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Laval, Quebec, Canada | MAJOR | AFM

Laval, Quebec, Canada | MAJOR | AFM
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"One week later: What the 2010 Polaris Music Prize taught me"

Well, a long, tumultuous week has passed since attending the 2010 Polaris Music Prize gala at Toronto's Masonic Temple, where I had the honour of being a member of this year's 11-member Grand Jury panel having the final say on who had created the past year's best album in Canada.

The adventure, to say the least, was enlightening, and it's something I will not soon forget.

Naming Karkwa's masterful Les chemins de verre, contrary to Globe & Mail music scribe Brad Wheeler's somewhat obtuse analysis, was far from a foregone conclusion.

In the aftermath of the Polaris handing out its $20,000 -- for the first time in its five-year history -- to a Francophone band from Montreal, sparks flew. Overnight, following Wheeler's mathematically challenged assertion (in a piece that was nonetheless rather flattering to Karkwa) and, perhaps, purposefully inflammatory statement that the Grand Jury had been "stacked" with a veritable "Bloc quebecois" of voters ensuring a Karkwa majority, the Web became aflame with vitriolic rebuttals coming from all sides, most of all from the Quebec press.

Here are a few things I can safely state without breaching any kind of understood "confidentiality agreement" regarding the process during the Grand Jury deliberations, which is also something I was invited to comment on in a radio interview with Radio-Canada Vancouver (in French, of course) last Friday.

There was no Bloc. Yes, there were more French-speaking Grand Jury members this year than in past years (four out of 11 -- two from Montreal, one from Moncton, and myself here in Vancouver -- which obviously isn't enough to create a majority). There were also more Francophone records in contention than ever before with two, Radio Radio's Belmundo Regal and Karkwa's, in the running, which probably says something about the 180-plus national jury members' voting pattern more than anything else. I haven't lived in Quebec in close to 10 years, I've been, much to my chagrin, slightly disconnected from the Francophone scene over there while covering music on this side of Canada, and I have to say that while my early round votes prior to being invited to join the Grand Jury did include both French albums (both stellar by any standards), they were far from being my top picks at the time (that's no secret, I wrote about them on this very blog).

After living with those 10 shortlisted albums day in and day out for a month prior to the grand debate in the Masonic Temple's lugubrious "war room," forerunners became clear. Karkwa's was easily one of them, and so were a few other albums on the shortlist. Dissecting and analyzing each album was painstaking work that each Grand Jury member took very seriously, something that lead to a few meaningful and emotionally charged arguments the night of the gala. How close any of the other ones came to garnering top honours isn't something I can divulge (in fact, all three voting rounds nudging more albums out of contention each time were done on secret ballots, so I can't even say for sure), but the debating wasn't one-sided. Far from it. It could've easily swung in favour of another album during the final voting round, but it didn't.

Here's why: Karkwa's record speaks a universal language. It didn't take a "Bloc quebecois" to convince any of the anglophone jurors of Les chemins de verre's merits. It just made perfect sense when you stopped and really listened to it. And following Karkwa's win, even Wheeler's readers came to the album's and the band's defence in the story's comments. In the following week, the album became a hot topic on Twitter. It topped Justin Bieber in sales on iTunes. Based on artistic merit and just a plain visceral response? Absolutely 100 per cent valid. And as with any other year, many were surprised and a few were not.

Now, the drama isn't as strong this week as it was last. But Karkwa's Polaris win accomplished, quite inadvertently, many great things. It got Anglo Canada looking closer at the Francophone scene, using Karkwa (and maybe a bit of Radio Radio's wacky Frenglish/Chiac hip-hop) as its launch pad (yes, there is more great French music out there than Malajube). It made Quebec look at the Polaris Music Prize more seriously, something it wasn't really prone to doing in the past, considering the Prize often gives off a strong "Toronto-centric" vibe.

