Written by Sabine Démosthènes
When I first listened to Kanye’s “The College Dropout” album, I felt like I was rekindling my love story with hip-hop. It was during the era of Ja Rule, DMX and Nelly. I wasn’t feeling the love anymore and had not been discovering new artists.
And then, Mr. West came into my life in an epiphany kind of way.
With his sophomore album, I was still in Kanye’s land. Until this day, listening to both his albums, I had the feeling he was one of my big brother’s childhood friends and I was listening to their conversations discussing the greatest NBA players to who shot Mr. Burns in The Simpson’s (we all know it was Maggie Simpson).
On those two albums, Kanye was saying some pretty hard cold truths about life in a very clever way. I have to applaud his song writing during that period.
But, as the years passed and the social media empire took control of so many things, including the option of thinking before writing or saying something that could end up being the stupidest thing you read, not of the day but of the minute! Kanye seemed to have been more lost and less focused.
He married a woman whose entire empire and fan base was in big part due to social media creations (and that is okay) but I always expected Kanye to be with a woman of substance. Someone with more going on in the brain department, more an academic girl (hmm hmm like me) or an intellectual. But, it wasn’t the case.
And then, he goes from someone that was not afraid to tackle the subject of slavery in a very smart and clever way, like in his song “We Major” featuring Nas The Great and Really Doe to supporting the current president of the so called free world (I really don’t see what the free world stands for anymore).
In my mind, something seems odd. Last week, Kanye brought up the subject of slavery again. It was as well put, just as he sang in his first two albums. This is what I thought at first, since I didn’t see the video but read the headline on a website that I won’t name because I’m ashamed. I was just numb.
But then, (and of course my brother tried to make see his comment in a different light), I realized the problem with Kanye is that he takes himself way too seriously. When you are really listening to what he said, it’s not almost crazy. The way it came out was damn crazy! As the very black girl that I am, I know that this subject always brought us into discussions.
Actually, in a funny kind a way, Kanye is making us think about this delicate subject. My problem is why do you go to TMZ (of all organisations) instead of having a very intelligent conversation with Christiane Armanpour at CNN or Gayle King at CBS. Those journalists would have pushed the envelope and asked him to be more clear.
No, he went to TMZ.
For him to be a supporter of the man that is the so called Commander-In-Chief of the Free World is so weird. Especially for someone that had blasted George W. Bush. But, can we assume that maybe he is supporting this person for a very selfish reason?
Maybe, because he is going to be less rich, he needs this person?
It’s only a question I’m asking.
Please, don’t throw the first stone at me. I am innocent.
The weeks to come will be something!
We will listen to the upcoming albums and maybe after one song, we will be so mad at ourselves for even listening to it, or maybe, it will be another masterpiece. For the masterpiece part, I wrote it because one of his collaborations will be (if it’s still happening) with Nas. So, it could really be good.
In the meantime, let’s hold our breath for the next Kanye moment.
And let’s not throw the first stone at Kanye… Yet.
This is a special week in the tech world. New Orleans is the place, not only for its festive atmosphere but also for the 2018 edition of The Collision Conference.
How to start this special week with Beatie Wolfe? She is a very special singer-songwriter that is not afraid to be curious. She is an innovator and sound creator. The perfect musical scientist in my book!
I couldn’t be there in person for this year conference, but Beatie and I managed to squeeze in a really fun interview.
Let’s enjoy the ride.
SD: What are you looking for this year at the Collision 2018 Conference?
BW: Meaningful connections and conversations with like-minded people who wish to inspire and uplift.
SD: Every time I listened to your album, Raw Space, I feel like I’m in a bubble. It’s a very pleasant sound environment.
Can you explain to us how you created this special atmosphere?
BW: That’s very kind. I honestly don’t know. I think that I give an intense amount of focus to the songwriting, arranging and production process and I really do believe that God is in the detail.
I was also aware that the stage for the album would be the Bell Labs Anechoic Chamber (the ultimate raw space!), which absolutely makes you feel like you’re in a bubble, so I think that influenced the recording/producing process too.
SD: You are the co-founder of a research project that is looking at the influence of music on people that are living with dementia. What inspired you to take part in this amazing project?
BW: I was inspired by neurologist Oliver Sacks and his incredible work looking at the power of music to heal and move us, even when nothing else can.
While reading Musicophilia, I felt that there was no greater application of music than that: pulling people back from the most extreme neurological states, and when I heard that some of my family members had developed dementia, I felt compelled to start applying what I had been reading about.
