Turns out the Canadian city of Montreal is a real hotbed of forward-thinking electronic dance music.
In an age of bedroom producer dilettantes, Coutu Dumont is a consummate musician and innovative auteur in the avant-garde tradition.
He studied classical percussion and electroacoustic recording, and even traveled with a jazz ensemble in Africa, picking up Afro-beat influences along the way.
But as Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts, he's also a highly in-demand purveyor of club beats on the international house and techno scene. Which is why you'll get to catch him doing his thing live as part of LINK Miami's Cocoon Heroes showcase at Treehouse on Saturday -- a stop on his current North American tour in support of his new Twice Around The Sun LP on Circus Company.
Crossfade: You started out as a traditional percussionist and student of electroacoustic music. How did you transition into purely electronic music?
Guillaume Coutu Dumont: Purely electronic music? You mean dancefloor-oriented electronic music? You're right, I was studying electroacoustic composition and playing percussion at the same time I was working in a production studio back in Montreal. A friend of mine invited me to a party in the countryside. I got there and I danced my ass off. I was hooked.
Recently, we've had the chance to chat with a few artists from your native Montreal about the music scene there. What are your impressions of the Montreal scene? How has it shaped you artistically?
Montreal is my hometown, so I believe it has shaped me in every imaginable aspect. I realize it even more now that I don't live there anymore. It's an amazing city with great people. I don't know how it translated in music really, but I'm sure it played a role. I got in touch with different types and got involved in many different types of projects while living there, from electroacoustic, to funk, jazz, and even traditional Quebec music. So I guess it broadened my music sensibility.
You spent some time traveling around Africa as part of a jazz ensemble during the early 2000s. What did this experience impart to you as a musician and how has it informed your work as an electronic dance music producer?
Around Senegal, really. The subject was largely amplified in the past. [Laughs] I just saw the film that was shot around this project the other day. Funny... That was a long and somehow difficult project. We wanted to hook up with musicians over there and try to create a musical dialogue. But somehow we failed. Again there, I got in contact with some new styles of music that I didn't know before, so I'm sure it played a role when I came back. Funny fact: I stopped playing percussion to concentrate on electronic music (electroacoustic and dancefloor-oriented) a few months after my return.
You've been heavily involved with Montreal's famous Mutek Festival for almost a decade. How did you first get involved with the festival? And what have been some of the highlights of the festival over the years for you?
Indeed I was influenced. Mutek Festival content and people involved all around the world were my "gateway" into electronic music. The programming was always cutting-edge and was a constant source of inspiration. I met Alain Mongeau at a very small party in the countryside near Montreal. At the time, I had a project called Egg with my friend Julien Roy. We played a set in a little field there with maybe 30 people dancing in rubber boots. Afterwards, Alain asked us if we were interested in doing an album for the new label he was starting. So we did.
What's been going on with your band Side Effects this year? Will you continue to tour with the band in the future?
Again, that project started at Mutek in 2010. That was a real treat for me, as it was a project I'd had in mind for quite a while. The people at Mutek were kind enough to make it happen. In two years, we have been touring and playing the show in Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Germany, and Poland. It's just great. The musicians, Nicolas Boucher, Sébastien Arcand Tourigny, Alexis Messier, and vocalist Dave Aju are truly gifted, and the result is always a lot of fun. I am preparing a full length album with the band. So yes, you can expect to hear from us in the future.
What can you tell us about your new Twice Around The Sun LP? What is the concept behind the album and what was the creative process in the studio? Did that process differ from past studio work?
The content of the album was composed over the course of two years, mainly. A lot of the material on the album includes vocals -- most of them from Dave Aju. I had a guideline in mind that was really vague and I spent quite a lot of time shaping it into form. I always kept in mind a conversation I had in an Onsen in Sapporo, Japan, with an old dude talking to me about "mankind entering a new state of consciousness." It's somehow a little darker than what I did before, and that general mood and direction was really what I was after. It talks about choices one has to make. But the whole storyline belongs to each and everyone. I think the artwork from my brother Gabriel Coutu Dumont fits the mood perfectly.
Now that the album is complete, and once the North American tour is over, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Do you have any other projects or releases forthcoming?
I'm planning a Side Effects album and some new Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts material. But I also want to push further Destination Danger, a project I have with Frederic Aubourg, AKA Skat/Oleg Poliakov. I'm also involved in Muséum (again with Frederic Aubourg and my Gabriel Coutu Dumont), a very cinematic ambient project. We have almost finished our first album, so that should see the light soon. Chic Miniature is always there on the back burner. We have a lot of new material that just needs a little bit of love. I can't wait to go back into the studio with my partner to finish this.
So what is your live M.O. for the current tour? What can Miami expect during your performance at Treehouse on Saturday?
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Staying alive mostly! Some music to shake it, eyes closed.
Coccon Heroes with Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts and Onur Ozer, Presented by LINK. Saturday, September 1. Treehouse, 323 23rd St., Miami Beach. The party starts at 11 p.m. Call 305-674-7447 or visit treehousemiami.com.