January 19, 2023

My darling,

We’re in the thick of this winter thing. Both burnout and the blues are tearing through workplaces and social circles. We’re all pale and grumpy. We know it will pass, but all too slowly. Without the artists and performers, we would have nothing but malls, and binge watching to get us through this hard time. Thanks to them, we have reasons to put on outfits and brave the weather. Thank God for the artists, the arts, the events. May Spring speed itself to us.

Have some laughs and call me in the morning

I knew we had comedy clubs, but as someone who usually only gets live laughs at JFL, I never realized how many stand up shows there are the rest of the year.

We all need laughs desperately right now, so pick a day, grab a friend, or straight up leave your loved ones for an evening and get the giggles the doctor ordered. (Note that while I’m listing the downtown location, there are also locations in Vaudreuil, Laval, and the South Shore.)

The Montreal Comedy Club is at 895 Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest. Multiple dates and showtimes. Check MtlComedyClub.com for details

Blues rock right in yer face

Midnight Miles is releasing their first single of 2023, so it’s time for a concert!

Ryan Bradley Setton (formerly of The Holds) describes the style as “in your face blues rock”. They’re promising a whimsical journey of a show, from tender to reckless, inspired by classic rock, blues, and RnB.

Special guests ~ Matt Enos and the River Men

You can listen to some of their tracks on MidnightMilesBand.com or this brief sample below before heading out:

Midnight Miles + Matt Enos and the River Men @ Petit Campus, 57 Prince Arthur Est, on Thursday, January 19, Doors at 8 p.m., Show at 9 p.m. Info on the Facebook Event Page, tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com

Why is there a “W” in playwright?!

As part of the Wildside Festival in partnership with Centaur Theatre and La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, Wildfire is on now and playing through the 28th. Tragic, funny, surprising; I’ve seen it and written about it, and would be hard pressed to do it justice in a snippet. Read my review, or skip it entirely and just go see the show.

Wildfire runs January 16-28 at La Chapelle Theatre, 3700 Saint Dominique St. For info and tickets, please visit the Talisman Theatre website

Who wants to party till breakfast?

It seems the all night party trials last summer went well, because Club Soda got itself a special liquor license to keep the drinks pouring and music pumping through Saturday night until 8 a m. Sunday. DJs, effects, light shows, party people, it’ll all be there.

It’s a team effort with MAPP_MTL and SHIFT RADIO, Homegrown Harvest, Transmission MTL and MUTEK promising not just a party, but “a new chapter for Montreal nightlife. A space to dance, converse, and set the foundation for a sustainable nightlife.”

AEX @ Club Soda, 1225 St Laurent Blvd., Saturday, January 21, 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., Sunday, January 22. Info on the Facebook Event Page and tickets available through LePointDeVente.com

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Igloofest, literally Montreal’s coolest festival (temperature-wise) is back this winter, running every Saturday from February 13th to March 13th. They just announced a partial lineup, and it promises to still be a huge dance party.

Of course, Montreal is still very much in the COVID Red Zone and there’s a very real chance Quebec’s 8pm to 5am curfew will be extended beyond February 10th. So this year, the festival will be streaming on Facebook, Twitch and YouTube, meaning the party will be at home for festivalgoers.

The performers, though, will be all across the city, at iconic spots that we will hopefully all be able to visit again in person soon. So far:

  • CRi, Jesse Mac Cormack and Sophia Bel will kick things off February 13th at La Ronde
  • Jacques Greene will be in the Old Port February 20th
  • Young rapper Lou Phelps will be part of a lineup at the Stewart Museum on February 27th
  • March 6th will see Mistress Barbara on the roof of Videotron headquarters
  • On March 13th, the S.A.T. will host a noon to midnight marathon with various artists

The rest of these lineups will, of course, be announced soon. The 15th anniversary of the fest, though, has been pushed to 2022, when we can all, once again, party together in person.

As for keeping it cool, or cold, well, organizers do suggest your backyard or balcony. If you don’t have one of those, though, you could always open a window, but you might want to check with your roommates first.

Featured image from Igloofest 2012 by Chris Zacchia

Igloofest 2021 runs February 13 – March 13. For details and the full lineup (when it is available), check out igloofest.ca

Day one of Île Soniq  had some rainy moments, but even the turbulent weather wasn’t enough to keep anyone from enjoying the festival!

The day started out with its usual Montréal-style festival festivities: a full metro car echoing with excited singing and chanting from eager festival goers, almost like an energy pre if you will.

When we arrived at Parc Jean-Drapeau we were greeted by the warm sun and I got my first look at the newly renovated festival grounds, that have recently been relocated to its previous spot on île Sainte-Hélène. The layout of the festival is spacious, even for vast crowd of festival goers and the view of the city and the glistening water just makes the experience all the more ethereal. 

