In our sights highlights young songwriters to watch at upcoming festivals.
When singer-songwriter Mark Berube hit the stage this month at the Festival de la Chanson in Tadoussac, Que., he was the only invited anglophone songwriter to attend this year. Born in Vancouver, the fluently bilingual Berube loves the linguistic challenge that this presents, and it shows in his highly passionate stage shows.
His most recent release, the intimate and more acoustic June in Siberia, was produced with the help of Howard Bilerman of Arcade Fire fame.
Berube and the Patriotic Few will be performing at the FeelsGood Folly Fest in Gagetown, N.B., on July 1.
I caught up with Berube in his hometown of Montreal to discuss his music.
Q: What is the most important part of the songwriting process for you? (Do you start with a lyric or a melody?)
A: The most important part is when you have your melodic structure and your lyrical idea. Finding the right fit for the lyrics and melody, while allowing for that special second, third or fourth level of meaning to swallow the song as a whole, is the hardest and most enjoyable part.
Q: June in Siberia is a fairly different-sounding record from your first. What was the motivation for the change?
A: If we kept trying to recreate the same thing we did before, as anybody, not just artists, life would get pretty boring. I'm not interested in creating a computer program that is meant to do the same thing every single time. Also because I'm pretty useless with technology, so it wouldn't be a very good program.
Q: You've been travelling a fair bit with this new band configuration – has your approach to writing or performing changed?
A: We've tried to step it up a bit. Every show we now try and create three distinct moments in the set, instead of just playing 15-20 songs for a show.
Q: Who are your influences/what are you listening to these days?
A: I'm always listening to a healthy does of African music (Salif Keita, Ali Farka Touré,[H1] to name a few), but also been checking out bands like Other Lives, John K. Samson, Amelia Curran, old Noir Désir (Des visages, des figures[H2]). Varies a lot.
Q: Why is the Festival de la Chanson in Tadoussac special for you?
A: I've heard amazing things about it. I'm really excited to be there as well because I've never been to Tadoussac before. It's nice to be invited as well to a mainly francophone festival. I sing mainly in English, but speak in French for all my banter. I enjoy the jumping back and forth.
CBC Music Summer Festival Map
on Jun 21, 2012