FME, Le Festival de musique émergente en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, is a musical festival with the goal to promote independent and up and coming artists. A few hours from Montreal is where you can indulge in new music, discover the next big sensation and much more. We had a chat with Pierre Thibault, one of the organizers of the festival!
What was the process like for picking the artists to play at this years edition?
In fact, it's always fun to do but it's less and less obvious after 15 years! Sandy, Jenny and I arrive with a first draft, our ideas for the next programming and, after a few glasses of wine, the fight begins! For real, the big piece of the puzzle is in connection with the funding and grants we get from our government and others partners. We make a programming grid with a number X of English-speaking projects, French-speaking projects, projects outside Quebec, etc. We schedule
more than 70 concerts every year so it takes a lot of good wine to get there but we do!
Who are you most excited to have perform at the festival?
We all have our long shot and favourites but for me it will be the two concerts of Dex Romweber, former member of the memorable Flat Duo Jets of North Carolina. There is also the Lyse and the Hot Kitchen concert, which is part of the sixties retro song with one of the living legends of guitar in Quebec, Mr. Arthur Cossette.
How do you join multiple genres/artists hours away from Montreal?
Unpretentious, we have been working for more than 15 years with agencies across North America. At first, they did not really understand our concept of the festival and especially, what was the goal of the artists of their roster coming to play in Rouyn-Noranda, in northwestern Quebec. After all these years, the mix of our programming has convinced them and now, we really do everything we want to do without asking questions if it's correct or good or I don't know...!
How has the festival evolved over the years? Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently from the start?
Not at all! We have aged 15 years between friends, with big sound, big fun and big nights of rock and roll! Why would I want to change the formula? Bon Scott said it so well: it's a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll so here we continue to climb to the top while doing rock and roll!
What’s one thing that attracts people the most to this festival? What makes FME so special?
The people of Rouyn-Noranda and Abittibi Témiscamingue are so proud and participate with as much energy as if it were the first FME. It is thanks to them that we have this desire every year to come back to Rouyn and do the party with them all night long. Also, the fact that it is 7 hours drive from Montreal makes it a magic thing. You are with your band or your friends for 7 hours in a truck rolling over another epic weekend and long crazy nights. Say it's more turn off when you
hit the road for Montreal but ...you know, that's the payback!
What is something or someone that stood out to you in 2018 in the Quebec music industry?
Not really man, I know it's a boring answer but that's the truth but maybe I will be blasted by something or someone at the next FME...!
The festival is very eco-responsible, what is FME doing this year to stay eco-friendly and how did you decide to take this initiative?
This initiative dates back to the second or third year of the EMF and came from volunteers. They had presented us a solid project in connection with this eco-responsible policy that the festival is now ardently defending. This year, we are going to add several waterers and we are selecting all the plastic water bottles from our site. This is a clear and precise position against the useless and disrespectful use of plastic on the planet. The FME has also contributed to a tree planting in Abbitibi's territory in order to reforest intelligently in this region, which lives economically on wood and forests and also to bring brand new oxygen to the earth...!
Does the festival contribute a lot to the regions tourism? Are the citizens supportive and excited to hold this music festival?
I do not want to enter this wonderful world of statistics where, year after year, the festivals having their best year and blah blah blah. However, what I can say is that since the establishment of the FME, several small festivals are now part of the run of music groups emerging in Quebec. There is now the FRIMAT in Val d'Or, La Noce in Saguenay Lac Saint-Jean, Le Festif in Charlevoix and that, I believe that the FME has a part that belongs to it in the creation of these events.
In a music industry where broadcasters clearly boycott local artists to give all the spot for American artists, it takes a lot of courage to invent festivals such as the FME, La Noce, Le Festif and the FRIMAT. so yes, the FME contributes to tourism in the Abitibi Témiscamingue region in the same way as these festivals. Just imagine a world where the CRTC would defend its creators in their regions and there, tourism would benefit greatly in Quebec because people would move for concerts in bars, in theatres and festivals much more significantly!
Learn more about the festival and get your tickets HERE