The first show I catch is Sydanie, a Toronto-based rapper (and self-described “bad rap mom” on her Soundcloud). She’s glimmering angelically in a sparkling jumpsuit and doesn’t hesitate to bust a move in it as she raps some realness.

We definitely felt her energy when she performed her newest song I want u 2 see this and even debuted an unreleased track Abby. Sydanie doesn’t just speak truth in her music though, and midway through her performance she reminds us of the sadly minimal effort by Île-Soniq to hire any female performers by shouting out to “the fact that I’m the only live performing female for the day.”


While I wait to catch MurdaBeatz’ show, I head over to the superman ride that île-Soniq has set up for its festival goers. As I’m strapped into the ride I hear the crowd screaming as he hits the stage, but by the time it’s over the rain has taken over the festival and stopped the show. At first the crowd screams for MurdaBeatz, but as it starts to get pretty wet it begins to dissipate in large pieces as everyone seeks out shelter. 

By the time it stops I’m just in time to catch Nora En Pure, a South African-Swiss DJ known for her deep house and indie dance music. Her music is light and euphoric even amidst all the clouds and intermittent rain, an almost perfect foil for the next show I saw: 1000volts. 

South African-Swiss DJ, Nora En Pure

The story of 1000volts’ conception reads like a love story to me, and I can’t unsee it. Hip-hop ace Redman and trap and bass producer Jayceeoh joined forces after working together on a song in 2015, and have been bridging the gap between hip hop and electronic music ever since. Their name didn’t disappoint either with the electrifying performance they gave, perfectly set under an actual stormy sky.

While I was waiting to catch Lil Pump on his first trip to Quebec, I also managed to catch Oliver Helden’s performance — a sea of beautiful people swaying back and forth to the uplifting but poppy sound — as well as the end of Smokepurpp’s show from afar which had perhaps one of the most energetic crowds I saw, singing along to all of his songs and bouncing rhythmically together with shots of the mosh pit hitting the big screen every few minutes.

Festival-goers enjoying Sheck Wes’ performance

I made sure to catch Mo Bamba at Sheck Wes’ show, took a few minutes to get some poutine in me and then trekked back to the Mirage Stage with the masses to catch a glimpse of Soundcloud sensation Lil Pump, who was unsurprisingly 20 minutes late to his own show. Though I do enjoy a few of his most popular songs, (Gucci Gang will always be a bop), his overall performance felt to be a bit of a disappointment, but that can probably be blamed more on his tech guys as the cameraman was visibly struggling to follow him across the stage and his DJ/hype-man’s mic seemed to be louder than his own, obscuring the sound of his voice and lyrics punctuating everything Pump said with the perhaps overly frequent and loud “yuh”s and “okay”s. Once it started to rain, it was a sign for me to leave. 

Overall the first day was absolutely jam-packed with exciting and energetic performances for every sub-category of electronic music, even including a metal EDM performance by Sullivan King, as well as the various hiphop/electronic music fusions, (although almost completely lacking in female performers). See you all at Day two for what will hopefully be better weather! 

Photos courtesy of the lovely Celeste Bonnier (featured image of Sydanie and her backup dancers)

Île Soniq concludes today, tickets available through IleSoniq.com

The third and last day of the festival started with the talented Toronto DJ Kirsten Azan, aka Bambii, at scène de I’île. Bambii is no stranger to the Montreal scene and gathered a decent crowd of fans who danced to the rhythms of dancehall and electronic music.

Bambii (photo ©2019 Benoit Rousseau, courtesy Osheaga)

For our second show, we saw Alex Anyaegbunam, better known by his stage name Rejjie Snow, Irish rapper. After a few technical issues on stage, Rejjie Snow started at 5:20 and put on a decent show. He also presented part of his new material which will be in his upcoming album: Baba Black Sheep which he recently finished and will be dropping soon.

Rejjie Snow (photo by Bianca Lecompte)

The number of attendees doubled and we headed to the main stage to see major acts such as Hozier, Team Impala and last but not least, our personal favourite Daniel Glover aka Childish Gambino to wrap up the festivities.

Childish Gambino (photo by lamyazpixels)

As people were chanting his name Gambino appeared on an elevated platform in the middle of the crowd and made his way to the blue stage to put on a show. He connected with the audience while taking selfies and high fiving as many as possible, the crowd sang along to his hits Summertime Magic, Sober and This is America.

Childish Gambino brought out a full band and chorus to the stage and it was a magical experience.

Featured image by Bianca Lecompte

I arrive at my first Piknic Électronik of this summer, (#8 of 2019), two road-beers down the hatch and eager as ever after a long week to get some sun and dance to some electronic music (or more so in my case, sway back and forth as rhythmically as I can relative to the ratio of sangria I’ve consumed over time).

I, of course, have naively failed to account for the rather large crowd that Piknic often attracts on a day as beautiful as this, and with the same idea (and perhaps gusto) as everyone else, head for Parc Jean-Drapeau at peak hour, and am consequently forced to sober up some while I wait in the tunnels of the vastly over-crowded yellow line.

