Editors’ Notes It was to pay tribute to his maternal grandfather, from whom he’s inherited several personality traits, that Jonah Guimond adopted his stage name. “He’s the great Bélliveau, I’m the little one,” the Acadian singer and multi-instrumentalist from St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia, tells Apple Music. Perhaps confidence was one of those characteristics that his grandpa passed along: With just three EPs under his belt, Guimond named his debut album Greatest Hits Vol.1. He's actually been honing his craft for a while, and was a finalist in the 2019 edition of Les Francouvertes, a Montreal showcase for emerging artists. “I must have been about 16 when I got interested in the producing aspect, in electro and hip-hop,” he says of the influence that runs through his brand of woozy, warped indie folk and pop. “This album is, in a way, a return to my roots: I’ve gone back to my traditional sources of inspiration, but the banjo merges with modern beats.” Here he tells us more about how each of the album’s songs came to be.

Les bateaux dans la baie
“This song is a bit of a response to social media, where everything being conveyed can take on such extreme and even distressing proportions. Me, I just feel like getting away from it all and sitting quietly by the bay and sipping a beer. It’s neither nihilistic nor positive—simply an observation that sometimes we’re quite powerless in the face of certain things, and that’s fine. With the music, I wanted to recreate that feeling of calm you get when you’re on a beach by the sea.”

Drivin' on Empty
“I took part in a writer’s residency in Tadoussac last year, and that’s when this song was written. What I say is that I’ve never had much money and I’ve always been able to deal with that easily enough, but I know it’s something a lot of people are really concerned about. On a broader level, I think human beings sometimes ask themselves too many questions, and in this song I say that an earthworm probably doesn’t worry half as much as we do.”

Cool When Yer Old
“This one marks a bit of a turning point in my creative process. I’d been wanting to use synthesizers for some time, so I borrowed one from my nephew just to play around with. It was from that point onwards that I started integrating these types of sounds into my compositions. In the lyrics, I talk about elderly people who no longer care about fashion. They’ll wear socks, for example, that clash with the rest of their outfit. And I wonder what it is that happens in life that makes you stop worrying about these kinds of details.”

Moosehorn Lake
“The lyrics are very special to me, because they are definitely the most personal I’ve ever written. Often when I write songs, I start off with my own personal experiences, but then reshape them so that they become more universal. I’m from a little village where everyone knows everyone else, so I spent my entire youth with the same friends. Now, at our age, some of them are moving away to study or work, so I’m wondering if we’ll still know each other later on.”

Stand There
“It starts off with a really simple country sound, then suddenly becomes electro, and even trap. This track perfectly exemplifies the turn I took in my approach for this album. Before, my music was basically country and folk with a few pop elements here and there. I think there’ll always be a country vibe to my work, but I’m leaving the door wide open to experimentation so that I’ll always have the option of integrating other genres.”

Invite les animaux dans ta maison
“It’s one of the first songs I wrote for the album. It’s very roots, with the banjo and acoustic guitar, and hardly any synthesizer. I talk about how we should be more caring and more respectful of animals. I’ve been a vegan for several years, but the last thing I want to do is tell other people what to do. And that’s the reason I decided to talk about my convictions using a light, almost childlike melody.”

Income Tax
“I’d written the melody for the verses on piano some time ago, but I hadn’t yet found the direction to take for the refrains. It became clear while I was experimenting with the synthesizers. After that, the lyrics also quickly materialized: I say that for some people who don’t have a lot of money, even a small income tax refund can be a life-changer. And that it’s a natural reflex to want to spend the money right away.”

Black Bear
“In this song that I performed at Les Francouvertes, I draw a parallel between an animal’s existence, where the sole objective is to manage to survive, and that of a human being, who has about 500 different goals. We complicate our lives so much, and I’m a bit envious of that kind of simplicity. I really wanted to include the track on the album, because it’s truly representative of the more traditional bluegrass side of me.”

Rain and Snow
“What I wanted to do was trigger a clash between the past and the present. I took an old folk song that already existed. The banjo riffs are true to the original version, but we go off on a totally different tangent with the funky basslines and very contemporary arrangements; it’s almost hip-hop. So, it’s like a little nod at traditional music, because after all, it has been the starting point for most of my baggage and inspiration.”

L'eau entre mes doigts
“Once again, it’s about the passing of time, and it says that when we reach a certain age, we all leave to embark on our separate careers. When we were young, our grandparents used to tell us to make the most of it because later on, time would simply fly by. It’s been several years now since I realized just how true that is, and it scares me. I therefore wanted the refrains to really make an impact. While the verses are quite unembellished, with virtually just the banjo, the choruses are more elaborate. And I’m actually really proud of the solo at the end, with that series of different effects on the electric guitar. I really pulled out all the stops.”

SONG
Les bateaux dans la baie
1
3:38
 
Drivin' on Empty
2
3:22
 
Cool When Yer Old
3
3:28
 
Moosehorn Lake
4
3:24
 
Stand There
5
3:27
 
Invite les animaux dans ta maison
6
3:27
 
Income Tax
7
4:06
 
Black Bear
8
2:34
 
Rain and Snow
9
3:15
 
L'eau entre mes doigts
10
3:38
 

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