In the end, the 2010 Polaris Music Prize may have just signaled that it has truly grown into something that is fiercely and passionately embraced by Canadian music fans, who are looking up to the Prize to entice them to look further and excite them about the prospect that there is always something else, something grand and unexpected, lurking around the corner.

Now go listen to Les chemins de verre and let it amaze you. It is a rock record for the ages -- sad yet hopeful, grandiose and atmospheric, and goshdarned beautiful. Trust me, even if you don't speak a word of French, you'll understand when Louis-Jean Cormier softly sings the closer Le vrai bonheur that sometimes we miss out on what really matters because we fail to fully open ourselves to what's right in front of us. - Vancouver Sun

"Pop Montreal 2010: Karkwa, Sept. 30 at Metropolis"

Just 10 days after winning the Polaris Music Prize for best Canadian album, hometown Franco-rockers Karkwa held court inside a packed Metropolis for Pop Montreal. It was a programming coup on many levels, not the least of which is the cementing of Pop as more than just an anglo indie fest. Earlier Thursday, Karkwa's people made the announcement that sales of the band's fourth album Les chemins de verre went up 481% last week, following the Polaris win, charting at a cool 47th position nationwide, including No. 42 in Ontario and No. 54 in B.C. Anyone wondering what all the fuss is about had only to step into Metropolis to escape the relentless downpour outside.

The band's whispered rock anthems are both dreamy and galvanizing. It's no wonder Karkwa and fellow Polaris winner Patrick Watson's band get along so well (and have collaborated together in the past). Both make music that fills the heart and sparks the imagination.

"On est en feu ce soir," said singer-guitarist Louis-Jean Cormier, referring to the enthusiastically cheering crowd. "Ca cri pas mal au Metropolis. Chaque fois qu'on fait un show au Metropolis, on se sent un peu plus léger."

It was a setup for Moi-léger, a breathtaking song off the new album which began as an airy piano ballad before the groove kicked in. Marie tu pleures, a few songs later, took a folkie turn, garnering handclaps from the crowd as the band's two drummers pounded out a thumping rhythm over which vocal harmonies were layered with intuitive ease.

It's all one and the same for Karkwa, from ambient to arena rock, campfire jigs and the odd proggy turn. There is something authentically québécois about this band, and something universal, too. La piqûre came off like Radiohead meets Nirvana, with a little Phillip Glass thrown in for good measure - a mixed bag of major league references for a band with an intuitively epic aesthetic.
- The Gazette

"Karkwa scoops up Canada's coveted Polaris Prize"

Weeks after The xx picked up the UK's Mercury Prize for the band's debut album xx, Montreal rockers Karkwa pocketed Canada's own version, the Polaris Prize, on September 20 for the album Les chemins de verre. The band won out over frontrunners Broken Social Scene, Tegan and Sara, Caribou, and Radio Radio.

Now in its fifth year, the Polaris Music Prize awards CAN$20,000 (€14,800) to the best full-length Canadian album of the year, regardless of genre, sales, or label affiliation. Nearly 200 music journalists, critics, and bloggers from across Canada compiled a list of 40 nominated albums, with the shortlist of 10 albums announced in July 2010.

Together for 12 years, Montreal indie-rockers Karkwa are well known in their native Quebec and have earned nine Félix Awards, annual music awards for artists in Quebec. But they've received scant attention in the English-speaking world. Les chemins de verre is their fourth studio effort and the first francophone album to win the Polaris Prize.

Last year Fucked Up won for The Chemistry of Common Life. Previous winners also include Patrick Watson for Close To Paradise in 2007 and Final Fantasy for He Poos Clouds in 2006.

Electronica band The xx received the prestigious British music award the Mercury Prize on September 7 for their album xx, beating off stiff competition and winning a prize of £20,000 (€24,000).

To sample all the tracks from Les chemins de verre, visit http://www.karkwa.com/english.php


- The Independent

"Polaris Prize goes to Montreal band Karkwa"

CUP President

TORONTO (CUP) — After the longest jury deliberation in the indie music prize’s history, Montreal’s Karkwa went home the Polaris star.

