Press photo. Alexandre, Yann and Pascal. [L to R]

Hello, everyone!

I’m finally bringing to you my interview with Yann Falquet from the Canadian group Genticorum! Yann Falquet (guitar, Jew's harp, vocals) joined Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand (wooden flute, electric bass, vocals) and Pascal Gemme (fiddle, feet, vocals) to start Genticorum back in 2000. Since then, the band conquered audiences, critics and awards.

I completely agree with many reviewers when they say that Genticorum can sound traditional but they are very original. One can clearly understand this statement after listening to tunes like Les cousinages, Bonnet d'âne and Round-point. I can’t find words, that the media didn’t use already, to describe the talents of this band. They are acclaimed by many and it’s easy to know the reasons. They have conquered audiences with their vibrant style, energetic vocals and the originality of their repertoire. Malins Plaisirs (2005, Roues et Archets/Fusion III), their last album, won the Canadian Folk Music Award 2005 in the Best Ensemble category and was nominated for the JUNO (Canada) and the Felix (Québec) Awards in 2006. [These are the top Canadian awards in music]

They got me the first time I’ve heard Cascou! Their rhythm is so contagious that there is no need to understand French. However, if you do speak French, you will love the hilarious stories and love adventures described in the lyrics!

During a quick stop on the band’s agenda, I had the opportunity to talk to Yann over the phone. He is a very friendly person and told me interesting details about the band’s projects and what the future reserves.

I hope you enjoy it!

Bengal.

Interview

Bengal: Yann, let's start with the name of the band. Forgive my ignorance in this but what the word Genticorum means?

Yann: Well, actually, it’s a good question. It doesn’t mean anything. That’s a word that comes from a traditional song. It was sang by Pascal’s granddad.

Bengal: That’s interesting. I would never know that...

Yann: [laughing] Actually, it’s a Latin word… there is a couple of words I think that are like what people would hear here at the church… The church [service] was said in Latin, so people would use these words just because they heard them in the church without knowing what they mean.

Bengal: I’m originally from Brazil, so when I hear the word Genticorum, it always reminds me the word gentle.

Yann: Yes, it’s good cause even though it doesn’t mean anything, people associate it with some ideas. It could be gentle, it could be… it sounds a little bit like gentilhomme, which is gentleman, and corum, [as in] quorum, has an agreement on people. Well, anyway, doesn’t really mean anything but people can have ideas.

Bengal: You, guys, made the choice of playing Québécois traditional music. Why not other styles?

Yann: Why? Well, why... because we all love that music… I think the three of us played many different styles before we started to play Quebecois Traditional Music. Although Pascal, the fiddler, and Alex, the flute player, had some people in their family playing traditional music, so they were exposed to it when they were younger… explored different styles and then later they decided to return to it professionally. Myself, I’ve been through a different style of music, and when I heard some recordings of it [Québécois trad], I just thought it was a great style of music with lots of potential... things to do with it, that… then we realized the three of us have a strong interest in this kind of music and decided to play it. Our goal at first was not… we didn’t have the idea we would be playing all over… we just thought… we were just playing because we like it. And at one point we realized we could do it in the [United] States and in Europe as well, and it’s great.

Bengal: Genticorum is playing Québécois folk beyond Canada’s borders; the music is spreading all over the world. Do you see any difference on how your music is perceived in other countries, by different audiences, especially when different languages are involved and people might not speak French?

Yann: Yes, I would say the difference is mainly between French Canada - so the province of Québec - and the rest of Canada, which I would put in the same category as the United States, and also England… places where people mostly speak English, that’s where we play most of the time, so when we play in Québec, people have heard that kind of music before. Sometimes, some people will like it a lot and they will be a fan of that kind of music, and other people just associate it with something that is folkloric, something that is old. So we have to make them rediscover that kind of music. Maybe they will think it’s like their grandparents music… for them it’s more like... they discover something they know but discover in a different way. As for when we play in a English part of the world, there’s where we are mostly… I don’t know… maybe we have an exotic flavor because [we] come from somewhere else… they don’t have any idea of what we do, they never heard it before, they might associate it with something that is Celtic so they have some references but it’s new, so it’s a fresh… it is fresh for people, which is nice too.

Bengal: In your albums there are many original tunes. Where the inspiration comes from? Do you have a method for that?

Yann: Ah… well, the person who does most of that in the band is Pascal. He played and learned hundreds of traditional fiddle tunes. So… at one point he just started to write tunes that sounds like… yeah, they could be traditional but I guess a big part of it, is having played hundreds and hundreds of traditional tunes and have listened to lots of different fiddle players.

Bengal: So basically great part of the songs is completely original?

Yann: The music is all original although the lyrics, what we sing are all traditional.

Bengal: Genticorum is playing around the world. How important it is to be successful outside Canada?

Yann: I see it… I don’t know, it’s hard to say… I guess different artists, playing different kinds of music, have different expectation. I think for us, we knew that there were already Québécois bands playing in the States. They play in the English Canada a lot, so for us it was kind of a path that we could follow and we were expected to do that. But to play in places like Malaysia and Egypt…and also some Scandinavian countries, that was new for us and we played there. There are not many Québécois bands who have played there before, so it’s a great feeling to do that but it’s… I would say it’s a great bonus but it’s not something that we expected to do at first, and we might not do it a lot in the future because it’s a lot of… it's complicated to organize [everything] but it was really fun… and it’s a good opportunity for us to travel and visit the world.

