11 Songs, 30 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

While Alex Nevsky has, over his first three albums, generally tended toward intimate ballads and driving pop-rock tunes, he’s always been a tough guy to pin down. “I think I have many personalities,” the Quebec singer-songwriter tells Apple Music. “I grew up on hip-hop. I started making music with only a classical guitar, then piano. I just want to try as many things as possible in my life.” Nowhere is that more evident than on his fourth LP, Chemin sauvage (translation: “wild road”), which finds Nevsky expanding into funk, soul, and hip-hop territory without losing the honesty that has always been central to his music. “I just didn’t want to make the same record I had before,” he says. “I wanted to make an almost completely upbeat album.” A range of collaborators helped him keep things fresh, but little could change things up as much as the onset of fatherhood: “In the first months after my daughter was born, I was really scared of suddenly becoming an old man,” he says. “It’s a bit about changing my life.” Hop in as Nevsky navigates Chemin sauvage track by track.

L.A. à l’aube
“This is the first song written for the album. We were at a cottage with Étienne Dupuis-Cloutier, who co-produced the songs, and Jonathan Harnois, a songwriter. It was the first song where I came out of my comfort zone, lyrically. I wanted to make something about a road trip with two teenagers. The song starts and they’re like, ‘It’s s**t here, let’s go to the ocean.’ I was trying to give it a hip-hop or modern vibe—in the beginning, it had beatbox and synths—but in the end we got rid of everything and it’s just piano, strings, and percussion, which brought it back to something more timeless.”

Mes yeux
“I made it with Gabriel Gagnon and [Milk & Bone]’s Laurence Lafond-Beaulne; Jonathan [Harnois] was there too. It was at the same cottage, the next day at dawn. We made it in about an hour. We found the melodies super quickly and did the whole thing in a morning. The theme was a night at a music festival, three friends in party mode. There was a lot of love and freedom in the air. We wanted to capture that energy.”

Chemin sauvage feat. Claudia Bouvette
“This song had four or five lives; it really evolved. I made four different melodies for it, and four different sets of lyrics. It never quite worked until I invited Claudia Bouvette to a session. She sang a second verse that was so good, I scrapped my melody and used hers to write new lyrics for my verse. I think it has a bit of her personality, with that beat–Pooon-ta! Pooon-ta! It’s the kind of beat that plays everywhere in South America. And we added trumpet. I went somewhere I didn’t dare, and thought, 'Why not go 100% pop on this one?'”

Les buées
“When my girlfriend was pregnant, we spent all our time in the shower writing names for our girl or boy in the steam on the window. We wrote at least 100 names, each night. That gave me an idea for a love song about ‘writing your name in all the foggy windows.' Musically, it’s very basic. I came up with a little riff on guitar, maybe after listening to that song Justin Bieber wrote with Ed Sheeran. What’s it called again? 'Love Yourself.'”

On dérobera
“This is a song I wrote during a writing workshop with Gilles Vigneault. We had to write a poem and put it to music at the end of the week. I was inspired by one of the images he used in the class, where he spoke of poetry as a sailboat. It gave me the idea for a song about running away together: ‘We’ll undress the sail covers and we’ll take off.’ It’s really a hymn to a slow life, about savoring the moments and taking the time to watch the leaves turn red in fall.”

Wild Walk
“This is a little interlude we did. Originally this melody, ‘Love is a wild, wild walk,’ was at the end of ‘Chemin sauvage.’ We cut it out to make this interlude, later in the album. It’s kind of dreamy.”

Penser feat. Sophia Bel
“This song came about after we had pushed those other songs aside. It was written with Clément Leduc, who has a band called Hologramme. I thought of Sophia Bel, so I texted her and she showed up an hour later and we wrote the chorus. It was born out of telling a story I’m not living at all, about going to a bar and being attracted to someone but being too shy to talk to them. I wanted to make a song like Ja Rule and Ashanti’s 'Always On Time,' from the early 2000s.”

Oh non maman feat. Benny Adam
“I wrote this song on my iPad, two days before my daughter was born. It had already been eight days she was supposed to be in the world—it was a long wait. I was in a moment where my life was going to change. So there was that fear of aging, saying, ‘Oh no, I’ll never grow old. I’ll be a kid forever.’”

LOTO feat. Alaclair Ensemble
"I had written this little hook, ‘Comme à la, comme à la loto,’ at the cottage a year before. Since then, I had dreamed of doing a song with Alaclair Ensemble. The song was originally more soulful, but in the end the guys from Alaclair wanted to make it closer to what they do. So Claude Bégin took it and gave it a twist with a big beat and big bass. I didn’t want to feel like an impostor rapping. It just felt natural. The chorus fits with hip-hop. It was fun to make a bridge between the music I listen to and the music I make.”

Courir à deux
“That song had so many versions. I had put it aside, but I finally asked Eman from Alaclair Ensemble if he could add a new flow and verse for the song. He sent me something I really liked that gave the song new life. It’s the same theme as 'Chemin sauvage,' about a couple that has been together for a while, trying to keep it together despite all the noise around them. It’s a fear I have, that life becomes really boring and we become like most other couples.”

TOUT
“This was composed with Alex McMahon. We made it in one afternoon. It’s the most Alex Nevsky song on the album, in that it resembles my other albums. It’s very, very straightforward. In the beginning, I just had the oooh-ooh-ooh-ooh for the chorus, then I decided to keep it. I liked the onomatopoeia. It’s almost a parody of myself to make a song like this, but it’s really fun to sing live.”

