Alexandre Poulin leads his career far from the spotlight, followed by a loyal audience who love the folk singer-songwriter as much as the philosophical storyteller, in song and in performance. On Friday he will launch his sixth album, The Sum of Beloved Beings, a tribute to life and to what unites us to others, inspired by the mourning of his father.
What makes you happy? researchers asked people at the end of their lives over an 85-year period. To love and be loved, the participants responded, regardless of the era or social level.
“It’s never changed, everyone answers the same thing,” marvels Alexandre Poulin, who is in an incessant quest for the meaning of life. This question of happiness had interested him for a long time when his father, this “titan” who had always been in great shape, received a diagnosis at the age of 70 giving him less than a year to live, and he was able to accompany until the end.
“He left with medical assistance in dying. It’s a priceless gift: he welcomed me when I was born, I had the honor of walking him to the door. » And seeing people passing through his room during his last week of life, Alexandre Poulin arrived at the same observation as the authors of the study.
“He taught me so much,” he adds. This is where The Sum of Beloved Ones took root, in this unique and overwhelming experience. And he knew how to transcend it to tell stories of love and friendship, past, present or future, because we are all inhabited “in layers” by the people who have crossed our path.
“I found it difficult to get to the bottom of my gut, to go there for real. It came to me feeling hollow, but that’s so much the better. »
At the heart of the two “parentheses” which are the first (Loverdose) and the tenth song (Dire adieu), which speak of his father, there is therefore life. It’s in his nature, Alexandre Poulin can’t help but see the bright side of things.
“It’s just a matter of perspective. Like the song Mauvais Sang, you read it backwards or forwards, and it says something else. It’s my pride for this record, to have faced a challenge like this, and to come out with a vision. »
Alexandre Poulin will release his sixth album in 16 years on Friday… and he can’t believe it. “Especially since at the start, I was told it wouldn’t work. People told me: your songs need to be shorter, there is no chorus, it needs to be more commercial…”
While his new tour will include around a hundred dates over two years, the 46-year-old singer now believes that it is by keeping his uniqueness that he has made his way, “far from the well-trodden roads and the big lights”.
“I didn’t decide it, it just happened. I’ve been doing this for 16 years and selling tickets…Is it niche? I don’t have the impression. I was told that people wouldn’t listen, that they would tune out after five minutes. I think that if you take the world for caves, they will become one. My audience is silent and attentive. I find it exceptional. »
Of course, he pinches himself often, takes nothing for granted and rolls up his sleeves every morning to work. “By telling myself that every day is one more day to do what nourishes me the most. The best job in the world. »
Alexandre Poulin was a teacher before becoming a singer. We still associate him a lot with the world of education, even if he hasn’t taught since… 2008! This is largely because of his song The Writer, released in 2010, which has become a classic in schools, and also because his songs are used in ministry exams. But it’s true that he still has “hands and feet” in it.
“My best friends are teachers,” says the man who has been a spokesperson for school perseverance and who, in his Outstanding Humans project, paid tribute to teachers who do things differently – this theme was even the heart of his previous tour .
In light of the recent strike in the public sector, when asked if he thinks education is well treated, he shakes his head. “If they leave me on this, I’ll slip away. I have a hard time talking about it because it upsets me so much… I don’t know what it’s going to take for it to change. Do we have what it takes as a people? »
So as not to have the impression of “criticizing all alone in a corner”, he continues to speak and act within his means. Although he feels a responsibility, he is well aware that he cannot change things alone.
Now that the album is about to be released and he’s ready to go on tour again – “I’m sitting on the train, waiting for it to leave” – he hopes his new songs will get a lot of attention. road with him. And that they will be heard “by people to whom it will speak”.
“It was visceral to write these songs, to defend The Sum of Beloved Beings, this deep connection that we have with human beings. It freed me to write them, it did me immense good. I hope listening does that. »