The end of summer is nigh, but don’t shed your festival gear just yet: we are just a week away from the 15th edition of the Festival de musique émergente en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (FME), held from August 31 to September 3 in southwestern Quebec. This year, close to 70 artists, most of them Canadian or Québecois, will descend on the sleepy city of Rouyn-Noranda and party all Labour Day weekend.
To prepare you for this unique festival experience, this author has prepared a curated Spotify playlist featuring artists who will be performing at FME 2017. Below are short descriptions of the tracks and artists for you to peruse at your leisure.
Look out for exclusive interviews with artists from the festival on TOTAL ECLIPSE in the coming weeks, as well as live coverage coming at you from my CKUT Twitter account, @jmvanamsterdam.
FME 2017 HOT PICKS
- Pierre Kwenders (“Woods of Solitude”): Kwenders is a Congolese-Canadian rapper and musician who blends traditional African themes with dance music and hip-hop. He performs on August 31 at 9:15pm.
- Thus Owls (“Smoke Like Birds”): Thus Owls is a Swedish-Canadian husband-and-wife duo based in Montreal. Together they create a dark, layered indie pop sound. Thus Owls perform on August 31 at 8:00pm.
- Phillipe B (“Explosion”): Phillipe B is a Québecois singer-songwriter hailing from Rouyn-Noranda, though he is currently based in Montreal. He produces haunting, expansive music that incorporates acoustic guitar plucking and orchestral accents. Phillipe B performs on August 31 at 9:00pm.
- La Mverte (“The Inner Out”): La Mverte is a Parisian electronic artist whose music is reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s “robot pop.” He performs on August 31 at 5:00pm.
- La Bronze (“Aimons-nous”): La Bronze is a band hailing from Quebec, blending a capella harmonies with alt-rock instrumentals. They perform on August 31 at 8:30pm.
- A Tribe Called Red (“R.E.D.”): A Tribe Called Red is a Canadian electro-hip-hop group based out of Ottawa. The trio is comprised of First Nations members, and they famously meld “powwow step” with hip-hop and dubstep to create powerful, contemporary powwow dancehall music. ATCR perform on August 31 at 10:15pm.
- Andy Shauf (“The Musician”): Andy Shauf is a Saskatchewanian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who creates highly-acclaimed indie pop, notable for its inclusion of the clarinet. He performs on August 31 at 10:15pm.
- FUUDGE (“Satan”): FUUDGE is a Québecois psychedelic “stoner” grunge band, and they successfully meld psych rock with grunge to create genuine spaced-out rock. FUUDGE performs on August 31 at 11:55pm.
- King Abid (“Hamidou”): King Abid is a Tunisian-Canadian reggae-dancehall artist. Inspired by Jamaican reggae beats, he adds a unique Tunisian flair to his tracks and is well-known for collaborating with local Quebec artists. King Abid performs August 31 at 11:30pm.
- Duchess Says (“Negative Thoughts”): Duchess Says is a punk band out of Montreal, supplying unique and danceable electro-punk tracks. They are performing on August 31 at 1:00am.
- Louis-Phillipe Gingras (“Parc à chiens”): A Québecois native, Montreal-based Louis-Phillipe Gingras is a singer-songwriter who produces honest, acoustic francophone indie pop, influenced by his jazz background. Gingras performs on September 1 at 5:00pm.
- Atsuko Chiba (“Wasabi Hands”): Atsuko Chiba is an experimental rock band hailing from Montreal. They blend psych rock, some grunge elements, and a sprinkle of rap to create an entirely unique rock experience. Atsuko Chiba will be performing on August 31 at 1:45am.
- Emily Wells (“Antidote”): A New York singer-songwriter originally from Texas, Wells blends classical music with indie and experimental pop. The contrast between violin and analog synth will surely have you intrigued. Emily Wells performs on September 1 at 8:00pm.
- Geoffroy (“Thirsty”): Geoffroy is based out of Montreal, but draws from his life experiences abroad to create some truly captivating chill wave folk. He will be performing on September 1 at 5:00pm.