Apple Digital Master

EDITORS’ NOTES

While Alex Nevsky has, over his first three albums, generally tended toward intimate ballads and driving pop-rock tunes, he’s always been a tough guy to pin down. “I think I have many personalities,” the Quebec singer-songwriter tells Apple Music. “I grew up on hip-hop. I started making music with only a classical guitar, then piano. I just want to try as many things as possible in my life.” Nowhere is that more evident than on his fourth LP, Chemin sauvage (translation: “wild road”), which finds Nevsky expanding into funk, soul, and hip-hop territory without losing the honesty that has always been central to his music. “I just didn’t want to make the same record I had before,” he says. “I wanted to make an almost completely upbeat album.” A range of collaborators helped him keep things fresh, but little could change things up as much as the onset of fatherhood: “In the first months after my daughter was born, I was really scared of suddenly becoming an old man,” he says. “It’s a bit about changing my life.” Hop in as Nevsky navigates Chemin sauvage track by track.

L.A. à l’aube
“This is the first song written for the album. We were at a cottage with Étienne Dupuis-Cloutier, who co-produced the songs, and Jonathan Harnois, a songwriter. It was the first song where I came out of my comfort zone, lyrically. I wanted to make something about a road trip with two teenagers. The song starts and they’re like, ‘It’s s**t here, let’s go to the ocean.’ I was trying to give it a hip-hop or modern vibe—in the beginning, it had beatbox and synths—but in the end we got rid of everything and it’s just piano, strings, and percussion, which brought it back to something more timeless.”

Mes yeux
“I made it with Gabriel Gagnon and [Milk & Bone]’s Laurence Lafond-Beaulne; Jonathan [Harnois] was there too. It was at the same cottage, the next day at dawn. We made it in about an hour. We found the melodies super quickly and did the whole thing in a morning. The theme was a night at a music festival, three friends in party mode. There was a lot of love and freedom in the air. We wanted to capture that energy.”

Chemin sauvage feat. Claudia Bouvette
“This song had four or five lives; it really evolved. I made four different melodies for it, and four different sets of lyrics. It never quite worked until I invited Claudia Bouvette to a session. She sang a second verse that was so good, I scrapped my melody and used hers to write new lyrics for my verse. I think it has a bit of her personality, with that beat–Pooon-ta! Pooon-ta! It’s the kind of beat that plays everywhere in South America. And we added trumpet. I went somewhere I didn’t dare, and thought, 'Why not go 100% pop on this one?'”

Les buées
“When my girlfriend was pregnant, we spent all our time in the shower writing names for our girl or boy in the steam on the window. We wrote at least 100 names, each night. That gave me an idea for a love song about ‘writing your name in all the foggy windows.' Musically, it’s very basic. I came up with a little riff on guitar, maybe after listening to that song Justin Bieber wrote with Ed Sheeran. What’s it called again? 'Love Yourself.'”

On dérobera
“This is a song I wrote during a writing workshop with Gilles Vigneault. We had to write a poem and put it to music at the end of the week. I was inspired by one of the images he used in the class, where he spoke of poetry as a sailboat. It gave me the idea for a song about running away together: ‘We’ll undress the sail covers and we’ll take off.’ It’s really a hymn to a slow life, about savoring the moments and taking the time to watch the leaves turn red in fall.”

Wild Walk
“This is a little interlude we did. Originally this melody, ‘Love is a wild, wild walk,’ was at the end of ‘Chemin sauvage.’ We cut it out to make this interlude, later in the album. It’s kind of dreamy.”

Penser feat. Sophia Bel
“This song came about after we had pushed those other songs aside. It was written with Clément Leduc, who has a band called Hologramme. I thought of Sophia Bel, so I texted her and she showed up an hour later and we wrote the chorus. It was born out of telling a story I’m not living at all, about going to a bar and being attracted to someone but being too shy to talk to them. I wanted to make a song like Ja Rule and Ashanti’s 'Always On Time,' from the early 2000s.”

Oh non maman feat. Benny Adam
“I wrote this song on my iPad, two days before my daughter was born. It had already been eight days she was supposed to be in the world—it was a long wait. I was in a moment where my life was going to change. So there was that fear of aging, saying, ‘Oh no, I’ll never grow old. I’ll be a kid forever.’”

LOTO feat. Alaclair Ensemble
"I had written this little hook, ‘Comme à la, comme à la loto,’ at the cottage a year before. Since then, I had dreamed of doing a song with Alaclair Ensemble. The song was originally more soulful, but in the end the guys from Alaclair wanted to make it closer to what they do. So Claude Bégin took it and gave it a twist with a big beat and big bass. I didn’t want to feel like an impostor rapping. It just felt natural. The chorus fits with hip-hop. It was fun to make a bridge between the music I listen to and the music I make.”

Courir à deux
“That song had so many versions. I had put it aside, but I finally asked Eman from Alaclair Ensemble if he could add a new flow and verse for the song. He sent me something I really liked that gave the song new life. It’s the same theme as 'Chemin sauvage,' about a couple that has been together for a while, trying to keep it together despite all the noise around them. It’s a fear I have, that life becomes really boring and we become like most other couples.”

TOUT
“This was composed with Alex McMahon. We made it in one afternoon. It’s the most Alex Nevsky song on the album, in that it resembles my other albums. It’s very, very straightforward. In the beginning, I just had the oooh-ooh-ooh-ooh for the chorus, then I decided to keep it. I liked the onomatopoeia. It’s almost a parody of myself to make a song like this, but it’s really fun to sing live.”

Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME

More By Alex Nevsky