Incarnat is a world away from the sunny electro-pop that Ariane Moffatt released as a duo with producer D R M S on 2020’s SOMMM EP. “There’s a very festive side to me and another that’s more introspective,” the Montreal singer-songwriter tells Apple Music. “When we were working on the SOMMM project, which is very pop and vibrant and involved a fabulous gang of special guests, I also felt like exploring a more intimate and fragile dimension of my personality. That’s how the songs on Incarnat started to take shape in the fall, prior to the pandemic.” To delve into that sensitive side, Moffatt relied primarily on her voice and piano playing for Incarnat, a word that describes the color of one's flesh. “I was driven by a desire for raw emotion, simplicity, something stripped down yet also grandiose,” she says. Here, Moffatt goes deeper on how she went deeper into herself on each of the album’s tracks. Beauté “When you start a project, you get going and look at yourself and sometimes realize you’re not quite sure which direction to take. This song, which came about quite early, is like a pat on the back to my creative process, and also talks about every artist’s quest for beauty. I had this picture in my mind of this vast overwhelming territory, like the far North, that you have to cross to reach beauty. The repetitive rhythmical side captures that hypnotic state that takes hold of you when you create.” Décalage “One gray fall morning, I headed over to my studio and wrote this song, which talks of impossible and idealized romances—always a really inspiring subject. I wanted to express in just a few words that feeling of emotional disparity when two people are far from being on the same wavelength. There are things that are very personal on this album, and others, like the lyrics on this track, that are more the sum total of my past experiences.” Espoir “It came to me in a flash, one night on my way to an ADISQ Gala. As if the word ‘espoir’ [‘hope’] had suddenly materialized on a banner in the sky! I built the song around that image; I wanted to keep it stripped down to emphasize a sense of fragility. There’s also a very raw aspect, with the sound of the piano hammers that we decided to leave in.” Phèdre en Forêt “I had this wild fantasy of collaborating with Fanny Britt, an artist I admire immensely. So I offered her a music score, a sort of gentle lament that’s not really anything like what I usually do, and she wrote the lyrics, which I find beautiful beyond words. It describes a love story that’s come to its end, and it’s both dark and superb. As for the string arrangements, they were done by Antoine Gratton and are somewhat evocative of Beck.” Little Bluff Beach “It’s a happy memory that I recount on piano. Little Bluff is the name of a small beach in Prince Edward County, Ontario, where I went with my girlfriend during a trip without our kids. We’ve had few such moments in the last few years, so they’re precious. I recorded the sound of the pebbles and then sampled it so I could use it as the backdrop for the track.” Jamais trop tard (feat. Lou Doillon) “It’s a cover of the song ‘Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime,’ which I discovered through Beck’s version in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a film that affected me a lot at the time. It’s one of my favorite songs ever, and I felt like doing a very loose adaptation in French. I figured it would lend itself well to a duo, so I asked Lou Doillon, who I knew through mutual friends, to join me.” Incarnat “I started with a work by Arvo Pärt, a composer I really like, and then completely transformed it on piano, just to pave the way for a very different song to which I also added strings. It gives it a somewhat sacred quality. It’s addressed to my girlfriend; it’s like a poem I’ve dedicated to her. For me, it’s the soul of the album, the pièce de résistance.” Distance “It’s a super fragile track in which I explore the notion of parentage, of what we’ve inherited from our parents and what we’ll pass on to our kids. I think that at some point every human being reflects on those kinds of ties. It was hard to write, because I didn’t know if I should even go there. I had a hard time finding a stance between modesty and immodesty.” La classe “I listen to a lot of artists like Nils Frahm and Ryuichi Sakamoto, who make intimate and richly textured instrumental music. I wanted to allow myself to go down that road and include songs on which I play piano. I like the raw, imperfect side of this track, which comes down to the fact that we played with sound effects, reproducing the sound of plucked strings on the piano.” Paupières “Initially, the idea was to recreate the impression of escape through sleep. The result is a rather abstract text, between wakefulness and sleep. As I was working on it, it gradually started to change and now also talks of alcohol as a way of escaping and forgetting. It was like I’d discovered along the way what I really wanted to address. Musically, I especially had fun playing with the textures and overlaying the vocals.” Réminiscence “It’s an interlude that takes up a segment of the song ‘Décalage.’ It was created by Marc-André Gilbert, who also produced the album with me. He sampled a bit of the piano so he could rework it.” Nature “This is my COVID song. I’d started it before the pandemic, and it was all set to be something about the environment. With the pandemic, the lyrics ‘Ma nature reprendra bien ses droits’ [‘My nature will reclaim its rights’] took on a whole new meaning: They conveyed our sense of powerlessness in the face of everything that was happening. At the end, you can hear teens from [Montreal’s bilingual] FACE School singing. It was important to give voice to this generation which, as I see it, has been the hardest hit over the past year.”

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