PICTURA DE IPSE : Musique directe

PICTURA DE IPSE : Musique directe

One look at the cover of Hubert Lenoir’s PICTURA DE IPSE : Musique directe is all it takes to know that the Quebec City singer-songwriter does things differently from others. It probably would’ve been obvious enough from Lenoir’s debut solo LP—2018’s glammy, orchestral pop opus Darlène—but PICTURA DE IPSE is even more experimental, employing electroacoustic elements, snippets of conversation, and noisy found sounds to craft a uniquely woozy sort of funk-pop. “Whether I’m composing [the theme song] for Star Académie or creating a one-minute interlude, to me both are music,” Lenoir tells Apple Music. “This album is a sort of coming-of-age for me, a reflection on what I’ve been through over the past few years.” Fortunately, his muse has stayed with him as he’s started a number of new projects, including collaborations with Robert Robert or Pierre Lapointe. “Even in the darkest moments of my life, my love of music has always been there by my side.” Here, he walks us through the twists and turns of his eclectic second album. “9:42PM Nouvel enregistrement” “I recorded a lot of things on my iPhone without even knowing if they’d later become songs, so I didn’t bother to give them names, which explains the title. It’s actually a translation of the Eels song ‘Ordinary Man.’ I sang it for Noémie [Leclerc, his muse, girlfriend, and manager], who recorded it without me knowing. I like that sincerity and vulnerability it conveys.” “SECRET” “I tried to put the album together chronologically and, on the first version, I’d started off with ‘418 wOo,’ but something was missing. ‘SECRET’ was almost at the very end, but it became the natural choice for a sort of introduction to the character who features throughout the album. I started it in Los Angeles with Mac DeMarco and Kirin J Callinan, and came up with the lyrics later on.” “418 wOo” “It’s the track containing the most disparate elements: recordings I’d made all over the place, a guitar solo played by a street musician, the band recorded on my phone, and a conversation with Robert Robert which dates back to when I produced his album. I wanted to include that discussion because it addresses the issue of intimidation in a very personal way; it’s the kind of thing I wanted to talk about, but that I wouldn’t have been able to put into my own words. As for the ‘wOo,’ it’s truly a nod to the Quebec City scene—everyone says it—and so is the area code.” “uber lenoir, c’est confirmé” “You can hear the voice of radio host Dominic Maurais. It’s not a formal response to Quebec City radio stations, but it’s a way of taking the insulting remarks that were made about me and turning them into music to my ears. It’s sort of a tribute to René Lussier, who harmonized everyday discussions on his album Le trésor de la langue.” “QUATRE-QUARTS” “It’s one of the songs I’d had lying around for a while. I’ve performed it often onstage. It’s the flipside of the introspective ‘SECRET.’ Musically, I wanted to do something groovy, a sort of tribute to Prince and ’80s electro-pop. I wanted to reproduce the energy of my shows, so I integrated segments of the song recorded live. It’s full of weird noises: The snare drum, for example, is the sound of a nail gun.” “DIMANCHE SOIR” “I love pop music, and being considered elitist is my worst nightmare. I’m a fan of artists like Prince, Kanye, and Beyoncé, who can make albums that are both radical and full of catchy tunes. I started writing this one with High Klassified in the basement at his mom’s house in Laval. We quickly created the basis, and then I really spent a lot of time fine-tuning it afterwards.” “Paris transit” (feat. CRABE) “I needed a song to mark the transition from Quebec City to Paris, and seeing as whenever I go over there I record the pilot’s message announcing that we’ve reached our final destination, I decided to use it. I made a poor-quality recording of the group CRABE performing covers of Robert Charlebois songs. ‘Tout écartillé,’ which talks about being all cockeyed in Paris, was perfect!” “OCTEMBRE” (feat. Bonnie Banane) “I wanted a soothing, enveloping voice, and because she’s a staunch Parisian, Bonnie Banane fit in perfectly for this part of the album. I didn’t know her, but this is what I wrote to her on Instagram: ‘Hi, would you like to sing on a track on my album?’ She answered that she usually detests everything she receives, but that she liked what I’d sent her. I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but she immediately went into the studio.” “HULA HOOP” “I was in France when I wrapped this one up, but it’s a song that talks a lot about Quebec City. It’s truly in the spirit of live music. I’m really proud to have been able to create a track that’s unlike anything else, with lots of sounds of machinery.” “montréal transit” (feat. CRABE) “It’s obviously the sister song of ‘paris transit’ and ‘québec transit,’ with airplane noise and the captain announcing our arrival. You can also hear CRABE singing ‘Je reviendrai à Montréal’ by the great Robert Charlebois.” “MTL STYLE LIBRE” “It was recorded on my laptop. It’s a demo, in fact. The track was called ‘MTL FREESTYLE’ at first, but I thought the title ‘MTL STYLE LIBRE’ sounded a lot nicer. I like the very raw side to the song, and I think it aptly introduces the Montreal leg of the journey, which is the darkest moment on the album. I lived in Montreal from the end of 2018 to early 2019, and it was one of the worst periods in my life.” “VILLE-MARIE a” “I’d laid the foundations for this track at Mac DeMarco’s place in LA with a few of his musician friends, and I finished it in Montreal. It’s got a good groove, and I incorporated strings I’d recorded for another project that never got off the ground.” “VILLE-MARIE b” “Initially, ‘VILLE-MARIE’ was just one song, but when we came to do the mixing, I decided to divide it into two. This part was done in Japan; the end is almost progressive. You can hear my Voice Memo recorded on my phone. It’s totally flawed, but it fits with the vulnerability I wanted to project.” “québec transit” (feat. CRABE) “Again, CRABE playing Charlebois, and this time it’s the song ‘Les ailes d’un ange,’ the ideal way to go back to Quebec City! This last return to my hometown is an important moment, as it allows me to end on a more positive note—you can even hear the city’s mayor, Régis Labeaume!—even though I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Quebec City. It’s a return to reality, to who I truly am, with all the pros and cons.” “BOI” “It talks about returning home for someone you appreciate. There’s this phrase I really like: ‘If I didn’t say anything when I accepted your choice, it’s that beauty is beyond me.’ It’s inspired by the poem ‘Destroying Beauty’ by Charles Bukowski.” “ancien ami” “When you start asserting your difference, whether it’s about being queer or anything else, you’re inevitably going to cut yourself off from certain people around you. In my naivety, I believed I could be myself without it changing anything whatsoever, and I was shocked when I realized that that’s not the case.” “GOLDEN DAYS” “I worked with Félix Petit (aka FELP) on this one. My music reference was ‘Home at Last’ by Steely Dan, but with a modern production. It’s like a response to ‘DIMANCHE SOIR’; it talks about the pressures of your milieu and about how the way other people see you changes when you become successful.” “SUCRE + SEL” “It’s a song that dates back a while, like ‘QUATRE-QUARTS,’ and I added elements from live recordings. My brain tends to go off in all directions and that’s the way the album is constructed, with lots of breaks in the rhythm and a form of automatic writing. This is the most direct, the most concise. It’s also one of the tracks that talks the most explicitly on the subject of sexual identity.” “PHASE” “A sort of recap and a moment of light at the end of the journey. My album addresses several topics, but this one corresponds to what Noémie calls ‘life taken as a whole’; it’s like a feeling that reminds us that change is inevitable and that everything is transitory. It came close to being the last one, but I felt there was still something missing.” “f.p.b.” “When I talk about a ‘descent into hell’ at the beginning of the song, I’m referring to the little mic I swallowed to record it! I then stood in front of a huge loudspeaker, because I wanted something really intimate by capturing the vibrations inside my body and playing while in discomfort. Believe me, it’s not easy. I vomited several times, but I’d do anything for art!”

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