There is something almost immodest in this new album by Émile Bilodeau, which speaks bluntly about very intimate things, in particular about heartbreaks which we do not doubt for a second that he experienced. “We all have flaws,” he explains. When I write a song, I dare to believe that people can recognize themselves in it. Artists who put into words the sorrows we experience, when we hear their music, we feel less alone. » If he titled his album At the bar of hopes, it is because he wanted to cross the thin line between despair and “hopes”. Maintain hope even if the planet is in bad shape, “even though we can’t see the end of it.” But also “hope in relationships, friendships, loves, family”. “That’s what I say in Love at the End of Times: what will remain is always love. And there are a lot of them on this album. »
On the production, Émile Bilodeau worked with the jack-of-all-trades singer-songwriter from Quebec Simon Kearney. He likes how he was able to create atmospheres and bring out the right emotions for each song. “For example in Misunderstanding, at the end when I say that I won’t be able to sing anymore, suddenly there’s a very melancholic trumpet…” Simon Kearney gave him depth and color, in particular by having him do back vocals and by joining a choir. “That’s what blows my mind the most, the vocal aspect that I had never really explored. »
We know that Émile Bilodeau is a committed citizen and artist who is actively involved in society and takes a stand on many issues. This is reflected in his songs, but less so in this new album, as if he had lowered his tone a little. “People needed to find a guy who wasn’t just an activist robot. » We thus find a certain optimism and lightness – in Les Daisy, he even wonders with his friends who was eliminated in Double Occupancy. “To protect life, you have to take the time to live it, to establish your relationships well. We can get involved while having fun like that. » But if we look at it song by song, he adds, his commitment is evident everywhere. “I’m talking about people who have difficulty arriving, about war, about the performance society or about columnists who write to sow controversy. »
The artist was never afraid that his activism would take over the music. “Pantout. For me it goes so hand in hand. But here, I have gone further, more nuanced. My words are targeted, so it hits. It makes people say: “I don’t like him because he doesn’t play on my team.” » This is what he experienced this year, when the Parti Québécois questioned his role as host during the National Day show in Quebec. The storm was powerful, but he came out “stronger” and has no regrets. “What pride to show young people who are interested in politics that there is a counterbalance. » Émile Bilodeau knows that he has become a symbol that people like (or not!) to listen to and “shake the patent”. But when he looks at activists who invest full time in a cause, he sees above all that his commitment is “minimal” compared to theirs. “I listen a lot. I never said I knew everything. I know, however, that we have a problem… and we could talk about it for a long time! »
Between a demonstration in Rouyn-Noranda with the Mothers at the Front, a successful tour in France – “We drove 50 hours in two and a half weeks! » – and his annual stay in Maliotenam on the North Shore, what’s the thread? “The desire to live and see things. I have met countless people over the past two years, whether because of my activism, or in indigenous communities, or in a bar after a show. » Émile Bilodeau loves the world and although he has made a more introspective album, he continues to tell us stories, whether those of Jacynthe and Réjean in Au Bar des Espoirs, those of a group of friends in Les Daisy or those of a couple from different social classes in Not So Different.
Émile Bilodeau made his first public appearances at the Saint-Ambroise Song Festival 10 years ago. “On the YouTube video of the audition, the skullcap from behind, you can really see that it’s still at the project stage! »
Three years later, he released the first album that propelled him, Rites de passage, and he is now on his fifth. Impressive productivity… but not for him, who considers it a very normal rhythm. Especially since he never feels as good as when he is shaping songs. The impulse of the initial idea, the direction to give, a verse to move, a chorus to change: the whole “administrative” aspect of the composition stimulates him. “It’s something that I find calming, which allows me to be at one with my creativity. It’s really when I write songs that I feel complete. I’m glad I’m a tune maker! »
In the song Fleuve, Émile Bilodeau speaks of his love of the territory, but also of his desire to travel far and for a long time. We feel him torn when we broach the subject, between his aspiration to have “a good knowledge of humanity” and his ties to his family and friends which hold him back. “And hockey too. I have to play, otherwise I’ll go crazy! » Anyway, with the tour starting, it would be difficult for him to leave. “I can’t wait to get back on the road. I’ve been touring with the same musicians for seven years, we have fun. I want it to continue and I haven’t finished making albums. I hope I don’t get canceled with this one! » He laughed loudly. “Well no, it’s a joke, everything’s fine. »