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Montréal, Quebec, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative World




"Vamoise Interview"

Exotic, wondrous, adventurous and exciting are a few ways to describe Vamoise. Louder Than War’s Chris Hearn had a chance to do an email interview with the band’s lead-singer and multi-instrumentalist, Najah Zaoudé.

Earlier last year, Montreal based “bohemian electro-pop” band Vamoise got in touch with Louder Than War to introduce themselves. I did a New Artist of the Day profile on them after being rather blown away by just how interesting and talented these folks truly are. At that point, they were working on their EP, ‘Another Critical Moment’, which I was fortunate enough to get an advance listen to. It is out now, so it seemed like a good time to find out more on Vamoise by doing an email interview with lead-singer Najah Zaoudé.

Vamoise is made up of Najah, Jean-Sébastien Brault-Labbé and Bart Frydrychowicz. They offer up stunningly creative music that is beautifully layered without being overwhelmingly complex to the point of being inaccessible. As mentioned, they have labelled themselves as a “bohemian electro-pop” band. Okay, that’s cool. But what is that? And what influences have gone into developing this particular sound?

According to Najah, “We want to dissociate any geographical location from the music and create a sense of movement, exploration and freedom that comes from traveling the world. The songwriting is personal and speaks directly to the audience, kind of like a traveler telling stories and creating landscapes with words. Also, the mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentation is what fascinates us, as we try different textures of sound, we try not to work with one style of music. As [Jean-Sébastien] was producing the EP, he felt that if a song calls for a certain sound we used it without having a predetermined direction. The idea is to blend and create something that stands on its own during an exploratory journey.”

Even the way that this question was answered shows, to me, a dedication to creating not just music, but an entire experience. This is an in-depth, well thought out, well-constructed project. Am I gushing? I can’t help it. This is one of those bands that comes along that you want to scream out, “HEY WORLD! Listen to this!”

In further defining or explaining their sound and objectives, Vamoise’s PR material says that “The band is characterized by the transportable nature of the music, as a metaphor for a universal identity – the rhythms entice us to dance through the cultural barriers and find the source of what moves us towards those critical moments where our dreams come true.” So, again, what does that mean exactly?

“As many people believe, music is a universal language, so we want to show unity between cultures. There are universal themes represented in the songs such as yearning and empowerment. We hope to inspire those who have goals, and be the best at what they can. For example in ‘Come With Me’ I sing “together we’ll hit the sun”, as an invitation to join forces and surpass our limits and reach our goals,” explains Najah, which further gives me a well-rounded appreciation for what this band is doing. This idea, in my opinion, is a wonderful approach not just to music, but to the world around us as a whole.

Najah Zaoudé has a Middle Eastern background, and has become part of the Mosaic that is Montreal specifically and of course Canada in the big picture. “I’m a mix of Syrian and Lebanese origins; we moved to Montreal when I was 10. I grew up with Middle Eastern rhythms and free-form singing (improv), but also all other types of music ranging from jazz, pop to classical, electronic, trip-hop, etc… So these styles of music have found their way into the songs in some way or another. The melody of ‘Undecided’ was written without a pre-defined chord progression, it was sung acapella as if waiting to be discovered in that improvised form. It is only in studio that we then added chords and ambiance. For the new material, I would like to push the envelope of vocal exploration, maybe even using unidentifiable sounds or languages other than English.”

Which leads to my next question / observation. Montreal has been a hot bed for eclectic artists, as well as many “world” music artists. Kid Koala, The Narcicyst and Mercan Dede pop to mind. And, of course, there is a lot of electronic music there. How did this happen and how important was this in the development of Vamoise?

As Najah explains, “Our guess is that it’s probably due to the mix of Francophone and Anglophone communities, which opens doors to cultures from all corners of the globe; also that the fact that it’s a hub for many creative technology-driven industries such as movie production, gaming, theatre, entertainment, etc. Musicians in Montreal have access to so much diversity, so there is no doubt that growing up in such a multicultural city has influenced our music.”