- Pierre Flynn (“Le Dernier Homme”): A Quebec native, Pierre Flynn has been on the music scene since he joined the Québecois group Octobre at the age of eighteen. He plays classic alternative rock with a seasoned professional’s ease. Flynn performs on September 1 at 5:00pm.
- Jason Bajada (“Blondie”): Jason Bajada is a Montreal-based artist who creates catchy, quirky indie pop. He will be performing on September 1 at 7:00pm.
- Julien Sagot (“Bleu corail électrique”): The Montreal-based percussionist is performing as his own artist, though he is also involved with the award-winning band Karkwa. His off-kilter songwriting and percussion-based sleepy pop provide a nice indie dreamscape. Julien Sagot performs on September 1 at 9:00pm.
- Lary Kidd (“La grande beauté”): Lary Kidd, who also fronts the rap name Loud Lary Ajust, is a Montreal-based rapper who blends French and English verses fluently and effortlessly, as is the case with many Québecois rap artists. He performs as a solo act on September 1 at 9:15pm.
- Elephant Stone (“Andromeda”): Elephant Stone are a Montreal-based bastion of Bollywood-infused psychedelic rock. The lead singer, Rishi Bhir, has collaborated with indie darlings such as Beck and The Black Angels, and produces unique “Hindustani” psych rock on his own label. Elephant Stone performs on September 1 at 8:45pm.
- Eman X Vlooper (“Les pauvres”): The Montreal-based rap duo, also part of the larger Alaclair Ensemble, is comprised of Eman the rapper and Vlooper the producer. Their tracks feature Montreal’s singular “franglais” rap. The pair will be performing on September 1 at 10:00pm.
- A Place To Bury Strangers (“We’ve Come So Far”): A Place To Bury Strangers is a noise rock trio hailing from NYC. They blend psych rock, noise, and shoegaze elements to create an atmospheric wall of sound. APTBS performs on September 1 at 9:45pm.
- The Franklin Electric (“I Know The Feeling”): The Franklin Electric are a Montreal-based indie rock band with the sound of indie rockstars Mumford & Sons, Half Moon Run, and City & Colour. It’s no coincidence that thanks to winning a Nashville songwriting grant, they were able to tour with these bands and introduce their sound to a larger fan base. The Franklin Electric perform on September 1 at 10:00pm.
- Deke Dickerson (“Little Innocent”): This Missourian “rockabilly” artist is bringing the honky-tonk spirit to Quebec with his rollicking Western swing music. Dickerson will be performing September 1 at 12:00am.
- Alaclair Ensemble (“Coucou les coucous”): The Montreal hip-hop group originally hails from Quebec City, and is a collective based on an alternative Bas-Canada history concept. The Alaclair Ensemble includes rapper Eman and producer Vlooper, and their lyrics are a perfect blend of French and English. The collective performs on September 1 at 11:00pm.
- Bloodshot Bill & The Hick-Ups (“The Wobble”): Bloodshot Bill is a veteran artist in the blues and rockabilly Montreal scene, producing a rustic, romping sound; this time, with backing support from The Hick-Ups. They perform on September 1 and 2 at 2:00am.
- Afrikana Soul Sister (“Mayébo”): Afrikana Soul Sister is one of the many creations of the local producer Jean-François Lemieux. In this ensemble, he incorporates African artists to bring the song and rhythm while he supplies the dance beats. Afrikana Soul Sister perform on September 2 at 12:00pm.
- Catherine Leduc (“La fin ou le début”): Catherine Leduc is a Montreal-based singer-songwriter who creates slow-wave dream pop to supplement francophone lyrics. She performs on September 2 at 5:00pm.
- Canailles (“Backflips”): Canailles are a Montreal-based bluegrass and folk group who incorporate garage rock to give their sound a unique edge. They perform on September 2 at 1:15pm.
- Mon Doux Saigneur (“Primitif”): This Montreal-based group mix folk rock with electronic elements to produce a sound not unlike a francophone Beck. They will be performing on September 2 at 5:00pm.
- I Shot Samo (“Bloodspatter”): I Shot Samo is an off-kilter indie rock band hailing from Montreal. Any fan of The New Pornographers will enjoy their sound immensely. They perform on September 2 at 5:00pm.
