Montreal’s Marie-Hélène L. Delorme is blowing up the internet (and stages at festivals like SXSW and Pop Montreal) with her dreamy, beat-driven pop. We got this Zinester’s lowdown on her plans for 2014.
by Ben Pobjoy
How old are you and where did you grow up?
Age: 28. I was born and raised in Montreal, specifically in the far-east of Montreal…
When did FOXTROTT begin and why was it started?
FOXTROTT started about two years ago. Before that I had done a few remixes and collabs under another moniker and it took a bit of time for me to conceive the aesthetics of FOXTROTT–what I wanted to achieve with this. I had written three songs (including “Colors”) and a friend forced me to organize a small show. I was filled with self-doubt back then (still am but it’s more bearable ) and that little show kicked started me. I wrote more songs and finally self released my first EP on bandcamp a year ago.
You describe yourself on Twitter as a singer/producer. Can you tell me about your creative process?
I guess it really depends on how it naturally comes. There’s no method and it’s very very intuitive. I meditate a lot and cook a lot. When there’s a block I stop making music and do one or the other. At one point, the songs of my upcoming LP unfolded like a menu. Often, writing songs comes from the sounds and textures and rhythms of the production, beats I made in the past or new beats, anything that I want to listen to over and over and that makes me really feel something. A sound will set a mood or evoke an emotion, then I usually I hear a vocal melody, and from there comes the words. My lyrics mostly come from the sounds I hear intuitively.
I also try to make something that sounds very unique, but that’s not weird or hermetic. I want my mom to be able to enjoy the song as much as beat nerds like myself. I want to enjoy singing the songs too and not feel like I’m making music for a small circle of cool kids. I think this is the biggest challenge.
Emotionally, I try not to hide behind words and metaphors, I like songs that just tell it like it is, in the most poetic ways or very plainly. Sound-wise, I try to sound just like myself, when it sounds like something else, I stop and change it. I’m looking for something fresh, as timeless as possible. And as pretentious as it may sound, I try to make music that I would like to hear.
When you play live, you have a backing band. Are they recreating the sound of the recordings or do the arrangements change? Are the band members constant or does the lineup vary?
When I play live, it’s just myself accompanied by a French horn. I played with a percussionist in the past but for now I have the lightest version of the show. The current show is pretty accurate to the recordings but the French horn and my vocals really bring something else to the music, it highlights different parts, makes you feel songs another way. There’s definitely a lot of warmth involved. I’m trying to get away from cold electronics and focus on the vocal and horn performance, and emotional presence.
2013 seems to have been an exciting year for you. Can you tell me about some of the highlights?
2013 was exciting and challenging. My biggest achievement is that I wrote and produced my first album, which I’m very happy with. That’s definitely a great feeling.
And I played super fun shows, from my Pop Montreal series of three shows and a video shoot, to shows like the Renata Morales week at the Phi Centre in Montreal. I made music for movies; I shot two videos; I learned a lot a lot about the music industry; linked up with amazing people that now collaborate with etc. It was a hardworking year, a lot of personal and material investment and I’m looking forward to 2014, a lot of fun creative things ahead.
Can you tell me about the themes and the recording process of your debut album A Taller Us?
It’s like the last couple years of my life condensed. Relationships, doubt, love, mental illness, powerlessness, spirituality, sex, etc. I write and produce everything myself in my studio, then I went to work with Damian Taylor to record the vocals and mix. I came to his studio with ready-to-mix tracks and we recorded the vocals together. He’s a genius engineer and we’ve been working together for two 2 years, so we have a great relationship.
Releasing my record, playing more shows, making a lot of beats and collaborating with new people. New wind of creativity for me. : )
Check out FOXTROTT’s cover of the Smith’s “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyTdS5hMxWg]