NEW TRACK FROM MONTREAL BASED PIANIST JEAN-MICHEL BLAIS, “POUR JOHANNE” INSPIRED BY THE TRAGIC PASSING OF A FRIEND’S MOTHER
LP & DELUXE RELEASE OF ACCLAIMED DEBUT ALBUM IL AVAILABLE OCTOBER 7 VIA ARTS & CRAFTS
ANNOUNCES COLLABORATIVE PERFORMANCE WITH GRAMMY NOMINATED CFCF FOR RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY
"Simply put, Il is a masterpiece." - Exclaim (9/10)
“...nothing short of stunning… This is music that makes your chest feel tight. It is music that feels like clusters of stars being born and dying. It is music that will persist.” - IMPOSE
“Blais's compositions can be as poignant as they are playful, mixing together accessible melodies with experimental flourishes.” - CBC
“...meditative modern classical instrumentals… stark and accessible emotionality” - The Fader
“the blissful eight-tracker captures Blais' penchant for experimentation” - XLR8R
“...a blindingly bright 28-minute release exploring piano textures” - FACT Mag
“a succinct collection of minimal piano compositions that runs the gamut of human emotions: hope, sadness, joy and fear” - Noisey
“There's this sense of measured extemporaneity to his playing that allows my mind to wander unlike anything else this year.” - MTV, Meaghan Garvey
“Il features both astonishing flurries of notes and graceful pacing...It’s thrilling,
versatile music.” -The Verge
Photo credit: Isis Essery
Today, Jean-Michel Blais shares a new composition for the deluxe edition of his debut album Il. The song, “pour Johanne”, was written following the tragic passing of a friend’s mother. “My friend Eric wrote the following as an artist statement for his visual exhibition about loss and absence,” says Jean-Michel. “It's certainly raw, though real and true.”
On a freezing Sunday morning of March, my mother Johanne died in a car accident. Evidence suggests that the young intoxicated driver who provoked the head-on crash committed suicide. His pain became ours.
“Speechless in front of my friend's suffering, I could only respond in the language of music. That's how 'pour Johanne' came out through me.”
The expanded release, featuring two additional songs from the original recording sessions, follows a nomination for the esteemed Polaris Music Prize.
In addition to the expanded release, Blais’ has announced a series of dates including a collaborative performance for Red Bull Music Academy with fellow Montrealer Grammy-nominated electronic producer CFCF. The special live performance will interpret the similarities and differences of their respective crafts, highlighting shared tendencies towards playful minimalism.
Since the April release of Il, Blais’ single “Nostos” has been streamed over 6 million times, hitting #1 on Hype Machine’s Popular chart twice, and #14 on Spotify’s Global Viral chart. He participated in Nils Frahm’s International Piano Day with a performance for CBC and completed a month-long residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Blais’ first headlining Toronto show is scheduled for November 19th and the newly-renovated Great Hall.
Sep 22 - POP Montreal - Montreal, QC (tickets)
Oct 5 - Red Bull Music Academy - Montreal, QC (tickets)
Oct 15 - Palais Montcalm - Quebec City, QC - SOLD OUT
Nov 12 - Black Sheep Inn - Wakefield, QC (tickets)
Nov 19 - The Great Hall - Toronto, ON (tickets)
Dec 2 - Théâtre Belcourt - Nicolet, QC (tickets)
JEAN-MICHEL BLAIS - IL (Deluxe/LP)
1. Hasselblad 4 (Improvisation)
4. Nostos (feat. BUFFLO)
5. Ad Claritatem Domine
6. Hasselblad 2 (Improvisation)
9. pour Johanne
10. Rondo majeur (trois mains)
More about Jean-Michel Blais:
Jean-Michel Blais is a 31 year-old pianist from Montreal, Canada. His enchanting instrumental compositions pair the melodic pop sensibilities of Amélie-era Yann Tiersen and Arts & Crafts alumni Chilly Gonzales with the breathtaking technical skill of classical minimalists like Philip Glass and Erik Satie.
Blais grew up in a rural French Catholic town in Quebec absent of Culture save for a giant Encyclopedia he’d read feverishly as a child. At age 9, Blais began tinkering on his family’s organ, improvisation, and at age 11 started to write original compositions and taking piano lessons. A natural talent, by 17 he was invited to the Trois-Rivieres Music Conservatory and began training as a classical pianist. However, Blais was entering the throes of teenage rebellion and found the constraints of formal training cumbersome rigid structure. Gravitating towards experimentation, Blais wasn’t content to be told how to play, and not to improvise or compose.
A few years later, he attracted the attention of famed playwright and director, Robert Lepage, who introduced Blais to the who’s who of Quebec’s entertainment industry. With no particular plan for a music career, he quickly took a step back and decided it was time for more explorations.
He moved to Europe in his mid-20s living in Berlin and spent six months in South America. During that time he’d intermittently compose music with long gaps of not even touching a piano. Blais finally settled in Montreal where he rediscovered his love for composing and performing which caught the ear of Arts & Crafts. Written and recorded at home over two years by improvising every day, Jean-Michel Blais’ debut album, Il, was released on April 8th 2016.