24 février 2010

Quebec chanteuse Ariane Moffatt got playful in Paris

VANCOUVER -- Already a household name in her native province of Quebec, singer-songwriter Ariane Moffatt is quickly becoming a hot commodity across the pond in the bastion of all things francophone: Paris, France.

But despite the French’s sustained love affair with Quebec’s musical talents, Moffatt’s breakthrough didn’t come so easy.

“It took a lot of determination and a lot of patience,” Moffatt says in French over the phone from Montreal. “For some, it happens very quickly. For me, it was really a long-term thing. And it was not an assured thing either: France is an enormous, over-saturated market for artists.

“But I just couldn’t let go: I spent last spring living there, trying not to just be the ‘Quebecoise en France’ but to try and infiltrate the industry and work with people in that scene, as if I was a local artist.”

Moffatt’s latest album, Tous Les Sens, became an instant hit on the Parisian scene, garnering a nomination for the 25th Victoires de la Musique (France’s Grammy Awards, if you will) to be held on March 6, and winning her the coveted Prix Rapsat-Lelievre, worth 31,000 euros (roughly $45,000 CAN) last year.

It’s not only the French and her Quebec fans that have fallen head-over-heels for her 2008 effort.

Tous Les Sens also won Moffatt the Francophone Album of the Year nod at the 2009 Juno Awards.

Listening to the record, you can easily understand why: Moffatt gleefully lifts and adapts a variety of international influences and flavours, which she peppers with her own poetic language and her personal, quintessentially francophone idiosyncrasies.

Rather than going for a true “French” feel, Moffatt’s music resonates with contemporary greatness coming from the American and British scenes.

“I really moulded my writing in the musicality of the English language, not necessarily doing ‘text-based’ songs but letting the words ring instead,” she says. “Having all these influences can sometimes be an advantage and an inconvenience. The French have a hard time finding the right box to put me in because I’ll go from an electro song to an intimate one, from reggae to rock. It becomes hard for the media to classify me, but I’m just a musical sponge, you know?

“I just stopped looking for who I was,” she adds. “I let go and became more playful and stopped taking it too seriously, and I think you can feel it on the album.”

If the album showcases the more playful, childlike side of her personality, Moffatt has never had more “adult” concerns to deal with than now.

Her hefty schedule will involve a quick stop at the 2010 Cultural Olympiad (and, perhaps, attending a sporting event or two if she can), followed by another trek to France for the Victoires and the summer festival season, culminating with a visit at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

Perhaps, she says, she will finally be able to take a break in the fall, already dreaming of a trip through China to finally put Tous Les Sens to rest and begin the transition into her next record.

For now, Moffatt says she couldn’t be more excited and proud to be part of the Vancouver 2010 celebrations.

The last time she played here was back in 2006, for a show that was taped by France-based broadcaster TV5.

“Vancouver has a great francophone community,” Moffatt says, “and having played there before I felt there were more than a few Quebec ex-pats that still had a close attachment to their home province.

“I really want to feel the electricity of an event like this. I know I don’t have a huge anglophone fan base out there, but I know I’ll be able to find people who know who I am.”

Ariane Moffatt

Thu, Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Place de la Francophonie, Air Canada Stage (Granville Island)

Tickets: Free, all ages

Francois Marchand - Vancouver Sun

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