Editors’ Notes Two years ago, Louis-Jean Cormier decided to allow himself a little breather and escape the whirlwind life he was living as a musician. Taking advantage of the sabbatical, the Montreal singer-songwriter sat at his piano, something he hadn’t done in years. “I’d stopped playing piano a little over 20 years ago,” Cormier, who founded the indie rock band Karkwa around that time, tells Apple Music. “Although it’s the instrument that first got me into the world of music, I’d given up playing the moment the guitar and rock became a part of my life.” With Quand la nuit tombe (translation: "When the night falls"), his third album since embarking on a solo career in 2012, Cormier established new markers. “I began by setting myself the challenge of making an album with no guitar. Then of producing tracks that were groovier and funkier than anything I’d ever done in the past. I was going through a period when I was discovering lots of electro and hip-hop stuff, and I felt like exploring these new avenues.” Here he tells us about that new direction through each of Quand la nuit tombe’s songs.

100 mètres haies
“This is the first song I wrote when I decided to leave Montreal and spend some time in Los Angeles composing. I was in a coffee shop and the first words that sprung to mind were self-evident: ‘Why do I always have to go so far away in order to realize what I’ve left behind?’ It conjures up that sort of great balancing act of love, which sometimes pushes us to leave someone, only to later realize that we still love them. The title (‘100-meter hurdles’) refers to all the obstacles that life can put in our path.”

Tout tombe à sa place
“The entire album examines all the different types of loss that we might experience in our lifetime. This song talks about those who, when faced with tragedy, resort to finding something they can pursue relentlessly. From my studio window, I can see a bike path where lots of people go jogging. So, I pictured a person who runs in order to forget. The music has a super-pop rhythm to it that perfectly represents this idea of speed. We explored a realm I never thought I would ever go to, one with bright, almost Elton John-style refrains.”

J'ai monté
“This is one of what I call my ‘lightning songs’ where the lyrics and melody come to me within 15 minutes. I was tinkling, improvising on the piano, and I suddenly started playing ascending chords, and then the words just came to me. There’s a definite sense of upward motion in the music that reflects the idea of rising up expressed in the lyrics. It talks about the ascent towards true love, towards success, but it could easily apply to other areas of our lives.”

Les poings ouverts (with David Goudreault)
“This is a reflection that’s grounded in my personal interracial relationship, and more importantly in the warped view I used to have of the country I live in and its people. I denounce rather bluntly the prevailing racism. My girlfriend, who’s of Ethiopian descent, is the victim of hate incidents week after week. I co-wrote it with my friend David Goudreault. Because he shares his life with a woman from Reunion Island, he’s made the same observations and has the same concerns. Musically, I was very much inspired by the traditional grooves characteristic of Ethiopian jazz.”

Croire en rien
“This is another one I wrote in about 15-20 minutes the day before recording, and it’s nothing short of a personal letter addressed to my father. He left the priesthood to start a family, but we had quite a strict upbringing rooted in religious values towards which I developed a love-hate relationship. I tell him about my point of view on the subject. However, the song has taken on a new meaning because my father unexpectedly passed away in late January. And this leads me to believe that sometimes creating disposes us to flirting with premonitions.”

Face au vent
“It’s my tribute to people who are resilient, and more specifically my mother’s side of the family, who founded the Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée and enabled me to grow up surrounded by music and come into contact with prominent artists. The theatre was recently destroyed by fire, and not long afterwards, the house where my mother was born also burned down. But despite everything, these people keep on smiling and roll up their sleeves. To bridge the gap between past and present, I borrowed an excerpt from a Gilles Vigneault song and then combined it with a very modern approach featuring synthesizer solos.”

Je me moi
“I’d just arrived in LA and was reading comments people had sent me on the web, pointing out just how irresponsible I was to have taken a plane to get there. As someone who really makes a conscious effort, I felt I didn’t deserve that kind of environmental criticism. It’s therefore my response to these modern-day prophets. With the music, there’s a contrast between the tone and the message: It’s super danceable, with lots of African sounds as well as a little hats-off to the '90s.”

Ravin
“It’s a love song, but from the perspective of the person who saves the other person from almost certain death because of the mistakes they’ve made, their decline, and overdoing things. It’s a bona fide rock song in which the protagonist says he’s really gone overboard in his party life—who’s actually reached the edge of the cliff before the woman he loves comes to his rescue.”

Toi aussi
“This song started out as a reflection about my nine-year-old son, who seemed to be asking himself certain questions, like about #MeToo. That’s when I started wondering if he considered me to be like all the other macho men and absent fathers. It’s the particular angle I came up with in order to address several topics simultaneously, one which can cover both the social aspects and more personal concerns. I often like to do songs that go back over several themes on the same album, and this one does just that.”

La photo
“At my girlfriend’s place, there’s a wedding photo of her parents, who have now passed away. I feel it’s a picture you can fall back on when things are going wrong, there’s something comforting about it. As if our ancestors are keeping watch over us. The music’s simple, yet tinged with African influences, much like Peter Gabriel did in the '90s. I’ve integrated music produced by a tribe in Ethiopia that I recorded during a trip there with my girlfriend.”

SONG
100 mètres haies
1
3:39
 
Tout tombe à sa place
2
5:01
 
J'ai monté
3
3:37
 
Les poings ouverts (feat. David Goudreault)
4
4:48
 
Croire en rien
5
4:05
 
Face au vent
6
3:25
 
Je me moi
7
4:54
 
Ravin
8
4:46
 
Toi aussi
9
4:53
 
La photo
10
4:39