The amazing thing about the ‘Power of Music & Dementia’ study is that it was the first study to prove the power of music, outside of memory, (new music) for people living with dementia and this was something that Sacks had theorised but not yet tested, stating that “…music does not have to be familiar to exert its emotional pull…” and “…music is a necessity for those with dementia.”
SD: As a very proud Montrealer, I can see some of Leonard Cohen’s inspiration in your lyrics. Other journalists and bloggers can see it too. Are Leonard Cohen’s poetic lyrics what inspired you to be a songwriter?
BW: It is a funny story because Cohen did become a big influence on me, but only after I had played a number of shows and people in the audience would come up and say: “Are you a Leonard Cohen fan? Your music reminds me so much of his.” And back then I had no idea who he was (this was when I was about 16/17).
Then, one guy from a show in Portugal gave me a CD mix of his favorite Cohen songs and from the first time I listened, I was hooked!
I realized that there was someone else who cared as much about the words as I did, someone who was so true to the story, that the music had to serve it.
Cohen was such an incredible wordsmith, poet, and writer in his own right, that I ended up doing my dissertation on him for my English Literature degree, even though the University advised against it, thinking he could not be classed as a writer.
Writing that paper, even against the advice of my professors, was what ended up opening a dialogue with Cohen and his team and at one point, just before he passed away, there was a conversation about him adopting one of my musical formats (the intelligent deck of cards) for “I Want It Darker.”
SD: When you see the words “Musical Innovator”, what kind of emotion does that bring to you?
BW: I think it’s definitely something different to just being a musician or singer-songwriter. For me, the music is always at the core, it is the reason I do everything.
But I love creating worlds for each of my albums and allowing people to feel some of the old school magic that I felt for records at a kid, by creating new formats that combine the best of the old and the best of the new.
So in that way, I am happy to be a musical innovator!
SD: Can we expect a show in the near future in Montreal?
BW: Yes… 110%!! It is a place I have been meaning to visit and play in for so long.
Leonard Cohen’s city welcomes you, Beatie, with open arms!
Written by Sabine Démosthènes
Photography credited to Beatie Wolfe
Thank you Collision 2018
Pour certains et certaines, vous allez trouver que ça m’a pris du temps à écrire ma critique du nouvel album de Dumas quand ça va faire bientôt une semaine que la sortie a eu lieu.
La raison de ce retard est très simple. Je ne pouvais pas m’arrêter de l’écouter en boucle et d’en être reconnaissant à sa juste valeur vu que je suis une amoureuse de l’art musical.
La qualité sonore, le côté “storytelling” de ses paroles accrocheur et le charme incontournable de Dumas font que cet album est à mon plus humble avis, un des meilleurs albums de 2018.
Nous avons eu un petit avant-goût la semaine dernière lors de son lancement.
On en demandait encore plus de temps à être avec lui dans ce beau petit univers qu’il a créé.
Nous sommes très gâtés puisque le maestro Dumas entame déjà sa tournée.
Je vais continuer à écouter Nos Idéaux en boucle pour encore un long moment.
Je suis conquise!
Écrit par Sabine Démosthènes
I still remember it like it was yesterday, when I heard the song Bohemian Love for the first time.
The voice I heard sounded a little familiar but with something special and unique to it. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I felt like someone had just cast a spell on me, or should I say, into my soul.
The group I Blame Coco was making its way into my musical library. I had everyone from my mother to my colleagues at the office, listening nonstop to my new obsession, Bohemian Love.
But, I had a feeling that Eliot was still searching for her true self.
She seemed to have realizeed it because she said no more to I blame Coco and she started her quest of finding her voice and her true self.
She found it and I love everything about it.
Eliot Sumner makes me think of a mix of Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, and of course, her father.
He was one of the members of the group The Police. Maybe you have heard of his solo songs in the 80’s, 90’s and today.
But Eliot is her own person and she is creating her legacy in her own way.
Her 2016 album Information is beautiful jewelry. You can have a taste of Electro-Pop, something synth-rock-like with a psychedelic twist. For me, this is heaven to my ears.
The first song of the album gave me some serious goosebumps and listening to it was so visceral.
Dead Arms and Dead Legs is a masterpiece in its simplicity.
The rest of the album is a beautiful ride into this world Eliot created.
I’m crossing my fingers that she
will do a little show in Montreal.
She did make it to Toronto in 2017, but maybe we can hope that she will jam with us in our beautiful city for The Santa Teresa Festival or Osheaga.
I fell in love, musically, with another Sumner.
I guess I won’t be the only one.