Now that their EP has been released to the world, I was excited to hear what people have thought of it. Like I said before, when I heard it, I was amazed and was looking forward to it being released, maybe as much as the band itself. Gushing again? Sorry, can’t help it. So, what has been the reaction to the album? Again, Najah explains, “The EP has just been released and got positive feedback in Canada and Europe, quotes are all agglomerated on our website. We have gotten radio airplay in UK, Norway, Spain, Holland. The songs have gotten broader international attention online.”

And, along with a new EP, as is often the case, it will soon be time for these songs to be played live and a tour to commence… one that I hope will bring them to my town, Winnipeg. So, what kind of plans does the band have for live performances and what is a Vamoise show like?

According to Najah, “While we are practicing the set we will be doing as many shows as possible, we are also planning a special release show later this year. Ultimately we hope to re-create the visuals that people see when they hear the music. We know that recreating these songs on stage is going to be a challenge (especially for fuller songs such as ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Come with Me’), so I am working on the live arrangements with the use of a looper. [Jean-Sébastien] will be handling all the drums, and playing guitar on ‘Undecided’. Bart will be playing fretless bass and creating guitar and synth loops, and I will be handling some more synths, guitars and the extra instruments such as darbouka and charango. We might bring in some guest musicians that were on the album, and will probably do the release show with other bands, but this is yet to be determined.

A what and a what? A darbouka and a charango? Please explain, Najah! “I’ve always wanted to texturize the songs with instruments that do not usually fit together. Darbouka is a Middle Eastern hand drum that is largely used to accompany free-form improvised dancing (usually belly dancing). It was important for us to create a song that would inspire someone to dance. We wanted to put a touch of it and Jean-Sebastien did a great job without making it a full Arabic-sounding production. I bought the charango on my trip to Ecuador where I met locals who played this instrument and carried it with them as they travelled across the country; the imagery of freedom that came with it inspired me to use it in the songs. Another example of mixing textures is in ‘Wonderful’: the electro-pop song that breaks down into a little reggae beat after the chorus.”

The live band is made up of multi-talented, multi-instrumental artists, who are involved in several other projects. Bart Frydrychowicz is in a band called Quo Vadis (a melodic death metal band!) and Jean-Sébastien Brault-Labbé (who is in Blue Seeds, runs a studio and makes music for TV, commercials, websites, etc.) and of course Najah who plays several instruments and does lead vocals. So, does this mean Vamoise is a side project for all involved? Or is this primarily Najah’s baby?

As Najah explains, “Even if Vamoise is lead by [myself], Jean-Sébastien contributed a lot in the production of the EP and will continue to be involved as the music evolves over time. Bart is contributing significantly on the business side, the visuals and direction of the band (having more that 20 years experience in the music business); he is helping a lot in clarifying the path we should take.”

So, thus far, Vamoise has had an excellent start with international attention, their new EP hitting the market, a well formed and interesting philosophy to build on, and no shortage of talent. So, what does the future hold for the band? Where is this all heading? According to Najah, “We will continue to create new material and play shows. Next summer, we hope to spend more time on the road and touring. We have many more songs than on the EP that we can play live. Then hopefully we will start recording a full album late 2014. We keep our Facebook page updated so one can stay in touch with our latest news!”

It has been a pleasure to get to know Vamoise over the past several months, and witness what I believe to be the beginning of a long journey of musical exploration. I feel a certain amount of nationalistic pride in the fact that this is a Canadian band that reflects Canada’s multicultural diversity, which is something I love about this country. I don’t mean to brag, but Canada has produced some wonderful artists and music. Vamoise, in my opinion, is one of them, and they are excellent ambassadors for this nation.

You can find Vamoise online at their official website, Facebook, twitter, Souncloud and bandcamp (where you can download the album and get ‘Killer of Love’ for FREE).