The train is packed full, and we all spill out of the station in a mass, ambling to the main entrance of Piknic. Luckily, though, the line at the rather densely packed entrance is quite large, it moves slowly but surely, and as I wait to receive an entrance bracelet from a smiling staff member, the atmosphere is reinvigorated by the excitement of those around me. Their enthusiasm fuelled most likely in part by a similar cocktail to mine: excitement, anticipation, alcohol, and an absolutely perfect amount of sunshine. 

Inside the festival there awaits a sea of animated festival goers; a diverse crowd of people united by their attire of tank-tops, shorts, and fanny packs, and a palpable enthusiasm. They’re talking, drinking, dancing, swaying.

Some are sitting in the lounge chairs on the outskirts, or hammocks, watching their friends playing volleyball  under the sun at the sand court between the two stages. Many people are in line waiting to refill their cups and buckets of Sangria and beer, but the largest sea of people is situated in front of the main stage, the perfect place for imbibing both sound and sun, and neither come as a disappointment on this day. 

A game of volleyball if you look closely… But if all you see is sun and trees you still get the picture!

At the main stage French DJ, Groj, who is known for his live singing during his performances opens with a rhythmic and psychedelic set that grabs the crowd’s attention. The music is resonant, sonorous amidst all the trees, and yet somehow still bright and energetic, in a way that somewhat mirrors the energy of the crowd.

Groj’s performance is followed by the headliner of the evening: German DJ, HOSH, part of Diynamic record label. His lively house and techno sound has been likened to the journey of a collapsing star, and the comparison does not disappoint.

HOSH’s music captivates his audience, with its spirited buildups and explosive melodic peaks. And as the beautiful day transitions into a beautiful dusk with the sun setting over the main stage, it’s time go home again although this time I decide to walk instead of bother with the crowds at the metro. If you ever get the chance and don’t mind a bit of a walk, the view from the bridge at sunset is rather captivating.

For tickets and information on upcoming shows, please visit Piknic Électronik’s website.

DJ HOSH: Soundcloud | Spotify | Facebook

DJ Groj: Soundcloud | Spotify | Facebook

Summer is back and so is Piknic Électronik, with an exciting line-up of local and international electronic artists playing every Sunday from May 19th to September 29th. The 17th edition kicked off on May 19th with DJs Adam Husa, Mike Haddad, and Dufire, as well as others.

This weekend catch Bonobo and his traveling festival Outlier at Piknic Élektronic for a special Saturday OFF-Piknic event also featuring Totally Enourmous Extinct Dinosaurs, JETS, Prefuse73, and Durante, followed by a 100% local line-up on the island this Sunday including DJs Kora, Sinca, DJ Sunset, Lou Fre$h, and a special surprise guest!

Just picture it: you, your friends, a bucket of alcohol (yes, they have buckets), the sun setting over the St-Lawrence river, and Piknic’s consistently eclectic and electric line-up of artists. What better way to spend any summer Sunday than dancing in the sun?

The festival takes place in Parc Jean-Drapeau, just 10 minutes outside of the city on the Metro’s Yellow Line and goes on every Sunday from 2pm until the sun goes down.

Watch the full summer 2019 line-up below:

Visit Piknic Électronik’s website for complete line-up details and to purchase tickets! Season, family & student passes are also available

Sun rays warm bodies as aspirations stir from tinder to flame. It’s beautiful outside: for some, exam season is over and school’s out for the summer; for others, being broke might suck a little less with some free Vitamin D to go around; and for all, there is nothing like emerging from heavy layers of winter blues to discover new sounds and musical groves.

This summer, I’ve resolved to step out of my usual musical comforts and head towards the place where electronic, drone and pop meet, starting with Saxsyndrum, local duo made up of David Switchenko on the tenor sax and Nick Schofield on percussions. Saxsyndrum is signed to Art Not Love Records. Graciously, Schofield took some time to provide some insight on this local gem.

Saxsyndrum released their SXD_EP in winter 2014. It is a sonic daydream with tracks 1-3 composed only with sax samples and 4-6 with percussion samples. They dive into the slipstream between analog and digital – creating and sharing musings that are not only moving but beckon movement. Maceonectar is a standout track as is Lac Marsan.

Schofield and Switchenko met in a previousband named Bananafish which also boasted members of Smokes – Nick Maas and Patrick Cruveiller. After Bananafish disbanded in 2010, Schofield and Switchenko kept jamming together, Schofield explained, “we’ve kinda been like the rhino and goat buddies ever since.”

When they aren’t playing their tunes, members of Saxsyndrum can usually be found doing something music-related: Schofield hosts a radio show while Switchenko loves to dance. Their passion for all things music oriented isn’t surprising as Saxsyndrum has been involved in numerous festivals, a recurrent act on the roster of several tastemakers including Passovah, Blue Skies Turn Black and Pop Montreal.

Saxsyndrum has also been a regular at Duckstock, which Schofield described as “a tiny friend-fest with Montreal bands at a family cottage. There’s a PA and like 20 bands play. We’ve played, I think, 7 years running.”

Indeed Saxsyndrum seem plugged in to the importance of a being part of a music community. They regularly collaborate with local acts producing inspired and refreshing tracks. One of these is a Lykke Li cover collaboration with Sea O’Leena, a lo fi shoegaze artist whose body of work is making waves. The track is a sweet, slightly melancholic, and sprightly take on the original – the musical chemistry is just right.

“Back in fall 2013, a bunch of friends, including Dave [Switchenko] and Charlotte [Sea O’leena] were at The Plant for a drone sleepover.  Somehow, it turned into a psych-yoga dance party, with like touchy tai chi style dance moves…” Schofield recounted, “the next day, I’m on the bus to Ottawa, glowing from the night before, and dance dance dance comes on my phone randomly. I actually started working on the cover right then and a month later we all performed it live at Casa del Popolo for our album launch.  After that, I decided to produce a studio version, which features Patrick Cruvellier on violin and Patrick Latreille on bass.”

In the spirit of being inspired by the work of fellow musicians, Saxsyndrum also recently released a remix of Smokes’ recent single Body Heat.

“We love their new single,” Schofield said, “So we just got the stems and dug in. Dave and I were excited about the drum sound especially, and the feeling of Nick’s vocals, both of which we really brought out over a punchy 5/4 beat. Dave also wanted to highlight the ‘monster’ reference and expose the lyrics at the end.”

When it comes to songwriting, Schofield explained that their process has changed over time:

“We started off jamming in all it’s unfiltered glory, but now we just make demos. We hash out ideas on our own, bring them to the table at various stages, and craft them together towards the end in the studio and live. “

Perhaps there is a little magic in the Saxsyndrum breakfast combo, an Olympico latte and a Chez de Gaulle croissant, with which they begin most studio sessions.

According to Schofield, as a band, Saxsyndrum finds inspiration for their songs and performances from the following: “In the words of a friend, we want people to move and be moved by our music.”

Not long ago, Saxsyndrum added a vocalist to their line up:

“How we got our singer is kinda ridiculous,” Schofield laughed, “so we’re playing at a beautiful in-the-woods music festival called Echo Fest in Quebec, when AP Bergeron from Year of Glad kinda points at himself, then the microphone, then drunkenly ambles on stage and starts singing with us. That was like his audition, and now he’s gonna be singing all over our next album!”

Montreal folks can catch Saxsyndrum on July 16th at Casa del Popolo

Piknic Electronik is opening this weekend and I am super amped to catch the first show of the year, it’s a sure banger. Werd up. You know how flavourful it can get with all those freshly dressed people dancing hard around that abstract grey steel sculpture— plus Parc Jean Drapeau is lush and spacious.

I’m pumped to catch the Mayssam set, she’s been in New York for a minute, but hails from MTL. Artists who migrate away from home then return almost always throw the best sets. Here’s a sample:

Other acts like Gold Diggerz and The Drifter will be spinning prog house and garage styles into the night. I got a nice pair of shades picked out, it’s supposed to be mad sunny and 25. Right. Find me where the weird kids are and we’ll chill a bit, you know the deal. One.

Photo by: Miguel Legault

Young Paris is a Congolese artist living in New York — think of the potential for fertile tension in that brief description alone. Add in the fact that he’s from a family that has artistic and cultural connections in both the Congo and America and you can see why Young Paris is interested in blurring the lines between contemporary and traditional cultures.

Young Paris’ father co-created the first Congolese ballets, these ballets were vibrant expressions of the Congolese culture, which included: dancing, drumming, costume and drama. YP related to me over the phone that a key element of these ballets was their efficacy as a forum for exposing governmental hypocrisy.

Although the ballets were largely celebratory and festive, there were elements of social critique embedded in the performance. This is the kind of cultural milieu that Young Paris is coming out of.

Young Paris’ music is beat driven, but beat driven in the way that Rhythm of the Saints is beat driven, by which I mean to say, it is not simply dumb repetition, there is substance. In YP’s new video for his track The Haus there are all kinds of aesthetic hybridizations: harem parts and traditional Congolese face painting, African drumming and synth sounds, and the music video is populated with real African dancers and dancing.

The pop idiom itself is being used as transmitter of traditional culture. This idea is strikingly similar to his father’s idea of couching social critique in the ballets he created.

Now, it’s not as if Young Paris is preaching overtly about social injustice, it’s subtler than that— I feel like Young Paris’s ability to walk that fine line between innovation and appropriation is in itself a huge statement that reverberates beyond the context of pop music. It engenders a respect and a tolerance in me that very few pop artists do.