Written by Sab Demosthenes
Quand tu l’as, tu l’as!
Ella, elle l’a!
Ce je ne sais quoi.
Ce classique de France Gall est une de mes chansons cultes depuis l’âge de 4 ans. Je la chante une ou deux fois par jour dans ma douche, dans ma voiture, dans mon bureau.
Il y a quelques années, je chantais souvent avec une des personnes qui me faisait le plus rire. Une personne que je voyais comme une grande sœur dans ma vie. On se promenait au cimetière qui se trouvait en face de notre université. C’était notre chanson à nous deux.
Un petit moment de nostalgie…
Vous pouvez deviner que ce “Chronicle” est un hommage à France Gall.
Elle a, ce tout petit supplément d’âme…
Cet indéfinissable charme.
Étant un enfant digne des années 80, j’ai connu France Gall en entendant ce tube à la radio francophone à Montréal et en visionnant son vidéoclip sur Musique Plus. Je dansais, je chantais et je croyais à cette hymne même en tant qu’une petite gamine plein d’espoir et d’énergie.
La magie Gall et Berger (Michel Berger) était palpable et spéciale. La magie de la musique et de cet héritage si précieux est qu’elle sera éternellement toujours présente.
L’album Babacar est un incontournable pour moi et grâce à cet album, j’ai pu découvrir ses anciens albums qui sont des classiques comme Paris, France. Comment ne pas souligner son rôle dans Starmania de Luc Plamondon. 1979 fut une année de renaissance pour France et comme on dit en anglais“the rest is history”.
France est une artiste que je trouve qui dégage une énergie fracassante avec délicatesse. Ça peut sembler déconcertant mais je trouve ça captivant. Mais c’est son énergie pour ses causes humanitaires qui font que je l’admire tant.
En ce jeudi 14 décembre 2017, je dédie ce “Chronicle” à cette femme qui l’aura toujours cette étincelle.
France, tu l’as et tu l’auras pour toujours cette petite flamme.
The first week of December is not the happiest week of this so called magical month.
37 years ago, John Lennon left us. He was on the verge of releasing a brand new album.
He was the ultimate New Yorker, watching the wheels of life pass by with both his sons growing up, his wife by his side, and a new decade to discover.
The wheels stopped rolling on that fatal day. The world stopped rolling too. I wasn’t born yet (3 years later), but my brother was 4 years old and he remembers this day clearly. He remembers my mom crying on the phone, telling someone that John had died. My father was in shock and disbelief.
Since I was probably 4 or 5 years old, I have been a big Beatles fan. This was because of my brother and by accident actually.
Saturday morning, on a sports radio station, there was an oldies music show (ironic). And, while we were playing or he was studying in another room, I was in his bedroom playing with my dolls. I remember the first time I heard The Beatles song “Do You Want to Know a Secret” and my reaction was almost ethereal. I was so taken by the melody and the fact that I was having this reaction. This exact moment was the start of my love story with The Fab Four.
A couple of years later, when I was 7 years old, I watched a movie on TV about John and Yoko. On that Sunday movie night at home, I cried realizing John was no longer with us and someone was really mean and killed him.
My brother, again who is until this day my ultimate teacher, explained to me what happened and why. From that moment, I did the math with the Polytechnique tragedy, and I was so mad.
Again, violence was destroying this world.
But today, I want to focus on John and what he brought in our lives.
He taught us to fight the good fight, even if it is not the most popular one.
He taught us not take ourselves too seriously sometimes.
He taught us that we are not perfect and we all make mistakes. It’s never too late to reconnect with our loved ones.
John wasn’t perfect at all. But, he was a real, beautiful soul. Life wasn’t always easy, especially when he was little.
The Beatles have shown us that we may not have chosen our family, but our friends can become the family we choose.
37 years later, we still imagine a world without anger, without hunger, and without pain.
The scars of his death are still visible. It still hurts. He didn’t choose to leave his body like this. No ones would actually. He didn’t get the chance to see his sons becoming wonderful men, or to grow old with his soulmate.
My favourite John Lennon tribute is by his brother, George.
Let’s enjoy this beautiful tribute.
When George sang you are the reason we exist, gosh my heart is melting and tears are caressing my cheeks.
Let’s remember happy thoughts of John today.
Let’s remember the love story of when a man fell in love with a woman who became his ultimate muse.
Let’s remember his sons, and hope they had good memories, even when sometimes father-son relationships can be tricky.
Let’s remember he got the chance to have 3 more brothers in his life.
And let’s remember he was a working class hero, like the rest of us.
Here my favorite quote of John: