French Toast: Exploring His World

The Arctic Winter Games are full of beautiful surprises.

One entertainment event in particular during the Games caught my attention – the return ofRaphaël Freynet to Whitehorse.

Freynet was last in town in October, when he accepted the award for best francophone album of the year at the Western Canadian Music Awards for his first CD, Le monde à voir.

The pop-rock indie release is an accomplished album whose intimacy makes you feel you are sharing the musician’s dreams.

I recently had a chance to speak with Freynet and get to know him better as a person and as a musician.

VH: Raphaël, you’re an experienced musician but you were originally a graphic designer. What brought you to music?

RF: I’ve always played music. It was in my family. My dad is a painter and my mom a musician.

Working in graphic design was a way to reach one of my points of interest, the visual arts. But one day I just decided to make the jump from graphic design to music.

I had to completely involve myself in my music work to make it right.

VH: You’re originally from Manitoba, but you moved to Edmonton for a job at Radio-Canada. The francophone musical scene is really active in Winnipeg. How did you find Edmonton?

RF: I think for the francophone scene, it’s more active in Winnipeg, but in Edmonton, I’ve discovered a very active and inspiring anglophone scene.

The change was refreshing for me.

VH: Your songs speak a lot about travel, discovery and, more often, nostalgia. But, paradoxically, you also speak a lot about being in the present moment. Which is more important for you ?

RF: I really like travelling and I’ve had time to explore, but now I travel a lot for my music.

I just think it’s important to know where we’re coming from to appreciate where we are now.

VH: We’re used to seeing you with many musicians on stage. Is that the only way you like to work?

RF: I recently did a show with only drum and keyboard and I think it was interesting. I like to play with brass. I would like a group with only piano, guitar and brass, but I like doing the arrangements myself.

VH: You are a multi-tasker and multi-talented person. You did the production, arrangements and promotion of your album yourself. Doesn’t doing all those jobs keep you away too much from the music too much?

RF: I’m sure there are advantages and inconveniences doing everything myself, but I like it.

I like doing the marketing because of my background in graphic design. But it is a lot of work, so it’s important to share the work with a good team.

VH: How has your career changed since you received the WCMA award last fall?

RF: It paid! Which is good, because it’s expensive to produce your own album.

It also gives me more credibility as a musician, since people now know me in the anglophone music world.

It makes everything easier. I’ve also developed a few interesting contacts for work. The recognition is always welcome because, as we know, creating is a very solitary process.

VH: Are you thinking about your next album?

RF: I give myself another year. I’m busy enough right now. There’s a lot going on this year.

We are doing a few festivals, and we are coming to Whitehorse for the third time! I can’t wait; Yukon is a magical place.

Raphaël Freynet will perform Wednesday, March 7 at the Centre de la francophonie on Strickland Street, beginning at 8 p.m.

He will also appear at Baked Café on March 8, from 6:10 to 7 p.m.

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.

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