- KROY (“Learn”): KROY is a Montreal-based electropop artist whose dreamy arrangements are supplemented by a gossamer falsetto. She performs on September 2 at 5:00pm.
- Raphaël Dénommé (“La main”): If you’re looking for “swamp rock” at FME, go catch Québecois artist Raphaël Dénommé. He’ll be channelling the Louisiana bayou on September 2 at 5:00pm.
- Saratoga (“Fleur”): Saratoga is a Montreal-based folk duo who produce gentle, vocals-based folk, with a surprise clarinet accent. They perform on September 2 at 5:00pm.
- Lubic (“Clerval”): Natives of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Quebec and veterans of FME, Lubic produces classic, energetic francophone rock. They will be performing on September 2 at 8:00pm.
- Antoine Corriveau (“Croix blanche”): Antoine Corriveau is a Québecois singer-songwriter who alternates between an acoustic, stripped-down sound and a darkly layered sound. Catch his haunting arrangements on September 2 at 8:45pm and on September 3 at 1:00pm.
- Blood and Glass (“Block of Ice”): This Montreal-based group create muted, “gothic” dream pop. They will be performing on September 2 at 11:55pm.
- Barry Paquin Roberge (“Voyage Massage”): BPR are a psych rock trio from Montreal that create some seriously trippy garage rock. They will be performing on September 2 at 11:00pm.
- It It Anita (“III”): It It Anita all the way from Liege, Belgium. The world-famous artists are bringing their creative noise rock to FME on September 2 at 11:55pm.
- Betty Bonifassi (“Rosie”): Betty Bonifassi is a French-born, Montreal-based singer who covers a multitude of genres; while the featured song is a sultry blues track, Bonifassi has also dabbled in jazz, folk, and electronica. She will be performing on September 2 at 9:45pm.
- Jean-Michel Blais (“Hasselblad 1″): A Montreal-based pianist, Blais goes beyond classical composition by combining haunting piano melodies with dreamy pop. The result is not to be missed. He performs on September 3 at 5:00pm.
- Black Empire (“Eclipse”): Black Empire is a local black metal band currently based in Rouyn-Noranda. They will be performing on September 3 at 8:00pm.
- Ludovic Alarie (“L’appartement”): This Montreal-based singer-songwriter will be bringing his quiet, reflective indie pop to FME on September 3 at 5:00pm.
- Les Dales Hawerchuk (“Dale Hawerchuk”): The Québecois alt rock band is indeed named after the former NHL player, who gave them permission to use his name on the condition they “stay out of jail.” Les Dales Hawerchuk will be performing their fast-paced garage rock on September 2 at 9:45pm.
- Abysmal Dawn (“Inanimate”): This Los Angeles-based death metal trio retain a natural song progression while they describe impending doom; a definite thrasher. Abysmal Dawn performs on September 3 at 8:45pm.
- Matt Holubowski (“The Warden & The Hangman”): Matt Holubowski is a Montreal-based folk singer whose falsetto notes and rolling acoustic picking style are reminiscent of José Gonzáles and Bon Iver. He performs on September 3 at 9:00pm.
- Incantation (“Muse”): While currently based in Pennsylvania, this death metal band was instrumental in forming the NYC death metal scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Their varied tempos and dynamics add nice layers to the classic death metal sound. Incantation will be performing on September 3 at 9:30pm.
- Le Couleur (“Starlite”): This Montreal-based electropop band add funky disco elements to their sound to create a stripped down disco-pop beat. Le Couleur performs on September 3 at 5:00pm.
- Marduk (“Frontschwein”): Another veteran on the metal scene, Marduk come from Sweden to play a meld of speed and black metal for the FME crowd on September 3 at 10:30pm.
- Klô Pelgag (“Samedi soir à la violence”): This Québecoise singer-songwriter incorporates lilting melodies into subtle, layered indie pop tracks; think of a francophone St. Vincent. She will be performing on September 3 at 8:00pm.
See you in Rouyn-Noranda! And as always, happy listening.
–Juliana Van Amsterdam