Music

Un Blonde at the Red Roof Church

Un Blonde

We surrendered to the languor of the soul

Accompanied by the Warhol Dervish String Quartet and a small choir, Jean-Sébastien Audet – singer-songwriter of Un Blonde – performs songs from the Good Will Come to You album at the Red Roof Church in Downtown Montreal. An exceptional opportunity to explore, through gospel overtones, the role of spirituality and the sublime in his art while experiencing a unique moment of communion.

Story

TONIGHT, WE LEVITATE

Un Blonde: pronounced the English way (don’t try to understand), as Jean-Sébastien Audet himself is not even too sure what the name of his band means. “Maybe it’s because my guitarist and drummer are blond?” Un Blonde, then, in the rich and hallowed ambiance of the red-roofed Anglican church on President Kennedy Avenue, sets the tone for a hypnotic concert. Moments that are one-of-a-kind, where you can forget everything and lose yourself in hushed, total communion.

Un Blonde that night: a magnificent young singer-songwriter-pianist, draped in his long orange wool coat, in spite of the sweltering evening. A gospel choir, a trio of violinists and a cellist, a pedal steel guitar player plus his two loyal blonds, one on drums, the other on guitar. And all of them working the folk-jazz-soul vibe of this young Franco-Albertan prodigy.

Un Blonde/Jean-Sébastien Audet. Born in Gatineau and raised in Calgary, he now lives in Park Extension, a neighbourhood whose “deep culture” and warm sense of community he extols, even if the police sirens sometimes drive him batty. Montreal?  “A vibrant city with social openness, where it’s easy to do whatever, cheaper, with support for the artists”. His world is spiritual ( “I grew up going to a Catholic church” ) and gospel permeates everything. “The lyrics of my songs are not religious, but the art, energy and spirituality make a whole for me,” says Audet. His vision is to “Elevate oneself out of the environment but also to care about this environment.” When asked about politics, he responds, “Being a person of colour in music and art is a political move, whether I like it or not.”

Un Blonde has that jazz-like ecosystem onstage, where the musicians have an apparent liberty to improvise. Songs of varying lengths are played and the pushback against formalism is ever-present. On his feet, bent over the piano, he stops every now and then to tie back his hair, moves to the middle of the stage to give a few cues during a number, drinks from his bottle of San Pellegrino. Effortless, or so it seems. But as for the incredible trance that he creates and that we can only understand by feeling, he masters it. Completely.

I fell back asleep

dreamt through the eyes of another

how I'd hate to feel and see things from the ground; in the box

I'm free!

like the sun rises and leaves;

that's me

"I’m Free", from the album "Good Will Come to You", Egg Paper Factory

Utopia

Before long, saturated by daily life, incessant traffic, the acceleration of our lives and the brightness of street lights at night, we perceive the city only by its surface, its shell, its appearance. Before long, we confound the city with its branding, the process whereby cities become consumer products – places with things to do/see/buy – but also places where sensitive, breathable lives free of fixed goals have disappeared.

In order to break free from viewing the city as a simple object, background or springboard, to experience the city as a vessel where one can wander freely and where relationships flourish and senses awaken, we must return the city to its very essence, its fundamental necessity: connection. Binding, connecting: these two verbs (in Latin) are the root of the word “religion”. Those who are in search of a spiritual path are aware of this. They experience a unique aspect of “societal coexistence” that others avoid since religion, notably in Quebec, has been used to both alienate lives and dictate destinies for so long.

In the Montreal that was once the City of a Thousand Steeples and that even today is the cradle of more than a thousand places of worship, have descendants of religious societies historically oppressed by the Church become fervent atheists and flamboyant agnostics? Sociologist Deirdre Meintel informs us that this is not the case, not even slightly. On the contrary, we are more religious in Montreal than anywhere else in Canada. Catholics experiment with various religious cults, transitioning from one to the next while continuing to attend Mass on occasion. “Montrealers are searching for the invisible realm behind all things,” Deirdre explains. She notes that Islamophobia is opposed by numerous ecumenical initiatives. She sees Montreal as brimming with spirituality, desire for eternity, imperceptible communions and inter-religious patchworks as improbable as they are amusing.

WE WANT

We want to have the freedom to choose as regards respect for all people.

We do not want any individual to be judged in light of his or her faith or convictions in this global city.

We want our city to become nothing less than a silky colourful carpet filled with joyful spiritual chaos, a bazaar of various faiths that respect each other.

We believe that uniformity is boring, that certainty is austere and that isolation is monotonous.

Floating above the asphalt, we want our dreams of the absolute, our desire for escape, our tentative steps toward the unseen, to be rendered possible.

We want the city to provide us with the energy to seek and to find, deep within ourselves, that which drives us.

We are Montreal.
We want to bring forth the future, today.

Traces

Un Blonde's music and our relationship to spirituality

Participants were invited to share how spirituality is part of their daily lives.

Discover what they shared here.

ID card

Un Blonde

Un Blonde

Multi-talented Montreal musician Jean-Sébastien Audet continues to expand the reaches of his output with the increasingly out-there Un Blonde project. His most recent album, Good Will Come to You came out in May 2016.


unblonde.bandcamp.com

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Co-production and co-diffusion

POP Montréal
LA SERRE – arts vivants

Thanks

St-John The Evangelist Church / the Red Roof Church

Credits for the piece

Creation Jean-Sébastien Audet
Music bass | Raff McMahan, drums | Alex Lavoie, peddle steel | Joe Grass, backing vocals | Elena Stoodley, Josh Goldman and Adam Goulet, Warhol Dervish - string quartet, Chloé Chabanole, Jean-Christophe Lizotte, Emily Redhead, Pemi Paull, string arrangments | Geof Holbrook
Sound Alexandre Fallu
Lights Félix Desrochers
Room management Edith Cayer

Video

Director and Editor Joël Morin-Ben Abdallah; 
Camera Isabelle Stachtchenko, Charlie Marois, Joël Morin-Ben Abdallah;
Sound Sophie Bédard Marcotte, Joël Morin-Ben Abdallah;
Filming was made possible thanks to the equipment provided by ON EST 10, solidarity co-op

Photos

Event Chloé Larivière
Portrait Unfolding Creative Photo

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