Interview – Poirier

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If you were ever lucky enough to make it to the dance floor of a Qualité de Luxe night in Montreal pre-quarantine then you might recognize the vibrant rhythms of established DJ and producer Poirier. For the past two decades, Poirier has been seeking to bridge the gap between people, culture, eras and genres with his music. His latest album Soft Power released on the of 18th June is no exception and contains an eclectic mix of artists, languages and musical styles. We spoke to Poirier about the inspiration behind the new album and his plans for the future. 

As a DJ and producer, Poirier has never been tied down by genre. He explained: “I feel my role is to be the bridge to bring music, genres, or styles that people are not that aware of and to play it and to introduce people to it. That’s always been my motto as a producer and as a DJ.” However, Poirier’s 11th album Soft Power might still come as a surprise to fans: “The people that know my work might be a bit surprised by the soft touches of this album. In the past on my previous albums or remixes or whatever, I have become known to do really hard-hitting dance floor tracks. This album is a step back from the dance floor.” 

So why the soft touches on this album, and what is the meaning of ‘soft power’? “The album is made up of very soft and charming songs and it’s more quiet than what I’ve done before, so that’s the soft. But if you play it at a high volume, it might make you dance too, so there’s power behind these songs too.”

“The second meaning is a statement about living together. This album involves a lot of different people and styles of music, African, Caribbean, Brazilian. So it’s a statement saying ‘Hey, this is it, this is 2020, this is Montreal, this is the world, this is what I think we can all do together.”

“And then there’s another meaning. Politically there are two kinds of powers, hard power and soft power. Hard power is physical, like war. And soft power is more cultural. So it’s referring to the media and culture and their influence on people. So the album is kind of a nod to that too, saying that this album also has that power to change people.”

Listening to the album, it’s almost impossible to tell when or where it stems from. There are songs in Creole, Portuguese, Spanish and English, and the album transports the listener from Brazil to West Africa, to Haiti, and back to Montreal. 

Tracks “Café Com Leite” feat. Flavia Coelho and “Me Leva” feat. Flavia Nascimento are undeniably Brazilian in sound and spirit, whereas “Nidiaye Sam” feat. Daby Touré has a West African influence. Then there is “Pull Up Dat” feat. Red Fox which is a Jamaican jam perfect for any dancehall party. “Nou Pare” feat. Coralie Hérard captures the heart of Haiti while “Do Kase” feat. Mélissa Laveaux fuses Canada and France with Haïti in the background.

In his instrumental tracks, Poirier throws an afro house party with “The Junction”, travels back in time on an island in the Mediterranean Sea circa 1987 with “Forma”, and, finally, relaxes in the sun with “Coconut Beach.” It’s a mesmerising mix of languages and styles. For Poirier, that was the whole point of the album: “That represents me, and that represents my Montreal. That’s my vision of Montreal and where we are as a society.”

What was it like making an album like this, that manages to cross so many borders? Despite having more than 20 years’ experience in music, Poirier still found that he learnt a lot making the album: “It’s been a long process making this album. It took me two and a half years to achieve and it’s been a really humbling experience. My first album was released 20 years ago and this is my 11th album, but I felt that I still learnt a lot. That’s very humbling because when you start making music, you feel after a certain point that you’ve kind of mastered something, and yes I can’t ignore the fact that there is some stuff I’ve mastered, but there’s so much left for me to discover, and so many different ways to approach music.”

So what’s next for Poirier? “It’s really hard to predict the future right now. My plan right now is not to have plans. I look forward to meeting people in real life and making people dance.”

Soft Power is released June 19th on Wonderwheel Recordings

Interview – Cate Spree

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