This was a really dope interview if you haven’t figured that out yet! Young Paris is not your average cat, he’s got bigger visions. Near the end of our conversation he mentioned that his father had passed, then he said something very resonant to me, and I’ll leave you with this line:

“My whole mission is his vision until I’m gone.”

* photo Victoria Wilde Langley

It’s a sweet 16 for MEG, Montreal’s longest running summer festival completely devoted to electronic music. The truly great thing about MEG, despite the festival’s growth in popularity following the commercialisation of electronic music in recent years, is it continues to showcase the up-and-comers — especially on the local level — and remains on the cutting-edge of a genre that can often feel lost in the mainstream.

MEG’s programming this year is stellar (as usual) but it’s impossible to see everything so here we present our top picks for the 2014 edition.


Sango + Andre Power + Eden Hagos + Da-P + Yung Gayance @ Le Belmont

Michigan’s Sango is championing the so-called atl-R&B scene but he rises above the rest by combining Latin music influences into his work, blending baile funk with trap and hip hop layered on top of his minimalistic electronic beats. His debut full-length album, North, dropped earlier this week and can be heard in full via the Soulection bandcamp page.

Show starts at 10 p.m.; tickets cost $18.50 in advance and can be found at Atom Heart, MOOG Audio and Laïka or online via MEG.


Essaie Pas + Apigeon + Syzzors + Mathématique @ Divan Orange

Montreal’s Essaie Pas is dark, depressing and cinematic. What initially drew me to them was the psych influence in their earlier releases. They’ve since incorporated more dreamy synth sounds into the mix with good results.

Show starts at 10 p.m., $11 in advance via MEG or $15 at the door.

Suuns + Technical Kidman + Seoul @ SAT

My pick for the entire week would have to be Suuns and Technical Kidman. Both are fantastically acclaimed Montreal acts that have really come a long way in the past few years. Suuns have joined the big boys now and have gone touring across North America and overseas several times since the release of their debut Zeroes QC in 2010.

Technical Kidman released the follow-up to their 2011 self-titled debut earlier this month. On A Stranger Voice, the band departs from more traditional instrumentation in favour of charting untrod electronic territory. This summer, they’ve been doing the festival thing, playing NXNE in Toronto and Sled Island in Calgary. They’ll soon embark on a short Canadian tour so this is your chance to see them before they set off.

Show starts at 9 p.m.; tickets cost $17 in advance and can be found at Atom Heart and MOOG Audio or online via MEG.


MEG x Piknic Électronik @ Parc Jean-Drapeau

MEG owes much of its success to its tradition of collaboration with other musical institutions, both at home and abroad. In addition to its annual showcase at Osheaga, MEG will be commandeering this week’s edition of Piknic Électronik. Hailing from across the pond, headliner French Fries will be joined by Paul Trafford, Manaré, Aleqs Notal, Woulg and a surprise guest. Oh and this is a Christmas-themed event.

Show starts at 2 p.m., $15 at the door. MEG festival passes are not valid for this event.


The Gulf Stream + Melodule + Groj @ Divan Orange

This is a good example of what MEG does best: taking fresh, young, local talent and putting them on the map. This is a night featuring Montreal’s fastest-rising stars in the genre: The Gulf Stream, Melodule and Groj.

Show starts at 10 p.m., $10 at the door.


MEG x Présence Autochtone presents Electro-choc @ Place des festivals

This year’s free event in the Quartier des spectacles’ Place des festivals features the genre-defying Cris Derksen. Derksen is a classically-trained, award-winning cellist of Aboriginal descent. She blends classical and folk music with electronic elements and the result is unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Parisian duo Acid Arab offer up their own blend of seemingly clashing genres, blending electronic music with traditional Middle Eastern and Northern African folk music.

Show starts at 8:30 p.m., free.

Honourable mention: MEG Boat feat. Benjamin Damage + Acid Arab + MMF & AKTA. I’ve relegated this to ‘honourable mention’ status because, come on! Partying on a boat in the St-Laurence river to some of the best DJs out there? No contest.

The 2014 edition of MEG Montreal runs until Saturday, July 2. Read an interview we did last year with festival founder Mustapha Terki.

The creators behind Piknic Électronik never imagined their winter offshoot, Igloofest, would achieve the level of success that it has. According to general director and co-founder Nicolas Cournoyer, the idea of Igloofest came about as a joke during a post-Piknic meeting over eight years ago. The team were brainstorming ways in which they could take the concept of the weekly, outdoor, summer event further.

“Someone said ‘why don’t we do one in the winter?’ We started laughing,” Cournoyer said, “but then we said ‘hey, why not?’ That would be interesting, that would be original, that would be a good way to help people rediscover winter and tame it and stop complaining.”

It’s hard to believe that something that started out as a joke is now one of the biggest events of the year and has validated Montreal’s contribution to the electronic music scene on the world stage.