The announcement came as a surprise, most of all for the victorious francophone band. The hype leading up to the Sept. 20 gala, now in its fifth year, seemed to all but name second-time nominee Shad the champion, after fellow hip-hop artist K’Naan was snubbed in favour of hardcore punk group Fucked Up in 2009.

Nervous though they were, few predicted the eventual outcome, and most were just happy to be there.

Gabriel Malenfant of the Acadian hip-hop trio Radio Radio explained that being nominated made him “feel tingly inside.” Owen Pallett, who was the prize’s inaugural winner back in 2006 under the moniker Final Fantasy, agreed that nomination is still “a weird and confusing thing.”

An 11-person jury decided who would take home the $20,000 prize and the title of best Canadian album of the year during the first few hours of the event, which was broadcast live. The night featured, for the second year in a row, performances from all 10 acts that made the shortlist.

Hosted by CBC Radio 3’s pint-sized, lame joker Grant Lawrence and MuchMusic’s Sarah Taylor, the show kicked off with an 11-piece performance from Broken Social Scene. Brendan Canning jigged and bounced to the Forgiveness Rock Record tunes “Meet Me in the Basement” and “Texico Bitches.”

He fared better than the Sadies’ Travis Good who tripped, flailing on his back like a dropped tortoise at the end of their performance. Luckily, he’d been so far stage left that most cameras missed it.

“This’ll probably be my only opportunity to say thanks, so thanks,” announced frontman Dallas Good, admitting what everyone already knew — the Sadies weren’t even under consideration.

Vancouver crooner, and Seth Rogen look-a-like, Dan Mangan was unequivocally the highlight performance. He was too lovable, too obvious and too nice of a choice for the jurists, a victim of his own charms. But when he climbed atop one of Broken Social Scene’s many tables and beckoned hundreds of apathetic hipster musicians and critics to join a chorus of “Robots,” everyone from Owen Pallett to Karkwa sang along. Hearts melted, as did the competitive atmosphere.

“There’s something vaguely ridiculous about comparing totally different artists and totally different albums,” Caribou’s Dan Snaith said before the gala had begun. The 2008 winner and 2010 nominee was just glad that “a prize like this allows you to focus attention on lots of different kinds of music.”

But like any “increasingly prestigious” award, as dubbed by the New Yorker, Polaris is not without its politics and tokenism. So far, it has gone to the avant-garde Owen Pallett, the folksy Patrick Watson, Caribou’s synth, hardcore Fucked Up and now, what Karkwa’s lead singer Louis-Jean Cormier calls, French “Montreal indie rock.”

The decision to award the all-francophone band may not be totally unexpected. The grand jury had three francophones on hand: François Marchand, André Peloquin and Philippe Rezzonico.

What most of the English music scene has been asking since the shortlist came out is, “car, quoi?” Who is this random band that triumphed over two prior winners and industry heavyweights like Broken Social Scene and Tegan and Sara?

For Karkwa, as their album title — Les chemins de verre (The Glass Paths) — would suggest, it was a lonely path to get to Polaris as the only francophone musicians nominated, not counting Radio Radio’s Franco-Acadian Chiac.

After the announcement, Cormier, nearly in tears, took the stage with his bandmates. Earlier in the evening, he said, “I think that the language barrier is still there,” and felt certain the only thing his band would win that night was exposure to an anglophone audience.

The band has been together for a dozen years, touring around all the francophone countries. They are now excited about the opportunity to play for their fellow countrymen — but not until they have the opportunity to use part of their $20,000 to hire a real tour manager and a new van.

Before their win, Cormier said his celebration music, if Karkwa were to triumph, would be Owen Pallett’s Heartland. Maybe collaboration is in their future?

“We try [to] do so some great poésie, but I don’t know if we succeed at that,” Cormier chuckled. “I guess it works.”