Bengal: Can you tell me the most exotic place you performed?

Yann: I would say the most exotic was probably Sarawak, [at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2006] which is a province of Malaysia, on the Borneo Island.

Bengal: Do you have time to visit these places you go for a show?

Yann: We never have enough time! Although, sometimes one of us or some of us will decide to extend our trip a little to visit [the place], but most of the time we don’t have the time to do that… we have to go somewhere else, so we visit lots of places for a short time, and that give us a good idea of places we can go back for vacation… maybe someday. [laughing] You don’t have to publish that.

Bengal: Pascal is in China now, right?

Yann: Yes, he is doing a tour for the Canadian Embassies and Consulate. [Pascal Gemme performed last week for Chinese students in Beijing (link) and today in Guangwai]

Bengal: Do you or anyone else in the band currently have individual solo projects? If so, how do they fit into the band’s agenda?

Yann: We had more solo projects in the past... I would say we have less and less. Pascal works on the blog but that’s something he does when he has some free time. He can do it when he is on tour [if] he has an internet access. It is just something he does whenever he can. We all work a lot for the band with all the organizing stuff. We don’t have any big musical project that is going parallel [with the band].

[Pascal does a really nice work on his blog. I do recommend a visit! Bengal.]

Bengal: Many times, the bands in Québec participate in festivals with many other groups. For me, it’s like watching a big family. How is the contact between Genticorum and the other Québécois bands?

Yann: You said it right. There is something of a big family and I think it's because there are not too many people who are really interested in traditional music from Québec. Everyone who has a band, they all have a career but they also meet a lot in the parties and they meet for music sessions. Everybody have to play with everybody. We like to be together a lot and to play. The more we travel outside of Québec, the less we see each other.

Bengal: Your latest album, Malins Plaisirs, won a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2005 and was nominated for the JUNO Awards and the Felix Awards (ADISQ) in 2006. How such awards can influence the life of the band?

Yann: No, actually there is no big change but certainly is very good for… It helps I think for the recognition of the band… more people will hear about the group because of those prizes. So it’s a great privilege that we have, but a band can really have a good career without winning an award. It was good to won but I’m not sure to what point it helped us to have more concerts.

Bengal: Can we expect a new album coming soon?

Yann: Yes, we are already working on the new tunes and… [adopting a tone of suspense] we hope that it will be out in the early 2008...

Bengal: Yann, can you talk a little bit more about it? [insisting] How it will differ from the last ones?

Yann: Well, it’s pretty much in the continuity of the band… It’s always the three of us and no big changes in the instruments. One change that we are pretty happy about it - Alex, who plays the flute, is also a fiddler and he is becoming an accomplished one, so we might have some double fiddle on the next album, which we are very excited about it. We started to do that in the shows. You all will like it a lot!

Bengal: Yann, thanks for your time!

Yann: Thanks for the interest in the band!


More information

If you want to know more about the band and their albums, check the following links:

Genticorum official website (access the latest news about the band)
Genticorum MySpace website (listen to some of the songs from their most recent album and follow the evolution of their calendar of performances)
Roues et archets (here you can buy both the albums from the band)

You can hear to excerpts of Genticorum's songs in some websites of companies that are selling the band's albums online.

12 Comments:

  1. Chawa said...
    Cool!
    Margaret from Glasgow said...
    They's guys are awesome! I saw them jan 29 at royal concert hall. I never heard of them but they were great!
    Annik, Scotland. said...
    This band are sooooo awesome! saw them in Glasgow in January and they were amazing! bought their album and i love it! keep it up guys!
    B. said...
    Bravo pour toutes les musiques diffusées !
    Alex Scott said...
    Genticorum is so cool!! I've seen the guys play live, twice, they are GREAT! They have so much energy in their show. Love the songs. Go to the show, I know you will love. Alex Scott.
    Anonymous said...
    love them Alex is so sexi saw them at the celtic connection fest and got addicted
    Sophie, MI said...
    De l'excellente Québécois, comme on aimerait en entendre plus souvent ! Je suis complètement conquise ! Sophie
    Anonymous said...
    Excellent music, sound and voice. J'aime vraiment beaucoup…Thanks a lot. Yolland.
    Anonymous said...
    Your university inbox is filled.

    Quick info: Got your Bernard Simard CD (loved - I'm keeping it) - now, I couldn't find the Genticorum ones. Also I'm keeping the new Nico/Olo CD (don't worry - got the one that isn't autographed - you had two).

    I saw your new Anima album. Where can I get the blue old one? The new sounds great. Did you contact Larrondo? He is an amazing zarb player, I saw him in Sampa.

    Tell me about the show yesterday - it was yesterday, right? Airports gone crazy and driving was a nightmare. Hope you are fine. Plants are alive, CD collection... less two albums so far. :-)

    See you at the uni,
    Danny.
    Bengal said...
    Danielle, am home. hv the genticorum albums w/me. stop by and get the last one - great work you hv to listen to; editor now is bad; will check inbox -saw the problem- thanks.
    Anonymous said...
    I would love to see their lyrics up so we can translate them for non-Francophone fans.
    Anonymous said...
    The albums usually have both in terms of lyrics (QC French and English), but if you want the lyrics for a specific song, I would contact the band on FB. Give them time and they will reply. :-)

    Bengal.

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