Music has long been one of Montreal’s most beloved exports and that couldn’t have been more true than this past week at SXSW, the world’s most renowned festival dedicated to music, film and technology…
Contrary to many big cities where different industries work in silos, Montreal is a place where entertainment, technology, creativity and commerce are constantly intermixing. It therefore comes as no surprise that Montreal artists and entrepreneurs felt right at home during the famous Austin festivities. The Swan Dive, a popular local bar located right on the corner of the madness that is Austin’s 6th street, was transformed into Planète Québec’s stomping ground during the event, attracting hundreds of fans from Montreal and beyond. Here are 5 memorable moments from my week in Austin.
Montreal singer-songwriter Peter Peter setting the crowd on fire at the Swan Dive: Peter Peter is clearly influenced by anglo music. But for now, the 27 year old artist insists on singing in French, creating a unique sound that appeals to both French and English crowds.
“I love the French language, but I also really believe in artists who try to give the music a new sound. There’s a lot of bands in Montreal, there’s a lot of folk, hip hop, indie rock… there’s so much talent, I don’t think the city has a specific sound, we rather create artists.”
So where does Peter Peter find creativity in the city?
“Right now, I’m all about the coffee culture in Montreal. It’s my happy, creative place. At first I thought it was super snob, the whole troisième vague thing. But now I really enjoy drinking expresso, and places like Le Couteau, Arts Café and Café Myriade. Cafés are made to do nothing, hang out, procrastinate and I like that. If there’s gonna be creativity, for me anyway, it’s in those moments.”
Frank and Oak CEO talking about Montreal creativity: Ethan Song is no musician, but he’s a hell of a successful Montreal entrepreneur. CEO and creative director of Frank and Oak, an online clothing shop for men, Song was at SXSW to attend interactive events, on top of hosting a popular party in the company of house music royalty Prince Club. He took a few minutes off his hectic schedule to talk about Montreal creativity at home and abroad.
A chill afternoon show with Valleys: Atmospheric rock duo Valleys performed on a sunny afternoon at Cheer Up Charlie’s, a bohemian outdoors venue, surrounded by pop-up vintage vendors and street food trucks. Here’s some footage of the group’s members, Tillie Perks and Marc St. Louis.
Running into former Montreal Alouette Brandon Whitaker: Despite the fact that there were thousands of people in Austin, I was lucky enough to bump into old friend and former Montreal Alouette, Brandon Whitaker. An Austin resident, Whitaker played as running back for the Als from 2008 to 2012, winning the Grey Cup in 2009 and 2010. Now back in Texas to train, he reminisces on his favorite Montreal moments.
“I’d say the things I love and miss most about Montreal are my teammates, fans and of course the amazing food found all around the city– especially at Basha and Cielo. I also loved the French speaking people who would speak to me in French after I spoke in English. Montreal is by far the most beautiful city I’ve ever visited. The summertime with all the festivals going on throughout the season, it’s truly magical.”
Meeting with rapper Koriass: Award-winning rapper Koriass has been on the scene since 2001, wowing crowds across the country with his raw energry and witty French lyrics. Performing twice at SXSW, the young Quebecer was very pleased to play in front of an American crowd, who despite the language barrier, were blown away by the quality of his beats.
“Montreal is a really special place. We have the influence of the States, we’re in the middle of Canada and we’re a French speaking nation, our identity is extremely unique and that translates into our music and culture. That’s what we come to represent here at SXSW with Planète Québec. It’s nice to come shine here, the rap scene is saturated, yet I’m receiving props from Americans who don’t even speak French. I think Quebec rap can make a splash abroad, but it has to be through the production. We’re starting to have our own beat-making identity now, I’m thinking of guys like Kenlo. His beats are being downloaded everywhere, in China, Japan and Europe.”
More from Planète Québec at SXSW 2013…
Guest Blogger Tamy Emma Pepin is a content creator and curator. She works as a media personality online and on air and is currently the Director of Content at marketing agency N/A.