Editors' Notes Since their self-titled 2017 debut album, there’s been an internal dialogue that's permeated the work of Mon Doux Saigneur, the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, alternative folk project spearheaded by singer-songwriter Emerik St-Cyr Labbé. While that dialogue is a little less contemplative and more action-oriented on the follow-up, Horizon, Labbé is no less decorative in the way he uses subtle poetry to conjure scenes of everyday life, where the little things matter most. “This second chapter epitomizes movement, evolution, and how much we want to perform and travel,” Labbé tells Apple Music. The loss of Labbé’s father brings a melancholy tinge to some of the songs, but you’ll still hear all kinds of catchy melodies foregrounded by the album’s country and rock backdrop. “There’s like a little psychedelic side to it—less predictable, but at the end of the day what we want is for people to sing along, to get them to swing their hips,” he says. “Something that’s universal.” Labbé takes us through the process of making each of Horizon’s tracks.

“It was winter and I’d been listening to a lot of Tom Petty. I knew I wanted a song along those lines, with major chords—one that evoked lightness, something sunny, summery. I was trying to imagine what it would be like to play gigs when all the snow had melted. I pictured it as a country song, but with a more Americana backbeat. Eliott [Durocher, guitarist] wrote the melody; I wanted something catchy, an earworm, with harmonized guitars, a bit like the Allman Brothers or the Eagles. It’s like we’re in a saloon! It talks about not being afraid to call a time-out every day with the person you share important moments with, about allowing yourself to ask questions like ‘Do you need some space? And then me, do I need some space?’ It’s a common theme throughout the album.”

“It’s a bit like a response to the first album. If there’s one song that speaks for all of the others, I think it would have to be this one. It’s a song that’s a lot like me, and it came about really quickly. It couldn’t be simpler. The chords came to me first, and that was all it took to visualize the rest. It reminds me a lot of what me and my bandmates listened to on the road. There’s something very ‘along the riverbank’ about it, when you’re driving along at 95 km/h, and you can roll down the window, crank up the volume. It’s a song you can listen to really loud without it hurting your ears—a kind of soft rock.”

“I was feeling Rolling Stones, I felt confident. It’s about taking back control, and it was written quite quickly. It says, if ever we don’t agree, we must never lose our temper. The goal isn’t to win the argument. It could be about relationships but just as well be referring to love or sacrifice. It’s a piece that kind of just wants to move on to something else. It’s really simple how we put it together: We sampled the kick and snare on J.J. Cale’s ‘Call Me the Breeze,’ and we just slowed it down a notch. I think it’s a cool track. It’s upbeat, and great to listen to when out walking.”

“We came up with the idea for the guitar listening to Ry Cooder, and for the drums, we felt like something challenging. We wanted a song with a fast tempo. At first, the lyrics said, ‘You shouldn’t have slept with my friend.’ But then, the more I sang it and the more I saw people’s reactions, I thought to myself: ‘Okay, it’s weird for me, it’s weird for them. I’ll have to try and come up with something else, but still stay close to the type of emotion it provokes just thinking about it.’ I turned it inside out, I changed the perspective entirely, and it turned into: ‘You shouldn’t have jumped without a safety net.’ It’s a bit less gory. But performed live, it’s not the lyrics that stand out, it’s the music. It’s a track that gets you bopping.”

“The swing to the lyrics in the refrain propelled the rest. I could sing anything and it would still work! The music is well-crafted and the words are somewhat abstract—it’s a great combination. We said to ourselves, ‘We may just have written a pop song.’ I was like thinking about Oasis, about random stuff; I was in another world. It drew me away from the familiar, from Quebec folk. I tried out an exercise in style and it was good for me.”

“It’s a song that came about quickly, but a long time ago. I’d released it on an EP. It was even more simple, just two chords, and the refrain was sung in the same key as the verse. We gave this version a more Fleetwood Mac, more ’80s, more LA sound. Everything has been pared down, but to build up the refrain we added the harp, which we borrowed from a pawn shop; we even threw in the sound of Chinese balls. It really delves into the high frequencies, it magnifies the track, and when the verse comes back in, everything settles back down. It kind of reminds me of when The Beatles would go off on a tangent. We don’t have huge studios with grand pianos, but we still managed to create some magic.”

“There’s a really funny story behind this one. The day after a night at the Festif! [in Baie-Saint-Paul], we were coming down from all the festivities and sitting on the sand by the river watching people swim. Some were paddleboarding, in like Speedos. I had a guitar and was messing around with some chords, and we started playing it in a loop, and there was this guy, watching the people paddling, who began chanting ‘Awaye, awaye, awaye’ [meaning ‘come on, come on, come on’] with every paddle stroke. We’ve never forgotten that day, and every time we’d tune up during practice we’d play it, or on stage we’d jam on it for three minutes at a time. There are some brilliant arrangements by Eliott and Dave [Marchand, guitarist] on this one.”

Traîne Marie
“This one again reminds me of Ry Cooder. I was living with my guitarist Eliott at the time it came into being. Sometimes I’d think to myself that Marie was marijuana, sometimes that Marie was synonymous with habit, a bad habit, and at others that it embodied my laziness or was a way of talking to my subconscious. Then again, it could be a lovers’ dialogue. I also see it as a sort of bond between a man and a woman—intimate—or perhaps an allusion to the fact that, let’s say, everything I’m capable of doing is all thanks to Marie. It’s funny because I still haven’t truly figured it out! It’s a complex emotion that’s difficult to put into layman’s terms.”

Hook II
“This is definitely a couch or living room riff. It starts off really smooth. Amazingly, it turns into a completely crazy track. I was in a soul mood, a bit R&B. I was trying to be suave, to be as sexy as possible. I’m speaking to a woman, and I wanted to express it in feelings with a somewhat frenzied dance beat. I didn’t want it to be touching; I wanted something uplifting.”

“It’s like a rallying cry. Mandela [Coupal-Dalgleish, drummer] had composed the drums, and funnily enough it fit in with the guitar I’d written. We put them together and right away we saw it as a hymn. It’s a strangely danceable track. It’s a bit like a protest song. It’s an entreaty to become more grounded, a warning to be careful of excesses, an invitation to go out and get some fresh air.”

“It’s a riff straight from the heart. I wrote myself a lullaby, in which I’m trying to talk to my dad, but also to my mom. You never know what will happen in life, and if I disappear, I will have already said what I needed to say. It’s not really a ballad—maybe more a pleasant stroll through my feelings. I’m happy because the arrangement is truly luminous, and it sounds a bit like a dream—it’s tender, not just sad.”

Casa Losodeli
“I composed this one during a trip to Mexico. I managed to get my hands on a guitar and I played the same thing over and over for 15, 20 minutes, just to loosen up my fingers, and it evolved into a kind of jingle. I recorded it with my cell phone. We transferred it onto tape to give it a bit more warmth, but those really are birds in Mexico you can hear.”


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