05/10/2017 Chasse Galerie // Lavaltrie
28/10/2017 L’Ange Vagabond // Saint-Adolphe de Howard
09/11/2017 Coup de Coeur Francophone // Montreal
Julien Sagot didn’t become a musical factotum and singular percussionist overnight. His musical development began with choral singing, which he practised for many years. “We always sang a lot at home,” he recalls. “I sing all the time with my daughter now. It’s largely thanks to singing that I started writing music.”
In his youth, Sagot was “part delinquent, part scatterbrain,” he jokes. He discovered his passion for percussion by playing at the famous Mount Royal Tam-Tams, and eventually taught himself to play guitar and piano. Flitting from job to job, Sagot met François Lafontaine while working as a florist. The pianist, who has since become a close friend, invited him to play congas with Kalembourg, from the ashes of which Karkwa was formed in 1998. The quintet recorded four albums, played to packed houses in Canada and France, and became trailblazers for a new style of Quebec rock. Among the group’s many distinctions is the prestigious Polaris prize for best Canadian album in 2010. In addition to his work with Karkwa, Julien Sagot kept time in other side projects, including Montreal post-rock combo Pawa Up First.
The few Karkwa songs penned by Sagot display his dreamlike, literary style, and his somber, smooth and spellbinding voice. “I like to tell stories taking place in unusual spaces, featuring tormented figures in search of their destinies,” he explains, adding that his writing borrows heavily from cinema, lending him an incredible capacity to evoke images, shapes, colours and visual markers through his music.
During Karkwa’s hiatus to explore new territories, Sagot, percussionist turned singer, delved into a fruitful creative period. He released his first solo album, Piano mal, in 2012, a project he describes as his search for self-discovery.
A number of performances followed the album’s release, for which Sagot selected a group of likeminded, seasoned musicians to bring to Quebec stages the distinctive dreamlike universe he crafted over the years. As his musical family grew, the multi-instrumentalist continued to write lyrics and music, adding the new material to the hefty piles that had been accumulating for months. With a pronounced willingness to explore electroacoustic sounds, the material formed the foundation of what would become Valse 333, his second album with Simone Records, released in Fall 2014.
With tracks ranging from works like Ficelle—“a song exploring the experiences of our cities’ lost souls, suffocated by obtuse systems,”—to works like Les squelettes—“a poem by Jean Sauvegrain on the inevitability of death”—Valse 333 is the work of a lyricist, composer and musician at the top of his game. The album shows a deep desire to transcend reality through poetry and fantastical abundance.