The Canadian DIY-pop artist Antoine93 performed live in Vienna in 2015. After his show we chatted about pop music, his hometown Montreal and his last releases on label Mansions and Millions. This online interview resumed our conversation.
Antoine, it’s really nice to get back in touch with you again. We met last time in October at Austrian nightclub <>< Grelle Forelle. Your show was a blast!
Thank you. It was my first time in Vienna. People definitely know how to party there. Also it was the first time I had a stage add-on, that felt pretty cool.
Let’s start to talk about your musical background! What would have been playing in your parent’s living room? Do you have an academic musical education?
I don’t have an academic musical education. For the longest time I didn’t feel comfortable calling myself a musician because the concerns related to my project are bigger than just sound. The visual identity and the business aspect are important to me as well. The way I started listening to music is kind of funny. My babysitter had left all her CDs at my place one day and she happened to be the kind of girl that’s really into like dance and cheerleading. So the first two albums I got into were the Coyote Ugly soundtrack and the Bring It On soundtrack. My mom was really into Seal and Sade. My dad was more of a Depeche Mode kind of guy. I think all of it is a good mix.
When did you release your first music and how do you feel about it today?
I released my first album as Dresden Dresses in 2012 – if I’m not mistaken. It feels like it’s been so long now that I’ve passed the point where I’m embarrassed about the music I made early on. All I can say is, I can’t relate to songs like NS d(05) anymore and I’m now trying to make structured songs with meaningful lyrics and a high quality production.
What fascinates you about pop music?
Mostly the fact that it doesn’t need explanation. Pop music, when it’s good, is efficient and it speaks for itself. What’s also fascinating about the term “pop” is that its meaning changes so fast. It’s hard to keep up. Pop music borrows from so many other genres. It’s hard for me to see it as a genre per say. It’s more like a lens that magnifies the best aspect of each genre and then puts them all together.
One characterization of pop music is, that it’s produced for the „mainstream“, but I doubt that your music is totally market compatible. Would a specification be more suitable?
What I make is pop music. Maybe my music is different than what you usually hear on the radio. That’s ok. It only means that either radio programmers have to become more curious and open to boundary-pushing pop music or that I have to simplify mine.
I believe that instead of coming up with overly specific names to label sub-genres of pop music, it would be more productive to accept the fact that pop can be something diverse, non- exclusive and complex.
How would you describe your production workflow? Do you lock in your room for a week or rather go step-by-step over a longer period of time?
My workflow has changed a lot recently. I used to work on a track for months, then lay down a vocal track on it and try to write lyrics on an already existing instrumental. I recently realized that it sucked, because it wouldn’t allow me to make room for the vocals and it would create problems at the mixing and mastering stages.
Now I have more of a singer-songwriter approach when I start making a song. It sounds so much better (you’ll see). It’s funny because I’ve been using guitar loops I found in my computer just to have something to sing on top of (I don’t play guitar… yet) and I usually end up keeping those samples anyway.
As for the amount of time, it depends. But I do think that a good pop song should be halfway done within a couple hours. Then you can work on it for as long as you fancy, but this time won’t matter as much in the overall workflow as the first two hours.
Which location your songs are made for? Where do you think they work the best?
I want my music to be able to work equally in a grocery store or in an arena. It shouldn’t matter.
As a solo musician, do you miss a band member sometimes?
I do. I only perform solo because I’m not able to afford band members. That’s one of the many things I wish I could afford. Dancers, too. I had the chance to have a guitar player in my last Montreal show. It was so fun! Hopefully that’ll happen more and more in the future.
You already released an EP and a single on Berlin-based label Mansions and Millions. How important is it for you to release on a label? Couldn’t you easily publish it on your own?
That’s correct. Nowadays, small labels only make sense if you care about releasing music physically. Which I don’t. I mean obviously getting signed to Interscope or Universal would be another story, but yeah what really matters for me right now is PR. Mansions And Millions is more like my Berlin family you know? When I released my tape with them it wasn’t about the exposure it would generate for me, it was more like “let’s do it, why not?”.
I have heard, that you plan to move back to Montreal. Is it all for personal reasons or is it the music scene, which pulls you back?
I’m mostly moving back for financial reasons. I’m ready to record my next album and since the cost of leaving is now cheaper in Montreal than in Berlin it makes sense for me to go back for a little bit.
Time is money, so if you don’t have to have a full-time job that’s a pretty damn good incentive to make stuff.
I feel like there’s also an energy in Montreal that pushes people to improve the quality of their music all the time. It’s like a supportive competition. My friends make amazing music and I want to make music that’s even better so it’s pushing me forward. There’s also a lot of shitty music in Montreal. There’s just a lot. Maybe the city feeds a little bit on it’s own reputation too.
I’ll be back in Europe when I start touring with the new album.
Thank you for your time and all our best wishes for the future!
Pleasure! I’ll see you again soon.