Quebecois singer-songwriter Elliot Maginot is taking the province by storm with his indie music  

Elliot Maginot playing at Outremont theatre. Photo by Auréa Gamboa

The Concordian sat down for an interview with the musician between a sound check and his biggest headliner at Outremont Theatre

Elliot Maginot, whose real name is Gabriel Hélie-Harvey, has been slowly winning over the hearts of la belle province since his first EP was posted to MySpace in 2013.

He calls himself a “contemplative soul” and is always looking to explore new sounds and avenues with each album release. His songs combine different musical instruments, sometimes including a saxophone, a cello, two guitars, a keyboard, a drum-set and backing vocals all playing together.

After discovering the guitar early on, Maginot dipped his feet in the musical universe as a teenager and doesn’t plan on leaving it.

Although he writes and sings his songs entirely in English, the artist is a dedicated Québécois francophone through and through.

His album Young/Old/Everything.In.Between which released in 2014 propelled him into the spotlight. He quickly joined the lineups for important cultural scenes, like the Montreal Jazz Fest or the Festival d’été de Québec.

Staying in his comfort zone

Although he was not raised religious, Maginot often writes songs with Christian influences. “Holy Father,” “Holy Water” and “Dead Church” are only a few of the songs where the singer uses spiritual vocabulary.

“I guess I am fascinated by the symbolism because it’s so unknown to me. It’s cathartic to sing ‘hallelujah.’ When I sing ‘holy’ I just want to raise my hands,” he said.

One tradition he and his band members share is to dress up in Christmas sweaters in mid-July — right when the heatwave peaks — and write a yearly holiday song.

“I do like Christmas, but it started more as a running gag and now it’s become tradition. It’s a way to return to the studio mid-album. It’s a song we’ll never play live so it’s less pressure and the recording sessions are lighter.”

Future possibilities

Having two previous Gala GAMIQ nominations under his belt, Maginot certainly hopes to win an award in the near future “just to have it at home so [he] can use the statue as a paperweight.” He is currently nominated for two categories in the upcoming Gala de l’ADISQ.

He’s currently working on his next album, in which he hopes to include more collaborations with other artists. As he put it, “My creative bubble is very closed and airtight. I feel intimidated. I’d like to sit down and write something with another artist.”

With every new project comes the goal of exploring new sounds and ideas. Keeping a consistent aesthetic without repeating himself is a challenge Maginot takes on with each new creation.

The singer is currently touring across Quebec promoting his latest album, Easy Morning. On Sept. 16 he passed by Montreal, playing in the Outremont Theatre. It was his biggest show as a headliner.

With a full house, the show offered an intimate performance, with Elliot and eight accompanying musicians delivering a touching rendition of his work. 

Picture by Auréa Gamboa

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