones to carry many of her songs.

In a couple posts from now we’ll be looking at the conversation Moffatt has with Guylaine Tremblay,  Therefore, I’ll quickly mention a bit about her personal life to set the scene for this later post.   Moffatt came out a couple of years ago on the wildly popular show Tout le monde en parle.   She has a spouse, and they’re raising their two children.  Much of the conversation with Tremblay will focus on this aspect of her life.

If you’re looking for some of her work, some of Ariane Moffatt’s better known songs include:

  • Je veux tout,
  • Réverbère,
  • Point de mire,
  • Mon Corps,
  • Imparfait,
  • Hasard,
  • Blanche,
  • La barricade.
  • Also, if you want to hear her interpret an Anglophone song in French, check out her interpretation of “Everybody Hurts”.

Ariane Moffatt’s official website is: www.arianemoffatt.com

Her music is for sale through various venues.  Please stick to official sites and do not pirate (our artists are part of our cultural fabric).

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MINI “EAVESDROPPING” SERIES

Cayouche (#41)

You may recall I mentioned the singer Cayouche in the post titled “Country music = Québec”.

Cayouche is difficult to describe because there’s little in the way Anglophone singers to truly compare him with.  His real name is Réginald Gagnon, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knows him other than just “Cayouche.”

From the most basic set of information (age, genre of music, origins), you may not think there’s anything extraordinary about him:

  • He’s 60 years old (singing for the public for around 20 years).
  • He’s not Québécois, he’s Acadian (originally from Moncton, but I believe he lives somewhere around the Acadian Peninsula now, perhaps Paquetteville).
  • His style of music is similar to a 1970’s, early 1980’s country.

But boy is he popular!  And not just with fellow Acadians, or others of his generation.   He draws in crowd-after-crowd of 20-somethings and 30-somethings, from all across Québec and Francophone regions of Ontario, in addition to his native Acadia.

Strangely enough, you may rarely see him on television (I have never seen him on TV — he’s more an in-person kind of act)… but a big big chuck of Québec, especially Québec City, seems to know him.  Perhaps owing to certain cultural demographics in Montréal, a lot of Montréal ubanites, especially Le Plateau, may not know him… so this can serve as a good example of how there can often be a disconnect between Montréal culture, Montréwood, and what’s actually popular in the rest of Québec.

It’s as much (or more about) the mystique and legends surrounding Cayouche (kind of like that crazy, almost unbelievable story of what Detroit’s Rodriguez “Sugar Man” is to South Africa), how and where he performs, his persona, the way he looks, the words he chooses when composing his songs, as much as it is his actual tunes.

Picture this…

  • Santa Clause (belly and beard) goes Willie Nelson (bandana, guitar and all) – now you have the look,
  • After leaving the military, he lead a wandering life on the road, performing from bar-to-bar across Canada, bit-by-bit leaving a name for himself… especially in Francophone regions of the country. The urban myths aren’t true that he would down a 24 pack during his performances, but he does bring a few beers on stage to lubrifier his performances as the night goes on (“lubricate” doesn’t quite work in English, like it does in French) – now you have the mystique and legend factor,
  • He’s illiterate (having to compose songs purely from memory), with a very rural style of heavy-accented regional French, often crass, which makes his lyrics unlike anything else standard recording artists would choose. His language is sometimes crude, sometimes not so politically correct (such as his well-known drinking & driving song, L’alcool au volant), and the lyrics are smash hits with a lot of younger guys (you’ll see him at outdoor concerts across Québec, and guys in their 20’s, à moitié chaud, will be holding a beer over their heads, singing along with him, word-for-word) – now you have the words,
  • He’s always smiling, always laughing, telling jokes and coming across as a simple, humble, next-door type of bon Jack. You’d think he was just one of the guys from the audience who decided to get up on stage while everyone was having a good time, and just add a bit more to the mood – with the only difference being he is the show! – now you have the persona.

I get the impression he’s doing a good number of summer festivals each year, and quite a number of other performances in bars & pubs.   Usually someone who relies on these types of venues for their bread-and-butter will tend to stay in the shadows of popularity, but not Cayouche.   People across Québec know where he’ll be, and they turn up in droves!   He has become one of the biggest selling and best known Acadian artists in history.   It’s how he’s done it (by staying out of the concert halls and away from Montréwood) which lends to much of his appeal with Québécois, Acadiens and Ontarois – an average Joe Blow, like everyone in his audience.   There’s an amazing connection.

In closing, the one thing that has me a bit stumped is his accent.  I’m not a linguist or an expert, but to me, although his vowels definitely have an Acadian accent, his vocabulary and intonations don’t always sound like Chiac French from his Native Moncton.   And there seems to be a good number of differences between the way he speaks and Acadien Peninsulaire French where he currently resides (lots of what he says sounds like it could almost be Sudburois French, or Ontario “Nickel-Belt French”; a type of unique accent spoken in Sudbury, Ontario — I would have almost pegged him as being from Sudbury if it wasn’t for his vowels.  Even some of the things he says makes me think of Rivière-la-Paix French from the Peace River district in Northern Alberta, where I lived for a while as a child).  Feel free to offer your comments on this if I’m wrong … it’s a mystery to me.  Perhaps it’s owing to his many years spent travelling around, meandering from place-to-place on the road, bar-to-bar, which could have given him a mixed-style of hors-Québec French accents.  Avec sa personalité et son choix de paroles, son français est pas mal franc comme un deux par quatre.  But regardless, it makes me, and everyone else smile any time he speaks.  It’s great, and it’s part of his unique character which makes him so popular in Québec.

We don’t have many characters like Cayouche in Canada — this kind of legendary icon.  Lets keep his flame alive and support him by getting out there and buying his work.   He adds something very special and unique to Canada’s music culture.  That alone deserves our support.

His music is for sale through various venues.  When searching for it, please stick to officially sanctioned sites and do not pirate (he says he’s still working – and he seems to love what he’s doing and his fans – plus it’s likely his bread & butter… so don’t rip off his work.   He’s a good dude, so return in kind and pay for his songs).

Somebody seriously needs to make a movie about this guy!!

Bonne écoute!!