- See more at: - Louder Than War

"Read All About It VAMOISE"

Montreal-based electro-pop lass Vamoise has unveiled her debut single. ‘Come With Me’ is a beatific, folky delight, topped off with Najah Zaoudé’s syrup-sweet vocal. It’s a promising start, and bodes well for her forthcoming debut EP Another Critical Moment, due for release in April 2013. - The Girls Are


Montreal-based electro-pop lass Vamoise has unveiled her debut single. ‘Come With Me’ is a beatific, folky delight, topped off with Najah Zaoudé’s syrup-sweet vocal. It’s a promising start, and bodes well for her forthcoming debut EP Another Critical Moment, due for release in April 2013. - The Girls Are

"Review- “Another Critical Moment”- Vamoise"

A fresh take on music is hard to come by these days, but when music can genuinely surprise it’s usually because it harnesses sounds or styles that don’t appear too often in the musical scene in question. As an example of this, Paul Simon’s Graceland wowed fans with its sound that was heavily influenced by South African music. Had it not been for that initial breakthrough, Vampire Weekend, with their fondness for African music, might never have gotten the massive following they have now.

So it was nice to hear Vamoise’s debut EP, Another Critical Moment, thanks to its embrace of middle eastern sounds. The band is fronted by Najah Zaoudé, whose own wavering vocals may summon images of the desert. The band even has Eric Breton playing a darbuka, a djembe-like middle eastern drum. And it all sounds super smooth thanks to Jean-Sébastien Brault-Labbé, who both produced and co-arranged the album while also contributing drums, bass and guitar on some tracks.

The EP succeeds because the four songs each function as their open separate mood pieces. Over just about fifteen minutes, Another Critical Moment travels from dreamlike mystery to happiness to moodiness to melancholy.

Zaoudé’s keys also make the songs more a niche of their own. The EP opens with “Come With Me,” which will introduce listeners straight away to the keys and Zaoudé’s powerful voice. Eventually Phillipe Lachance’s acoustic guitar adds a distinct middle eastern flavour to the song, and there’s some nice trombone swells courtesy of Matthieu Van Vliet. The song itself feels like the soundtrack to an epic journey.

That feeling of mystery and grandiosity is sharply contrasted by “Wonderful,” a song which relies heavily on keys. It’s inexplicably happy and Zaoudé makes it known with her vocals. It’s a shorter song than the other three on the EP but it makes a lasting impression.

“Killer of Love” is the “moody” song of bunch, having an almost jazzy feel thanks to the prominent bass guitar in the song. It’s backed by swirling keys and goes very unexpectedly jammy as it goes on. The vocals are nice, as mentioned, but it’s also nice to take a little break and show what the instruments are capable of doing as well.

Finally it ends with the sparse “Undecided,” featuring little more than keys again. Though this time the music is much more sparing as Zaoudé sings lines like “Love the ground that I walk every day.”

Apparently the album title refers to the point when dreams come true. There are certainly a lot of dreams present in the melodies and lyrics, so it seems like the title fits it well.

Top Track: “Killer of Love”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good) - Grayowl Point

"New Artist of the Day – Vamoise"

Multi-instrumental, multicultural, and extremely talented “Bohemian Electro-Pop” from Montreal, Canada: This is Vamoise.

Allow me to show my nationalistic side here for a moment. Us Canadians do make some great music and are home to a whole lot of amazing musicians. Case in point: Montreal’s Vamoise, led by “singer-songwriter and composer” Najah Zaoudé. This woman has an absolutely gorgeous voice that reminds me of Suzanne Vega, at times Shawn Colvin, Rosanne Cash or Sarah McLachlan (artists that I listen to, though there may be far better comparisons out there closer to Vamoise’s “genre”). However, the music is at a whole different level of artistry. Najah and Vamoise are true artists, crafting some utterly amazing sounds from a seeming wide range of sources.

The first song from their upcoming EP ‘Another Critical Moment’ is ‘Come With Me’. What a beautiful song this is, with an interesting mix of instruments and electronics. Jazzy, R & B-ish at times, folk tinged, almost Joni Mitchell-ish in places, a lovely medley of sounds and emotions. Combining mandolin (or possibly a charango, see below) and saxophone is a combination that I would not necessarily think of, but in this case is not only done, but shows that it can work quite well.

You can find the song streaming on Vamoise’s website at the moment (or below this paragraph) and hopefully hear for yourself what I mean. I also, however, can tell you that I have been a very lucky man and have been able to hear what is I believe to be the entire EP that is set to be released in April 2013. All I can say is, WOW! Consider this song as a delectable teaser that is just the tip of the iceberg.

