The annual St-Jean-Baptiste festival has introduced a variety of well-known Francophone musical groups to Yukon audiences.
This year the Francouverte prize winning group, Monogreanade, will bring its unique blend of electric, electronic, pop and acoustic sound to Dawson City and Whitehorse.
The group consists of Jean-Michel Pigeon (vocal, guitar and piano), Marianne Houle (cello), François Lessard (bass) and Mathieu Collette (drum and electronic samples).
French Toast recently spoke with singer-composer Jean-Michel Pigeon.
FT: Monogrenade is a young band, founded in 2008, but the sound is already really mature. Where are you guys coming from?
JM: I was guitarist for the band Winter Gloves. François is playing with Alexandre Desilets and Marianne is playing with Dany Martel. We pretty much all studied music, but we didn’t all finish. We’ve known each other from school. Mathieu and I have been friends since high school.
FT: You are the main composer for most of the band’s songs. Is the rest of the music a collaboration?
JM: It’s true that I do pretty much all of the compositions. Sometimes, I establish the basic melodies but we develop the rest of the music together.
FT: Monogrenade is openly influenced by Patrick Watson, Karkwa and Radiohead, which is still rare in French. What kind of music did you listen to as a kid?
JM: My mom was a pianist and I used to listen to a lot of classical pieces. Marianne used to listen to Bjork and Mathieu was a metal fan. We’re so diversified, we’re a real mix of a few influences.
FT: Your first album, Tantale, came out on March 1. Do you have material for a second album?
JM: Yes, we are working on it already. We don’t have enough material so far but I’m really trying to compose. I’m supposed to do that tonight, all night long. This is how I work.
FT: Have you performed in front of an Anglophone audience yet? What was the reaction?
JM: We have only performed in Toronto. The reaction was great because, even if I’m working really hard on the lyrics, the outstanding part of what we’re doing is based on our instrumental music, the ambiances and the harmonies.
It’s really easy to appreciate Monogrenade’s music even if you don’t understand French at all.
We’ve never visited the North, none of us. I’ve toured in British Columbia before but it’s the further I’ve been. We’re impatient to come over!
Mongrenade will perform June 25 at the Pit in Dawson City and June 26 at Kettley’s Canyon, south of Whitehorse. Information is available at www.afy.yk.ca
Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.