Performing both as a solo artist and with the band Citylake, Martin Saint describes himself as a moody troubadour, performing for many years in and around Montreal as well as the odd tour including one this month.

His music could be part of the Donnie Darko soundtrack.  It’s contains elements of new wave, electro-pop and pure rock.  It’s dark and mysterious and has a certain soul-piercing rawness about it.

You can catch him April 18th at the Old Nick pub on the Danforth (Toronto) as part of M-Factor Mondays or April 29th with Citylake at the Atomic Cafe (Montreal).

Until then, give a listen to Citylake:

Photo by Ally May Chadwick

Montreal band Citylake has officially reformed, albeit with one member change, and is returning to writing and recording their interesting blend of indie folk-rock, dark post-punk and 80s new wave with some psychedelia thrown in. Think Donnie Darko soundtrack. Listen to the pre-production recording of Ugly City for a taste:

Frontman Martin Saint is active in Citylake, a trio formerly known as Satori, and also as a solo performer. For over a year he has been a resident performer at l’Escalier (his next gig is February 25th). Following the very recent reformation of the band, I was able to pick Martin’s brain a little about performing and the solo versus band dynamics on stage, and here’s what he had to say:

Stephanie Beatson: What do you like most about performing?

Martin Saint: The adrenaline rush that comes with it. Every crowd, every venue, every performance is different. If it weren’t I’d get bored with this very fast.  There’s always a certain element of risk when you expose your soul to the public but I choose to embrace that rather than fear it.

I like that no matter how many times I’ve played such and such song I’m never quite sure how it’s going to come out, what the people’s reaction will be. It’s a dialogue; I give all I have, leave it all out there and feed off the energy I get from the audience, and from other band members if it’s a band gig.

ms2Do you prefer performing as a solo act or with a band?

There’s nothing like fronting a band, for me. Playing original songs and the odd cover alongside a solid rhythm section is hard to describe in words. Once you have the right chemistry with the right partners it becomes a purely instinctive thing. Since I’m doing it again now for the first time in a while I realize how much I missed it.

Still, I find playing solo very formative, a great way to stay in shape. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s something that no matter what I would never want to give up entirely.

What was the most memorable thing that’s happened during a show?

A long time ago I was playing guitar with my teenage band and some very, very drunk -and high on God knows what drugs- lady started this lascivious dance in front of me, with her jeans zipper all the way down. I kept doing my thing, not paying too much attention until I felt something pulling at my left leg.  I thought it was one of my stupid male friends making fun of me but as it got more insistent I looked down and saw it was that lady.  Believe it or not she then bit my leg!!  I had to shake her off the best I could and meanwhile still carry the song.

I have witnesses to this story, by the way.  The doorman was a friend of mine. I was hoping he’d help me out but he was too busy roaring with laughter along with everyone else…..I need new friends!  The important thing is that apparently I didn’t miss a beat!

* Photos by Ally May Chadwick