L’EAU VIVE (Saskatchewan) – Fransaskois artist Émilie Lebel, alias eemi, took advantage of his confinement by collaborating with musician Lévi Soulodre, also from Saskatoon, to unveil on July 17 a new remix of his song Honey accompanied by a microdocumentary on bees. Three months after the launch of his very first microalbum in April 2020, entitled Honey, the 2019 winner of the Chant’Ouest competition is ready to be on the boards of the Festival international de la chanson de Granby in August. Interview.
Lucas Pilleri – Living Water
How did you experience the confinement period linked to the pandemic?
It was good. I was able to keep my post at the Troupe du Jour as head of marketing and communications. It’s been a good time for me. It was slower. It was an experience filled with anxiety, but also relaxing. It was a time to slow down and focus on my career plan.
You released your very first microalbum (or EP) on April 24, as the pandemic was gaining momentum. Wasn’t that a problem?
The concert-event that I had planned was canceled, it was disappointing. But it was a good success. There was support. A lot of people really wanted to support artists at the start of the pandemic, it was a good time for me to launch my EP.
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What motivated you to launch this remix of your song Honey?
It’s Levi [Soulodre] who approached me. At first it was just for fun, then when I saw that it was a good remix, I decided to release it. The original song is softer and calming. Levi’s remix is different, he added instruments and melodies. It’s more electro. My style is more electrofolk; Lévi is more psychedelic rock. I really liked what he did.
Your microalbum was sold as a download code attached to a glass honey jar. This is an unusual idea! Where did it come from?
The idea came to me in March 2019 before a last minute concert where I realized that I had nothing to offer like merch [marchandise promotionnelle, NDLR]. I didn’t want people to forget about me. It sold like hot cakes! People thought it was really cool. When I started selling them online, people received it well, they are curious about the initiative. I also encourage to experience my EP by tasting honey! It’s an experience.
The environmental dimension is an integral part of your personal and artistic approach.
For me, it’s really important to find eco-responsible options. In my lifestyle, I try to go shopping in zero waste stores, buy second-hand linen, etc. By launching my album on honeypots rather than CDs or vinyls, I wanted to offer an eco-responsible terroir product that people can reuse.
Hence the partnership with the Kitako Lake Honey beekeeping farm and the microdocumentary that you produced there?
Yes, the beekeeper was saying some really interesting things, so I decided to film. His values are really close to mine. He’s someone who is really there for the community, he’s not after the money or the trends. He really wants to take care of his bees and the environment. He’s a really important partner for me.
How much is the music industry changing and what impact are these changes having on your work as an artist?
There is a lot of anxiety. Many artists are worried because the Arts Council has cut funding for travel. But I know people are hungry. It’s not going to die. We are going to find new ways to offer shows and bring people together. There are events like concerts in cars. In August, I will perform for 50 people in Vancouver. It will no longer be big crowded rooms. But I remain positive: the industry will adapt.
And you will participate in the semi-finals of the Festival international de la chanson de Granby on August 18. Is this an important event for you?
It’s gonna be a big boost for my career. I go there a week before to film my show for a 15-minute performance. I will sing The little pain, Grandpa and Salt. It’s a big festival for all francophones outside Quebec. The festival creates careers for artists. It’s big for people in the west. It’s a great opportunity for me to introduce myself. Since it’s online this year, it’s going to be much more accessible to people. I hope to interest more people in what I do.
Do you have current or upcoming projects?
I will focus on the creation. I would like to release an album one day or another. Not right away, but maybe two years from now.
Éemi will be in concert in Vancouver on August 27 on a double stage with Loïg Morin and on stage at the Festival international de la chanson de Granby on August 18. More information on Facebook page of the event.