Indeed, it did. - The Sheaf

"The best of two bands in Karkwatson"

The best of two bands in Karkwatson


Published: Thursday, June 12

A measure of the intermingling of French and English cultures on the Montreal music scene can be seen at this weekend's shows by Karkwatson, a project that perhaps could only take place in this city. Karkwatson is, literally, the joining of Karkwa and the Patrick Watson Band, combining for a nine-man group with all their sonorities, and perhaps possibilities, exploding. At least that's the hope for the two concerts at Le National tomorrow and Saturday night. It's ambitious, it's bilingual, it's big.
"We've looked forward to this for a long time," says Louis-Jean Cormier, Karkwa's lead singer and lyricist. "I'll sing in English and Pat in French, and we've written a song in both languages. Above all, we want to have fun improvising. We're not looking for perfection."
They had first combined for a half-hour show in St. Boniface, Man., at the Festival du Voyageur, at the suggestion of singer-songwriter Jim Corcoran, whose À Propos program on CBC Radio is the national pipeline for music made en français.
It helps that both bands are good friends and share the same proclivities to symphonic-rock angst: Watson's bilingual band has a huge local francophone following, propelling him to stardom in France, and he opened for Karkwa at Club Soda two years ago, just before his breakthrough album Close to Paradise. The timing was right. Karkwa is preparing a fall tour to support its latest album, the acclaimed Le volume du vent, while Watson is gearing up to record the follow-up to Paradise.
Whatever the language, the combination of two bands on stage is a rare event anywhere. The challenges are obvious, to complement and add to each other's sound, without winding up overloaded. And in two languages. It's also symbolic of the blending and maturity of French- and English-speaking musicians on a local scene whose cultural history is inherently international.
Says Watson drummer Robbie Kuster: "Montreal is a city founded on two cultures. It's true they were somewhat separate at one time - and still are to an extent - but the younger generation are tripping out on both sides of the spectrum and starting to mix. You see it more in jazz too. There's beautiful influences on all sides. Both bands have similar tastes, we've all worked on side projects together, and the most important thing, we're friends going out for beers together for the last four years." That's where the intimacy of the Montreal music scene helps obliterate the two solitudes. Watson opened for Lhasa, who shares a sound engineer with Karkwa.
Indeed, long before Cormier got over his nervousness in engaging Watson in conversation, Kuster had already met Karkwa's jazzy-classical keyboard whiz François Lafontaine while playing together in Le Large Ensemble led by jazz-rock guitarist Dan Thouin. "We don't need to do as much preparation as it would seem because we really know each other's music well. Besides, we want that feeling of doing it on the fly, that each show should be different. We're all united in having fun with music, not repeating the same thing from one show to the next," says Cormier.

f this all sounds like a monumental gas, you'd never know it by the press release sent out by sponsoring satellite radio network Sirius. Rocket science, anyone? "Indeed, Karkwatson is the omniscient narration of a harmonious and unique experience whose spectator turns the pages one by one. The amalgam of these nine experienced musicians that meshed well together promises the multiplication of their arrangements' intensity, a pillar of their notoriety here as elsewhere." Ouch!

Karkwatson plays tomorrow and Saturday at Le National, 1220 Ste. Catherine St. E., at
9 p.m. Tickets cost $25 at the box-office, 514-845-2014 or through Admission, at 514-790-1245 or www.admission.com

- The Montreal Gazette

"Karkwa : l'etoffe des plus grands"

- by Alexandre Vigneault -

Karkwa figure déjà parmi les meilleurs groupes rock d'ici. Avec Le volume du vent, un disque plus orchestré et plus raffiné que tout ce qu'il a pu enregistrer avant, il fait un autre pas de géant. Visite dans le repaire d'un quintette capable d'être bruyant, mais qui sait surtout être brillant.

