Montreal musicians share their ups and downs during this peculiar year

Most musicians feel constant pressure to be creative and make music. Montreal being in a red zone for almost two months now only adds more stress to the everyday lives of our local artists.

With performing not being an option, Montreal artists have been focusing on different goals during the pandemic. Taking care of themselves was necessary for them to later get back to creating music.

While this year hasn’t been a treat for everyone, it held many surprises for some artists who were able to get creative.

Minoe, a singer who has been living in Montreal for four years, experienced what she called a “huge shift” for her art, this year.

“I’ve been working on a lot of music,” Minoe said. “I started working with my favourite producer I ever worked with, Philippe Dionne, and I am making an album. So, I’m very excited.”

No dates have been set for her album’s release so far. But she released “SUEDE,” a collaboration with Fk Dame, last month.

Princelou Faragama, originally from Namibia, moved to Montreal in January. He has been focusing on creating music and gaining a fan base in Montreal.

With 2020 being something no one had expected, the 21-year-old said that when it comes to music, he follows a hunch and doesn’t like to do much planning.

“Planning is something that needs to be done sometimes,” said Faragama. “But other times, you just need to go with the flow and let things happen.”

Since his time in Montreal began, he has released five songs, including two with music videos. He said he will also be releasing an EP soon, titled BeforeTheFlexx.

On the contrary, Ariel Engle, also known as La Force, has been trying to savour this pause. Before the city was declared a red zone, she performed at POP Montreal, where a crowd of around 20 spaced out people were sitting and watching.

“It was very safe … but it was also hard to feel people,” she said. La Force is outgoing and social, which only makes it harder for her to feel like she can’t engage with people.

Although some artists are now releasing new music, it took some time to get over writer’s block. The pandemic has also taken a big toll on Montrealers’ mental health, which affected their everyday lives and creativity.

“Honestly, throughout the majority of the [first lockdown], I couldn’t write anything,” Minoe admitted. “I just didn’t feel inspired. I was also kind of frustrated with myself for not being creative because I felt like I had to be.”

Faragama also went through a similar period.

“I was feeling uninspired and disappointed in myself,” he said. “I had the feeling of just quitting music.” But, he said that when he listened to the “Myself” beat, it reminded him of how far he had gotten.

La Force explained that she’s been trying to make a record since November 2019 but had to delay it a few times because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“There’s been a lot of starting and stopping,” she said. “But it’s coming.”

While it can’t be denied that 2020 has been a difficult year, it still taught everyone something. Whether it’s how to be alone, as Minoe said, or how to be confined with family, it taught everyone to be grateful for what they have.

Minoe said she’s most grateful for her friends and for meeting Dionne, her producer. She’s also grateful for her cat, whom she called her “little emotional support animal.”

Faragama is grateful for everyone around him, especially his friend and producer, Thomas Quinn, also known as DESOLATEXISTENCE.

“So far, he’s the only one who’s helped me out,” he said. “He helped me get to know the country and to record my music. I’m grateful for every moment, every second of every day.”

La Force thinks this year is an interesting time to experience life without feeling everything is immediate. “There’s this parallel version of life right now, where everything is actually really slow and out of time,” she said. “I’m trying to savor this pause as much as possible because I’m fortunate enough to be able to pause.”

This year allowed artists to take a break from music and from life as they knew it, and to take care of themselves.

“I feel like I needed that break, to recuperate and figure out how I felt about it, and now I have an album on the way,” Minoe concluded. “So, I think I just needed a little bit more time.”


Graphic by @the.beta.lab

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