Just as in the early days of Piknic, the organizers saw Igloofest as a chance to showcase Montreal talent within the still-underground genre of electronic music. When electronic music broke into the mainstream several years ago, Piknic and Igloofest were primed for a surge in popularity as well and faced enormous opportunity to expand beyond the Montreal scene.

The current flood of musicians operating within the genre is a challenge for anyone to navigate but Cournoyer is happy with the balance the team has achieved in booking acts for Igloofest.

A focus on Montreal is still very much a priority for them. It’s one of the reasons they decided to expand the capacity of the smaller stage from around 200 to 700 people.

Igloofest © Bianca Lecompte

They also recognize that international acts can really draw in the crowds but they are very careful about avoiding a certain level of commercialization.

“Because the electronic music scene exploded in the last few years, there’s a lot more commercial stuff. We’re trying to target artists that are not in that class,” Cournoyer said, “first of all, because that’s not the kind of music we like. On the other side, it’s impossible for us to afford it.”

The popularity of electronic music has made it so that some of the most recognizable names in the genre are notoriously expensive to book. Artists like David Guetta and Deadmau5 can charge upwards of $50 000 to $200 000 for a single performance.

“When you go see those artists, tickets are $50 to $60. We’re not interested in that. For Igloofest, you pay $20 at the door,” he said, “it’s a question of philosophy as well. [The commercialization of electronic music] is something strange about what’s happening and it’s too expensive. That’s not how we created the event and how we wanted it to evolve.”

Keeping the price of entry as low as possible is important to Cournoyer since many Igloofest attendees are more interested in the overall experience than who’s providing the beats. It’s the experience that has captured the attention of fans and artists alike across the globe.

“The word of mouth travels fast,” Cournoyer said, “one artist from a label goes and tells everyone else and they all want to experience it. It blows their mind.”

Cournoyer said he’s met people from all over at Igloofest, describing one memorable fan who traveled to Montreal from Argentina for the sole purpose of attending the festival.

While Igloofest’s reputation transcends the borders of Quebec, what outsiders may not realize is that the event has changed the way many Montrealers feel about winter.

In a 2011 TEDx talk for HEC Montreal, Cournoyer described how most Montrealers view winter as a sickness:

As soon as the cold weather hits, many shut themselves indoors and hardly venture out beyond daily necessities like work and school. The cold seems to consume all of one’s being, turning even the most good-natured of us into crabby, incessant complainers. We all know: winters in Montreal are long, dark and horrible.

The key to enjoying yourself is to dress warm and find fun things to do outside that keep you moving, something that is exemplified in Igloofest.

Cournoyer refers to the growing trend of outdoor activities in the city, signifying the population’s willingness to change their feelings towards winter.

“We were thinking let’s make people love winter,” he said, “and that’s something that we’re really proud of, that now people are looking forward to winter.”

Igloofest closing weekend from February 6 to 8, Old Port of Montreal.   

Photos by Bianca Lecompte. See our Facebook album for more.

Light Fires opened with red pumps and karate kicks and JD Samson & MEN closed with some electro bliss, but the real jewel was sitting right in the interstice. Diamond Bones is a Montreal dream pop trio with an indie edge: Michelle Bensimon, Lana Cooney and Isabelle Banos took the stage shoeless before a packed house at Il Motore on Saturday night.

These gals paint in big, plangent soundscapes. One thing that struck me right away was the depth of their sound. I was talking to a guy in the crowd about how technology has really widened the palette of frequencies at the songwriter’s disposal. I have to agree. Diamond Bones uses this wider field very well: long smoky synths counter-pointed by up-tempo drumming and poppy arpeggios create this delicious emotional tension. They also sing harmony. Did I mention that I like this band?

Halfway through their set, I slalomed toward the stage to get some photos and Banos announced that they’d just finished recording their first album earlier that day. That’s a bit of a tricky statement though— we all know what production’s like: it never ends. But when I cornered Cooney after the show she said it wouldn’t be too long before the album dropped.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this trio only becomes tighter and more successful as they evolve. I’m really looking forward to this release. For now I’ll keep spinning that sorrowfully catchy ‘Home is Where’ track off of Bandcamp until my downstairs neighbours bang on their ceiling with a broom.

Photo by Jesse Anger

MEG is one of Montreal’s best-kept secrets when it comes to the music scene. The electronic music festival is celebrating its 15th year of existence this summer. The most interesting thing about MEG is that they’ve managed to grow exponentially while maintaining an underground vibe.

Mustapha Terki, festival co-founder and director, has always been ahead of the game in the electronic music movement. He and Jacques Primeau started the festival way before electronic music took its place in mainstream culture.

Despite the over-saturation of the genre in recent years, MEG continues to adhere to its mandate of presenting artists of quality and engaging the audience as much as possible.

“I don’t do DJs. I present artists that make albums. What I present is an artistic process, not a rave,” Terki said. “There are some people that will dance to whatever. That doesn’t interest me. MEG is music you would listen to whether you feel like dancing or not.”