Planté derrière une caisse enregistreuse ou devant un écran d'ordinateur, on s'imagine facilement que la meilleure façon d'échapper à la routine, c'est de faire partie d'un groupe de rock. Imaginez: pas de patron dans le dos, grasses matinées garanties, excès de toutes sortes considérés comme des avantages sociaux non imposables. «La musique, c'est la dernière grande liberté qu'il nous reste», a déjà affirmé Roger Daltrey, des Who, qui sait ce que c'est qu'une vie coulée dans le rock.

L'antidote rêvé à la routine, la vie de rockeur? Pas si vite. La vie de tournée, perçue comme l'ultime bastion de liberté, est paradoxalement le moment où la vie du musicien peut ressembler à un job. Départ à telle heure. L'incontournable balance de son. Oui, on commence encore par la batterie. Et au moment du spectacle, l'ordre des chansons est souvent le même que la veille. Et que la semaine d'avant...

Elle est où, alors, la liberté du rockeur? Dans son local de répétition. L'antre où il tâte, taponne, trifouille et tergiverse jusqu'à ce qu'il trouve un bon filon. Le local, c'est un lieu presque intime, fréquenté seulement par les musiciens et leur entourage, dont l'emplacement est rarement connu des fans. Ce mystère constitue également une police d'assurance gratuite contre les cambriolages. On ne change pas de guitare comme on change de télé.

Karkwa tient à exploiter au maximum son espace de liberté. On ne parle pas de gérer des pieds carrés - son local de répétition de la rue d'Iberville est encombré d'instruments, d'amplis et de moniteurs -, mais d'exploiter à fond sa créativité. «Chaque fois qu'on finit un disque, j'ai l'impression qu'il est trop pop», confie Louis-Jean Cormier, chanteur et guitariste du groupe. Le volume du vent, à paraître mardi, ne fait pas exception à la règle. Même après des mois de travail et de réflexion, il n'a pu s'empêcher de se demander: «Est-ce qu'on est allés assez loin? Est-ce qu'on aurait dû faire plus de trucs fuckés?»

Du cégep à Austin, Texas

On peut penser bien des choses du groupe complété par François Lafontaine (claviers, piano), Stéphane Bergeron (batterie), Martin Lamontagne (basse) et Julien Sagot (percussions, glockenspiel). Que Karkwa est un nom bien curieux, d'abord. Que le son éparpillé de son premier disque ne laissait pas vraiment présager les déflagrations rock à venir. Que l'influence de Radiohead transparaît un peu trop ici et là sur Les tremblements s'immobilisent. Mais trop pop? Ce n'est pas exactement ce qui vient en tête lorsqu'on se frotte les oreilles à ses chansons.

Karkwa, sorti de l'ombre en 1998 à la faveur du concours Cégeps en spectacle, n'a jamais flirté avec le rock formaté prisé par les radios commerciales. Le pensionnat des établis, paru en 2003, faisait flèche de tout bois et amalgamait des éléments de jazz, de funk et de rock. Aussi ambitieux, Les tremblements s'immobilisent, sorti en novembre 2005, est résolument plus rock. Le décalage entre les deux premiers albums de Karkwa ne pourrait être plus grand. Même après tout ce temps, on a encore du mal à se convaincre que l'ample ballade rock M'empêcher de sortir est l'oeuvre du groupe qui a enregistré le refrain guilleret de Tableau africain.

En plus de valoir au groupe un Félix (ex aequo avec Pierre Lapointe) et un prix Félix-Leclerc, Les tremblements s'immobilisent lui a permis de s'illustrer à l'étranger. Karkwa, qui avait déjà traversé l'Atlantique pour enregistrer une chanson avec Brigitte Fontaine (Red Light), a présenté plusieurs spectacles en France et fait aussi partie des rares groupes francophones d'ici à avoir participé au South By Southwest, le supermarché du rock qui se tient chaque mois de mars à Austin, au Texas.

