In 2005, Montreal's Xarah Dion co-founded the venue, rehearsal space, and recording studio La Brique. Before it closed in 2014, this much-loved loft became a nexus for musicians including Grimes, Dirty Beaches, and Essaie Pas' Marie Davidson. Alongside Dion's collaborations Léopard et Moi and Les Momies de Palerme (a duo with Davidson), she has continued to connect wires with the pulsating analogue synths, stuttering drum machines, and haunting melodies of her minimal wave solo project.
Her video for "Fugitive" sets the title track from her latest album on Montreal label Visage Musique to delirious night visions filmed on an infrared camera. Director Phillippe Leonard follows her and a pair of friends on an after hours excursion through the city's parks and back streets like subterranean surveillance. As Dion explains, it's "inspired by the new underground synthwave/techno scene of Montreal."
Ahead of her upcoming European tour, we spoke to the composer and producer about the clip and Montreal's DIY scene.
THUMP: How did La Brique create connections among artists and influence your own musical development?
Xarah Dion: La Brique was a fertile ground for connecting the local musicians of the DIY scene. From free jazz to indie pop, it permitted a rich cross-pollination between individuals of various backgrounds and ages. From that point of view, the space created a vast learning experience for anyone who was interested in being involved rather than just a user.
Prior to that, I understand you studied as an organist. How did that lead to your interest in creating and performing electronic music?
Studying the technique and history of organ and harpsichord with Pierre Bouchard opened up my perception of music itself and my interest in translating not only the sensual but spiritual experience of sound into performance. For Pierre, playing music was always like singing even if only the hands and feet were involved, in organ playing for example. Him being an organ builder, I also learned the mechanisms which bring the sound into life by assisting him in such tasks as organ tuning.
Can you tell me a bit about the making of this video with Philippe Leonard?
I met Philippe while touring with Godspeed You! Black Emperor in November 2015 as he was doing live film projections with them. He has a distinct sensibility and skillful eye and collaborating with him was a true pleasure. It was filmed with an infrared camera and re-filmed for further artful image treatment. The video is set in Montreal at night, exploring both urban and natural figures in a covert yet voluble fashion. I am escorted by Anomalie Courante and Motorkiller Mood, who have also appeared in my previous videos "Sillage et Caprice" and "Cap Tourmente."
You're about to embark on your fourth European tour. What differences have you found for musicians there versus North America?
Instead of focusing on differences, I usually see the bridges that link our community in Montreal to communities across the Atlantic, a flux of like-minded souls. There is a unique strength to not-for-profit and community-oriented initiatives for music. This undercurrent has a transformative power to advance through our times amiss without fear.
Montreal has always been a hotbed of electronic music, but there seems to be a resurgence of late night parties at new DIY venues near La Brique. Do you think this is a response to the expensive ticket prices and corporatization of big name artists, bar shows, and festivals?
The DIY party scene is rooted in our underground community and is not a reaction to other endeavours, but an imminent manifestation of our way of life. We want to party in spaces in our neighbourhoods in which we feel free, safe, and inspired. We satisfy our own needs, both highly idealistic and frugal. We are able to enjoy the music and socialize on our own terms in our scene.
Xarah Dion Tour Dates:
Oct. 27 - Nice N Sleazy - Glasgow, UK
Nov. 2 - Vrankrijk - Amsterdam, NL
Nov. 3 - De Gym - Groningen, NL
Nov. 4 - Druckluft - Oberhausen, DE
Nov. 5 - Gieszer 16 - DE Leipzig, DE
Nov. 6 - MENU - Hradec Králové, CZ
Nov. 8 - Spicc Studio - Budapest, HU
Nov. 9 - Fanfulla 5/a - Rome, IT
Nov. 11 - Hirscheneck - Basel, CH
Nov. 12 - Dich Bar - Moscow, RU
Nov. 13 - Ionoteka - St. Petersburg, RU
Nov. 17 - Kultuuriklubi Kelm - Tallinn, EE
Nov. 18 - Yucatan - Vilnius, LT
Nov. 19 - Pogłos - Warsaw, PL
Nov 21 - LAS - Poznań, PL
Nov 24 - Drone - Copenhagen, DK
Nov 25 - Koloni/Skjul Fyra Sex - Gothenburg, SE
Nov 26 - Supersonic - Paris, FR
Nov 27 - Collectif ödl - Mulhouse, FR
Nov 30 - Joker's Pub - Angers, FR
Dec. 1 - Altercafé - Nantes, FR
Dec. 2 - Le Sonic - Lyon, FR
Dec. 3 - Château H - Toulouse, FR
Jesse Locke is on Twitter.