“There used to be something a bit childish in the way I saw things,” Aliocha Schneider tells Apple Music. "I was totally into Bob Dylan and my music was deeply rooted in the music of the '60s, as a sort of way of compensating for contemporary music, which at the time I considered to be quite dull.” You can hear that sentiment in the Montreal actor, singer, and songwriter’s debut album, 2017’s Eleven Songs, a set that alternates between wistful folk tunes and grand, sometimes psychedelic rockers. But in the three years since then, Schneider swapped his acoustic guitar for drum machines, synthesizers, bass, and a new kind of atmosphere. “I’ve allowed myself to adopt a more modern style,” he says. “I’ve also worked hard training my voice, and I think you can feel that.” For Naked, “I wanted something that was pared down in terms of the music to illustrate the quest for purity and simplicity, which guides the topics of my songs.” Here he discusses each one on the album. The Party “We released this single some time ago, as a kind of transition, to herald a break from my usual approach. It marks a change between something very gentle and something much darker, and also hints at a slightly crazier side. In the video, you can see me arriving at a party, totally well-behaved, and then starting to dance on tables and smashing everything.” Peggy (Stone Breaker) “It’s funny because when I composed this one, it was a country song that I never would have included on the album. There’s one thing that remains intact in the way the story is told, but otherwise, everything has been transformed. The new bass groove gives it more of a soul vibe. It’s also a track with a slightly more spiritual dimension than the others. The lyrics are based on a fable written by the French poet Charles Péguy about three stone breakers in the age of cathedrals.” Turn to Grey “It’s a note to myself to bring me back to reality if ever I find myself on the wrong path. I’ve always been afraid of giving in to artistic compromises in order to find success. Making it into the limelight but using ideas that don’t reflect who I really am, it just wouldn’t make any sense. It would be the same as a football player letting go of the ball to make it to the touchline quicker.” Naked “I spent a long time thinking about the word ‘naked’ and all the different things it can conjure up. Yes, there’s desire and sensuality, but there’s also the beauty in works of art, and an element of vulnerability, integrity, brutality, something primitive, almost savage. In short, there’s a whole world of meaning behind this word. Although you would never know it from the final result, my starting point was a bass pattern, and it was Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ that inspired me to add the organ and flutes.” Your Sex Is Perfect “I was greatly influenced by Leonard Cohen’s poetry for this track. At first, it was somewhat of a challenge for me to write a song about sex that would be both explicit and sensual, but without lapsing into vulgar or overly sentimental clichés. It’s also one of the first songs that was recorded, and sort of pointed me in the right direction for the arrangements on the rest of the album.” I’m Gone “There are very few songs on this album that talk about relationships, but this one does. Sometimes, when you love someone but the feeling isn’t mutual, you still stick it out for far too long, until it eventually becomes clear that there’s really no hope. Even pushing ourselves beyond the limits of our self-respect. The song tells the story of someone who eventually regains control of the situation before giving in to despair. And there’s an almost trap side to it, so it’ll probably be fun to perform live.” Forget My Blues “This one’s a good example of what I can now accomplish with my voice, because, although the song is simple, it was nonetheless very challenging vocally. It talks about that certain person who makes us feel better in those moments when we’re feeling sad or blue, someone you ask to stay a little while longer. Like in ‘Juste une p’tite nuite’ [‘Just one short night’] by the Montreal band Les Colocs, a song that makes me cry every time I listen to it.” Run Baby Run “This song was written just after my first album was released, and I think you can hear that in the acoustics and the Nick Drake-style influence. I evoke the idea of a star that dies as a way of talking about disillusionment, about something that once guided us but then the light goes out, leaving us all alone with no sense of direction. Like several tracks on the album, Charlotte Cardin provided the backing vocals. She has amazing talent for harmonies.” Mixed Up “This is the last song I wrote when we’d almost finished recording. I used what Jacques Prévert did with his poem ‘Cortège’ as inspiration, and had fun playing with words and changing the order of the adjectives. These new associations of ideas produced unexpected images that are sometimes funny, sometimes tragic.” Moon “This track was also an exercise in style, but a musical one. The rhythm was initially twice as fast, but when we came to record it, we slowed it down and added lots of reverb. Charlotte also sings on this one, but without guidance, simply improvising. The end result is something spatial, with a certain weightless quality. An atmosphere where consciousness is somewhat hazy and where disjointed thoughts are but fleeting.”

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