«L'espèce de buzz qu'il y a autour de la musique montréalaise, c'est vrai, témoigne Louis-Jean Cormier. Il y a des gens qui viennent te voir parce que tu viens de Montréal. Et là, la barrière de la langue prend le bord.» Karkwa ne rêve pas naïvement de percer aux États-Unis, mais pas question de lever le nez sur ce genre d'invitation, d'autant plus qu'une foule de programmateurs de festivals européens font aussi le voyage. «On ne prétend pas qu'on va conquérir le monde, mais on ne va pas dire non plus qu'on ne veut jouer qu'au Québec», souligne Julien Sagot.

Boucler la boucle

Louis-Jean Cormier parle de «quête d'identité», en évoquant l'éparpillement du Pensionnat des établis. Cinq ans plus tard, Karkwa s'est trouvé. Le volume du vent ne marque pas une rupture avec l'album précédent. Parlons plutôt de continuité. «Sur Les tremblement s'immobilisent, on avait commencé quelque chose sans aller au bout de notre idée, estime le chanteur. C'est un super album et je le trouve bien ramassé, mais on avait envie d'aller plus loin dans cette espèce de buzz orchestral. De rajouter, de traiter les voix, de rajouter des choeurs.

«On sentait le besoin de boucler la boucle. De confirmer ce qu'on était en train de faire, sans rester au même stade», poursuit-il. Assis par terre ou sur des amplis, les autres acquiescent en silence. Puis, François Lafontaine, l'autre compositeur du groupe, ajoute: «Après coup, je me rends compte qu'on voulait prendre conscience des instruments dont on joue et voir ce qu'ils pourraient faire d'autre que ce qu'ils font normalement.»

Ni Karkwa ni aucun de ses contemporains québécois n'a jamais enregistré un album d'une telle envergure. Les orchestrations les plus expérimentales s'imbriquent parfaitement dans des chansons qui demeurent des chansons, justement. Le piano souvent minimaliste et évanescent de François Lafontaine apparaît et disparaît avec à propos. Son génie, c'est justement d'être discret. Et ce n'est qu'un exemple du raffinement du Volume du vent.

«Ce qu'on veut, c'est créer une espèce d'univers, une image suggestive», dit encore François Lafontaine. Karkwa ne fait pas un rock accrocheur au sens strict du terme. Les lignes mélodiques et les refrains relèvent rarement de l'évidence. Ce qui n'enlève rien à son magnétisme. Plus on écoute Le volume du vent, plus on prend conscience d'une chose rare: on perçoit clairement le discours de chacun des musiciens, qui ont tous l'espace nécessaire pour s'exprimer.

«Du moment que tu amènes une chanson dans le local, tu peux être sûr et certain qu'elle va changer. Elle ne sonnera jamais comme ce que tu avais en tête au départ. Et c'est ça qui est cool, dit-il avec enthousiasme. C'est pour ça qu'on travaille ensemble, pour avoir cinq points de vue qui poussent une chanson à son maximum.»

«Il faut aller au bout de l'idée de la personne qui amène le riff, poursuit le bassiste, Martin Lamontagne. Même si moi, à la première écoute, ça ne me tente pas, il faut le mener au bout, se faire confiance.» Le plus difficile, selon Stéphane Bergeron, c'est de trouver sa place dans les chansons les plus simples. Karkwa, sans être un groupe particulièrement économe, tient à ce que rien dans le son n'ait l'air plaqué ou gratuit.

Le compteur tourne

L'image qui s'impose quand on a ces cinq gars devant soi, c'est celle d'un groupe réfléchi. D'un groupe mûr. Le questionnement placé au coeur du Volume du vent est précisément celui du temps qui passe et son corollaire, le vieillissement. «Je sens que le temps passe sur ce qui m'entoure / Plus que sur moi-même», chante Louis-Jean Cormier, dans Le compteur, mettant au jour un drôle de paradoxe. «On prend conscience de son propre vieillissement par les autres. On regarde notre entourage et on trouve qu'untel ou untel a vieilli. Et on se rend compte que s'ils vieillissent, on n'a pas forcément rajeuni!» rigole François Lafontaine.

