Imagine if Tom Waits’ band produced a Cirque du Soleil soundtrack in the Southern Appalachian Mountains (Birth of Bluegrass).
Little Misty’s latest release, Nowhere Land is an auditory road trip, visiting 10 different stories, each distinct from each other, but somehow linked by a highway of genres.
Our two main characters, among a large cast of talented musicians are Kathryn Samman & François Jalbert.
Kathryn has worked with Gregory Charles, collaborated with The Beach Boys, Styx, Marie-Mai, Sarah McLachlan, Lionel Richie and even created a theme song for a Nintendo DS game.
You can always find François performing at the Jazz Festival, often as a duo with Jerome Beaulieu. He was once part of the John Jacob Magistery, and collaborates with a wide range of local musicians, usually in Jazz and Folk circles.
Kathryn had the spotlight shining brightly as the lead Zoé in Quidam, starting at the age of 13 years old.
She shares a strong memory of that show: “I have this one moment when I open the show, there is this light that is on me, and I’m walking on the stage alone. That feeling of energy with over 2,000 people and I’m just alone on that stage.”
That moment filled Kathryn with an adrenaline rush, every time.
“A lot of the songs we write are tainted a little bit from that experience.”
While the character Zoé gave her all during the performance, the crowd reflected that energy back, as a symbiotic relationship, on that both Kathryn & François know so well now.
They both went down an education rabbit hole, attaining a bachelors, then masters.
For Kathryn, it started with ballet at Les Grands Ballets, then Juilliard with a focus on percussions. There were Jazz & popular vocal performance degrees, followed by Estill Voice Training, which she now teaches.
Speaking on Estill: “It’s about control. It’s about mastery of the technical aspects of singing. It’s anatomy and physiology of how to control all the different parts of your instrument.”
François won the Montreal Grand Prix twice, starting at the age of 18. He was not with team McLaren, or Ferrari, but his vehicle has always been the guitar, and the Grand Prix is part of the Montreal Jazz Festival.
François got degrees in music composition and performance.
“It gives you an understanding of things, more freedom in what you write.”
Once the limitations of focus are expanded, it allows the creator to explore different paths to get to the destination of a great song.
There are also the learning opportunities, in genres like Bluegrass and Jazz where you are “feeding off other people’s perspective of music.”
How Kathryn & François Met
“He was a hired musician at my parent’s place for a party. I saw him perform. After that, we met at music school, Université de Montreal.”
François also played with the violin player that performed in the same Cirque du Soleil show.
It culminated with Bellflower, where Kathryn was the backing vocalist and percussionist for 5-6 years. It was during this time that they started writing music together.
Origin of Little Misty Band Name
“It’s the name of a lake in Algonquin Park in Northern Ontario. I used to be a canoe trip guide there. It was a lake I passed by a lot.” – François
“And we like Misty…” – Kathryn
When you think about it, misty is an emotional reaction, like getting misty eyed. It’s because you are being affected by something. In this case, feeling misty is reacting to the music.
Yet, that is my interpretation of the band name, and that’s OK. The listener is entitled to their interpretation.
We meet at the ears, but we diverge wherever the brain goes.
“We released our first record 2 weeks before everything shut down”, admits François.
The Pandemic wiped away the livelihood of many musicians, but it did give them time.
“They told us to go reinvent ourselves, so we just wrote another record.”
For the first record, the band used old family photos for the cover so it felt natural to continue with the same concept.
François dug into his archives and found the picture that would be used for the cover.
“The picture on the cover is actually my mom and my uncle”, reveals François. “They are 4 years old, in front of my grandfather’s car at the beach.”
Snapshots are a fitting cover, as the album is filled with 10 unique musical snapshots, recorded during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our weakness and our strength is that we like way too many genres of music”, adds François. “We have a lot of fun in different styles.”
Hence, the album vacillates between a few styles, yet is somehow linked as a cohesive whole.
The Writing Process
“For Something Fishy, I was imagining a bad fish, like the boss of the mafia, going up the river…kind of spooky in the realm of dreams”, François explains.
For Windmill, it was one of François’ family members that uttered “It’s the old windmill on the hill.”
“He gave me that sentence. He said: OK, we’re going to write a song…so go” – Kathryn
Alma is the story of Kathryn’s mother Alma Louise, “thinking of where she grew up and where she is now.”
Dust was inspired by a book Kathryn read about the dust storms of the 1940s.
Little Misty will be playing Cabaret du Lion d’Or on May 27, 2023. GET TICKETS
“It’s a super special show. We are normally 5 or 6 on stage, but we are adding a banjo, electric guitar and the string arranger of the album Mélanie Bélair and Jérôme Beaulieu on keys. So, we are an 8-piece band for this show.” – Kathryn
Fantasy Rock Band
When asked to create their ultimate fantasy rock band, Kathryn and François chose the following:
Lead Singer: Right out of the gate, Kathryn chooses Andrew Bird.
Drums: Brian Blade is next chosen quickly by François.
Bass: The name Pino Palladino is suggested, but François ponders if it’s a good match with Brian. “Let’s have Flea on bass, let’s go wild”, concludes François.
Guitar: Kathryn then suggests Madison Cunningham
Keyboards: Larry Goldings is chosen by François.
Steel Pedal Guitar: Daniel Lanois is thrown into the mix by François to round out the fantasy band.
From their choices, we can see an eclectic ensemble which mixes different genres, much like the sound this new album explores.
Mist may sometimes obscure our vision into the distance. Yet, as we embark on this musical road trip, we don’t care so much about the destination. Rather, we care about the company we keep for this journey. Kathryn and François are surrounded by great musicians, and the fact that we don’t know exactly what to expect next, make the trip so much more enticing.
Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today Music Business Jam Session for musicians. Randal is a collector of signed vinyl, cassettes and CDs.