It’s a slight distinction but a very important one when it comes to choosing who gets to be part of the festival. As for other criteria, Terki strives to represent the electronic music scene as is year after year.

“My philosophy is to present snapshots of what’s happening right now,” he said. “If the artists become successful or not, that’s not a concern for us. We present what’s happening in this moment.”

This means following the trends to a certain extent. The growing popularity of electronic music has led the genre to be mixed with other types of music – notably pop, rock, and hip hop – something Terki has embraced wholeheartedly. He added that perhaps the only thing that has changed in the past 15 years is that they now keep an eye on other genres as well.


With more influences and genres falling under the umbrella of electronic music, MEG’s network of international and local artists has grown considerably. This network has been key to the festival’s longevity and success.

It’s a simple concept, but a brilliant one. Terki is a French native and started his lifelong dedication to electronic music in Paris. Never a musician himself, he started organizing events and small-scale festivals at a young age to share his passion with others.

When he moved to Montreal and started MEG, he had already built up an international community of artists that he invited to the festival along with local talent.

This tradition continues to this day but on a much larger scale. MEG’s international network has expanded to include artists from a wide array of countries.

MEG presents showcases in these other countries as well. This year alone, MEG presented showcases at festivals in Mexico and Martinique as well as in Paris where Techno Parade also celebrated its 15-year anniversary.

For a festival with such a huge global reach, some may find it surprising that they aren’t selling out parc Jean-Drapeau. But the idea of a massive outdoor festival is not part of Terki’s vision for MEG.

“I’m not interested in organizing a festival that blocks the streets. I love bars, I love small venues. [MEG] will always be this rapport between the artist and the public,” he said.


Engaging the public is something that MEG focuses on year-round. They host a monthly event at Divan Orange for local talent where they scout the festival’s future participants. They are very active in the local community, from giving away tickets for shows to underprivileged youth to their annual toy drive for Sun Youth during the holidays.

While Terki seems to enjoy every aspect of his work, during the festival is when he really gets to have fun.

His top picks for this year’s festival include tonight’s showcase at Divan Orange with Mesparrow, Fire/Works, and Emilie & Ogden; ELECTROMANIA at Club Soda with Shlohmo, Para One, Sound Pellegrino, and Tommy Kruise, also tonight; MEG x Présence Autochtone at Place des Festivals with Poirier and JFL on Friday; and the ever-popular MEG Boat with The Hacker, Zombie Nation, Bordello, and Thomas Von Party on Saturday.

“The festival has started so I told my team ‘you leave me alone now.’ I’ve done my work as director, now I will have some drinks and go see the shows.”

MEG runs until Saturday, August 3. For more info on artists and events, see their website.  

For an artist, doing interviews can become redundant and boring. Grammy award-winner Carl Craig decided to do things a little differently and I was invited, alongside fellow music journalists and bloggers, for a bar talk before his intimate performance at Motorcity Wine bar. Here’s how it went:

I arrived just a little before 8:45pm as requested by his publicist. Carl had gone to eat, so the time he would show up was uncertain. I went inside to see how many people would be there and was surprised to see I was the first to arrive. I figured that either the bar talk wouldn’t happen or if it was happening it might end up being a one on one kind of thing, which I wasn’t prepared for. I decided to go downstairs, drink a pint at Foran’s Grand Trunk pub to give me ideas about the type of questions I’d ask Carl.

When I came back, fifteen minutes later, Car Craig was there with three other journalists. A total of ten people would eventually show up. After the obvious questions like “What does Detroit techno mean to you?”, I asked about the release of a three cds box set that was part of the Masterpiece series from Ministry of Sound. The compilation is divided in three segments: the music he currently plays, the music that inspired him and the third, not yet released, which will be called Mediation. It’ll be a modular jam that will have isolated elements from music that Carl has done in the past, including some solos. Songs will be at least ten minutes and should put the listener in a meditative mode. He told us how he used to listen to new age music extensively and how Detroit radio used to play artists like Vangelis all the time. The current playlist will include tracks from Scuba and Huxley.

We also talked about the digital age and how it influence producer’s work. He was revealed how, for a producer, he’s tempted to compose and released songs right away for websites like ITunes and Beatport, but that he’s now focusing at bettering himself as an engineer. For example, he’s working on a Terrence Parker song and he did thirty different mixes of it to make sure he was getting the best quality possible.

Talking to him was like talking to an old friend. He didn’t hesitate to crack a joke here and there. When asked about how effectively he was protecting his ears, he said he was trying to…but in the heat of the moment, earplugs were like condoms and you tend to sometimes forget to wear them. Fortunately his ears haven’t failing him yet and we should hear a lot more from him in the years to come. Masterpiece is coming out June 24th; make sure to grab your copy!


In a couple of days, I’ll be attending my third Detroit Movement Festival, a must attend event for anybody that loves electronic music. Every time I go, I discover great things about this city that has way more to offer than abandoned buildings. Here’s a survival guide for those of you attending the festival for the first time and for those who’d like to go beyond the Hart Plaza.


