Hello, everyone!

Let's start the New Year with a so expected interview. Many readers asked and here it is: Benoit Bourque.

Bourque is the person that introduced me to the Quebecois Traditional Music and Dance. Before that, I had no idea of Québec and its rich culture. Then, I discovered the talents of so many artists such as Genticorum, Bernard Simard, Le Rêve du Diable, and many more. In this sense, I have much to thank him.

I first met Benoit Bourque in Texas (2005) and his stage presence, charisma, contagious energy and dance steps instantly thrilled me. He charmed the entire audience! Bourque has loyal followers since the beginning of his career while playing with many bands such as Advielle Que Pourra, Matapat and Le Vent du Nord. I could meet many of his fans through these years while learning more about Québec history and arts.

Bourque co-hosted the Canadian Folk Music Awards last December, and today we talk about his present and future. Without further ado, here is our interview:

Bengal: Hi, Benoit! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Benoit Bourque: Merci, it’s always a pleasure.

Bengal: Benoit, can you tell us a bit about your artistic background, how you started in music and dance?

Benoit: I come from a musical family: my dad played trumpet, my brothers (4) and sisters (3): saxophone, trombone, guitar, keyboard, recorders, ukulele. We all sang different kind of songs (traditional, pop, etc...) I start playing the guitar at first and very little keyboard to switch to clarinet when I was about 8 years old. Later, at the age of 13, I started to dance to meet girls. [laughs] At first I learned International traditional dances to finally focus on Québec dances and step dancing.

Bengal: An early talent! Is there anyone else from your family playing, dancing or singing professionally?

Benoit: Nobody in my family made a living with arts: for my parents, music was a hobby so my mom said [to me] for years: ''Did you find a REAL job?'' [laughs]

Bengal: And your family now, the children? Are they following the steps [pun intended] of the father?

Benoit: They all touched music: Mathilde (27) piano, Vincent (25) has played electric bass, guitar and DJ, Jasmine (22) has done very little violin but always love to sing, Antoine (17) is the only one who really study music (in college): he plays piano, tuba and piano-accordion.

Bengal: Why Quebecois Traditional music and not another style?

Benoit: I always loved to sing the traditional songs from Québec: this has been my start from my family. When I started the dance at 13, it became a natural thing to do trad.

Bengal: Why step dance and not other type?

Benoit: I do step dancing what we call in Québec: gigue. The first time I have seen it was with a big guy who was doing simple steps but he really looked so light!! [laughs]

Bengal: Surely you can do the same! Coming from a big family that could play all sorts of musical instruments, you might have learned many. Which instruments do you play, Benoit?

Benoit: I play bones, spoons, button accordions, guitar and some mandolin, recorder, bohdran and piano.

Bengal: How do you see the Quebecois Traditional Music expanding frontiers?

Benoit: I think that Québec trad is becoming slowly but surely one of the new fashion in the folk milieu in North America. It's comparable to Cajun music 25 years ago.

Bengal: You have a vast knowledge of the musical history behind Quebecois Trad and you have been part of this environment for a while, developing many different types of projects, and surely meeting many of the artists in this milieu...

Benoit: I surely don't know all of them but I know many, many of them. It's hard to know all of them especially that we have now more and more young musicians who do it.

Bengal: One of your talents, present in many projects, is composition. When did you start to compose? Do you have a method for that, what inspires you?

Benoit: I started when I was a teen with my friends... a few compositions on guitar... most of those songs were funny songs. In 1982, I wrote La Valse Matique while I was on an asthma attack (I was feeling romantic). [Benoit is the only artist I know that would compose under an asthma attack!!] I don't have a real method but I often start the composition on one instrument to switch to another one to keep going.

Bengal: Recently I had the opportunity to meet Marc Benoit, former Eritage, that told me about many of the shows, the TV experience and the recognition in Québec. How was your experience with Eritage?

Benoit: Marc Benoit was the standup bass and guitar player in the band. I enormously enjoyed my 6 years with them and I quit because of the family... Carole, my wife, was pregnant of our 3rd child. I started to discover the Canadian folk milieu with this group, and the USA one with Advielle Que Pourra and Matapat.

Bengal: Recently you announced your MySpace page where everybody can have access to your future shows and activities. Can you tell us a little about these future plans?

Benoit: In fact, I have so many projects that I cannot talk about it now. Some of the gigs are solo, some duo, some trio but I have bigger projects to come. For the first time in my life, I started to put on my solo show and I have a 50 minutes ready by now. At the moment, I’m also working on music therapy with the elderly.

Bengal: Benoit, last December you co-hosted the CFMA. How was that experience? You are one of the previous CFMA winners yourself, how does it feel?

Benoit: I have been many time a Master of Ceremony for different festivals but it is first time for an award ceremony. I felt like a fish in water: the folk milieu is mine for so long and I love this milieu. One of the tension that I had with Matapat and Le Vent du Nord was their huge ambitions!! They both wanted to be the best. This is not the folk approach but the pop approach. I prefer much more the folk approach.

Bengal: Which artists you admire the most?

Benoit: All of them who are committed to social changes: we need much more peoples who are left wing thinkers.

Bengal: Which was the most gratifying moment of your career so far?

Benoit: In 1988, when I was in Moscow: peoples were extremely friendly and intense: it was almost a dream.

Bengal: And can you tell us the funniest thing that ever happened on stage?

Benoit: One of my friend who is a good fiddler but speaks slowly: once he felt down his chair (one of the legs found a hole in the stage floor) but very slowly.

Bengal: Benoit, thanks for your time and all the entertainment!

Benoit: Merci! The pleasure was mine!


If you are interested in more information about Benoit Bourque, you are welcome to visit his official MySpace where you can also listen to some of his compositions.

Bengal.

2 Comments:

  1. Sue said...
    Great interview Bengal! I felt as though I was right there talking to Benoit myself! He's such an easy person to talk to and that came through in the dialog.
    Merci, mon amie!
    hammered dulcimer said...
    Loved the interview! Met Benoit w/Eritage 25 yrs ago @ "Old Songs Festival" in upstate N.Y. They blew everybody away!
    A very generous man, who's stayed after performances to play Quebecois music with us.
    Merci, Benoit

Post a Comment