FME was a very fuzzy concept to grasp… even after attending the festival. The idea of having some of our favourite artists from Montreal and new discoveries play a show hours out of Quebec seemed out of reach.
It all started at 7am when we (Mathieu and I) entered the media coach bus. In every movie or TV show, or even in real life, someone is always there to tell you that the seat you choose on the bus is the most important decision of your travel. Not thinking about our placement at all because it was, well, 7am. I think we separated the bus from the group of Quebec media who knew each other and who had experienced the festival previously from the others. I learned a lot on that bus ride. I learned that I can sleep through a lot. That drinking alcohol at 8am is the norm while on your way to Rouyn-Noranda. That some people have zero patience for constant laughter and loudness. One thing that really caught my attention is how much these medias publish content on the artists that are playing FME or just Quebecois artists in general, but don’t actually think their music is good. There was a constant air of negative opinions and snobby attitude towards the solo projects/new music of some artists. Maybe its just the critical eye and ear of each one of us, which is what makes all our medias different, but why write about someone or something you don’t fully believe in?
After a good 10 hours of passing by forests and lakes, after hearing Comme des enfants by Coeur De Pirate 6 times while pulling into the city, we finally made it off the bus and into the media home. A gorgeous house on a small hill that welcomed you with Aperol Spritz and beer.
Our first day of the festival was short since it consisted of us sitting in a bus for a long time but it was all worth it once we entered the Agora Des Arts for our favourite artist of 2018; Hubert Lenoir. Darlène is an album that is timeless and that has followed us in our every move ever since we saw Hubert at Les Francos de Montréal. He is a festive soul, he has a fire inside of him that never burns out and a desire to make our society more accepting. In the super hot, sold-out church, he preached to make the Quebec culture worldwide, lit his setlist on fire before jumping in the crowd to be held up like a god. He is the musical awakening we didn’t know we needed. The performer who captures our attention and gives us so much life for the duration of his presence on stage.
Unfortunately our time at FME was brief but we made the best of our Friday, and last day, to try to grasp the essence of this faraway festival. Everything was fairly last minute when it came to organizing interviews with a few of the artists at the fest. It all came together that morning as we were in our hotel room prepping for our first interview of the day; Choses Sauvages. We were meeting at the media home early afternoon which meant; free Aperol Spritz and beer once again. Everyone with drinks in hand, we chatted with the Montreal band about their newly released self-titled album, the idea behind burning Doritos chips and more (which you can read soon in our interview). One thing I love about boys in bands is that they are willing. They all seem to act like they’re still 15 year olds running around doing stupid stuff. I think that the photos I took of the boys laughing, smelling weed and with Marc-Antoine in a tree was really representative of the purity that is boys in bands.
Our second stop of the day was the Bonsound Pool Party. The record label rents a house every year and hold an annual pool party which consists of a performance of one of their artists, free food and drinks (again). The whole festival seems like a networking event since most of the participants are media and industry workers. This seemed the ultimate test. Its like one of those high school parties that your friend from another school brings you to and at one point they leave to go to the washroom, so you just stand there with your drink and you try to find someone to stall with. We definitely need to get better at those events, the whole situation seemed so surreal. I mean, you’re in someone’s backyard that has an inground pool, a garden big enough that you could do your grocery shopping, many plants, and down the hill is the lake, and you’re surrounded by somewhat important people that know everyone because they’ve done this a billion times. Anyway, past the little bit of anxiety and awkwardness, we made it to the dock on the lake to interview Les Louanges. Sat in a pink pedalo, Mathieu and Vincent (Les Louanges) chatted about his upcoming album, his musical influences, the meaning behind his black panther and much more (which you can read soon in our interview). A few photos later, a last round of beer, taking a Milk & Bone CD from a table which we assumed was for free…we just made our way back to our room to prep for one last interview and the beginning of shows.
This day seemed to never end, in a good way since there was always someone to see and something to do. We made our way to the launch concert of Choses Sauvages in a small bar in town where we had a moment of realization of how insanely talented those boys are and how groovy their tunes are. After the show, I met up with Kandle to talk about her EP and album coming out soon. She opened up about how you can’t trust men in the industry and how emotional concerts can be. She is a talented singer songwriter who’s been working her ass off for years and there’s just so much respect and appreciation for her there. Sadly, she got really sick and couldn’t perform at the festival but her love and dedication to the craft was still noticed.
Oh OUI, Yes Mccan. You know, he’s an artist that I am unsure about the quality of the result of his songs but I know that he is extremely dedicated, enthusiastic and involved in his projects which makes me respect him so much. Going from having some of the strongest verses in Dead Obies songs, to releasing his first solo album that has received some backlash because of a character he plays on TV; I think its been and will be a rough but supportive road for Yes. Especially because of the harsh start at his first solo concert at FME. Devoted fans were present, he was there giving them flowers, everything seemed sweet…until the third song. Someone put off the fire extinguisher and that was that. The rapper tried to continue to perform as the venue turned on the lights and repeatedly asked people to evacuate. It was quite the scene outside the Paramount as ambulances, police and fire trucks all arrived, trying to make their way past the mass of teens who just wanted to party at this rap show. Luckily for the rapper Rymz, who was meant to headline that night, his show got moved to an outdoor stage. Everyone migrated a few streets over to see the Petit Prince and his crew put on a wild performance like they always do. After a couple of songs, we went to explore the city and its water front as we waited for gigs to end and new ones to start up again.
We were in Abitibi Témiscamingue for about 48 hours. We caught the drift of what FME is: a festival for the medias and artists. A place to 'mingle' with the industry with drinks in hand 24/7. We hope to return in 2019 and take full advantage of the 4 days of festivities!
All photos by Coralie Daigneault