Editors’ Notes With a style honed over the course of three gorgeous folk rock albums, Montreal singer-songwriter Antoine Corriveau is known for his gentle touch. But for his fourth LP, Pissenlit (which translates to “Dandelion”), Corriveau decided to step outside his comfort zone. “In the past, I’ve often focused on strings and brass, and I realized that I perhaps relied too much on these types of instruments,” he tells Apple Music of the rawer, rockier impulses that drive Pissenlit. Working in his own studio for the first time eliminated any pressure or time constraints, and allowed him to take some unexpected detours, such as gathering five drummers together. “The result was over three hours of rhythms which afterwards provided the starting point for several tracks,” he says. “I sort of took the approach of a collage, experimenting as I went along. I think it’s the first time I've given myself this much freedom.” Here, he reflects on each of Pissenlit’s tracks.

Quelqu’un
“It’s the first song I wrote for the album, and it’s also the one that provided the tone for the different themes. I felt like talking a bit more about myself, without falling into something that’s self-centered, while also exploring various social issues. Musically, it started out in a pretty minimalist way while I was improvising on the classical guitar. I then combined it with the recording sessions for the five drums, and they created a kind of beating pulse, like the intro to a song that never really gets off the ground.”

Maladresses
“This very to-the-point ballad, which deals with the concept of escape, has a bit of a Nirvana Unplugged vibe to it. When I composed it, I knew right away I wanted to turn it into something more pop than what I usually do. It revolves a lot around the mix of drums and bass. It took a long time before I managed to integrate other elements, because I found the rhythm section so effective; I was afraid to break the spell.”

Maison après maison
“I started writing this one while I was in Sainte-Luce in the Lower St. Lawrence, after traveling around the Gaspé Peninsula. I was gazing at the village, its rows of houses. And I began thinking of all the places I’ve lived, and then left behind. It inspired me to draw a parallel with our ideals as a society and the things that make us feel secure. I took a very rock direction, with guitar riffs and the five drums.”

Albany
“This song, where I talk about the discovery of an abandoned house in Albany, in upstate New York, is probably the best example of how I went about producing the album. I built it entirely around the drum session. I had a lot of fun improvising with the heaviest beats I had on hand. I started recording a vocal track, even though the lyrics weren’t finished yet. I created everything as I went along, in exploration mode.”

Un arbre
“This track in a way takes up the same idea as ‘Maison après maison,’ but from another standpoint. I was sitting on my balcony and I noticed that all the trees were in bloom except the one right in front of my place. I pictured everything that this dying tree had witnessed in the course of its existence, all the stories it would have been able to tell. To maintain this impression of time passing by, the chords and verses are never repeated. We cross a room without retracing our steps, with no possible return.”

Cheapcheapcheap
“So that several of us could play together at the same time, there are a few songs I had to record in another studio, and this is one of them. Between two tracks, I was messing around on the guitar and a riff came to me, the other musicians joined in, and 10 minutes later we had the basis for this song, which was kind of an accident. For the lyrics, I was inspired by a passage from Delphine de Vigan’s novel Rien ne s’oppose à la nuit where the main character feels like a bystander in their own story.”

Peut-être
“I spent a great deal of time driving around the Lower St. Lawrence region with my girlfriend looking for a house. There was one I especially liked and that we tried to buy, but it didn’t work out. In this song, which I wrote following the disappointment, I wonder about the reasons why I wanted to live in a place which I may have been forced to leave a few years later because of potential flooding. And to sort of come to terms with the whole thing, I pictured this doomsday scenario where the entire surface of the Earth is covered in water.”

Kenny U-Pull
“It’s another ‘accidental' song that came about during a jam. There was this drum bit I really liked and I played it on a loop. On the track, I recount a visit to a self-service junkyard, the Kenny U-Pull, to find a part for my car. In the beginning, I never thought I’d ever release this song. But I decided to keep it, because it was consistent with my resolve to have an album that’s a bit of a free-for-all, with very short tracks, like strange interludes.”

Ils parlent
“When I composed this one, I was improvising in a slightly punk register, just for fun. But I ended up getting caught at my own game. The lyrics are a sort of mishmash of all my frustrations and the discussions I’ve had with lots of people. For example, there are memories of my dad telling me stories about growing up in Rouyn-Noranda and reflections on the fact that in Quebec we’re not taught the history of the First Nations.”

Les bruits des os
“Like ‘Maladresses,’ this one is built around a groove created on the drums and bass. When I first got my car, which wasn’t that long ago, I tasted a new kind of freedom. Among other places, I went to Natashquan. It was then that I realized that apart from the roads that run alongside the river, we know very little about Quebec’s territory. And I started to become obsessed with the idea of heading north on the Trans-Taiga, a gravel road. In the song, I imagine never being able to go there, and asking my loved ones to take me there after I die. For me, taking an interest in this vast territory also means taking an interest in those who live there and their lot in life.”

Les sangs mélangés
“After reading the novel Taqawan, which is based on a conflict between the Quebec provincial police and the Mi’kmaq that took place in 1981 in Restigouche, I contacted the author, Éric Plamondon, to ask if I could adapt one of his phrases. The phrase says that in Quebec, we all have Indian blood: When it’s not in our veins, it’s on our hands. So I talk about the genocide against the First Nations, but also about racism, the fear of immigrants and refugees. I asked Swedish artist Erika Angell to participate on the song, because I felt like having an immigrant’s, as well as a woman’s, point of view.”

Disparition
“The things I’ve experienced in the course of my different love affairs blend together in this song, where I also make connections with the disappearance of Aboriginal women. The lyrics emerged very instinctively. We captured this piano-vocals moment, and instead of playing it over and over again to try and get something perfect, we kept the first recording, taking responsibility for the imperfections and background noise.”

En Corolla au Canada
“The title of this track and some bits in the lyrics could sound like a joke, but I address certain aspects of relationships which, for me, are no joking matter. I liked the idea of talking about a couple, but in all kinds of roundabout ways in order to emphasize the complexity of human emotions. I’m pleased to have been able to do so with a touch of humor.”

1
4:17
 
2
1:59
 
3
4:31
 
4
3:32
 
5
1:49
 
6
2:48
 
7
3:06
 
8
1:24
 
9
3:05
 
10
2:41
 
11
6:04
 
12
3:45
 
13
4:37
 

More by Antoine Corriveau

Featured On

  • Nouveau franco
    Nouveau franco
    Apple Music Musique francophone
  • RoQC
    RoQC
    Apple Music Musique francophone
  • Antoine Corriveau Essentials
    Antoine Corriveau Essentials
    Apple Music Musique francophone