Music Mondays: Parlez-Vous Canadien?

parlez vous

Monday night, Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) in partnership with Association des professionnels de la chanson et de la musique (APCM) hosted the inaugural Music Mondays.

The topic for the first installment of this recurring monthly event at Live on Elgin was titled “Parlez-Vous Canadien?” and focus on bilingualism in the Ottawa music scene. The night started off with a warm welcome from Andrew Vincent, long-time local musician and Executive Director of Ottawa music industry coalition. After some thank yous, Vincent turned the floor to Natalie Bernardin, Directrice générale, of APCM. Bernardin began to facilitate a town hall based on questions about the potential or the challenges of bilingualism and francophone artists in the Ottawa scene. The town hall was followed by a set by Moonfruits.

Here are some of the comments that really stuck with me during the discussion:

When asked about transitioning to creating music in both languages, “You write what you wanna write, that’s the honest truth. People can love songs even if they don’t understand a word.”

“As a festival organizer we do our best to offer all our material and communications in French, but resources for translation can often be a big factor.”

“There is a stigma with young Francophones that French music isn’t supposed to be good.”

“The French side of music in Quebec can quickly become institutionalized, going from showcase to showcase due to the government’s funding structure. Many of those artists do not even promote their own shows, they can end up playing their first show in front of 1000 people.”

“I believe that the opportunity in Ottawa is bigger than the challenge. There are so many possibilities for Francophone musicians in this city.”

“Music is universal, we have all loved music where we didn’t understand the words.”

“Ottawa is at an advantage as we can offer and accept both English and French, but as Francophone artists we are constantly trying to breakthrough in Quebec to truly make it.”

“There are some significant differences in the funding models for Factor vs Musique Action. These differences can lead to artists counting their words to make sure they are English enough or French enough.”

“We really want to make a completely bilingual album, with as many English songs as French, but we have been advised against it. So now we are writing an album mostly in English with just a few French songs. We will then later release the French songs as singles or B-sides.”

“Word counting and hitting a certain language percentage to get funding is completely destructive to the artistic process.”

Moonfruits performing at Live on Elgin in Ottawa, ON.
Moonfruits performing at Live on Elgin in Ottawa, ON.

After the very engaging discussion, Ottawa’s bilingual husband and wife duo, Moonfruits took to the stage for a quick set.  One half of the group, Kaitlin Milroy, has one of the most incredible voices of the region, and what’s even more impressive is it is as beautiful and powerful whether she sign in English or in French. The group opened with a very powerful and energized version of the folk classic “Au chant de l’alouette.” There set also featured originals in both languages such as “Gloria” and a new song they wrote during their recent honeymoon adventure to Rome, “Le Nid.” Moonfruits are not only a very talented duo, but also extremely nice people for which Ottawa should be proud.

The next Music Monday will be held on June 6th and the OMIC Annual General Meeting is taking place June 8.