To me, the music Vamoise makes is very…Canadian. Don’t ask me what that means. I don’t know 100 percent myself. I also don’t know what “bohemian electro-pop” is either, but that’s what they call themselves. I suppose it is a fitting genre title, but it seems too simplistic almost, and rather…well, confusing?

Part of what I love about Canada is our multiculturalism. For some reason, Montreal seems to produce a ton of great musicians that bring multicultural, multiethnic sounds together much like Vamoise does. I think of people like Mercan Dede for example who mixes Turkish sounds with electronics and even features a “whirling dervish” inspired dancer at shows (at least the last show I was at). So, I suppose that is what I mean when I say this is very…Canadian.

With Vamoise, they have apparently used instruments such as the “Ecuadrian charango” (I had never heard of this until now. It looks like a ukulele and sounds like a cross between a mandolin and a banjo) and a “Middle Eastern darbouka” (a drum thing for lack of a more technical description). So, they are actively bringing new “global” sounds into their music. Live, Jean-Sébastien Brault-Labbé plays drums and guitar (and also, apparently produced, arranged, recorded and mixed the upcoming EP. PHEW! Busy man!), Bart Frydrychowicz does fretless bass, guitars and synths and Najah plays the above mentioned exotic instruments, as well as guitar and synths. I’d say calling these folks multi-instrumentalists would be more than accurate. I always admire people who can pick up almost any instrument and play it, so I am duly impressed at what Vamoise does and the sounds they make in the process.

I look forward to the rest of the world hearing the new EP which is coming out in April. That’s a long way off it seems. But, the wait will be worth it, trust me. This is a truly beautiful work of art by a band that deserves to be noticed. I also have my fingers crossed that this is a group that I will be able to see live someday soon. Winnipeg Jazz Festival? Winnipeg Folk Festival? They would fit in well at either!

You can find out more on Vamoise on twitter and Facebook. Of course they have their own website at where you can pre-order the upcoming EP right now.

- See more at: - Louder Than War


Still working on that hot first release.



All members of the band are multi-instrumentalists; we use loopers to build our songs which allows us to switch instruments and create freedom of movement on stage. Najah pushes the boundaries of vocal techniques and captivates the audience with her experimental approach of free form singing.

Articles / reviews about band:

Released Video for 'Undecided': , please contact band for un-released video.

Vamoise is a bohemian electro-pop band from Montreal, founded by singer-songwriter & composer Najah Zaoud. She is accompanied by musicians Jean-Sbastien Brault-Labb (The Blue Seeds) & Bart Frydrychowicz (Quo Vadis) for live shows.

The band is characterized by the transportable nature of the music, as a metaphor for a universal identity the rhythms entice us to dance through the cultural barriers and find the source of what moves us towards those critical moments where our dreams come true.

Najahs luscious voice and beautiful songwriting reach human emotions at their deepest manifestation, reflecting personal experiences and depicting honesty & growth. Of middle eastern origins, Najahs training began with classical piano at the age of 12. She was involved in numerous school projects playing guitar in jazz bands and singing in live performances. She started songwriting in 2001 on guitar & piano, and produced multiple shows where she performed as a solo-act and as a keyboardist in other bands. Over time, she started composition & sound design using computer programming and worked on film-scores for short movies with local filmmakers.

Musician, composer, arranger and producer, Jean-Sbastien BL first started his musical career in the 90s as a singer and guitarist in various local bands. In 2004 he co-founded the company Zodyo Music, a studio where he creates original music, produces, arranges, records & mixes albums with emerging artists & composes for TV, commercials, web content & video games. In 2010, he joined Montreals original band The Blue Seeds as a drummer. He also accompanies emerging artists and works as a session-musician on various local projects.

Bart Frydrychowicz, known as the lead composer & founder of the internationally acclaimed melodic death metal band Quo Vadis, joins Najah & Jean-Sbastien in 2012. Bart has been composing and performing music since 1992. With 6 albums and multiple international tours under his belt, Bart has extensive experience as a performer and in the music business; he has worked with acclaimed artists such as Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Sebastian Bach, Testament) and famous Quebec cellist Claude Lamothe.

Band Members