One thing I’ve learned getting older is that good food is important for you. I’m no longer nineteen years old, therefore, going on a four day bender without sleeping while feeding my body with MDMA is no longer an option. Detroit has tons of great food options if you’re willing to go a little further than downtown. Here are some places you should check out if food is as important to you as music:


Slows Bar-B-Q – 2138 Michigan Ave
Eating at Slows when I’m in Detroit is mandatory for me. Their Mac-n-cheese is to die for. If you’re into southern food you should pay them a visit. While in the neighbourhood, make sure to check out Astro, a great place to get your caffeine fix.

soup menuMudgie’s -1300 Porter St
Renowned for their sandwiches, I personally have a thing for their homemade soups. One thing that’s for sure, Greg Mudge loves his customers and he will go out of his way to make sure you feel at home in his restaurant. They now have a wine and beer license for your drinking pleasure

Rodin – 15 E Kirby ST
I haven’t tried this one yet but it’s on my list for this year. I’m a sucker for French cuisine so I shouldn’t be disappointed. What better time than Friday May 24th to have a late night dinner while hearing John Collins, from the legendary UR collective, play records. The fun starts at 10pm and it goes on until 2am.

Seva – 66 E Forrest Ave
Worried that the suggestions so far are too meat oriented? Seva’s the place for you, dear vegetarian/vegan friends. A good hangover cure to give your body a break from all the toxins.

Honeybee Market –2443 Bagley Ave
Detroit Eastern Market – 2934 Russell Street
You want to save some money and make your own meals? Make sure to visit these two addresses. People travel from miles away to get Honeybee avocados. They also make their own guacamole and salsa that has nothing to do with your usual supermarket brands.

Movement is a daytime thing, going from noon until midnight. Many festival goers are looking for places to keep dancing. The after party list is overwhelming so I thought I’d let you know about my picks this year:


An Intimate Evening With Carl Craig 
Motor City Wine – 608 Woodward Ave
You want to start your festival in a smooth way. You probably just got in town and are exhausted but it would be a shame to spend your first night at the hotel. You know what they say about a marathon? Starting too strong might make you run slower at the end of the race. Same goes for a festival! On Friday you’ll either find me indulging myself with French food and techno beats (see restaurant picks above) or at Motorcity wine for an intimate night with Carl Craig.

Things get busy on Saturday and you’ll have to make heartbreaking decisions or really dig into your wallet to do some party hopping.

Deep Detroit V.5
1515 Broadway
Kai Alce is once again hosting this one of a kind event. After having guests like Omar S and Marcellus Pittman, he’s making room for the new generation and invited Kyle Hall.  The event is taking place at 1515 Broadway, a venue that is not selling alcohol. When there’s a will there’s a way and you should ask how to get to the second floor…

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Circo Loco Celebrates Arthur Russel
TV Bar, 2548 Grand River Ave
When a legendary Ibiza party makes the trek to the Midwest to celebrate a legendary musician with an impressive lineup you have no choice but check it out. Carl Craig, Lee Curtis, Rick Wilhite, Kim Ann Foxmann, D’Julz; that’s only a short list because the party is happening from 10pm until 2pm (no it’s not a mistake…it really continues until the next afternoon). Something most of us won’t remember since we’ll be too intoxicated, but fun nonetheless.

carl craig


Mecca Detroit
Dirty Jersey’s Club , 1513 Broadway
Taking place on both Saturday and Sunday, the event is definitely worth checking out on the second day. Headliners incluses DJ Assault, Los Hermanos and Eddie Fowlkes

The Ultimate Detroit/Chicago Experience
Fountain Bistro, 800 Woodward Ave
Detroit techno and Chicago house are two music genders not too far from each other. It makes perfect sense to invite legendary artists from both cities to perform together. Glenn Underground, Boo Williams, Rick Wilhite and many more will make you dance all night.

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Direct Contact 2.0
North End Studios, 5101 Loraine Street
A little self promotion here since I was invited to play this party. But seriously, I wouldn’t recommend you check it out because I’m there but rather to catch some seriously great musicians like MGUN and Deastro.

North End Studios is part of why Detroit has become so special. It’s a business working to participate, establish and exist in the creative and DIY communities of Detroit, with a focus on contributing to the empowerment of the current and future generations of artists and entrepreneurs through providing studio space, mentorship and exhbition opportunities.

No way back
1515 Broadway
Legendary NYC parties are once again hosting their Sunday party. Techno music all night and enthusiastic dancers that makes the room so hot you’ll be covered in sweat

The first year I attended the festival, there was a tornado warning. Last year, a friend of mine took a little too many drugs and spent the night at the hospital. I wonder what this year’s edition will be like…In the meantime Beatport made a list of 40 essential Detroit techno and house tracks to get you in the mood.