Or, vieillir pour un groupe de rock, ce n'est pas toujours facile. Passé un certain âge, il y a des artistes qui délaissent le rock pour une forme musicale moins agressive - Fersen a déjà fait du punk. Ceux qui décident de poursuivre l'aventure deviennent parfois des caricatures d'eux-mêmes (on salue les Rolling Stones) ou se font reprocher par leurs fans de faire trop de ballades (U2, par exemple).

Les gars de Karkwa n'ont pas la moitié de l'âge moyen des membres des Stones. Ils ont aussi le «feeling de rester jeunes», parce qu'ils font du rock. Leur musique témoigne cependant clairement d'une certaine maturité. «L'envie que ça défonce, ça ne lâche pas», dit Louis-Jean Cormier. En vieillissant, ils ne se laissent plus guider simplement par leurs pulsions musicales. L'important, c'est de se mettre au service de la chanson, disent-ils.

«Mais là, j'ai un désir de rocker qui revient!» lance Louis-Jean Cormier, avec un sourire féroce. Son envie tombe à point. La vie supposément non routinière des rockeurs veut que, après la sortie d'un disque, vienne la tournée. Karkwa - et son chanteur - pourra se lâcher...

- La Presse - Montreal


Le pensionnat des établis (2003)
Les tremblements s'immobilisent (2005)
Le volume du vent (2008)
Les chemins de verre (2010)



Karkwa formed in 1998 and made themselves heard the next year, when the five music die-hards performed at the Cégeps en spectacle contest in Montreal and caught the eye of the Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse (a France-Quebec youth exchange organization), which invited them to perform at the Printemps du Québec cultural expo in Paris.

With the page turned on that adventure, the band members shifted their attention to separate projects. Not until 2001 did Karkwa truly step back on the scene, making it to the final round at the 7th Francouvertes music competition. From there they embarked on a concert series, perfect for putting the final spit and polish on the elements of their debut album. When Le pensionnat des établis [Boarding School of the Establishment] appeared in 2003, the critics required no further convincing, and Karkwa landed twice at the top of the university charts. There followed some 75 shows across Quebec, as well as newsmaking performances on major stages.

With the launch of Les tremblements s’immobilisent [The Tremors Come to a Halt] (Audiogram, 2005), Karkwa confirmed its marquee role in the world of Quebec rock. The record proved restlessly inventive, stirring in bold collaborations such as Brigitte Fontaine’s vocals on “Red light” and earning the band a groundswell of popular and critical praise. In 2006 the band was honoured with the Félix-Leclerc Award, and they jointly received the Félix for best singer or composer alongside music titan Pierre Lapointe.

In November 2007, the French launch of Les tremblements s’immobilisent sparked a number of tour dates on the other side of the Atlantic. The implications were plain to see: Karkwa’s star was on the rise in France as well.

In April 2008, ten years into their remarkable career, singer/guitarist Louis-Jean Cormier, drummer Stéphane Bergeron, keyboardist François Lafontaine, bassist Martin Lamontagne and percussionist/singer Julien Sagot released Le volume du vent [Volume of the Wind], their landmark third album. Simultaneously serious and irresistibly soaring, Karkwa’s latest record marks a new chapter in a story whose most exciting moments are surely yet to come.

The two years following the release of their third album, Le Volume du Vent, (The Volume of the Wind) were hectic with hundreds of performances around Canada, France, Switzerland, Belgium, England, the United States, and Lebanon. Le Volume du Vent was launched in France in March 2009.

Their fourth album, Les Chemins de Verre, (The Glass Paths) was recorded in part at La Frette studios in Paris - an inspirational venue dating from the 19th century, it became the sixth member of the band as they returned there time and again during their French tour. A lively collection based on spontaneous impulses of creativity, this album was put together without preproduction for a more organic and impressionist sound. Les Chemins de Verre hit the shelves in Canada in March 2010.